Every dog breed has a set of medical conditions they’re prone to. The Dachshund breed is not exempt.
There are common Dachshund health issues that every owner should be aware of so they can keep an eye out for associated signs and symptoms.
This will not only help you catch any issues early, but it also gives you a list of options to discuss with your veterinarian in case something seems “off” with your dog.
Below are the top 21 Dachshund health issues I’ve compiled from 10+ years of studying the breed, having personal experience with over 100, and by learning from other Dachshund owners.
Some of these health issues affect Dachshunds because of genetics, some are orthopedic issues related to their size and shape, some are age related, and some are just bad luck.
The Top 5 Health Issues in Dachshunds
Below are the health issues you are most likely to see in Dachshunds.
These are the ones I have personally encountered most often and the ones that I see people frequently asking about in Dachshunds groups.
1) Back Problems
Dachshund back problems are the #1 most common health issue seen in the breed.
One in four Dachshunds may experience back issues in their lifetime.
In Dachshunds, the majority of back problems are caused by Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
IVDD is a genetic condition that causes a Dachshund’s spinal disks to harden, dry out, and calcify at a young age.
According to the University of California – Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (UC Davis), one of the premier research facilities for IVDD in the US:
“A Dachshund’s long back and short limbs (legs) is caused by Chondrodysplasia (CDPA), commonly called the dwarfism [gene], which interferes with the body’s normal development of cartilage.”
Almost all Dachshunds have at least one copy of the gene that causes IVDD because it’s also what causes the unmistakable “long and low” Dachshund look.
There may be some other genes involved that haven’t been identified yet so, unfortunately, at this time, there is no reliable test for IVDD.
Disk ruptures, and a subsequent diagnosis of IVDD, typically occurs between the ages of 4 and 7 years old.
The best things you can do to help minimize back issues is keep your Dachshund at a healthy weight, make sure they get enough muscle-strengthening exercise, and memorize the warning signs of a Dachshund back injury so you can catch and treat it early.
The Dachshund is listed by Banfield Pet Hospital as one of the top 10 breeds at highest risk of obesity.
Some Dachshund owners don’t consider pet obesity a health issue but the latest Association for Pet Obesity Survey shows many pet parents and veterinary professionals consider it a disease.
The problem is that a significant portion of pet parents don’t know what their Dachshund should weigh and fail to recognize when they could lose a few pounds.
The same study above found that only 39% of dog owners consider their pet overweight or obese, which contrasts with numerous reports indicating over 50% of dogs and cats are overweight.
Being severely overweight can take years off your Dachshund’s life and lead to several other health issues on this list, including arthritis, and a higher risk when going under anesthesia.
It can also influence the frequency and severity of disk rupture caused by Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) because the extra hanging weight puts stress on the spine.
A Dachshund can become overweight at any age but it’s most prevalent in Dachshunds that eat too much, don’t exercise enough, and that have been spayed or neutered.
3) Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)
Cushing’s Disease is caused when the adrenal glands produce too much of a steroid hormone called cortisone.
It can be caused by either a benign tumor on the pituitary gland or an adrenal gland tumor.
This hormone imbalance usually develops slowly, mostly occurs in old age, and can easily be mistaken for signs of aging.
Cushing’s Disease symptoms include excessive drinking, urination accidents in the house, hair loss, increased appetite, and weight gain.
All of these things can be symptoms of other issues too but Cushing’s is the most common cause, especially when they all present at the same time.
Fortunately, Cushing’s is fairly treatable with oral medications or surgery to remove the adrenal glands.
4) Dental Issues
Dachshunds are predisposed to dental issues because of their small size, and the chondrodysplasia mentioned above, can result in the crowding of teeth in the jaw.
When teeth are overcrowded, they can put pressure on each other, causing microscopic cracks that then become vulnerable to periodontal disease.
Crowded teeth are also prone to trap food, plaque, and calculus in between them, leading to infection and inflammation.
Another Dachshund dental issue is broken teeth.
Dachshunds are really tough chewers (seriously, try to find a toy they can’t destroy) and bite down hard.
This most commonly results in a cracked or broken molar, but canine teeth can break off too.
A broken tooth typically causes pain so it will need to be removed.
You can help keep your Dachshund’s teeth healthy with a good home dental routine, which can include brushing or cleaning your dog’s teeth without a toothbrush.
