One of the peculiarities of Dachshunds that has puzzled dog lovers for years is their tendency to sit up on their hind legs like a prairie dog.
If you’ve ever owned a Dachshund, you’ve probably witnessed this behavior firsthand.
Your furry little friend might suddenly pop up onto his hind legs, with his front paws dangling in the air, and stare at you with his heartstring-pulling eyes.
It’s a strange sight, to be sure, but it’s also incredibly cute.
So why do Dachshunds sit up like this? Is it just a random quirk of their breed, or is there a deeper reason behind it?
In this article I explore some potential causes why your Dachshund may sit up and discuss the safety of doing so.
Why Do Dachshunds Sit Up?
If you’ve caught your Dachshund sitting up on their hind legs, you may have wondered what prompted them to do it.
The truth is, nobody knows for sure.
There are a few theories, though, that might help shed some light on this quirky behavior.
To get a better view
One theory is that Dachshunds sit up like this as a way of getting a better view of their surroundings.
Because they are such small dogs, they might find it difficult to see everything that’s going on around them when they are down on all fours.
By sitting up, they can get a higher vantage point and take in more of their environment.
Begging and attention
Another theory is that Dachshunds sit up like this as a way of begging for food or attention.
When they sit up like this, they look incredibly cute and endearing, which might make their owners more likely to give them treats or pet them.
While many dog owners train their dogs to sit up like a prairie dog, Dachshunds just have a natural instinct to do it.
There is no definitive answer to why their instinct is to do this, but Dachshund were created to use as hunting dogs.
They ran through the woods and spotted game for hunters.
Since Dachshunds are short, sitting up on their haunches was likely the best way for them to see over a long distance (no pun intended).
Whatever the reason, I can say that sitting up on their haunches is common to Dachshunds.
Is it Bad for a Dachshund to Sit Up on Their Hind Legs?
You’ve probably seen someone post a cute photo of their Dachshund sitting up on their butt on social media… only to get blasted by a few people because “it’s dangerous” or “will hurt their back”.
But is that true?
Sitting up on their haunches for short periods of time is generally not harmful to healthy, adult Dachshunds.
To the contrary, sitting up may actually be beneficial for your Dachshund.
The rehab veterinarian we saw when my Dachshund Gretel was recovering from her back injury, confirmed my research.
Sitting upright on their hind legs can actually help strengthen some of the muscles in a Dachshund’s body that help to support the spine.
Sitting upright engages their hind leg muscles to maintain balance and support their weight.
It also engages their lower back and core muscles to keep their upper body steady and maintain proper posture.
By repeating this behavior, your Dachshund can build strength in these muscles, which can help improve their overall agility, balance, and stability.
However, our vet did say not to ask a Dachshund to extend the time they would naturally sit up and encourage them to do it often.
In other words, let them choose to do it when the mood strikes and let them choose to stop doing it naturally.
Dogs are pretty good at knowing when to self-limit when we don’t push them.
Should You Let Your Dachshund Sit Up?
As I always do, I wrote this article to inform, not to tell you the choice you should make for your Dachshund.
Whether you let your Dachshund sit up on their butt is up to you and should consider their health, fitness, and your comfort with risk.
Even though sitting up is not inherently dangerous for your Dachshund, and may even help their fitness, keep these two things in mind:
- There is a risk of falling if your Dachshund sits upright and the fall can twist and put pressure on the spinal disks
- Sitting up on their hind legs should not be the only core-strengthening exercise your Dachshund gets
If your Dachshund falls over frequently when they try to sit up, you may want to discourage the behavior.
Keep your Dachshund moderately to highly active, and consider physical therapy exercises, to help to keep their core muscles strong and help reduce the risk of injury when they are sitting.
Also, it’s important to note that sitting up like that is not good for all Dachshunds.
For example, it can put strain on their spine, so if you know your Dachshund has Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), you may not want them to do it.
Whatever the reason behind the phenomenon of Dachshund naturally sitting up on their hind end, there’s no denying that it’s one of the special quirks that endear us to them.
Sitting up is not inherently bad for a Dachshund and may, in fact, help to strengthen their spine-supporting muscles.
So, the next time your furry friend sits up like a prairie dog, you may want to just smile and enjoy the moment.
However, it’s important to be mindful of the potential health risks and make sure that your Dachshund is not overdoing it.
If you notice any signs of discomfort after your Dachshund has sat up on their hind legs, such as limping or difficulty walking, it’s best to discourage the behavior and consult with your veterinarian.