I see it time and time again: People saying they think Dachshunds don’t need much exercise or that they are not capable of doing much because their backs are fragile.
It frustrates me though because I see so many Dachshunds that are overweight and I’m sure it’s the misconceptions about Dachshunds and exercise that significantly contributes to that.
Just because Dachshunds are nicknamed “sausage dogs”, doesn’t mean they should look like one (it’s speculated that they got the nickname because the German hot dog was named after the breed).
UPDATED: February 2, 2023
It’s important that a Dachshund be exercised regularly to help prevent obesity, health issues, and to help them live longer.
It’s also very important to keep a Dachshund fit and active to help prevent IVDD and related back injuries.
Luckily, Dachshunds have the natural ability to exercise because they were bred to be tenacious and athletic hunters!
These early little warriors were charged to track game through the woods and dig into underground tunnels after badgers, rabbits, and foxes.
So, how much exercise does a miniature Dachshund need to keep them healthy and happy?
Note: Although they may require more exercise due to their larger size, the exercise requirements for standard Dachshunds is very similar.
How Much Exercise Do Dachshunds Need?
How much exercise a Dachshund needs can vary, based on factors such as age or health issues.
However, a healthy, adult Dachshund generally needs a minimum 45-60 minutes of purposeful exercise a day.
It’s been found that merely letting your Dachshund run around the yard is not sufficient exercise for a Dachshund.
Instead, a Dachshund should get a minimum of 1 hour of moderate exercise as many days of the week as possible.
Factors That May Limit Your Dachshund’s Ability to Exercise
The above general recommendation assumes that a Dachshund is a healthy adult.
There are several cases where a Dachshund’s ability to exercise may be diminished.
Dachshund Puppies – 0-12 months
The muscular skeletal system of young dogs is still developing during the first year so you should wait until your puppy is old enough for strenuous physical activity.
While normal levels of activity including play with other puppies or running around in the yard are not a cause for concern, it can be unwise to start activities such as leashed jogging, prolonged swimming, excessive and repetitive jumping, hiking, or very long walks.
The general rule for puppy exercise is 5 minutes of walking per month of age up to twice a day.
So, for example, a 4 month old puppy could walk up to 20 minutes twice a day.
Although this is a general guideline, and the 5-minute rule has come in to question more recently, it’s good too err on the side of caution with your puppy.
I know what raising a Dachshund puppy is like though – they can be crazy, which can make you question your sanity.
If your puppy is interested in walking a little more than the 5 minute rule suggests, it may be ok as long as it’s self paced and you don’t force them to go on.
Note: As an alternative to more exercise, you can also tire your puppy out with brain games and training.
Dachshund puppies are done with most of their growth by 12 months of age so you will only need to limit their activity until then.
Senior Dachshunds – 7+ years
A Dachshund is considered a senior dog somewhere between the age of 7 and 10 years old (it depends on other health factors too, not just a specific age).
Senior dogs eventually start to slow down and may not be able to exercise as long, or as rigorously, and they could when they were younger.
They still need exercise though to help keep their joints lubricated and muscles from getting stiff.
The “move it or lose it” mantra applies to a dog’s physical fitness too – it’s not just for humans.
You just may need to walk at a slower pace and break their exercise into smaller chunks.
For example, instead of walking your senior Dachshund 40 minutes a day, take your dog for two 20-minute walks instead.
Remember that it’s important to watch your senior Dachshund’s weight because less exercise means they need fewer calories.
If your senior Dachshund isn’t exercising as much but eating the same amount of calories, they could gain weight, which will put extra pressure on their bones, joints, and spine.
Dachshunds with an Illnesses
There are several illnesses that can limit your Dachshund’s ability to exercise.
These include arthritis, heart disease, and obesity (yes, it’s considered an illness).
If your Dachshund has an illness, discuss their exercise needs with your vet and how to exercise your Dachshund safely.
IVDD and the Myth of the Delicate Doxie
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a potentially paralyzing genetic condition that is somewhat common among breeds with short legs (a.k.a. chondrodystrophic) such as Basset Hounds, Beagles, Pekingese and Dachshunds.
Almost every Dachshund owner aware of a Dachshund’s propensity for back injury (up to 25%) fears IVDD.
However, this fear is a big misguided as the disease is primarily genetic, largely out of the owner’s control, and almost every single Dachshund has some degree of it.
But scientist do acknowledge that there are lifestyle factors that influence whether a Dachshund will suffer and IVDD-related back injury.
One of these is exercise… but not in the way that you might think.
Highly or moderately active Dachshunds may experience less back injuries
The 2015 DachsLife Survey, aimed at identifying lifestyle factors that may influence IVDD and related back injuries, found:
- Highly or moderately active Dachshunds over the age of 3 had half the rate of IVDD incidents as dogs that were described as mildly active or inactive.
