Is it Bad for Dachshunds to Jump? New Evidence That Might Surprise You
Dachshunds not only can jump but they love to do so.
Maybe it’s excitement, because they want to get your attention, or because they are daredevils that enjoy the thrill of it.
But is it bad for Dachshunds to jump?
You’ve probably heard the advice a hundred times – jumping is dangerous for Dachshunds because they will hurt their back.
But is it true or just outdated information perpetuated on the internet?
In this article, I explain a little more about the causes of back injury in Dachshunds and then present the pros and cons of letting your Dachshund jump.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. I’m just a passionate Dachshund owner who has been studying Dachshund back injuries since 2016 sharing her knowledge and experience.
Will Jumping Cause My Dachshund to Injure Their Back?
The primary cause of back injury in Dachshunds is not jumping.
The majority of back injuries are caused by a genetic disease called Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD).
IVDD causes the spinal disks – the flexible cushions in between vertebrae – to dry out, harden (calcify), and deteriorate.
If they become brittle enough, they can rupture, or herniate, and put pressure on the surrounding nerves.
Pressure on the nerves can cause severe pain, weakness, paralysis, and many other symptoms.
While it’s true that any impact on the spine can cause a compromised disk to rupture, jumping is not the cause. IVDD is.
But this compromised spinal disk was likely going to rupture anyway. It’s just a matter of when, not if.
Should You Let Your Dachshund Jump?
Whether you allow your Dachshund to jump or not is a personal choice.
As Dachshund owners, we need to weigh the risks of jumping against the benefits and decide where we stand on the issue.
Here is some information to help you make that choice.
The risk of letting your Dachshund jump
I’ve already said that, while jumping won’t cause a back injury, it can hasten a disk rupture.
If a spinal disk is significantly damaged from IVDD, it will likely rupture no matter what your Dachshund does or doesn’t do.
However, if a disk is just a little compromised, it may not cause noticeable symptoms in your Dachshund’s life or only very minor ones.
If that same disk takes a significant impact, like can be caused by jumping, it is possible that the disk ruptures when it might not otherwise have.
It’s also possible that the disk was going to rupture anyway, but just a little.
Small ruptures often still require a vet visit and conservative treatment, but, if caught early, surgery can often be avoided.
The force on the spine caused by jumping is great, the degraded disk can rupture in a big way, causing a grade 4 or 5 injury (the worst) and requiring surgery.
The benefits of letting your Dachshund jump
]Believe it or not, there may be benefits to letting your Dachshund jump.
The first is quality of life.
Just because Dachshunds are prone to back issues, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to live a normal dog life.
But, since we are primarily concerned with back problems and ruptured discs in this article, let’s talk about that in more detail.
The DachsLife2015 survey found that healthy Dachshunds over the age of 3 that were allowed to jump on and off furniture every day had lower odds of IVDD than those not allowed to do this (source).
Now, even the organization that did the study admits this is not definitive proof that jumping is good for Dachshunds but it certainly sheds new light on the issue.
Since it was previously thought these little dogs should not jump at all, this result indicates that more research needs to be done in this area.
Personally, I think the act of jumping in this study is an indication of a dog’s overall activity level – that Dachshunds allowed to jump are probably more active in general.
The same study above reported that Dachshunds that were considered to be highly or moderately active (1+ hours a day) by their owners were at a decreased odds of IVDD compared to dogs considered not at all active (less than 30 minutes a day).
Regular high or moderate activity, which may include jumping, helps to strengthen the spine-supporting muscles, thus minimizing the risk of spinal injury.
When my Dachshund Gretel injured her back and was diagnosed with IVDD, she was going on several 45+ minute walks a week and one hike a week of 5 or more miles.
The veterinarian told me that her back injury was likely so mild, and that she had a better chance of full recovery, because she was fit, strong, and not overweight.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, remember that the primary cause of Dachshund back issues is IVDD, a genetic disease.
However, exercise is an identified lifestyle factor that can influence the frequency and severity of back injuries and there is evidence that a high level of activity is related to fewer, or milder, back injuries.
What if you know your dog has IVDD?
Unfortunately, there is no test for IVDD.
Currently, the only way to diagnose the disease is for your Dachshund to suffer a disk rupture and be diagnosed.
Largely, the same pros and cons of jumping stated above apply.
Some Dachshunds, like my Gretel, recover from the back injury and return to life as normal without further issue (or further significant issue – flare ups are possible).
However, some Dachshunds, presumably with multiple disks that have severely deteriorated from IVDD, continue to have back problems for their whole life no matter what the owner does to try and protect them.
It’s just bad luck. Or, more accurately, bad genetics.
If you know your Dachshund has IVDD, and they fit into the latter category of Dachshund who frequently experience back issues, it’s reasonable to want to limit their activity.
