Little Legs Long Body and a Loud Bark
by Anne M. Balboa

I have little legs but, could beat you in a race. I am long but, can squeeze under a fence. My bark is loud and contagious. I was bred to hunt but, love to cuddle. My nose is hound and gets me into trouble. My nickname is “wiener dog” although I am tough as nails. What dog breed am I? I am a dachshund.

A Dachshund, DAHKS-huunt, is a German breed that dates back over 600 hundred years. During World War I, Dachshunds, a national German symbol, took on the nickname “Liberty Dog” by Americans. Originally, Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers and burrow-dwelling animals. In German, the word “Dachshund” literally means “badger dog”. Traditional sized Dachshunds were bred to find a scent, chase and dig out badgers. While, Miniature Dachshunds were bred to hunt smaller prey, such as rabbits. In parts of the United States, Dachshunds have also been used to hunt prairie dogs or deer.

The Dachshund breed is part of the hound group. The hound group consists of breeds used for hunting because of their strong sense of scent. Dachshunds come in two sizes: traditional and miniature. A traditional full grown Dachshund weighs 16 – 32 pounds. A full grown miniature Dachshunds weighs less than 14 pounds. Dachshunds bodies are typically long and muscular with a deep chest and short legs. They have large paws, perfect for digging and loose skin to aid in burrowing.

Dachshunds have three types of coats: smooth, long and wire haired. A smooth and long coat is silky and soft whereas, a wire haired coat is course and dry. Dachshunds coats can be a variety of colors and patterns. The most common coat color is red shown by copper and deep rust. A black and tan coat is not only distinguished by color but, tan markings over eyes, ears, tail and paws. Dachshunds coats lend to color but, the pattern creates uniqueness. Different dachshund coat patterns consist of: brindle, piebald, and dapple.

The Dachshund breed is known for their spunky, sweet and interested personality. Dachshunds are appropriately placed in the hound group because of a strong sense of scent. The Dachshund nose can promote curiosity resulting in mischief. The Dachshund physique is long yet, muscular with short legs. Typically, Dachshunds use a loud bark which makes for a good watchdog but, can be stubborn and difficult to train. Consistency and patience are essential with any breed of dog.

Dachshunds are relatively simple to groom because of little shedding, cleanliness and low body odor. Monthly baths and brushing are sufficient. Dachshunds act brave but, this trait disappears during monthly nail trims. Even with a reputation for intolerance, routine nail trims and anal gland extractions are imperative. Dachshunds have a long, narrow snout that contributes to dental problems. Regular teeth brushing is instrumental in proper dental health. The Dachshund breed has a tendency to become overweight because of their strong sense of smell towards food. Proper diet and exercise will promote the healthiest lifestyle for any breed of dog.

“If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.”
-- Phil Pastoret

About Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD): The Dachshund breed is prone to back problems because of its disproportion in length of body to short legs. One of the most common diseases for a Dachshund is Intervertebral Disk Disease or IVDD. Intervertebral disk disease is when a intervertebral disc between the spinal bones degenerates. Unfortunately, the dachshund breed contributes up to 70% of the clinical cases of IVDD. Located between the spinal bones, Intervertebral disks are cartilage tissue that absorb shock within movement. When the disk is damaged, it prevents the cushion between vertebrae.

Dachshund sitting with person on park bench. Dog is in a wheelchair. The result of IVDD, can range from back and neck pain to full paralysis. Clinical signs of IVDD in Dachshunds include: crying out in pain, muscle spasms, unwillingness to jump, incoordination, lack of appetite or drinking, incontinence and paralysis. Neck, shoulder and hip pain are results of the pressure on the spinal cord from IVDD. An injury or old age can cause IVDD in Dachshunds. Most cases happen between the ages of 2 and 4 years old.

There are two types of treatment for IVDD: Medical management and surgery.  Medical management means to treat pain associated with the disease and bed rest to allow healing. In severe cases, surgery is necessary to repair the disk and physical therapy is aligned with healing. To diagnose IVDD, a veterinarian will perform x-rays and potentially a MRI or CT scan. Preventative measures for IVDD entail strict diet and daily exercise. The dachshund breed has natural tendencies to become overweight. It is crucial to follow your veterinarians guidelines for diet and nutrition. Use a harness for walking and avoid big jumps for and off furniture. Dachshunds can be trained to use a portable ramp or stairs to avoid forming a habit of jumping. IVDD is treatable but, can be prevented by incorporating these measures.

They enjoy a variety of adventures yet are content laying in a sun bath. Once ruthless German hunters, the Dachshund is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Dachshunds are loyal and loving companions. They enjoy a variety of adventures yet are content laying in a sun bath. As a Dachshund parent, I realized my pups just want to be included. Whether it is a long walk, yard work or yoga, Dachshunds enjoy human companionship. You can help them when they need a new home by volunteering or fostering with Rocky Mountain Dachshund Rescue.

Works Cited

Bassert, Joanna M., Beal, A.D., Samples, O. M., Clinical textbook for Veterinary Technicians, Elsevier, St Louis, 2018.
American Kennel Club: Dogs-Breeds-Dachshunds,, updated 2019.
UC Davis Veterinary: Veterinary Hospital-Disc Disease,, updated June 2018.
Mississippi State University: IVDD in Dachshunds,, updates 2017.
Texas A&M University: Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs, updated 2015.

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