My Dachshund Started Skipping When She Runs: What’s Wrong?
My recently started running with my Dachshund Gretel again with the goal of running a dog friendly 5k near Seattle.
However, a couple of weeks ago, my plan came to a halt because she started skipping on one of her back legs while running.
Then she started doing it when she was just walking.
The skipping didn’t seem to bother her, but I was concerned.
I wasn’t sure if it was her leg, back, or something else but it was a new behavior I wanted to get checked out at the vet.
The first thing I did was take a video of her skipping on a run so I had something to show her veterinarian.
It’s really hard to take a good video of a Dachshund running because they are so low to the ground.
However, if you look close, you’ll only see her right leg one or one-and-a-half times for every two times you see her left leg.
When Your Dachshund Hops or Skips a Leg When Walking or Running, Should You Be Worried?
Well, I’m not a vet. However, I just dealt with the issue of my Dachshund skipping on her back leg and this is what I learned.
The first thing to do is ask yourself questions such as:
Is this skipping or hopping new?
If your Dachshund has been skipping on a leg when they walk or run for years, it might not be an issue.
Some do it naturally, especially when they run fast.
However, if there is a sudden change in your dog’s gait, it could signal an injury.
Other than the skipping, are there any other signs that your dog might be in pain?
There might be something really wrong if your Dachshund is moping around the house, their eating habits have changed, they are hesitating to walk or run, or they otherwise look uncomfortable.
If there aren’t any accompanying signs, the skipping may something minor that will go away.
Can you pinpoint anything that might have caused it?
The first thing to do is check your Dachshund’s foot or leg for visible injury, thorns, rocks, toenails that are too long and are pressing into the foot pads, etc.
Then think back – did your dog twist a leg, jump off anything high, etc.?
Sometimes your Dachshund may skip due to an acute injury or specific incident. Other times, it may be caused by a progressive condition.
Has there been a previous injury that might be related?
For example, do you know your dog is developing arthritis? Do they have a bad knee?
In our case, my Dachshund Gretel’s skipping came on suddenly. I hadn’t ever seen her do it before and it was an obvious skip.
There were no other signs that she was uncomfortable though – she was acting like her normal self in all other ways.
There was nothing wrong with her foot or leg when I checked it.
However, we had recently stayed in a dog friendly hotel with a high bed and Gretel had jumped from the bed before we could catch her once.
She didn’t yelp, limp, or otherwise act like anything was wrong after she jumped but I suspected she might have strained a muscle or tendon.
In the end, I normally wouldn’t have been concerned.
However, I didn’t want to run with my Dachshund if there was something wrong.
What Should You Do If Your Dachshund Starts Skipping While Walking or Running?
I certainly can’t, and won’t, tell you what you should do.
These are your primary options though:
Yes, that is a legitimate option.
If you’ve only seen your dog skip a leg a few times, and there are no other signs that something may be wrong, you can keep and eye on it and decide what to do if it keeps happening or gets worse.
Rest your dog for a week or so and see what happens – It might just be a sore muscle or a minor abrasion on the bottom of their foot you can’t see.
It could be possible that, after a week of limited activity, the issue will resolve itself.
Visit a veterinarian
If you suspect there might be something up, I would definitely go with this option.
Sometimes the vet can tell what is going on from an exam. Sometimes x-rays are needed to get a look inside to see what is going on.
I decided to take Gretel to be assessed by a veternarian.
We visited our regular vet.
She didn’t see anything wonky but said I should take her to a specialist, who may take x-rays, to be sure.
We made an appointment with a specialist and I fasted Gretel for 12 hours in anticipation of the doctor sedating her for x-rays.
What Could Be Causing Your Dachshund to Skip?
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the most likely causes:
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a disease of the hip in which the ball and socket joint is malformed.
This malformation means that the ball portion and its socket don’t properly meet one another, resulting in a joint that rubs and grinds instead of sliding smoothly.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in dogs and certain breeds are more prone to it than others.
However, it’s typically seen in larger breeds like bulldogs, mastiffs, retrievers, and Rottweilers.
Hip Dysplasia can occur in dogs of all sizes and breeds though, including Dachshunds.
Besides “bunny-hopping,” or a swaying gait, symptoms of hip dysplasia include difficulty rising a paw and a narrow stance in the hind limbs.
A luxating patella, or dislocated kneecap, is a condition where the kneecap is unstable and slips out-of-place, causing a twinge of pain as the knee cap slides across the bony ridges of the femur.
It’s caused when the cartilage holding a dog’s kneecap in position becomes damaged.
It’s one of the most common problems to affect Dachshunds.
Other breeds prone to this condition are toy and miniature dog breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Pekingese, Chihuahua, and Boston Terrier.
