These friendly, inquisitive, and spirited dogs make wonderful companions. Commonly known as wiener dogs, or sausage dogs because of their extra-long bodies, Dachshunds are uncommonly adorable. With floppy ears, and short legs, Dachshunds are cute enough to make people stop on the street to get a better look. Part of the hound family, Dachshunds are short, but long and weigh in between 15lbs-30lbs. Dachshunds are love bugs and are known to be exceptionally affectionate with their families. They are also considered to be very good with other dogs and love to play and make friends. They score a little lower on the scale when it comes to young children. The American Kennel Club (AKC) ranks Dachshunds as being good with young children, or more specifically, they rate 3 out of 5 on the good with children scale. This doesn’t mean a Dachshund won’t make a great dog for a young family, but it’s a good thing to note. If you’re thinking about adopting a Dachshund, or have one already, you may be wondering what are the common Dachshund health problems? And, what is the average Dachshund lifespan? We’ll talk about both of those topics, along with ways to improve your Dachshund’s health and life expectancy.
What is the Life Expectancy of a Dachshund?
Dachshunds have a longer life expectancy common with smaller dogs. The Dachshund life span is 12-16 years. However, 20-year-old Dachshunds are not uncommon. Many factors affect your Dachshund’s life expectancy. If you already have a dachshund, there’s nothing you can do about their genetics. But there are things you can do. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, daily teeth brushing, and supplements are all ways to help support your dog’s health and longevity. We’ll go into this in a later section.
Common Dachshund Health Issues
The Dachshund breed is considered to be generally healthy. However, because of their different build and genetics, there are specific Dachshund health issues to be aware of before you adopt, or if you already have a Dachshund. Because of their build, a lot of Dachshund health problems tend to revolve around their muscles and skeleton, specifically their hips, backs, and knees.
Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a hereditary condition—either your dog will inherit it or it won’t. It affects 1 in 4 Dachshunds. IVDD is directly linked to a Dachshund’s unique build and causes the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae to degrade. This condition may cause paralysis if left untreated.
Hip or elbow dysplasia is often thought of as a large dog disease, but it can affect any breed of dog, and unfortunately, with their special shape, Dachshunds are more prone to these conditions. Hip dysplasia is more common and occurs when the ball and socket joint of the hip forms improperly. This leads to a bad “fit” of the ball of the leg bone fitting into the hip socket. This causes extra wear and tear on the protective cartilage cushion that lines the joint, which will eventually degrade and lead to bone rubbing on bone. That is very painful and can lead to a loss of function.
All dogs can have eye issues, and Dachshunds are no exception. Many of these issues are found in dogs in their older years, like cataracts and glaucoma. Cataracts occur when the iris, or front part of the eyeball, starts to cloud. There is a spectrum of vision loss from cataracts, some cases are very mild, others can lead to blindness. There are treatments available.
Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the eyeball starts to increase due to poor fluid drainage. There are many causes for this, including inflammation in the inner eye, lens dislocation, tumors, bleeding in the eye, or damage to the lens. This pressure, if left untreated, can damage the retina and the optic nerve.
Color dilution alopecia is a common Dachshund skin issue and is more likely to affect Blue or Isabella Dachshunds. This is a genetic condition that generally shows up around 6 months of age. While this condition causes hair thinning, spotty or total hair loss, itchiness, and skin flakes, in and of itself, it’s not harming your dog. However, due to the hair loss and itching, it’s more likely for secondary skin issues to form like fistulas, bumps, or even open wounds, which leaves your pup vulnerable to infections. Sun protection is also needed for dogs who have this condition.
One cardiac disease that tends to affect smaller pups is called degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD). DMVD tends to show up in dogs around the ages of 8-10 years of age. This disease leads to a left-sided systolic heart murmur, which your vet will be able to detect and treat.
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is thought to be the most common congenital heart defect among dogs in general, however, small dog breeds are 2.5 times more prone to this defect. With PDA two big blood vessels close to the heart and lungs aren’t connected properly, which leaves a gap. A small gap can have almost no effect on a dog, but larger gaps lead to serious symptoms like difficulty breathing and an abnormal pulse.
Dachshunds are a high-risk breed when it comes to obesity. Extra weight can have devastating effects on their spine, hips, and other joints. Obesity also increases the risk of other diseases Dachshunds are prone to like diabetes and heart disease. Prevention is key here, but if your pup is on the heavy side, talk to their vet about a weight loss plan.
How to Improve Your Dachshund’s Health and Lifespan
Here are ways to support your Dachshund’s health and extend its longevity. Many of these methods may seem quite obvious, but there may be some surprises.
If you’ve yet to adopt a Dachshund, you have the opportunity to adopt from a good breeder, which means a better chance of having a healthy dog. Responsible breeders will perform health tests on their dogs before breeding, so undesirable genetic traits are less likely to be carried on in their puppies. Do your research and be prepared to evaluate breeders carefully before adopting. On that note, one sign of a good breeder is that they will evaluate you thoroughly before allowing you to adopt one of their puppies. Another good sign? A waitlist.
Feeding your dog high-quality, high-protein food supports both their health and life expectancy. Proper nutrition is essential for health, and unfortunately, many commercial dog foods lack the nutrition that many dogs need. They also use low-quality ingredients and usually have a grain main ingredient. Look for dog food with meats as the top three ingredients, and beware of ingredient splitting. This is where one ingredient is listed in different ways (Corn becomes cornmeal and corn gluten) so it won’t look like the main ingredient. Your vet likely carries high-quality dog food or can recommend some good brands for your dog.
Exercise is very important for Dachshunds, both for their high energy levels and for their health. Exercise not only keeps dangerous pounds off, but it also builds the muscles Dachshunds need to support their long backs. The AKC recommends two walks of medium length each day.
Because of their vulnerable spines, Dachshunds should never be permitted to run up and downstairs, or jump down from any heights.
Dachshunds are medium shedders and have a variety of coat types, each requiring special care. Smooth-coated Dachshunds are very easy to care for and need the occasional brushing. Dachshunds with long coats require more frequent brushing to prevent tangles or mats. Wirehaired Dachshunds need to be plucked or hand-stripped several times a year to maintain their good looks, but otherwise just need a beard and eyebrow trim once or twice a week.
All dogs require regular dental care to prevent gum disease. Your Dachshund is especially vulnerable to dental issues because of how tightly their teeth are fitted in their mouths. The tight fit leads to extra plaque build-up and more food becoming trapped between the teeth. Daily or every other day teeth brushing is recommended, or regular use of other dog dental products like sprays. Take your dog in for their regular teeth cleanings. Proper oral care and good oral health will extend the life of your dog. A healthy mouth prevents the increased risk of heart, kidney, and liver disease that dental disease causes in dogs.
Regular veterinary care, including dental cleanings, is essential for your dog’s health. Your vet will likely be able to catch health issues (if there are any) you weren’t aware of, which means faster treatment for your pup.
There are many excellent nutritional supplements for dogs on the market today. Ask your vet for a good brand recommendation, or look for organic, or the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC) seal. Good supplements for your Dachshund include: