I organize a Dachshund Club in Seattle, the Adventureweiner Club, which consists of over 500 human members. It goes without saying that I get a lot of questions about the Dachshund breed, and, because our club is one centered around being active with your Dachshund, one of the common questions I hear is “do you think my Dachshund could lose some weight?”
I’m no veterinarian, but I’ve owned Dachshunds for 14 years, I’ve blogged about them for almost six, I’ve organized the Dachshund club for over five, and I was a Doxie walker and sitter (yes, I stuck primarily to the long and low) during my three years of grad school. I would venture to say have a high level of expertise when it comes to Dachshunds, and I am more than willing to share what I know when asked.
So, let’s get down to it.
What Should Your Dachshund Weigh?
I want to clear up some things about Dachshunds and their weight.
First, Dachshunds come in several sizes. The most widely recognized categories are miniature and standard. With Dachshunds, their category is determined by size/weight, not breed lines or the size of their parents. For example, two miniature Dachshund parents can have a puppy that grows up to be a standard. Dachshunds are all the same breed, whereas the sizes are just sub-categories of the breed.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes two sizes in the AKC Dachshund breed standard – standard and miniature. A Miniature is 11 lbs and under at 12 months of age. Standards are between 16 and 32 lbs. In Germany, they also recognize a “rabbit” size dachshund. Rabbit Dachshunds are smaller in stature than miniatures. When they are full grown their rib-cage circumference is 11 inches or under and they weigh no more than 8 lbs.
However, as Dachshund owners know, there are many more size variations than that. What about Dachshunds that are between 11 lbs and 16 lbs? We know they exist. The Dachshund community has fittingly deemed them “tweenies.” Some people claim that they are technically standards since they don’t fit into the miniature classification.
Having so much variation in weight among the breed can make it difficult to determine what the proper weight for YOUR dog actually is. An easy mistake Dachshund owners often make is saying “my Doxie weighs 18 lbs so he/she must be a standard.” However, your pup may be 2, 4, or even 10 lbs overweight and is actually a miniature underneath that unnecessary fat.
Pet Obesity is an Epidemic
A Veterinarian can examine a dog’s bone structure and body structure to make recommendations for ideal weight. Estimating body condition, using an illustrated weight chart, is a “simple” thing you can do yourself at home. A body condition chart has photos or sketches, as well as descriptions, which tell you how to determine the proper weight by look and feel.
Below is the general chart for dogs. A body score of 3 is typically considered ideal. However, I have spoken to many vets about a Dachshund’s weight and they tell me that sometimes the last two rib bones can be easily seen at the ideal weight. (I’ve also heard that this is common with other deep-chested breeds like Greyhounds).
It’s pretty easy to see these weight “markers” if your dog has a short or slick coat. If they have longer hair, these things generally need to be determined by feel and by smooshing the hair down to look.
The word “simple” above is in quotes because if it were that simple everyone would recognize if their dog is at the ideal weight or needs to lose a pound, or two, or 1o. Over 55% of all US dogs and cats are estimated to be overweight or obese according to the latest study from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
A recent article in the Scientific American highlighted a study that found many people do not know a fat dog when they see one. It said that people often minimize how overweight their pets are. They tell themselves, “I guess he could lose a pound or two” but don’t see it as a big deal.
What many people don’t realize is that extra pounds on a pet can take TWO YEARS off of their life. And that’s not necessarily two years off of a healthy life either. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, obesity is our pets’ #1 health threat. Obese pets are at higher risk of developing diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. In addition, carrying extra weight is terrible for a Dachshund’s back.
Did You Call My Dog Fat? That’s Kind of Harsh
If you think I’m a little harsh about the weight issue sometimes, that is because I am very passionate about this issue. I promote hiking and being active with your dog on my blog, and with my Adventureweiner Club, to bring awareness to, and combat, obesity.
I am not going to lie. I get angry when I see people post pictures online of their obese pet and then celebrating their “cute, chubby dog”. Fat is NOT cute! It’s sadand, quite frankly, it’s unfair to your pup.
Dogs can’t speak up and tell us how they are feeling about the extra weight. However, I can speak from experience myself that it’s possible to look happy despite being overweight and feeling like crap a lot of the time.
People can look “healthy” from the outside but still have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Those things can severely limit ones quality of life and be a significant factor in determining how long they live (spoiler alert: it’s shorter).
That being said, I admit that I don’t know each individual dog’s story. There ARE circumstances beyond an owner’s control that can result in an overweight pet such as limited mobility of the owner, a disease the dog has, or medication. That’s why I mostly keep my opinions and thoughts to myself. If someone asks for my opinion about the issue though, I am not afraid to “tell it like it is.”
Now that we’ve addressed the issue, let’s discuss the solution to either obtaining or maintaining that trim and fit body type your dachshund was born to have. The most basic and important thing you can do is to control your Doxie’s daily food intake—this includes food portion and schedule.
Commercial dog foods contain a feeding guide with portion recommendations on the label. As with people, the perfect amount of food for your Dachshund is a case by case situation, and should be adjusted according to the exercise levels of your pup. If possible, I recommend talking with your vet about the proper amount of food to feed your Dachshund.
Additionally, establish a regular feeding routine. Decide how many meals a day is best for your Dachshund (I feed mine twice a day), and stick to it! I know it may take a little extra time to do so, but leaving food out all day for your dog allows them the opportunity to overeat, and consequently gain unnecessary pounds.
Speaking of unnecessary weight… how often are you handing out treats? I know all too well the temptation to slip your little one a tasty token of your love here and there throughout the day. Dachshunds have a way of totally disarming their owners with those hilariously convincing eyes (I’m sure you all know the look I’m talking about). While I don’t discourage the occasional treat, it’s important that you’re careful not to over-do it. It’s also best to stay away from feeding them fattening human food. Find other ways to reward your dog for being so wonderful, whether it be verbal praise, a belly rub, or taking them out to play with their favorite toy.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a firm believer that Dachshunds can get outside and be just as active as your neighborhood lab. Don’t let those sausage legs fool you: Dachshunds are athletic and love to be outdoors, and daily exercise is just as important to their health as is their eating regime. Make sure your pup is getting outside for at least thirty minutes every day, whether it be walking around the block or hiking up a mountain. Staying active is key to weight loss, and will ensure your dog is not only staying fit, but happy as well.
I hope, if anything, this has challenged you to view your Doxie in a different light. Rather than let the general stats tell you which category of Dachshund—rabbit, miniature or standard—your dog falls under, let their body and energy levels do the talking. Remember: your 16 lb “standard” Dachshund may actually be an overweight miniature.
If you’re noticing fat deposits in places where they shouldn’t be, I encourage you to start taking the necessary steps to get your pup back on track for a long and healthy life. Pet obesity is an epidemic that needs to end, and the change starts with you.
When is the last time you checked your dog’s weight?