Are you wondering what health problems dachshunds are prone to? Maybe you’re thinking of getting a daxie pup, or your sausage is getting older and you want to know what to expect. We’re going to answer all your questions and more.
What health problems are dachshunds prone to? 1 in 4 dachshunds suffer from back problems (Intervertebral Disc Disease). Dachshunds are also prone to problems with their eyes, joints, thyroid, hips, knees, weight and skin.
Read on to find out more about the most common health problems and what you can do to keep your dachshund healthy.
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What are the most common dachshund health problems?
The most common health problems in dachshunds are:
- Back (Intervertebral Disc Disease)
- Eye conditions
- Hip dysplasia
- Knee dislocation
- Skin problems
This is what you need to know:
Dachshunds were selectively bred to have short legs so they could scrabble down badger holes. It’s a dwarfism trait called chondrodysplasia or short-leggedness. Sadly, it’s made their backs super fragile and prone to injury and disease. In fact, 1 in 4 dachshunds gets Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). You’ll know if your dachshund’s back is hurting because he’ll start limping or squeal when you touch him. He’ll probably go off his toys and food and won’t feel like doing much at all. If this happens, go straight to your vet.
Sausage dogs have beautiful eyes but, sadly, they’re prone to all sorts of eye problems. The worst one is probably Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which is a hereditary disease that makes the retina degenerate. Some dachshunds eventually go blind from PRA. Dachshunds can also get cataracts, which is when the lens clouds over and goes milky, and some suffer from glaucoma, which is when there’s too much fluid in their eye. Miniature dachshunds are particularly unlucky with their eyes so make sure you take them for regular health checks.
Another common condition in dachshunds is ‘hip dysplasia’, which is when the hip joint isn’t properly formed and the hip keeps dislocating. If your dachshund seems to be limping on his back leg or is wobbly when he walks, it could be down to his hips.
If your dachshund is limping, he might have ‘patella luxation’. This is basically when the kneecap is dislocated (another side effect of having short little legs). He’ll usually be ok after surgery.
If you’re overfeeding your dachshund or not giving him enough exercise, he’ll start putting on weight. Dachshunds can suffer with obesity, and because their little legs can’t support too much weight, they can get all sorts of health related issues, like back problems. So keep an eye on his weight!
The most common skin condition for dachshunds is ‘flea allergy dermatitis’, which is quite easy to spot because he’ll keep scratching and biting. Another big problem for dilute dachshunds (blues and Isabellas) is ‘colour dilution alopecia’, where the fur starts to go thin and patchy. Because the skin is exposed, dilute dachshunds are then susceptible to skin diseases, infections and cancers.
What is Intervertebral Disc Disease?
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is when a disc between the vertebrate in your dachshund’s spinal column deteriorates and calcifies making it vulnerable to bursting with any jolting or jarring movements (things like going up and down stairs or jumping off furniture).
Intervertebral Disc Disease sadly affects 1 in 4 dachshunds. It’s an extremely painful condition that causes damage to the nerves and can lead to paralysis. Studies have shown neutering your dachshund can increase the likelihood of them getting IVDD, especially if done before they’re 12 months old. Speak to your vet for further advice.
What health problems do older dachshunds have?
Older dachshunds may start losing their sight or hearing and could get skin problems due to a drier coat. They may also suffer from arthritis in their back, knees or hips and are still prone to back problems (IVDD) as their discs degenerate with age.
In their golden years, dachshunds naturally start to slow down and may experience some health problems (just like we do). You may notice he’s less interested in playing and walking, and he may have difficulty getting about. If he’s not moving around so much, you’ll have to be even more careful about his weight.
How do I keep my dachshund healthy?
- Look after your dachshund’s back
- Keep him fit
- Feed him the right food
- Watch his weight
- Think twice about neutering
- Keep him up to date with vaccinations
- Get insurance
- Keep him clean
- Give him a weekly MOT
This is what you need to do:
Look after your dachshund’s back
There’s nothing you can do to ‘fix’ your dachshund’s injury-prone back, but you can limit his risk of hurting it. Make sure you and everyone who looks after him knows how to handle him properly. If you pick him up, use one hand to support his rump and put the other behind his front legs, and make sure his body is level when you lift him. Also, don’t let him do things like bound up and down stairs or jump off the sofa.