But it’s still true that keeping spine-supporting muscles strong and flexible is very important.
Therefore, if you don’t let your Dachshund exercise a lot, potentially including jumping on and off things, it could be a benefit to continue IVDD physical therapy exercised long-term to help protect the back.
Summary of pros and cons
Letting your Dachshund jump or not is up to you.There are benefits and risks associated with it.
A healthy Dachshund who is used to vigorous exercise and is well-muscled, or is being conditioned to achieve that level of it, should be capable of tolerating the normal activities of day-to-day living, including jumping.
While it’s possible that jumping can influence a disk rupture, it’s not the primary cause.
There are two important things to note here if you decide to let your Dachshund jump though.
One: Dachshunds that are regularly active, at a healthy weight, and with strong muscles are at the lowest risk of injury from jumping.
Two: there is a limit to how high any Dachshund should be allowed to jump.
How High Can a Dachshund Jump Safely?
There is no scientifically determined, or commonly understood, limit to the height a Dachshund can safely jump.
So I am just going to share my educated observation and personal determination here.
When a Dachshund jumps off of a small ledge, there is little impact.
If you watch your Dachshund jump off a small step, it’s very likely that their front feet will hit the ground before their back feet even leave it.
This, essentially, turns the “jump” into a step (read more about Dachshunds and stairs here).
As the height of the ledge increases, a Dachshund has to stretch further and further.
Eventually, their action will turn into a real leap or jump.
I find that if my Dachshunds step off something that is taller than they are long from front legs to back, they will jump.
Note: this starts to happen a little before this height is reached.
Since my miniature Dachshunds are approximately 14 inches long from base of neck, above the front legs, to the base of their tail, above the back legs, anything over about 12 inches tall causes them to jump.
Since my Dachshunds are very active and fit, I allow a little bit of jumping.
However, if a ledge is taller than 18 inches, I find that too risky so I lift them up and down.
How to Prevent Your Dachshund from Jumping
Whether you want to prevent your Dachshund from jumping altogether, or you want to prevent jumping off anything higher than 12-18 inches, these tips will help you keep their feet on the ground.
There are 4 main ways to discourage your Dachshund from jumping.
Train your Dachshund not to jump on people
It’s easier said than done, but it’s definitely possible to teach your Dachshund not to jump on people, including guests at your home.
Even though it is not off a ledge, jumping on people can still put impact on the spine.
Plus, your guest may enjoy their visit to your house more if your Dachshund doesn’t jump on them when they arrive.
If your Dachshund isn’t jumping up on people when they get excited, they may be less likely to jump elsewhere.
Gate off furniture and use ramps
Most furniture is taller than 12 inches and some beds can be upwards of 30 inches high.
It’s probably a bad idea for any Dachshund to jump off something over 30 inches tall.
A dog ramp can help your Dachshund off furniture without jumping.
Ideally, you will be able to train your Dachshund to use the ramp all of the time but that is almost never effective in my experience.
If you are not sure your Dachshund will always use the ramp, you are left with two options.
Completely block off access to the furniture when you are not supervising with a gate, by closing a door, or by placing something on the couch that will prevent your Dachshund from getting on it.
Force your Dachshund to use the ramp by placing it on the furniture in a location where your dog can easily access it and block off all other entry or egress points.
Furniture can be blocked off with tall pet gates, toddler bed rails, or similar.
When it comes to my couch, I went with option #2. Read this article to see my jump-preventing couch setup.
In regard to my bed, I put the mattress and box spring on the floor like a low platform bed.
Train your Dachshund to wait
It is possible to train your Dachshund to wait until you lift them up or down using the “wait” command.
You can use this command inside the house when your Dachshund wants on or off the couch, chair, or bed.
You can also use it outside like we do when we are hiking.
If we approach a ledge that is taller than I want my Dachshunds to jump on or off of, I tell them to wait and then lift them up or down.
Dachshund back problems are primarily caused by a genetic disease called Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), although there are environmental factors that can influence the frequency and severity of back injuries.
It’s suspected that one of these lifestyle factors is vigorous exercise, or the lack of it, which includes jumping.
It’s up to you to decide what you are comfortable with, what your Dachshund is capable of, and how high you will let them jump.
If you’ve just brought a puppy home, and you know you want to discourage jumping on furniture and people, start training right away to teach good lifetime habits.
Even if your Dachshund has jumped in the past but now you want to teach them not to, know that you can teach an adult dog new commands and habits.
One final, parting thought I want to leave you with:
Jumping up on something causes less impact on your Dachshund’s spine so you may decide to only let your Dachshund jump up on things but not down.
However, it is important to note that the primary danger with jumping is falling and twisting the spine, which can occur whether a Dachshund is jumping up on something or down from it.
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.