You may also want to consider the occasional anesthesia-free dog teeth cleaning from a licensed professional to help keep the buildup of tartar down.
If your Dachshund’s teeth get really dirty, or you see signs of infection, they will likely require a thorough cleaning, and x-ray, at the vet under anesthesia.
5) Skin Issues
Dachshunds are prone to three primary skin conditions – irritation and yeast overgrowth, dry, flaky skin, and alopecia (baldness).
Yeast and flaky skin
Yeast overgrowth on the skin in dogs can be caused by food or environmental allergies, hormonal imbalances, poor hygiene, immune system disorders, antibiotic use, or excess moisture.
Dry, flaky skin is most often caused by bathing too much, allergies, or genetics.
The symptoms of both can be similar and include itching and scratching, skin redness and inflammation, and, in the case of a yeast infection, greasy or oily skin and a foul odor.
If you suspect the cause of your dog’s skin issues is a yeast infection, and regular bathing and keeping the skin dry does not make it go away, then it’s best to consult with your vet to determine the best remedy.
That may include switching your dog’s diet to avoid allergens, medicated shampoos, topical creams or ointments, and/or oral medication such as antifungal drugs.
If your Dachshund is merely itching due to dry, flaky skin, you may want to try bathing them a little less often (this is how often you should bathe your Dachshund) and adding omega-3 fish oils to their food.
Doing both of these things cured my first Dachshund’s itchiness and flaky skin.
Changing your Dachshund’s diet, and using these tips to help prevent and address common Dachshund skin conditions, can help too.
Baldness in Dachshunds is primarily caused by something called color dilution alopecia (CDA).
This condition is most common in “dilute” color Dachshunds like blue and isabella and is associated with the genes that cause this coloring.
Because of this, there isn’t much you can do except manage symptoms and help with heat regulation (with Dachshund jackets, etc.).
Pinnal Alopecia – hair loss specifically on the ears – is also common in Dachshunds and can be developed by any of them, regardless of age or color.
This condition can sometimes be mitigated by rubbing a skin soothing balm or coconut oil on the ends of the ears but may require a vet visit if they crack or get infected.
Other Potential Health Problems
While some of the health issues listed below are less common in Dachshunds, they all occur frequently enough to mention.
6) Food Allergies
Food allergies occur when the immune system reacts abnormally to a protein or other ingredient in the dog’s food.
Dachshunds, like any other breed, can develop food allergies, and some may be more prone to it than others.
Allergies can be a problem on their own but most typically exacerbate other issues such as skin issues and gastrointestinal problems.
Dog food allergies are also the most common culprit of ear infections, which can cause a yeast overgrowth leading to head shaking, scratching at the ears, and a foul odor.
Common food allergens for dogs include beef, chicken, dairy, wheat, soy, and corn.
If it is suspected that your dog may have a food allergy, your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet.
During an elimination diet, your dog is fed a special diet consisting of novel proteins and carbohydrates for several weeks to see if the symptoms improve.
If the symptoms do improve, the dog may be allergic to one or more of the ingredients in their previous food.
Once the allergen is identified, you can switch to a dog food that doesn’t contain the offending ingredients, which may include a raw diet, kibble without that source of protein, or a prescription dog food recommended by your veterinarian (I’m a proponent of trying the former two first).
7) Pes varus and pes valgus
Pes varus and pes valgus are both angular limb deformities that can occur in any breed, but are more commonly seen in achondroplastic, or dwarf, breeds such as Dachshunds.
These conditions are caused by uneven growth of a pair of bones (bones sitting side-by-side), whereby one bone stops growing prematurely, causing the paired bone (which is still growing) to bend and twist. (source)
Varus is a Latin term meaning bent inward whereas valgus is a Latin word that denotes being bent outward.
Pes varus, also known as “bow leggedness,” is a condition where the legs bend outward at the knees, causing the feet to turn inward.
A Dachshund with pes varus is sometimes described as having a club foot or as walking like a cowboy.
Pes valgus is a condition where the legs bend inward at the knees, causing the feet to turn outward.
This condition is also sometimes referred to as a Queen Anne front (named for the furniture style that was popular in the time of Queen Anne).
Both pes varus and pes valgus can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, growth abnormalities, and trauma (like a fall or vigorously exercising a puppy too soon).
Sometimes, these deformities are not enough to cause too much extra stress on the joints and a Dachshund can live normally.