Typically, a dog with a dislocated kneecap will exhibit prolonged abnormal hind limb movement, walk with one back leg in the air, or run with it’s back legs together.
Note: it’s not uncommon for Dachshunds to run with their back legs together so it’s not necessarily an issue. If it’s a new behavior, it’s something to get checked out though.
Torn or ruptured ACL
ACL is short for anterior cruciate ligament.
Sometimes it’s also referred to as CCL, which stands for cranial cruciate ligament, in dogs.
Most times when I hear of ACL injuries in a Dachshund, it happened suddenly after the dog jumped off a ledge or step.
If the ACL ruptures, the tibia/shinbone can slide forward and away from its normal orientation with the femur/thighbone.
That causes pain, joint instability, and it can lead to arthritis in the long-term.
If your Dachshund has injured his ACL, he will be hesitant to bear weight on the affected leg or he may not put that foot down at all.
Check out Dawg Business for more ACL info and an explanation and treatment options.
Back issues are very common in Dachshunds. Around 25% of them will experience some kind of back injury or complication.
Back issues in Dachshund are primarily caused by a genetic disease called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and result in calcified spinal disks.
These calcified disks can cause discomfort, an altered gait, or pain and paralysis if they rupture.
Back pain could also be caused by an acute injury brought on by a specific event like falling down stairs.
Pain in the back, especially in the lower spine, can cause a dog to skip on a leg when walking or running.
We saw a very nice specialist at the Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle. He talked with me about Gretel’s skipping and gave her a thorough exam.
I was expecting to spend hours, and hundreds of dollars, there getting x-rays.
After taking a look at her, he said he didn’t think x-rays were necessary.
He tried to make Gretel’s kneecap slide out-of-place but found they moved very little so it’s unlikely the skipping was caused by a luxating patella.
He felt her hips and stretched her legs. He didn’t find any indication that her skipping might be caused by hip dysplasia or an ACL issue.
He explained to me that sometimes dogs, especially small ones, develop a skip in their gait and it can’t be explained.
Many dogs have gone on that way with no issues surfacing or it affecting their quality of life.
He said I should just “let her be a dog” and continue to walk, hike, and run even though she was skipping on her back leg.
I explained about our lofty plans to run a 5k and he didn’t see any reason why we shouldn’t…. so we continued with our training.
Gretel went a month with no problems but then suddenly started showing signs of a back/spinal issue.
We visited the emergency vet where she was diagnosed with stage 2 IVDD.
Please read about the signs and symptoms of a back issue HERE, and print out the checklist, because it’s crucial to catch it early.
Gretel did recover and has gone onto to hiking long distances again.
She still skips on occasion so it’s unclear if the skipping was related to her back issue or not.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
Awww poor Gretel! I really hope it’s nothing. Good job handling it – I’m such a mess when it comes to something bring wrong with my animals.
I know. I’m like “she is looking at me different… what’s wrong??” 🙂
The best of luck to Gretel and you!! You’re a good momma and I know you’ll take great care of Gretel and watch her closely!
You girls have fun on your run and hike!!
My Henry does this, I always wondered if something was wrong, but I realize that’s how he regulates his speed when we run together!
Have you talked to your vet about IVDD? It is a common condition in the Dachshund breed. I recommend checking out Dodgerslist as well. There is great info on crate rest/rehab.
Yes. That’s one of the things we ruled out. I am actually very knowledgeable about IVDD. I could write my own resource (although the K9 Backpack is my favorite) 🙂 I do plan to write a blog post about it soon because it’s apparent that so many people still don’t understand it. I organize a 500+ member Dachshund club and many of our doxies have had back issues. I also walk, and dog sit, Dachshunds. Four of the Dachshunds I walk had back surgery since I have known them and several that come to stay with us need special accommodations because of previous issues. Thanksfully, Chester and Gretel have never had issues but I’ll certainly know how to recognize and handle it if they do.
My first thought, after a couple of years of working in the pet insurance industry, was CCL injury. I’m glad your vet didn’t detect any signs of that, and I hope it’s nothing serious. Lots of love to you and Gretel!
It crossed my mind but I didn’t really get worried until I heard my friend’s dog started skipping before she tore her ACL. I am glad it wasn’t any of it.
Both of my mini doxies do it/did it,. Willow my little piggy has always skipped, almost like a rabbit but now she just waddle skips – she is 10. Mika, my baby that I lost a year ago and your Gretel looks so like, she was a runner for many years. At about 6 she started to do skipping also on longer runs. at 9 she developed Cushings but still tried to run all the time.
Interesting. Gretel is 6 🙂 I’m glad to hear first-hand that the skip is not always something to worry about.
So glad to hear that Gretel’s just fine!
