The Dachshund is a very distinctive looking little dog, with a long body and extremely short legs! They are often colloquially referred to as the “sausage dog” for this reason, sometimes being considered as looking a little bit like a hotdog sausage! They are one of the dogs classed in the “hound” grouping, and were historically used to hunt by scent, and flush out burrowing animals classed as pests, such as badgers and rabbits. The Dachshund if often associated with Germany, although there is some evidence to suggest that the very beginnings of the breed itself originated in Egypt.
Due particularly to their very short legs and long backs as well as other inherited breed traits, the Dachshund breed as a whole is considered to be at heightened risk of developing a range of conformation related and genetically inherited health problems. If you are considering buying a Dachshund, it is important to have a good understanding of what these might be, plus know how best to keep your Dachshund happy, healthy and well.
Read on to learn more about Dachshund health and wellness considerations.
The first issue to consider when looking at the Dachshund is the affect that their very elongated backs can have upon their health. The breed is particularly prone to spinal problems, most commonly IVDD or invertebral disc disease, which presents itself due to a combination of the long back and comparatively short ribcage of the dog. As many as 25% of Dachshunds will develop IVDD, and the risk factors for its development can be exacerbated by obesity and weight problems, or overenthusiastic exercise or handling that can place extra strain on the vertebrae that support the back.
IVDD can be challenging to treat and correct fully, and may recur throughout the course of the dog’s life. Total rest is required to allow IVDD to heal itself, which can be a challenge in itself to achieve, and various anti-inflammatory and pain medications may also be required to manage the condition. Sometimes, surgical correction is the only effective option to treat the condition, and in untreatable cases or cases where only a limited degree of improvement can be achieved, these dogs may even be fitted with a small two-wheeled cart to cradle the back legs and allow the dog to move around.
The very short legs of the Dachshund carrying around those elongated bodies mean that the knees of the dog are placed under a significant amount of stress. This can lead to a condition called patellar luxation or luxating patella developing, where the kneecap itself dislocates from the muscle and bone plates holding it in place and “floats” on the surface of the knee. This condition can be very painful and understandably, affects mobility ad may require surgical treatment to correct.
Brittle bone disease is another common problem in Dachshunds, with wire-haired Dachshunds being particularly vulnerable to the condition. Brittle bone disease or “Osteogenesis imperfecta” is a genetically inherited condition that around 17% of wire-haired Dachshunds carry the gene for. The risk factors for the condition developing in puppies becomes elevated if both parent dogs carry the mutated gene for the condition; rising to 25%.
The Dachshund is also prone to a range of eye problems, most of which are genetically inherited. Cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (a slow developing permanent blindness), cherry eye and glaucoma all have elevated risk factors across the breed.
One colour combination in particular within the Dachshund breed appears to have a heightened association with eye problems: the double-dapple pattern. This pattern occurs when the dog has a dappled coat with patches mainly consisting of one colour, but also has additional patches of white hair overlapping the main dapple pattern. The gene that causes the double-dapple pattern to occur is strongly associated with hearing loss and blindness in a significant number of these dogs. By no means all dogs with this coat pattern will have hearing or vision problems, but nevertheless, the double-dapple pattern comes with heightened risk factors for a range of conditions including small eyes or even eyes missing altogether, malformed ears, and full or partial blindness and deafness.
While the Dachshund generally has a healthy heart and is not prone to a wide range of inherited heart problems, Dachshunds are 2.5 times more likely than most dogs to develop a congenital heart defect called patent ductus arteriosus, which can be surgically corrected but is not always apparent until it is too late, and congestive heart failure has occurred.
The Dachshund is also considered to have heightened elevated risk factors for a range of other genetically inherited health conditions that are more prevalent in some breed lines than others, including epilepsy, thyroid problems and a heightened propensity to suffer from allergies.
The Dachshund is a little dog with a big heart, and is a popular companion and playful pet. These dogs can be prone to stubbornness, which can make them challenging to train, but infinitely rewarding to own! The Dachshund is a unique dog that is very popular, and for good reason. However, every potential Dachshund owner should be aware of the potential health problems and risk factors that may accompany Dachshunds, and take whatever steps are possible to ensure that any dog or puppy that they buy is healthy and descended from a healthy pedigree bloodline.
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