I didn’t necessarily choose to become a Dachshund owner. I mean I CHOSE to adopt Chester but I had to idea about Dachshunds when he came into my life. I was a clueless Dachshund owner for years. I only had one, and didn’t know anyone who had one, so I had nothing to compare him to.
I’ve become pretty knowledgeable over the years. It started with reading everything I could about the Dachshund breed. Eventually I started a Dachshund club – the Adventurewiener Club, which has almost 500 members – and started learning about the difference and similarities between Dachshunds. I started this blog and, although it’s primarily about hiking with small dogs, my readers and article research opened my eyes and heart to the breed even more. I’ve also taken care of a lot of other Dachshunds for the past 4 years through my “Doxie walking” and “Doxie sitting” businesses. I don’t claim to be an EXPERT but I can say that there isn’t much I don’t know about Dachshunds.
I may not have chosen a Dachshund in the beginning but now I’m pretty much obsessed with them. They will steal your heart with their love, devotion, and silly antics. As the saying goes – “They’re like chips. It’s hard to have just one.” I almost can’t see myself owning another breed of dog now.
However, I DO wish I knew some of the things I know now from the start. Knowledge is power and it makes for a happy healthy life for both you and your Dachshund.
Note: some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that we get a few pennies if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, to help support this blog (and we really, really appreciate it!)
Top 21 Things Every Dachshund Owner Must Know
1) Dachshund are hunting dogs – They’re scent hounds to be exact. They were bred to cover ground, sniffing out badgers and other small game. This means that they are they are controlled by 2 things: their nose and their belly!
You can help a Dachshund feel like they are “hunting” for food and treats by joining a nosework class or buying a Snuffle Mat for home.
2) Dachshunds are stubborn and super smart – Dachshunds were bred to hunt mean animals that live in burrows so they were bred to not back down, or give up, and to think for themselves. They will keep at any problem in front of them until they solve it. Unfortunately, they also use their superpowers to figure out things you don’t want them to.
When I travel with Chester and Gretel in the car, I use a seat belt tether to keep them from wandering the car and getting into something that they shouldn’t (and also for safety when driving). I also place my groceries, dog food, etc. that I buy in a tightly-latched cargo box so they can’t eat it (they COULD still get into it if given enough time, which is why I also use a seat belt tether).
3) People often say, “Dachshunds train you”… and it’s for a reason – Dachshunds want their way how and when they want it. It’s not impossible to train these strong-willed dogs but it takes a lot of patience and consistency. The key is to find what motivates them – toy or food usually – and use that as a reward during training sessions. In the end, you will likely have to adjust your routine a little to set them up for success and make sure they, and you, are happy.
Gretel and Chester are very treat motivated. My favorite training treats are small and low-calorie like Zuke’s Mini Naturals or larger jerky treats they can see/smell from a distance but that allow me to easily break off a tiny piece for a reward.
4) Dachshunds live for a long time – The average age of a Dachshund is 14-16 years old. Most live at least until they are 11 or 12 and I have seen many, many Dachshunds live to be between 17 – 20. If you own a Dachshund, be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
I help keep Chester and Gretel healthy by giving them these supplements.
5) Dachshunds bark often and loudly – Some Dachshund bark more than others but they are generally dogs that bark at the mailman and blowing leaves with equal vigor. You will have to work with them to train your Dachshund to stop barking and keep it under control in most cases. Also, the pizza delivery guy may think you have a Rottweiler behind that door. Just sayin’ 🙂
“You will never need another doorbell. Earmuffs, perhaps, but no doorbell.” – Deci, Dachshund owner
“They’re big barkers. They bark and bark and bark and then bark some more. This is largely hardwired since they were bred to trap prey underground and then bark until the hunters could find them and dig them out.” Kay, Dachshund owner
6) Dachshunds can be picky about weather – Many Dachshunds have what I like to call Wet Belly Syndrome. They are short and close to the ground so rain doesn’t just fall on them from the top but it splashes them from the bottom. Be prepared to meet some resistance if you expect them to go walking in the rain (including going out to go potty) and to shovel a path of snow for them in the back yard. That being said, I am a huge proponent of NOT letting them refuse to go out in inclement weather. If you start young and teach them that you don’t allow stubborn shenanigans on rainy walks, they will learn that it’s something that can be tolerated.