Thanks for posting. I’ve wondered about this for years. It also seems to be most prevalent in small dogs. I’ve never seen a large dog it.
My dachshund , Pepper, also skipped when he walked or ran. The vet never found anything wrong with him and he lived to the ripe old age of 20. Never stopped him from running, he loved it.
BTW, I love your newsletters and your Facebook posts. Haven’t been to your Greenlake hikes, but the few times we went, Arnold loved it.
Thank you for all the great information you give.
Great to know that Pepper lived a long and happy life despite the skips. And thanks about the newletter and Facebook. I never know if people like it or not unless they tell me and it always makes my day when they do 🙂
This is a treasure trove of information for anyone who questions their dog’s gate! We have an aussie/lab mix who has had many leg & joint issues over the years, and could have used this info. So glad to hear that Gretel’s “skip” doesn’t appear to be as serious as you feared! Onward & upward to you both.
Thanks Lisa. I hope it is helpful to people.
I’ve been a “skipper” my entire life. People who don’t know me often comment on how I skip like a little human girl. We’ve never been able to find any cause for it, and even after my chiropractic adjustments I still skip. Mom figures if no one can find a cause and it seems natural to the dog, just go with it. Hope your skipping stays just something you do and isn’t some hidden medical cause.
Yep, I guess that’s all you can do. I am glad I ruled out any underlying problems for Gretel but it doesn’t bother me otherwise. As the vet said, “it’s just cosmetic”. 🙂
That little Gretel is my absolute hero. A little dog with the spunk of a poodle. I have noticed that Scooby Doo (chihuahua) will also skip and so will I every once in a while. Vet also didn’t see anything wrong with us and we had the xrays to show there was nothing to show it was in the bone or the joint.
Seeing her run in that race with the music in the background made me tear up. You show people that little dogs CAN do big things. They are not purse pups but pups who have a zest for life.
Awww… I’ll be sure to tell her 🙂
The thing with the video was funny. I put no effort into it and was going to delete it after the vet saw it. I decided it keep it, even though it’s of poor quality, because I thought it might be useful for this post. Then I was like, “I’m totally going to use the Chariots of Fire theme song because she’s awesome like that. Ha, ha.
My 6 year old recently started something like this but showed signs of pain. Vet and emergency vet could only tell me that it was soft tissue injury/soreness and prescribed anti inflammatory and pain meds. My pup is better but I do continental to see the hop in his step. It doesn’t look like he is on any pain.
I’m glad the medicine helped your pup get better.
Oh my what a scary time for you and Gretel! Well, I know my mom would have taken me to the vet right away. I pulled my ACL recently and that was a pretty big scare. We are so glad that you and Gretel are continuing with your plans. We can’t wait to read more about it. And mom can’t wait to see what great shape you must be in now! Love Dolly
Thanks so much for posting this. My Shaggy is 11 and has been skipping a long time, probably since he was about 5, after he’d gone through some sort of pain episode. He does it in varying degrees, sometimes worse than others, even when he’s running crazy through the single-tracks like a younger dog. He also hasn’t been able to wag his tail in years – I give him wagging physical therapy and at least now he can lift it parallel with his body. With all of this, he still is active, and loves the trails, so …
I’m really glad that you went to the vet and that he thinks Gretel is okay!
We’ve had some issues with gimpiness before. Last year Phoenix had a soft tissue injury that resolved itself with rest and this year Zoe did the same thing. I didn’t go to the vet because after a week of rest they were both fine!
I can’t wait to hear more about your upcoming adventures! 😀
Ruby had a shoulder injury last year, she was chasing her ball and slid down on one shoulder when she went to pick it up. She kind of shook it off and brought the ball back. the next day she seemed off, but the day after she started screaming (as only a doxie can) when she moved wrong getting up and down. I finally put a heating pad on her shoulder area, it worked better than ice. Ruby would sit and hold her foot up, but really did not limp on it. I took her into the vet and was prepared for..it her discs. But the vet did a test on the edge of the counter, she bent her toes back and tried to set her foot down on her bent toes, Ruby would straighten out her foot. She said that a disc problem dog does not have the feeling to straighten their toes. But she was not ruling it out. I got meds for ruby and took her home, said come back in 10 days unless it gets worse. She improved, but would hold her foot up. the second time we went back I said she is holding her foot up, but not limping. The vet said it was a tendon injury/strain in her shoulder, when she fell she bets she twisted her leg enough to pull a tendon. We went conservative and did not get an MRI. The vet said ….about 6 months to heal up. and it took 6 months. Ruby is back to playing ball, but she does not go all our like she did, maybe she learned her lesson. She does not hesitate on the agility equipment though. sometimes she still holds her paw up, but she does it when she wants me to pick her up…could she have trained me?
