Is Running Bad for Dachshunds?
If you’ve found yourself reading this post, you’re probably wondering if you can take your Dachshund running with you.
Many people believe that Dachshund’s shouldn’t run and that they are not capable of running long distances.
In this article I will clarify the risks for running for a Dachshund so you can make your own decision and offer running tips in case you decide to do it.
UPDATED: January 27, 2023
Is Running Dangerous for Dachshunds?
Note: I am not a veterinarian. However, I have personal experience with back issues in Dachshunds and have reviewed many scientific reports and papers on the topic. My opinions are based on what I’ve learned but it’s always best to get an opinion for your specific dog from your veterinarian.
The answer to this question is not necessarily if you have a healthy adult Dachshund.
In fact, Dachshunds can be fantastic runners over long distances, if properly trained for such activity.
Many Dachshund owners are very aware that back issues are common in Dachshunds.
However, the primary cause of those back issues is misunderstood by many.
The majority of Dachshund back problems are caused by a genetic disease, not something you can control.
One in four Dachshunds will experience some sort of back issue in their lifetime.
With a few exceptions (acute injury and age-related degeneration) these back issues are caused by an underlying genetic disease called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
IVDD is a progressive, hereditary disease that causes the spinal column and disks to become brittle and prone to rupture.
It’s understandable to think that, because Dachshunds are prone to IVDD and related back issues, running must be bad for them.
Thankfully, that’s not always the case.
Since IVDD is hereditary, running cannot cause it.
However, if your Dachshund already has IVDD, running can exacerbate the issue and potentially lead to severe injury.
It’s best not to run with your Dachshund if they have any stage of IVDD.
With proper physical training, Dachshunds who enjoy running will unlikely develop back problems from the sport unless they have had a prior back injury, have reached their senior years, or have IVDD and you don’t know it yet.
Now, if you have an adult Dachshund who does not have IVDD and is seemingly in fantastic health, running is likely a an option to keep them active.
In the interest of transparency though, I should let you know that there is no test for IVDD and you won’t know your Dachshund has it until they suddenly can’t walk or are clearly experiencing back pain.
Some Dachshund owners don’t want to take any risks – to do anything that could potentially increase the chances of their Dachshund having a back issue.
But, as I said before, if a Dachshund doesn’t have IVDD, they are unlikely to have back issues no matter what their owner allows them to do.
In my opinion, I don’t want to treat my Dachshund like breakable glass their whole lives because they might develop a back problem.
I’d rather they live a quality, enjoyable life until there is some kind of “proof” I need to restrict their activities due to back issues.
Remember too, if you run with your Dachshund on trails or dirt roads, it won’t have as much impact on their muscles or joints as running on pavement.
Of course, not every Dachshund should run or likes it. Only you know your particular dog. If you aren’t sure, check with your vet first.
Whether running is good for your Dachshund or not will come down to their particular situation.
If your dog is aging and slowing down, it’s probably best to retire your dog from running like they did in their prime.
What Are the Benefits of Running for Your Dachshund?
There are benefits to any physical exercise for your dog like stress relief, improving muscle volume and strength, and helping to prevent obesity.
Other benefit of running with your Dachshund include:
- Running as a “team” can help improve your dog’s bond with you and strengthen your connection.
- It can help to socialize your Dachshund, especially if you run in areas where there are other dogs and people.
- It can help to improve obedience and training, as you can work on commands and behaviors while running.
- Dogs who become destructive or anxious because they are not getting enough exercise (link to new post on signs) may benefit from the extra physical exertion that running requires.
- For Dachshunds who may battle anxiety or boredom, running can help physically and mentally tire them out.
Most importantly, for me anyway, is it can help you stick with a running routine.
Your Dachshund may start looking forward to your runs so you’re more willing to suit up and head out even if you’re not particularly feeling it that day.
Dachshunds can make great running accountability partners.
Doxies are small, but they need at least 30-60 minutes of exercise per day.