Keep your dachshund fit
Make sure your dachshund gets the right amount of exercise and playtime every day – at least 30 minutes for a miniature dachshund and 60 minutes or more for a standard dachshund. If you have an energetic dachshund, do even more than that.
Watch your dachshund’s weight
Weigh your dachshund regularly and make sure you know how heavy he should be (ask your vet). If he’s underweight or overweight, you’ll need to adjust his meals. And be sensible with treats! Excess fat puts strain on his spine.
Feed your dachshund the right food
Make sure you’re feeding your dachshund good, nutritious food. Dachshunds generally love raw food so swap out fatty treats for cucumber and carrot.
Think twice about neutering
Neutering has been linked to IVDD in dachshunds, so you should think carefully about whether to do it or not. If you do go ahead, wait until your dachshund is at least 12 months old to minimise any potential risks.
Keep your dachshund up to date with vaccinations
Ask your vet which vaccinations your dachshund needs and put his booster dates in your diary!
Insurance can be a godsend if your dachshund needs expensive medical treatment. Make sure you’re clear about what your policy covers and definitely tell them about any existing conditions, otherwise they might not pay out.
Keep your dachshund clean
You only need to bathe your dachshund every few months, unless he gets really dirty or rolls in something. The good thing about giving him a bath is you can look over his skin and clean his paws properly. If you use a natural oatmeal or aloe shampoo, it can soothe any irritations.
Give your dachshund a weekly MOT
You can give your dachshund a weekly DIY health check to make sure you spot any issues. You should check his:
- Eyes: If they’re itchy, bathe them with some warm water on a cotton wool pad. Give his fur a trim if it’s getting in his eyes. If you spot signs of infection, take him to the vet.
- Feet: Are there any sore points? Is there anything between his pads? Do his nails need clipping?
- Teeth: Brush his teeth with a special doggy toothbrush and toothpaste (you’ll need to train him to let you do this). If you struggle, buy some of those dental chew sticks.
- Fur: Does he need a brush? If he’s a longhaired or wire-haired dachshund, his fur can get tangled and matted easily.
- Weight: Pop him on the scales and check he’s not underweight or overweight.
How do I know if I’m buying a healthy dachshund?
It‘s extremely important you only buy a dachshund from a registered breeder. You have to be sure your dachshund has been bred responsibly. And don’t buy a ‘blue’ or ‘Isabella’ dilute dachshund because they can have serious health problems.
You should ask the breeder to see the parents’ certificates that show they were tested for hereditary eye diseases like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and knee diseases, as this means your dachshund pup will have less risk of developing those conditions. Ask about vaccinations too and make sure they’ve been wormed.
So many dogs you see online are born with serious health conditions and can cost their owners a fortune in vet bills – not to mention the heartache of losing them. So steer clear of anyone selling a cheap dachshund online or anyone selling a dachshund in an unusual or rare colour. Only buy from an official registered breeder or reputable re-homing charity. The dog may have been illegally imported and you could end up with a mountain of vet bills, or worse.
In the UK, go to The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme to find your nearest breeder. And, in the US, visit The American Kennel Club for a list of breeders. Other parts of the world will have similar kennel authorities so just search online.
You could also re-home a dachshund through a reputable dog charity. Here in the UK, we have The Red Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to dachshunds.
How old do dachshunds live?
Dachshunds generally have a long life expectancy of 12 – 17 years but, according to Guinness World Records, some have lived 20+ years. In California, a dachshund called ‘Rocky’ is reported to have lived for an incredible 25+ years.
So there you have it. Dachshunds are prone to back, eye, hip, knee, thyroid, weight and skin problems. But, by looking after your dachshunds back, keeping him fit, feeding him the right food and watching his weight, you’ll be doing everything you can to keep him healthy and happy for many years to come.