- Dachshunds that exercised for more than 1 hour per day were at decreased odds of IVDD.
- Dachshunds exercises with only free running and playing in the yard were 1.8 times more likely to suffer an IVDD-related back injury.
The recommendation for exercise restriction applies to the recovery period after a back injury
Extreme exercise restriction is a typical post-operative prescription after a Dachshund has spinal surgery to treat this debilitating condition.
It is also the most significant factor in a “conservative treatment” (treatment without surgery) protocol.
However, there is no reason to assume that restricted exercise is necessary for a Dachshund that has not been diagnosed with IVDD.
Also, even though every case is different, it’s not a given that any dog who has suffered an IVDD related injury can no longer live an active life.
In fact, there is evidence suggesting that exercise can ward off disc calcification, an early symptom of what can develop into IVDD.
The UK Dachshund Breed Council, one of the premier authorities on IVDD, clearly recommends plenty of age/fitness appropriate exercise for Dachshunds.
Jumping and stairs
Are you hand wringing over your Dachshund jumping on furniture and using stairs?
There is a potentially positive correlation between stairs and of IVDD injuries.
The 2015 DachsLife study mentioned above found that healthy 3-year-old Dachshunds allowed to use stairs daily had lower incidents of IVDD (Read more about Dachshunds and stair here).
However, using IVDD as an excuse to allow your little athlete to become an obese lap potato just isn’t doing right by your dog.
7 Ways to Exercise Your Dachshund
Most people think of walking when they envision exercising their dog.
While walking is probably the best and easiest type of exercise for Dachshunds, it’s by no means the only option.
They continue to prove their athletic prowess by participating in many dog sports.
Walking doesn’t take any special skill or equipment and can be done right from your front door.
Because of the convenience, this is probably how most Dachshunds get their exercise.
2) Earthdog Trials
Their natural athleticism and scent acumen makes Dachshunds particularly skilled at Earthdog trials.
Caged vermin are placed in a network of tunnels and Earthdogs learn to chase and “work” the quarry (although they cannot harm the rats).
As their skills improve, Earthdogs progress through a hierarchy of titles: Introduction to Quarry, Junior Earthdog, Senior Earthdog, and Master Earthdog.
3) Field Trials
In Dachshund field trials, Doxies are set in pairs, called “braces,” that are put on the scent of live rabbits and are then released to show off their scent tracking and quarry chasing skills.
They don’t catch or harm the rabbits, rather, they are judged for their ability to hold the trail of their quarry.
Successful participants can win points towards the AKC Field Champion Title.
Although there are other breeds better suited for the wide range of skills it takes to win competitive agility, that doesn’t stop wiener dogs and their owners from loving the sport.
Their determination, love of adventure, and excellent trainability makes Doxies delightful partners on the agility field, although a well-honed sense of humor is required.
Contrary to popular belief, not all Dachshunds dislike water.
There are many Dachshunds that love to swim in the lake or pool.
Swimming is a good way for your Dachshund to get exercise, and help to build their muscles, without a lot of impact on their joints.
Sniffing through the woods is literally in the Dachshund blood and most take to it right away.
Many Dachshunds, including mine, can hike long distances to high elevations.
You might be surprised how far these small dogs can hike.
My Dachshund are not the only ones who are capable of, and love, hiking though.
While it’s not for every Dachshund, it’s is not inherently unsafe for a Dachshund to run.
Some are quite capable.
I know several Dachshunds that have run a marathon – 26.2 miles – and more than once!
One of my Dachshunds used to run 8 miles with me.
It should be clear by now that Dachshunds are not meant to be sedentary lapdogs.
In fact, they need more exercise than what most people think.
Healthy, adult Dachshunds should get at least 1 hour of exercise a day 4-7 times a week.
Remember that walking is not the only way to exercise your Dachshund.
Fun games like fetch and find it (nosework) will engage your wiener dog both physically and mentally.
Note: it’s best to avoid games like tug-of-war, or activities that cause a lot of twisting, which can put undue stress on the neck and spine.
Dachshund Friendly Dog Sports are also a good way to exercise your Dachshund (and some will exercise you too!)
Flyball, Earthdog, Scent Work, and Agility are all good examples.
If the weather is poor, you can entertain and exercise your dog indoors too.
Remember to introduce exercise gradually and check with your vet if you have any questions.
If your Dachshund is in poor physical condition, rushing into strenuous exercise too fast can result in injury.
Give your dog some time to build up muscles to support his neck, spine and joints.
Hopefully this article gave you a different perspective on miniature Dachshunds and inspired you to make sure you yours is getting enough exercise.
Because Wiener dog are certainly not lapdogs!
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.