top of page

Dachshund Health

DHUK logo final.png.webp

You should keep an eye on the ears and carry out regular checks. Common problems are yeast and bacterial infections and ear mites. Also, look out for foreign bodies that may have been picked up while you were out for a walk. If you notice any problems, then visit your local vet to make sure any infection is treated promptly.

Because of the length of the body, these breeds also often have some issues with their spine and joints, and it’s important to avoid excessive jumping that can put pressure on the disks. Their short legs can develop problems around the joints as they grow older. Weight gain should be avoided, so you need to make sure that your dog gets the proper diet and enough exercise.

There are some specific issues that are inherited in Dachshunds. For wire- haired Dachshunds, there is an issue with the development of brittle bone disease and the probability of this increases if the parent animal has suffered. For all breeds, there is a greater likelihood of eye conditions such as cataracts, cherry eye, and glaucoma in later life.

PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy

PRA is a disease of the retina, the membrane that lines the back of the eye and which contains tiny receptors that record what we see and send that information to the brain. A dog’s eye is constructed in a very similar way to your own eye. Without a retina, or with a retina that is damaged or not functioning effectively, we cannot see, and neither can our dogs. PRA causes a gradual and incurable degeneration of the retina in both eyes; the affected dog’s sight will diminish, and he/she could eventually become completely blind.

What Does PRA Stand For?

Progressive because the disease causes the dog to become progressively more blind as time goes on.

Retinal because the damage is to the retina itself.

Atrophy because that’s the word scientists like to use for something that is degenerating or being destroyed.

DNA Tests

There are many different types of retinal atrophy, and companies such as Animal Genetics and Laboklin, which we use, have developed a range of tests to help breeders choose healthy dogs to breed from.

DNA tests are particularly helpful because they identify three categories of dogs:

1. Affected

2. Carriers

3. Clear

Every dog has two copies of the gene, which is responsible for the health of the rod cells in his/her eyes. They will have inherited one of these copies from each of his/her parents. If only one of the pair of genes is faulty, the healthy gene will over-ride it, and the disease will not develop.

PRA Affected Dogs

PRA Affected dogs have two faulty genes and will all go on to get PRA at some point. They will eventually lose their eyesight, sometimes at a very young age. If they are allowed to mate, they should ALWAYS be mated to a PRA CLEAR dog.

PRA Carrier Dogs

Carriers have one faulty gene and one healthy gene. The healthy gene will switch off the faulty gene and a carrier will never develop retinal atrophy. A Carrier should always be mated to a PRA CLEAR Dog.

PRA Clear Dogs

Clear dogs have two healthy genes. What PRA clear means is that the puppy or dog can never develop retinal atrophy. The PRA clear dog can also never pass the gene for PRA on to their puppies. This makes them ideal candidates for breeding. But the blood test has an added bonus.

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral Disk Degeneration can cause a number of symptoms in domestic dogs ranging from signs of mild pain to partial or complete paralysis. Most cases fall somewhere in between these two extremes. The signs of IVDD can mimic those of acutely ruptured disks such as from trauma or otherwise, but the causes are very different. IVDD occurs more commonly in certain breeds but can occur in any breed or mix of breeds and in dogs of any age or gender. IVDD can lead to permanent nerve damage, making timely recognition and intervention extremely important.

Symptoms of IVDD

The observable signs of intervertebral disk disease can be quite variable. Owners of affected dogs may notice one or more of the following symptoms, which can be sudden, intermittent, or gradual in onset:

  • Neck pain and stiffness (reluctance to move the neck and head) Lowered head stance

  • Back pain and stiffness

  • Yelping unexpectedly when touched or moving

  • Abdominal tenderness or tenseness

  • Arched back (hunched posture, called “thoracolumbar kyphosis”) Sensitivity to touch (possible aggression)

  • Sensitivity to movement

  • Impaired, incomplete or inappropriate urination

  • Lameness

  • Dragging one or more legs when walking

  • “Toeing over” or “knuckling over” when walking or standing Weakness

  • Stiffness

  • Stilted gait; tentative gait

  • Reluctance to rise

  • Tremors, trembling, shaking

  • Lack of coordination (“ataxia”)

  • Abnormal reflexes

  • Collapse

  • Paralysis in one or more limbs

Owners often notice similar signs after their dog has engaged in strenuous physical activity or experienced acute physical trauma. An acutely ruptured disk can be caused in an otherwise normal dog by jumping off high places, jumping out of a car or off the bed of a pick-up truck, playing a rousing game of fetch or Frisbee or leaping out of an owner’s arms, among other activities.

A healthy dog can also suffer acute-onset of disk damage when it has been hit by a car, attacked by another animal, or experienced some other form of trauma. This type of acute traumatic injury is not the same as IVDD, although the symptoms can be very similar. IVDD involves a degenerative process and does not result merely from sudden trauma, although sudden trauma can cause rupture or herniation of an intervertebral disk in a dog whose disks already are weakened by IVDD.

Dogs at Increased Risk

Intervertebral disk disease occurs primarily in middle-aged chondrodystrophic breeds (3 to 6 years). When it occurs in nonchondrodystrophic breeds, they typically are older (8 to 10 years). “Chondrodystrophy” is a disorder of cartilage formation. “Cartilage” is a specialized, tough, gristly type of connective tissue that essentially provides a model for bone development and growth. In chondodystrophic breeds such as Dachshunds, Bulldogs and Bassett Hounds, chondrodystrophy is seen as characteristic angular limb deformities and abnormally short legs otherwise known as hereditary dwarfism. Other chondrodystrophic breeds include Beagles, Corgis, Cocker Spaniels, Pekingese, Shih-Tzus and Poodles. Nonchondrodystrophic breeds that are commonly affected by IVDD include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Doberman Pinschers. Obese dogs of predisposed breeds are especially likely to suffer from IVDD.

Kennel Club IVDD Screening Scheme

The Kennel Club IVDD Scheme for Dachshunds in partnership with Dachshund Health UK uses X-ray to detect the presence and severity of IVDD in all varieties of Dachshunds. The scheme assesses for spine calcifications and gives guidance to breeders on how to reduce the risk of producing puppies affected by intervertebral disc disease.

Your dog will receive a grade ranging from 0 to 3, depending on the number of calcifications present in the spine. The higher the grade the higher the number of calcifications found and the more at risk a dog is for developing clinical signs and passing the disease on to any offspring.

  • Grade 0: your dog has no calcifications

  • Grade 1: one to two calcifications have been observed

  • Grade 2: three to four calcifications have been observed

  • Grade 3: five or more calcifications have been observed

bottom of page