A Guide to Dachshunds

December 20, 2018

If you’re considering adopting a Dachshund, look no further! We have all the information you need to make informed decisions regarding their care. We’ve included details about this breed’s physical characteristics, playtime needs, grooming tips, nutrition, and more. At the bottom of this guide, you will find a comprehensive list of all the health conditions we test for here at Embark, as well as recommendations for treatable diseases from our veterinarians.

Your Guide to Dachshunds

Dachshunds are known for their curious and spunky personalities, as well as for their innate cleverness. Many of their observable traits can be traced to their history as hunting companions. According to Dogtime.com, Dachshunds are scent hounds who were bred to hunt badgers and other tunneling animals, such as rabbits and foxes. These pups have maintained quite a bit of their
bravery and bark! Having a Dachshunds in your life will surely lead to many years of happiness, amusement, and joy.

Fun facts

Check out these fun facts from The American Kennel Club:

  • “Dachshund” is a German word meaning “badger dog,” and the breed’s German history goes back some 600 years. As the breed name suggests, the Dachshund was developed to enthusiastically dig his way into a badger den and dispatch its occupant.
  • The cleverness, courage, perseverance, and strength that are hallmarks of today’s Dachshund were first bred into his long-ago ancestors.
  • Admitted to the AKC Stud Book in 1885, their popularity in America was immediate and enduring.

Physical characteristics

Dachshunds are bred with three coat varieties: smooth, long, and wire-haired,  according to the AKC. They are shown in two sizes: standard and miniature. Low to ground, long in body and short of leg, with robust muscular development, the Dachshund has a keen nose and powerful bark. These pups can possess a myriad of colors and markings.

Bringing your new Dachshund home

Your Dachshund’s first few weeks at home will be easier if you maintain a consistent routine amid the disorientation of learning all about their new surroundings. Try keeping your pup’s feeding schedule and walks as invariable as possible, so your doggo will know what to expect every day. This will allow you both to adjust more quickly to life together!

If you are looking to adopt a Dachshund from an animal shelter or find a breeder, it’s important to look for breeders that can provide detailed health records for their puppies (and parents!) as well as genetic testing for health conditions. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and their Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) maintains a voluntary database of Dachshunds and their health screening results.


Dachshunds are prone to obesity, and the AKC recommends a Dachshund not be allowed to become overweight. This is not only because of general health reasons, but also to avoid strain to the Dachshund’s long back, which can lead to slipped or ruptured (herniated) discs. If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s diet or weight, talk to your vet about the right portion size, feeding schedule, and appropriate foods for your Dachshund.


Despite their shape and size, Dachshunds are a very athletic breed! AnimalPlanet.com writes that most Dachshunds enjoy vigorous indoor games. While this might be enough to wear them out, their working dog minds will benefit from the mental stimulation of regular, moderate-length outdoor walks and sniffs. Remember, Dachshunds were bred to dig! It’s important to keep your Dachshund well-exercised indoors, or they might turn those paws on your potted plants, couch, or carpets. However, to avoid injury, take care to limit your Dachshund running up and down tall flights of stairs, or jumping on and off furniture.


Regular brushing and nail trimming will benefit all Dachshunds, regardless of coat type. The AKC recommends two walks every day of moderate length. Because they are very social, Dachshunds don’t do well to spend an excessive amount of time outdoors in a yard or fenced-in area—they want to be with their humans!

Health & aging

According to Animal Planet, the Standard Dachshund can grow to between 11-32 pounds while the Miniature Dachshund usually stays under 11 pounds. Both types live an average of 12-16 years. Chewy.com cautions that Dachshunds have the potential to experience both environmental and genetic problems common to long-bodied dogs. Jumping, excessive stair-climbing, and other high-impact activities usually result in serious diseases and conditions of the vertebrae. These pups are also susceptible to the normal diseases that affect most aging dogs of all breeds, including changes to vision, health, hearing, sleep, and activity.

Getting your pup tested with Embark will arm you with as much information as possible to ensure your dog is healthy while potentially avoiding preventable diseases.

Embark tests for the following health conditions that could affect your Dachshund:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy – Cone-rod dystrophy: This retinal disease causes progressive, non-painful vision loss. Over time, many dogs with PRA can develop cataracts. Because these can cause other complications, they require close monitoring in consultation with your veterinarian.

Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIA, Sanfilippo Syndrome Type A: A type of lysosomal storage disease, this can cause skeletal abnormalities, growth retardation, and gait abnormalities. This can require close monitoring and special measures as dogs age.

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 1: This form of lysosomal storage disease can cause juvenile to adult-onset neurologic signs, depending on the affected gene. Common symptoms reflect central nervous system malfunction and include partial or total vision loss, behavior changes, abnormal gait, and seizures. Symptoms usually progress slowly over time.

Narcolepsy: A neurological condition characterized by daytime sleepiness and fragmented sleep cycles, affected dogs also exhibit episodes of cataplexy, a sudden complete loss of muscle tone in response to strong positive emotions. Other than their irregular sleep cycles and tendency to collapse when excited, narcoleptic dogs are perfectly normal dogs and enjoy a normal lifespan and quality of life.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Brittle Bone Disease: A disease of bone strength and flexibility, affected dogs often present to the vet for spontaneous bone fractures, tooth fractures and loss, and joint pain. These symptoms can be managed supportively, but require close monitoring.

Chondrodystrophy and Intervertebral Disc Disease (CDDY & IVDD): Chondrodystrophy contributes to the disproportionately short legs and long body stereotypical of Dachshunds and certain other breeds. Recently, a mutation was described that not only contributes to this body shape, but increases risk for IVDD, known colloquially as a “slipped disc.” Manage dogs at risk for IVDD by reducing the possibility of high impact falls and jumps off furniture. Should your Dachshund ever show signs of sudden hind leg weakness or paralysis, contact your veterinarian immediately, as this is often the first sign of IVDD.  

What we have our eye on for the future:

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): Also known as chronic valvular heart disease, endocardiosis, or myxomatous valve degeneration, Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is a degenerative disease of the mitral valve, which separates the left atrium and ventricle. Dogs with MVD often begin with a soft, left-sided murmur which will get louder as the disease progresses. Loss of left atrial function can lead to increased pressure in the lungs, leading to fluid accumulation in the lungs. This can cause a mild cough in the early stages, but can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF). While a veterinarian may suspect MVD in a middle-aged to older small breed dog with a left-sided murmur and/or an enlarged left atrium on chest radiographs, definitive diagnosis requires an echocardiogram. MVD can often be managed medically along with close observation by yourself and your vet.

Obesity: Obesity is a complex condition with a variety of predispositions, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, physical activity level, and medication history. Obesity can lead to a multitude of other health conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, respiratory disorders, urinary tract disorders, among others.  It is an increasingly prevalent condition and requires dedication from both the veterinarian and owner to help improve the pet’s body condition through diet changes, exercise, and close monitoring.

Oral Melanoma: Oral melanoma is the most common primary cancer of the mouth. It is known for its spontaneous formation and variable biological activity. Mostly seen in older dogs, these cancers may develop in dogs that are otherwise healthy. The most common site in the mouth for tumor development is the gums. Tumors can be pigmented or non-pigmented. Due to the variation in appearance both to the naked eye and under a microscope, diagnosis of oral melanoma can be challenging. If you notice unfamiliar growths in your dog’s mouth, always make an appointment to see your vet.

If you’d like to test your own pup with Embark, click here

A Guide to Dachshunds
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