But if the deformity is extreme enough to cause pain, discomfort, and trouble walking, a Dachshund may require orthopedic devices such as braces or splints, corrective surgery, and/or physical therapy.
Additionally, keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight and providing appropriate exercise can help reduce the risk of orthopedic issues like pes varus.
Dachshunds, like any other breed, can develop diabetes, and some may be more prone to it than others.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs can suffer from two different types of diabetes.
Insulin-deficiency diabetes (type 1 diabetes) occurs when the dog’s pancreas is damaged, or otherwise not functioning properly, and isn’t producing enough insulin.
This is the most common type of diabetes in dogs and those with this type of diabetes need daily shots to replace the missing insulin.
Insulin-resistance diabetes (type 2 diabetes) occurs when the pancreas is producing some insulin, but the dog’s body isn’t utilizing the insulin as it should.
This type of diabetes can especially occur in older, obese dogs.
Diabetes can cause a range of symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, weight loss, lethargy and frequent urinary tract infections.
If your Dachshund is diagnosed with diabetes, treatment may include insulin injections, dietary changes, and regular blood glucose monitoring.
9) Luxating Patella
The word “patella” refers to the kneecap. “Luxating” means out of place.
Therefore, a luxating patella is an out of place, or dislocated, kneecap.
Many dogs, especially small dogs with bowed legs like Dachshunds, are prone to a luxating patella, because the point of the patellar ligament attachment is not in the center of the shin bone like it should be.
In dogs with a luxating patella, the kneecap can move out of place and catch (not move back into place) while walking or exercising.
It can cause pain and discomfort and cause a Dachshund to skip, hold one leg up in the air while moving, or refuse to walk.
If the condition is minor, it may not happen frequently enough that something needs to be done about it or physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
If it is impacting a dog’s quality of life too much, surgery may be recommended.
10) Hip Dysplasia
People most often hear about hip dysplasia in reference to larger breeds like the German Shepherd, but Dachshunds can suffer from the condition too (although several veterinarians have told me that it’s rare).
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition caused by the abnormal development of the hip joint, which can result in the ball and socket not fitting together properly.
Symptoms include pain, stiffness, difficulty getting up or down, reluctance to climb stairs or jump, lameness, and difficulty walking.
However, some dogs with hip dysplasia may not show any symptoms at all.
According to Pumpkin Pet Insurance,
“Dogs can start showing signs of hip dysplasia as early as a few months old, but it is most common to start seeing symptoms in dogs one to two years of age.
However, it is possible to not see symptoms until later on in a dog’s life, as the disease can develop alongside other diseases such as osteoarthritis.”
Treatment for hip dysplasia includes weight management, exercise modification, pain-managing medications, joint supplements, and surgery.
Dachshunds have a higher-than-average risk of developing some cancers.
This includes a particular risk of developing mast cell tumors and squamous cell carcinoma.
Dachshunds can also develop other types of cancers, including testicular cancer, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, Hemangiosarcoma, anal sac cancer.
It’s important to check your dog’s skin regularly for any abnormal lumps on or just under the skin’s surface, including on their feet, and to have your vet check any lumps you find.
Other signs that your dog might have cancer include extreme losses in appetite and/or energy.
12) Cardiac Disorders
Dachshunds can develop several types of heart disorders, including mitral valve disease (MVD), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), aortic stenosis (AS), and congestive heart failure (CHF).
Out of that list, I have most often heard of Dachshunds with congestive heart failure (CHF).
However, as it turns out, congestive heart failure is a blanket term for a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood effectively, leading to a buildup of fluid in the lungs and other organs.
CHF can be caused by a variety of underlying heart conditions, including mitral valve disease (MVD), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), and other congenital heart defects.
Symptoms of CHF in dogs can include coughing, difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, lethargy, and weakness.
If you suspect your Dachshund may be suffering from CHF, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for CHF in dogs may include medications to help manage symptoms and improve heart function, such as diuretics to help remove excess fluid, ACE inhibitors to help dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, and/or positive inotropes to help improve heart contractility.
In addition to medication, a veterinarian may recommend dietary changes and exercise restrictions to help manage the condition.
While CHF can be a serious condition, with appropriate treatment and management, many dogs with CHF can lead healthy and active lives.
Dachshunds are prone to several neurologic disorders, including seizures and epilepsy.
As with humans, seizures in dogs are caused by a misfiring of the brain or an imbalance of brain chemicals.