A warm and waterproof jacket made to fit a Dachshund can help them to be comfortable going out in inclement weather.
7) Dachshunds are notoriously hard to potty train – I didn’t consider Chester 90% potty trained until he was 7! Honestly though, a huge part of why it took so long is because I had to figure out that it was his separation anxiety that cased him to pee on the carpet when I left. Potty training is not a one time deal…it is ongoing for their entire life! This might be the #1 reason Dachshunds get surrendered to shelters. It can be frustrating. There IS hope though. I’ve heard from several Dachshund owners who said it was a piece of cake with dedication and consistency.
Their potty training might slip when they become a senior too. Find out what to do when your old dog starts peeing in the house here.
8) Most harnesses and jackets you find in the pet store will not fit your Dachshund – Dachshunds are funny shaped so you will have a hard time finding harnesses and jackets that fit them properly. Jackets that fit their deep chests will be too short to cover their back. Harnesses may not fit right because of their prominent breast bone and may put too much pressure on their delicate windpipe.
If you’re having trouble finding a jacket to fit your pup, you might want to check out our list of jacket suggestions for Dachshunds. One of our favorite harnesses is the VelPro Choke-Free Mesh Harness.
9) Dachshunds are prone to back injury – Dachshunds are genetically prone to a condition called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). This is a hereditary disease and your dog may get it or not no matter how careful you are. Owning a Dachshund is kind of like roulette in that regard. For more, read my article The Truth About Dachshunds and Back Problems. Study the comprehensive IVDD information at the K9 Back Pack to know the warning signs of IVDD and what to do.
None the less, it’s always best to minimize jumping, and other things that put pressure on their long backs, because that can exacerbate the issue. I have a Snoozer Scalloped Dog Ramp for our couch and my mattress/box-spring is laying on the floor to make our bed shorter.
On the other hand, they are not fragile beings that should be kept inactive. Sports like hiking, agility, and Earth Dog can strengthen their backs and keep them supple. Just know your dog’s limit and try to prevent UNNECESSARY jumping from high objects.
11) Have a backup plan for medical expenses – The two most frequent medical issues I’ve seen with Dachshunds is the need for back surgery due to the IVDD mentioned above and bowel obstruction from eating things they shouldn’t. Back surgery can easily cost $5,000 – $7,000 and I’ve known Dachshunds to need surgery more than once. The two best backup plans, in my opinion, are either to have an emergency fund of $5,000 to $10,000 set aside or to invest in good pet insurance. That being said, don’t immediately give them up if they need back surgery and you can’t afford it. A lot of Dachshunds have recovered with conservative treatments like medication and strict crate rest.
12) Support a Dachshund’s back when you pick them up – When lifting and carrying your Dachshund, support their chest and bum so their spine is not stressed. Make sure your friends and relatives know how to properly pick up and carry a Dachshund too. You may also have to remind any pet care professionals you hire like groomers, dog walkers, and dog sitters.
13) Dachshunds are prone to obesity – The nickname “sausage dog” may be cute but your Dachshund should not actually look like one! A Dachshund will ALWAYS tell you they are starving. It’s up to you to have the willpower to say no when they’ve had enough treats and provide the proper quantity of food. Regular exercise is also very important. Obesity is rampant in Dachshunds and can exacerbate IVDD. It can also bring on other serious medical conditions like diabetes. Dachshunds at a proper weight should have a tuck behind their rib-cage (think greyhound) and you should be able to see their waist when looking from the top. If in doubt, check out this body conditioning chart.
14) They’re energetic and need plenty of exercise – Dachshunds are capable of more than you think when it comes to exercise. Most Dachshunds I know took to hiking 3 – 5 miles their first time out. I’ve hiked up to 10 miles a day, three days in a row, with Gretel. I know many Dachshunds who compete and excel in athletic events such as agility. Although not typical, TruMan the Doxie ran a whole marathon (over 26 miles!). Besides needing exercise to stay physically healthy, it will keep them mentally happy. A well exercised Doxie is less likely to bark incessantly and chew things in the house that they shouldn’t.
