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Advice centre

From VetChef vets and nutritionists


With its famously long-backed body, short legs and engaging personality the Dachshund’s popularity has increased considerably over the past few years. They come in two sizes, standard and miniature, with three coat types, smooth, wire-haired and long-haired. There are six standard colours, red, cream, black and tan, black and cream, chocolate and tan, and chocolate and cream. The standard weighs in at an average of 7.2 - 14.5 kg, and the mini comes in at less than 5.4 kg.

Originating in Germany in the 15th century, their compact well-muscled bodies meant they were ideal as hunting dogs. The standard was used to hunt badgers, ‘dachs’ meaning badger and ‘hund’ meaning hound, while the mini was used mainly for rabbits. Their ‘paddle shaped’ paws came in very useful for the digging, and the deep chest gave them increased lung capacity for working underground. They are intelligent and very independent, which can make them more difficult to train, but they will become loyal and devoted to their owners.

As with all dogs, Dachshunds are prone to certain health issues which all owners should be aware of.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Due to its elongated spine, intervertebral disc disease is not uncommon for this breed. This condition can cause pressure on or pinching of the spinal cord, with varying levels of severity.

Symptoms may include:

  • Hunched back

  • Sensitivity when touched

  • Unusually withdrawn and quiet

  • Limping or lameness

  • Paralysis

  • Incontinence

Keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight is very important as it will help reduce pressure on the spine. VetChef will be able to help with this, devising an ideal diet with their recipe calculator based on your dog’s individual energy levels. It's important to check your dachshund's body condition regularly - you should be able to see a visible waist from above and from the side and feel the ribs when applying gentle pressure.

You can also help by discouraging jumping off furniture or running up and down the stairs too much. And when picking your dog up, keep them horizontal to reduce stress on the spine.

Thyroid Problems

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your dog doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. It could develop relatively early in life, maybe between the ages of two to six years. The most common signs are lethargy, weight gain, and skin problems. Consult with your veterinarian as a simple blood test can determine if the problem is hypothyroidism. The good news is that the treatment is usually fairly simple with replacement hormones in the form of a pill.

Dental Disease

Dental problems are quite common with Dachshunds. They can be prone to malformations of the jaw, retained baby teeth and teeth that grow in a way that damages the soft tissue of the mouth. Signs of dental issues can include:

  • Chronic bad breath

  • Problems eating

  • Weight loss

  • Pain and discomfort

  • Excessive plaque or tartar build-up in the teeth

  • Nasal discharge

  • Difficulty in closing the mouth fully

Luxating Patella

With this condition, your Dachshund’s kneecap (patella) dislocates. Normally when he bends and straightens his legs the kneecap runs smoothly up and down a groove. In some Dachshunds, the patella luxates (dislocates) out of the normal groove. The consequence is that the dog is unable to properly extend the knee joint. As well as the lameness caused by this mechanical problem there can be varying degrees of pain and osteoarthritis. Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition, and the age of the dog may be taken into account. Surgery may be one option but consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Your Dachshund may look more cuddly and lovable when he puts on weight but there is a risk of him developing serious health problems such as heart or respiratory issues, as well as musculoskeletal conditions. So keep your dog trim and fit. A sensible exercise regime, minus any jumping, or running up and down the stairs, will help to reduce his excess weight. Accompany this with a nutritious diet, including fresh food with vegetables and fruit. VetChef can calculate the right amount based on your Dachshund’s energy level. Remember to check his body condition regularly, a visible waist from above and side, and the ribs should be felt with gentle pressure.

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