Updated: October 19, 2020
Whether you are a first-time Dachshund owner, haven’t owned one in a long time, or are thinking of getting one, you’ll definitely want to know these 21 important things about Dachshunds.
My First Dachshund
I became a Dachshund owner kind of by accident.
I mean I CHOSE to adopt my first Dachshund Chester but he was not a breed of dog I had ever considered owning.
I had nothing against small dogs, but since I wanted a dog to hike and travel with me, I hadn’t thought of one.
I used to be one of those people who didn’t think of small dogs when I thought of dogs to hike and camp with.
I knew nothing about the Dachshund breed.
I didn’t do any research before agreeing to take him from an x-roommate that couldn’t keep him.
I didn’t know anyone else who had a Dachshund so I had no experience with one.
I was clueless as to what I was getting myself into.
It was supposed to be a temporary situation but, once I realized that I was in it for the long haul, I figured I better learn about the origin, characteristics, temperament, and health concerns of a Dachshund.
How I Became a Dachshund Breed Expert
I’ve become pretty knowledgeable about the Dachshund breed, both standard and miniature Dachshunds, in the 18 years since I became a Dachshund owner.
Note: there are only two official sizes in the US where I live – Tweenie is a casual “classification” not recognized by the AKC and there is no such thing as a “toy” or “teacup” Dachshund.
Some might say I’m obsessed:
- I started researching everything I could about the Dachshund breed, including personality traits, and health issues.
- I started a Dachshund club – the Adventurewiener Club, which has almost 1000 members – and started learning about the difference and similarities between Dachshunds from members.
- I’ve taken care of a lot of other Dachshunds during my 5 years as a “Doxie walker” and “Doxie sitter”.
- I started this blog (over 9 years ago) and, although it’s also about hiking with small dogs in general, my Dachshund-owning readers and Dachshund research opened my eyes and heart to the breed even more.
I can say that there isn’t much I don’t know about Dachshunds.
I’d even dare to call myself a “Dachshund breed expert” on occasion.
I may not have chosen a Dachshund in the beginning but now I can’t imagine living without one.
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.”
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 collect a small commission on qualifying purchases. Also, I may have, or have had, a working relationship with some of the brands/products I recommend. I only work with companies and product I truly love though.
Top 21 Things Every Dachshund Owner Must Know
1) Dachshunds Are Hunting Dogs
Dachshunds are scent hounds to be exact.
They were bred to hunt, covering a lot of ground, sniffing out badgers, rabbits, and other small game.
This means that they are they are controlled by 2 things: their nose and their belly!
You can help fulfill this natural hunting drive by making them feel like they are “hunting” for food and treats.
2) Dachshunds Smart and Curious
Dachshunds were bred to hunt mean animals that live in burrows.
They were bred to not back down or give up in the face of a threat.
A Dachshund will keep at any problem in front of them until they solve it.
They were also bred to think for themselves because they are down in the burrow without a human telling them what to do.
Unfortunately, that means they may use their superpowers to figure out, or get into, things you don’t want them to.
I also place my groceries, dog food, etc. that I buy in a tightly-latched cargo box so they can’t eat it while I’m not in the vehicle (they probably 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 are strong-willed and want their way how and when they want it.
It’s definitely possible to train a Dachshund though – they are whip smart – but it takes a lot of patience and consistency.
The key is to find what motivates them – a favorite 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.
While your Dachshund will melt your heart and you will want to give them whatever they want, remember that they are dogs that still need structure and manners.
My Dachshunds Gretel and Summit are very treat motivated.
I use the larger venison jerky strips when I need something they can see/smell from a distance during photo shoots.
I can easily break off a tiny pieces for a reward instead of giving them the whole thing at once – have to watch those waistlines you know!
4) Dachshunds Live for a Long Time
The average Dachshund lifespan 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 the ages of 17 – 20.
If you own a Dachshund, be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
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.
Also, the pizza delivery guy may think you have a Rottweiler behind that door. Just sayin’ 🙂
You’ll have to work to train a Dachshund to stop barking and keep it under control in most cases.
This is what some of our readers have to say about it:
“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.
Your Dachshund may refuse to go outside in the cold and rain to potty or walk but it’s up to you to teach them that bad weather won’t hurt them.
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 try walking them in the rain (including going out to go potty) and be prepared to shovel a path if there is snow in your 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 when it’s wet or cold.
7) Dachshunds Are Notoriously Hard to Potty Train
I didn’t consider my Dachshund 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 always a one time deal. Your Dachshund may need refreshers throughout their entire life!
This might be the #1 reason Dachshunds get surrendered to shelters.
There IS hope though.
I believe, and have heard the same from several Dachshund owners, that it’s not very hard to potty train a Dachshund if you are dedicated and consistent.
I was able to potty train my Dachshund puppy in about 6 weeks.
Now she rarely has accidents in the house and if she does it’s usually because I missed her signals that she needed to go out.
Do keep in mind that their potty training might slip when they become a senior dog.
You also might want to keep this natural, pet-safe urine and odor remover on hand.
8) Most Harnesses and Jackets You Find in the Pet Store Will Not Fit Your Dachshund
Harnesses are safer for Dachshunds than collars when walking because they help to project their fragile necks and backs.
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 may be too short to cover their back.
Jackets and harnesses long enough for them may drown them in fabric around the neck and chest.
Harnesses may not fit right because of the Dachshund’s prominent breast bone.
The chest strap on my Dachshunds always slides off to the left or right.
Because the fit is a little off, the harness may put too much pressure on their delicate windpipe.
One of our favorite casual harnesses is the VelPro Choke-Free Mesh Harness. It’s the one Summit and Gretel wear for travel and short, easy walks to potty.