Symptoms can include freezing into a rigid position, jerking motions, tremors, imbalance, excessive sleeping, or weakness.
During this irregular brain activity, a Dachshund will essentially be unconscious but still awake.
Their body will act in strange ways, and they will not be able to hear or respond to you.
I experienced one Dachshund seizure in person and the dog’s body became stiff, he got a vacant look in his eyes, and he stood in one place swaying back and forth a little.
I’ve heard of some other Dachshunds urinating or defecating during a seizure.
I’ve been told that Dachshunds with the dapple gene are genetically prone to regular seizures (the one I described above was dapple and so is Summit’s sibling, who is dapple and has seizures).
Wire-haired Dachshunds are susceptible to a specific type of epilepsy called Lafora’s Disease (see below for more).
If your Dachshund has a seizure, the veterinarian will run tests. But do be aware that sometimes a distinct cause can’t be found.
Treatment for seizures includes anti-seizure medications, dietary changes, environmental modifications like reducing stress and triggers and alternative therapies such as acupuncture or CBD oil.
14) Lafora Disease
Lafora disease (LD) is an inherited, late onset, progressive myoclonic epilepsy.
It appears as brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles that usually only lasts a second or two.
Any Dachshund can have it but there is a high prevalence in the miniature Wirehaired Dachshund – up to 20% of miniature wire hairs can be affected.
15) Eye Problems
Dachshunds are at risk for eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and dry eye (known as KCS, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca).
Some of these eye issues are extremely painful or can cause blindness if not treated right away.
Dry eye can cause itchy, irritated eyes, eye redness, weepy eyes (discharge), or a cloudy appearance.
If something looks off with your Dachshund’s eyes, or you think they may be losing their sight, see your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
Dachshunds can also have cherry eye, which is a condition where the gland that produces tears prolapses (bulges out) from its normal position, causing a red, swollen mass in the corner of the eye.
While this condition is not typically serious, it can cause discomfort and require surgery to correct.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that older dogs can develop nuclear sclerosis (also known as lenticular sclerosis) as a normal aging of the lens within the eye.
It causes a dog’s eyes to have a hazy, blue, cloudy appearance to them and is often confused with glaucoma.
However nuclear sclerosis is generally not painful and does not interfere with a dog’s sight.
My senior Dachshund has lived with this condition for over 4 years and it doesn’t affect her vision or quality of life.
16) Liver Disease
Dachshunds are prone to certain types of liver disease, including hepatic lipidosis (also known as fatty liver disease) and portosystemic shunts (PSS).
Hepatic lipidosis is a condition where fat accumulates in the liver, leading to liver damage and potential liver failure.
Dachshunds are particularly prone to this condition because of their predisposition to obesity and because they have a genetic tendency to store fat in their liver.
Symptoms of hepatic lipidosis in Dachshunds may include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and jaundice.
Portosystemic shunts are a congenital condition where blood flow is diverted around the liver so it can’t effectively remove toxins from the bloodstream.
Symptoms of PSS in Dachshunds may include poor growth, vomiting, lethargy, and seizures.
If you suspect your Dachshund may be suffering from liver disease, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for liver disease in Dachshunds may include dietary changes, medication, and/or surgery.
17) Stomach Issues
It’s not uncommon for Dachshund’s to experience stomach issues.
Some are merely sensitive to certain foods or abrupt food changes.
Others can suffer from gastroenteritis, a term referring to stomach issues resulting in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE), and Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Gastroenteritis has an underlying cause such as parasites, dietary issues, etc.
HGE can have similar symptoms as gastroenteritis but has a severe onset and no underlying cause can be found.
The main symptoms are bloody diarrhea and sudden onset.
IBD is a condition where the lining of the stomach and/or intestines becomes inflamed, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Dachshunds, because of their propensity to chew, and sometimes chew things that are not actually food, are prone to intestinal blockages requiring surgery to remove (my first Dachshund Chester needed this surgery twice).
Symptoms of a GI foreign body in Dachshunds may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
Dachshunds are a deep-chested breed so can also develop gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat.
Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach becomes distended and can twist, leading to reduced blood flow to the stomach and other organs.
However, I have been told by several veterinarians that this condition is very rare in Dachshunds, despite their deep chests (other breeds that commonly get it have deep chests too).
Symptoms of GDV in Dachshunds may include restlessness, panting, vomiting, and a distended abdomen.
