Why Do Dachshunds Have Short Legs?

Why Do Dachshunds Have Short Legs?

Do you have a Dachshund? Are you curious as to why they have such short legs? Do you know know why they were bred that way? Here’s everything you need to know about why Dachshunds have short legs.

Why Do Dachshunds Have Short Legs? Dachshunds have short, stubby legs as a result of a genetic condition called chondrodysplasia, which is a type of dwarfism. They were purposely bred this way so they could scrabble through the undergrowth and burrow down into the ground to hunt badgers.

Read on to find out what height miniature and standard Dachshunds are, why they were bred to have such short legs, and the genetic reason behind them.

This article is based on research and personal experience as a Dachshund owner of 10+ years. I’m not a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist.

What Is The Height Of Dachshunds?

On average, Miniature Dachshunds stand 13 to 18 centimetres in height to their withers. Standard Dachshunds stand between 20 to 22 centimetres in height to their withers. They are very short in stature and have their tiny legs to thank for this!

In fact, their characteristically short legs and long bodies are the defining features of the Dachshund breed. And there’s a really interesting reason as to why Dachshunds have ended up with this long sausage-like appearance. 

Why Were Dachshunds Bred To Have Short Legs? 

Dachshunds were originally bred as hunting dogs over three hundred years ago. Their hunting involved following the scent of burrowing animals and diving into holes to hunt them. 

A Dachshunds short legs enabled them to enter into the burrows of badgers and other small animals. It’s only with such short legs that it would be possible for them to continue the hunt underground, leaving badgers with nowhere to hide.

Their small size allowed Dachshunds to fit into tiny holes that other dog breeds with longer legs would just be too tall to dive into! 

So, Dachshunds were the perfect dog for this type of hunting. Their short legs meant they could crawl into the burrows without any issues. And their brave attitude meant they would successfully capture their prey!

Side view of a Dachshund in the park showing their short legs while standing
A short-legged Dachshund at the park

Being so close to the ground helped Dachshunds with their ability to track the scents of their prey. It allowed them to scrabble through the undergrowth too.

Their tiny stature helped them to sniff out animals who would’ve been a similar height to them, like badgers, rabbits or moles. This made them the perfect height for hunting burrowing creatures.

A Dachshunds legs might be short, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of strength for digging. They need to be able to dig into the ground quickly if they are following prey!

Dachshunds have an ingrained ability to use their strong paddle like feet to dig in the pursuit of burrowing animals.

You may see evidence of their digging ability in your garden or yard or when they burrow under their blanket at night.

What Is The Genetic Reason For A Dachshund’s Short Legs? 

Dachshunds have short legs as a result of a genetic condition called chondrodysplasia.

This is a type of dwarfism in the skeleton which means Dachshunds have a normal body size, but much shorter legs than most other dog breeds

Chondrodysplasia is a condition which affects a range of different dog breeds as well as Dachshunds, including Corgis and Basset Hounds.

In fact, the genetic cause of short legs in Dachshunds is the same genetic reason for the short legs of every dog breed that we have! 

Dachshunds therefore have a mutated gene that leads to their leg cartilage development being stunted when they are growing in the womb.

It’s this genetic mutation which means that during foetal development, a Dachshunds legs do not grow as they normally would.

Side view of a Dachshund showing their short legs while standing
A short-legged miniature Dachshund

Chondrodysplasia causes a protein to overproduce during a Dachshund’s development in the womb.

This makes their leg bones prematurely harden. So instead of growing to full length, their legs stop growing much earlier.

The condition doesn’t have an impact on the development of the rest of a Dachshund’s body, only their limbs. So this is why Dachshunds have such short legs in comparison to the rest of their bodies. 

Dachshunds were bred selectively to have this specific characteristic of abnormal leg development. This was because of the benefits it gave them for being hunting dogs.

Breeders would have tried different mixes of breeding over time until they found the right type of genetic mutation that would allow for Dachshunds to have shorter legs while still retaining a long body.

So, interestingly, Dachshunds don’t have long backs as people tend to think, they just have short, stubby legs!

So, there you have it! Dachshunds have short little legs due to a genetic condition called chondrodysplasia, a type of dwarfism. They were purposely bred this way to be able to run through the dense undergrowth and burrow down into the earth to hunt badgers.

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Why Do Dachshunds Have Short Legs text with image of a Dachshund for Pinterest
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