If they have to be cooped up in the house for the day, spend some time playing fetch with them or tug with a toy. Gretel is not ball motivated but she is OBSESSED with this squeakie ball and will chase it if thrown.
15) Dachshunds have a high prey drive – Dachshund were bred for hunting badgers, rabbits, and other rodents so killing anything that squeaks are part of their nature. That means that anything that is furry and runs fast, or resembles something like that, is seen as prey. While I have seen MANY Dachshunds learn to live peacefully with a kitty or other pet, they will almost ALWAYS see critters outside of the house as something to be chased, hunted, and eaten. Hold onto that leash when near critters and know that random critters in your back yard may meet an early demise.
It can be hard to find a stuffed squeakie toy that they won’t destroy in a few minutes but these are the ones that have lasted more than a day (and sometimes months) around our house: Simply Fido Organic Cotton Bear, KONG Low-Stuffing Toy (with replaceable squeaker), and ZippyPaws Hide and Seek Hedgehogs.
16) Dachshunds love to dig – Flower beds beware! Badgers and rabbits live in the ground so hunters like Dachshund were bred to dig. Their paddle-like feet and determination make them naturals. I know plenty of Dachshunds that are not diggers. Just be aware that your’s might be. That means they could destroy your lawn, dig up your flowers, or dig under the fence to escape.
“They dig because it’s what they are designed to do. If they can take down a badger, you can bet you’re going to need to help them manage impulse control and give them a whole lot of exercise. Big dog, small long body. Big voice, big personality. This ain’t your Momma’s Maltese. It’s a DOG!” – Loren, Dachshund owner
17) Look before you sit – Dachshunds love to burrow under blankets. If there is a blanket on the couch, they are likely sleeping under there. Be sure to feel the blanket or look under it before you sit down.
18) Dachshunds will steal your heart – Their clownish antics and silly looks will melt your heart. Dachshund owners will tell you there like chips – it’s hard to have just one. Many people have at least two and the “once a dachshund owner, always a dachshund owner” mentality leads people to get several over their lifetime.
“Know that they are a fascinating blend of ferocity, entitlement, and neediness … and be ready to live with a tiny clown.” – Pattie, Dachshund owner
19) Dachshunds are fiercely loyal – They are loyal to their people. They love to snuggle with you on the couch, sleep with you in bed, and follow you around the house. They will be protective of their family members and sometimes of only one particular member of the family. Socialization is very important so they don’t become super protective and lash out at strange dogs or people.
“They are fiercely loyal to their “pack”.YOU are their pack. They live to love and be loved.” – Sue, Dachshund owner
“Oh yes they WILL be in your bed. I’ve had dogs my whole life, never slept with any of them. Then I got a dachshund.” – Susan, Dachshund owner
20) Dachshunds are very social – I tell people that this is NOT a breed that will be happy hanging alone all day while you are at work, at least not without another dog for companionship. They are very social and are unhappy when bored and alone.
21) Prepare yourself for a lot fun – Be prepared for wiener jokes. Dachshund owners love a great pun. Also, owning a Dachshund makes you part of a community. Dachshund people are fanatic and gravitate to one another. Random people will run up to you on the street to tell you about theirs out home. There are many Dachshund clubs and meetup groups around the country. I have become good friends with several people who belong to my club. Dachshunds aren’t just a pet, they’re a lifestyle!
You can hear all of the above plus more directly from other Dachshund owners on our Facebook page.
Every dog breed has a set of typical characteristics that make them who they are. Dachshund may certainly be more challenging than some breeds but are less challenging than others. I LOVE, LOVE Dachshunds but they are not a breed for everyone.
If you already own a Dachshund, you should learn all you can about them and learn to WITH them. If you are looking to add a new pup to your household, PLEASE take into consideration all of the above and be honest about whether a Dachshund is the right breed for you. So many Dachshunds end up in shelters every year because people don’t know what they got themselves into when they brought home one of these funny little dogs. That makes me sad!
Are you a Dachshund owner? If you have something to add to this list, please do in the comments.