To help prevent stomach issues in Dachshunds, it’s important to feed a high-quality diet, provide regular exercise (but not heavy exercise immediately after eating), and supervise your dog to prevent them from eating things they shouldn’t.
Treatment for stomach issues may include dietary changes, medication, and/or surgery.
18) Immune System Disorders
Dachshunds are prone to several types of immune system disorders, including allergies, Immunodeficiency disorders, and autoimmune disease.
Allergies were covered above.
Immunodeficiency disorders occur when the immune system is unable to function properly, leading to increased susceptibility to infections and other health problems.
An autoimmune disease causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues and cells.
Dachshunds are prone to several types of autoimmune diseases, including immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, where the immune system attacks the red blood cells, and autoimmune thyroiditis, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
If you suspect your Dachshund may be suffering from an immune system disorder, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for immune system disorders in Dachshunds may include medication, dietary changes, and/or immune system modulators.
Dementia, or canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) syndrome, is not Dachshund-specific but it is common.
CCD is a progressive and irreversible neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain, leading to changes in behavior, memory, and cognitive function.
CCD is commonly seen in older dogs, and its symptoms can be similar to those seen in human Alzheimer’s disease.
The exact cause of CCD is not fully understood, but it is believed to be associated with brain changes such as beta-amyloid plaques, oxidative stress, and neuronal death.
Symptoms of CCD in dogs can include confusion, disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities, and changes in social behavior.
There is no known cure for CCD, but early detection and treatment can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment may include medication, dietary changes, and environmental modifications.
Unfortunately, I had to put my first Dachshund to sleep due to his dementia.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, which can lead to a variety of health issues.
While any breed can develop hypothyroidism, some breeds, including Dachshunds, may be more predisposed to this condition.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, skin issues, and intolerance to cold.
Young dachshunds tend to get this more than older dogs.
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed through a blood test that measures the levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream.
If your Dachshund is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, treatment may include medication to supplement the missing thyroid hormone.
With appropriate treatment, most dogs with hypothyroidism can lead healthy and active lives.
Note: Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease (described above) are both hormonal disorders, but they have different underlying causes and symptoms.
21) Double Dapple Dachshund
A double dapple Dachshund is one that had two dapple parents, which can happen on purpose, could be a result of unintentional breeding, or could be a failure to health test to make sure neither Dachshund parent is a hidden dapple.
While double dapple is not a true health condition in itself, a dog that has double dapple (merle) genes frequently have severe health issues.
Double Dapple Dachshunds are often mistaken for piebald Dachshunds because of the significant amount of white on their body, but there are a few ways to tell them apart.
- Piebalds only have brown eyes. They’ll never have blue eyes, or one blue eye, or a blue tick in an eye (source).
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Dachshund breed standard also backs this up: “eyes are never partially or wholly blue as distinguished from the dapple pattern.”
- If you look at a piebald Dachshund head-on, the colored areas will cover both ears and be symmetrical – what you see on the left side you should see mirrored on the right side.
- The colored patches on a piebald have smooth, rounded edges. Double dapples will have jagged patches of color.
- Double dapples often have “starburst eyes” – The pupil (black spot in the center of the eye) will have spiked, jagged, or irregular edges – or misshapen eyes.
The most common health issues in double dapple Dachshunds are malformed ears, malformed eyes, and deafness and blindness.
However, they can also have internal deformities and health issues that can’t be seen.
Most double dapples can be spotted due to their coat pattern and misshapen eyes but a genetic test can also confirm.
Because double dapple is genetic, nothing can be done except manage the symptoms.
Although this list of Dachshund health issues may seem long and scary, the majority of these listed are merely possibilities and not super common.
The most prevalent Dachshund health concerns – the ones I’ve seen most often over the last 10+ years, are back problems (IVDD), allergies, Cushing’s disease, seizures, teeth problems, skin issues, and obesity.
However, I wanted to include every health condition I think Dachshund owners should be aware of.
The most important thing you can do to protect your Dachshund’s health is to be aware, know your dog’s normal so you can quickly detect any changes, and see your veterinarian right away if something seems off.
Additionally, working with a reputable breeder who screens their dogs for genetic health issues can help reduce the risk of your Dachshund developing orthopedic conditions or other genetic health problems.
Note: I am not pro breeder or against rescue – I’m just stating a fact