Finding a jacket or harness to fit your Dachshund may take some trial and error.
Read our review of the Velpro Choke-Free Harness for more info.
These are the only ones I’ve found that fit well and don’t chafe them.
Read our review of these great harness for active Dachshunds for more details.
9) Dachshunds Are Prone to Back Injury
Dachshunds are genetically prone to a condition called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
IVDD is a hereditary disease and your dog will either have or not.
If they have it, no matter how careful you are, they could develop a spinal injury in their neck or back.
Owning a Dachshund is kind of like roulette in that regard because 1 in 4 Dachshunds are affected by some kind of spinal injury at some point in their lives.
You won’t know if your Dachshund has IVDD unless they have a back injury. A veterinarian can’t detect it until then.
For more information on IVDD, read my article The Truth About Dachshunds and Back Problems.
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.
You can read more about how I keep my Dachshund from jumping off our furniture HERE.
On the other hand, they are not fragile beings that should be kept inactive.
Sports like hiking (yes, it can be safe to hike with a Dachshund), 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.
Note: You must do these this right away if your Dachshund suddenly becomes paralyzed or has trouble walking.
10) 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 that Dachshunds have special needs when handling.
The first groomer I took Chester to picked him up by his chest and left this back legs dangling.
Then she proceeded to run around and show everyone how cute he was, his back end “flailing in the wind”.
I about had a heart attack.
11) Dachshund Are Prone to a Few Other Health Issues Too
Besides IVDD and back or neck issues, Dachshunds are prone to some other health issues too.
Some of the most common are:
- Dental Disease
- Cushing’s disease
- Patellar luxation (dislocated knee cap)
- Alopecia (baldness) due to color dilution or skin allergies
Dachshunds, like many other breeds, are prone to several different health issues.
Check out this article to see the 11 of the Most Common Health Issues in Dachshunds.
12) Have a Backup Plan for Medical Expenses
The three most frequent medical issues I’ve seen with Dachshunds are:
- The need for back surgery, or expensive physical rehab, due to the IVDD mentioned above
- Teeth cleaning and extractions
- 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.
Depending on where you live in the country, and the extent of any dental disease, teeth cleaning costs can range from around $500 to $1,200 or more.
My Dachshund Chester needed surgery to remove a blockage twice.
The first time, the cost was around $2,000 but it was over $4,000 the second time due to complications.
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 up if your Dachshund needs back surgery and you can’t afford it.
There may be other options besides putting your Dachshund down if you can’t afford the cost of back surgery.
I know of several Dachshunds that have recovered with conservative treatment – medication and strict crate rest – alone.
You may also be able to get assistance with back surgery costs through a charity, Care Credit (card), arescue, or by setting up a GoFundMe.
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.
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.
Two of the most important factors in keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight are to make sure they are getting enough regular exercise and portion control of their food (take into account the number and size of treats they get too).
14) Dachshunds Are Energetic and Need Plenty of Exercise
Because of their small size and short legs, many people think that Dachshund’s don’t need much exercise or are not capable of it.
But they are bred to be hunters, remember? They are bred to be active dogs.
Sure, a Dachshund is happy to laze around the house if you let them but they 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.
Summit loves this squeakie ball and would probably chase it endlessly if I let her.
If you’re not sure your dog is getting enough, check out these ways your Dachshund may be telling you they need more exercise.
15) Dachshunds Have a High Prey Drive
Dachshund were bred for hunting badgers, rabbits, and other rodents so killing anything that squeaks is 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 small animals and know that random wildlife 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.
These are the toys that have lasted more than a day (and sometimes months) around our house:
- ZippyPaws Hide and Seek Burrow Toy – Bucket of Popcorn
- ZippyPaws Hide and Seek Burrow Toy – Milk and Cookies
- These latex squeaker balls.
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, strong nails, and determination make them naturals.
I know plenty of Dachshunds that are not diggers. Just be aware that yours might be.
That means they could destroy your lawn, dig up your flowers, or dig under the fence to escape.
This SmellyMatty Brain Teaser can help to satisfy their digging instinct indoors.
One of our readers had this to say about a Dachshund’s tendency to dig:
While many Dachshunds love to dig, some don’t. Others can be discouraged from doing so regularly.
“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 (read this article to learn why Dachshunds love to burrow).
If there is a blanket on the couch, they are likely sleeping under there so 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 they’re like potato 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.
You’ll want to keep a quality camera handy to capture all of the silly, precious moments.
“Know that they are a fascinating blend of ferocity, entitlement, and neediness… and be ready to live with a tiny clown.” – Pattie, Dachshund owner
Check out these related articles:
19) Dachshunds Are Fiercely Loyal
Dachshunds 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 (including into the bathroom).
They will be protective of their family members and sometimes 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 (resource guarding a person).
This is what some of our readers had to say about a Dachshund’s Velcro nature:
“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 (although every dog is different).
They are very social and can be unhappy when bored and alone.
Somme people choose to get two Dachshunds so theirs isn’t lonely when left home alone. This should be considered carefully though as a second one is an additional responsibility and cost.
Many are totally fine if a dog walker stops by during the day to give them a little people time or they have a friend to keep them company.
I will say though, my Dachshund Gretel was an only dog in between when Chester passed away and we got our puppy Summit. She missed the company a little but was generally fine.
One way to help fulfill their desire to be social is to find a dog meetup group near you.
21) Prepare Yourself For a Lot Fun
Be prepared for wiener jokes. Dachshund owners love a great pun.
You will also hear a lot of the same comments over and over if you hike with your Dachshund.
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 you can join.
I have become good friends with several people who belong to my Dachshund Club in Seattle.
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 work WITH them instead of against 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.