Yes, the toe test is the “gold standard” of tests for Doxie back problems. Chester fell down our basement stairs once (we always keep the door closed now!). Like Ruby, he just seemed a little sore at first but soon after he started screaming when he would try to stand up fast. I was so worried it was his back. Our neighbor, who is a veterinary surgeon, came over to look at him. The vet did the toe test on Chester and he passed it so we determined it was his shoulder. He healed up after about a week of crate rest and never had an issue again.
I’ve found that the holding the paw up thing is a Doxie trait. I don’t know if it’s a “we learned this works for sympathy” universal trait or what 🙂
Best of luck with the hike prep and the hike. It sounds like all bases were covered, so hopefully it’ll just be an adorable quirk that makes Gretel cuter than ever.
My Chihuahua has the skip issue, read about the kneecap slipping possibility before. Great article, easy understand and read!
I’m so happy to hear that Gretel is okay. Thank you so much for posting this article! My Chewie is a 10 month old shih poo who has started to skip while jogging or running. She did jump off the bed a couple of weeks ago but she was fine. Doesn’t seem like her right back leg is in any pain when it happens. Anytime I touch her right back leg to check she doesn’t twinge or cry out in pain so that’s a good sign. But she’s my fur baby and I’m so worried about her that I still plan on taking her to the vet. Being a first time dog owner, i am very appreciative of this article and people such as yourself who share their stories about their own dogs. I am a little bit relieved after reading this as it could absolutely be nothing but because Chewie is a small puppy at 8 pounds, I can’t rule anything out and will take her to be checked out so I know for sure. Thank you again for sharing your story!
My dog does it too. She is a 10 pound rat terrier x mini poodle. She’s done it all her life. She’s 3 now. She joined our family when she was 2 months old. So there is only that 2 months unaccounted for. She does it less as She’s gotten older. But now and again we see it. Truth is, it’s kinda cute. Her vet has never noticed anything so We’re not overly concerned. But at times I do wonder.
My vet said that there is this phenomenon among small dogs where sometimes they just develop a skip and there is nothing wrong. They don’t know why. I’m glad it doesn’t appear to be a larger issue.
I had a pointer back in the day. She always stepped into debris that got stuck in her paws. The first few times I got very nervous thinking there was a serious bone-muscle-joint injury going on. Thankfully it turned out she was quite the adventurer and things got stuck in there that should not have.
Yay for it being a simple issue. Chester got sore pads once for a hike that caused him to limp. At first, I freaked out thinking he hurt his back. Nope, It just turns out he walked too far on hot, pointy shale and we should not do that again 🙂
My dog Luna is a Rat Terrier that has been checked out by a vet to be completely healthy but she skips with raising her back left leg when we sometimes go out. Ok, I have watched her behavior for 3 years, and saw that she skips (like a little girl) when we go out for a walk when she is happy. It sounds crazy but when we begin to circle back home, she notices we are going back and is not so happy about it and immediately STOPS skipping on the return route. I have been watching her for 3 years now and see that she really does skip when she is happy. At home or when normally walking she does not. Only when she has a little pep in her step. I know of a Daschund (Ralphie) that has been doing the same thing for 10 years. I can even make her skip when I talk to her and ask if she is hungry for food when we get home. She puts her ears back, gets excited and begins to skip all the way home. So what I am saying, some dogs have quirks and habits just like us and they may be just fine.
Hi Mark. You are correct. I actually speak to that a couple places in the article – that it may be nothing at all. Our vet first explained that some dogs just do it with no explanation. I also made note that it’s really only a concern if it’s new or a change. Great point to make in case people didn’t get that from what I said.
My toy poodle does the same thing. She only and I mean only skips outside. Inside she jumps around on and off everything and jumps at tv when any animal is on. She is not hurt or shows any sign of pain or skip inside. It’s the strangest thing. It’s been going on about a year and only outside. I know she’s not in any pain. So glad she’s not the only one. I’ll let her be a dog.
Our dog had a skip which we thought was luxating patella. We were referred for surgery but the surgeon didn’t think it warranted it after doing scans. He has done this for months. Doesn’t seem to bother him too much. He then went down with a second episode of IVDD and we wondered if it was related to that. Don’t seem to think it is as now he’s recovered from surgery it’s still here. Absolutely no idea what it is and it makes me worry all the time. 🙁
Some dogs do indeed skip for no apparent reason. My Dachshund Gretel still skips. It started before her back injury. I’m also not 100% sure if it’s related to her IVDD, since she recovered, or just one of her quirks. If it doesn’t seem to be causing any issues – like mobility or discomfort – then I wouldn’t worry about it too much.