People are often surprised to find out that adult Dachshunds require a moderate amount of exercise compared to some other small breed dogs.
Don’t let their small stature dissuade you from ramping up their activity.
Tips for Running With A Dachshund
Make sure your Dachshund is old enough
Puppies shouldn’t do any strenuous activity, or run, until they are fully grown and developed.
Putting a puppy’s fragile joints through vigorous exercise can damage growth plates and cause injury.
If your puppy isn’t getting tired after regular walks, try increasing the length of your outings. Should you have the time, your energetic Dachshund puppy may also love going on multiple short walks per day.
Start slow and run on a forgiving surface
Like with any strenuous activity, you need to start your Dachshund off slow and then increase from there.
Any Dachshund who starts running should always start slow and easy. Proper physical conditioning is key in helping to prevent injuries.
Similar to training your Dachshund to hike, you should start with walking at least 45 minutes 4-7 days a week to build up a base fitness level.
Then you can start running with your Dachshund for a few minutes during each walk or switch out 1-2 of your walk days with a short 5-10 minute run.
If you know the signs that your dog is getting too tired, you will know when to cut the run short or when you can push a little further.
Keep in mind that running on a dirt or gravel surface puts less impact on muscles and joints than running on asphalt or pavement.
Decide if you want to use a collar or harness for running with your Dachshund
It’s best to use a leash and come kind of attachment apparatus when you run with your Dachshund.
It’s generally better if you use a harness to walk or run with your Dachshund. It can give you better control and it’s safer for them.
We really like this harness for hiking or prolonged activity, especially in wetter climates.
Harnesses are always best for Dachshunds because they take pressure of of your dog’s neck and throat.
Harnesses also provide better control, especially in situations where your dog may want to jump on people or run after wildlife.
To piggyback off that note, this is our favorite leash. It’s easy to clean, weather resistant and made from high quality material.
Another option for running with your Dachshund is using a hands-free leash that attaches to their harness and fits around your waist.
These types of leashes generally offer shock absorption for runners, and they are typically made with reflective piping for low light conditions.
Recognize when your Dachshund is getting too tired
When running with your Dachshund, there are signs you should look for to ensure your dog is okay to keep going.
If your Dachshund is getting too tired, or dislikes running, they will likely let you know with their body language.
Knowing your Dachshund’s body language will help you determine whether or not you should complete your current exercise.
Look for these signs to determine if your Dachshund is too tired to continue:
- Increased heart rate that will not slow down during breaks
- Excessive slowing down or stopping
- Licking at an area on their body due to harness or collar chafing
- Reddened gums can indicate heat stroke
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Limping or skipping can indicate injury such as a pulled muscle, a crack/tear in a paw pad, or the onset of back issues.
If you notice any of these signs while running with your Dachshund, stop and immediately assess the situation. Then seek veterinary attention as needed.
Examples of Dachshunds That Like to Run
I organize a 1,000+ member Dachshund club. I’ve had several owners over the years tell me that they regularly run with their Dachshund.
My first Dachshund, Chester, helped me train for a marathon. He stayed home for the longer training runs but he accompanied me on most of my 5-7 mile runs.
He always loved our outings and would get excited ever time I grabbed his leash and harness.
He never experienced his back issues until he was well into his senior years.
Another great example of Dachshunds who love running is a celebrity Dachshund named TruMan.
TruMan has run a 50k, which is 31 miles!
Those types of achievements come with substantial daily training, but TruMan tremendously showcases what Dachshunds are capable of.
TruMan’s veterinarian knows that he runs and keeps a really close eye on his health for any signs he should stop, but otherwise approves of his activity level (he has a Dachshund brother that runs now too).
Check out this blog post about him and everything he has accomplished with his ultrarunner Mom, Catra.
Most owners will never run a 50k with their Dachshund, but the ability to even fathom such a feat means that you might be able to take your Doxie on weekly, or even daily, runs after all.
Dachshunds are perfectly capable of running, and it’s a great outlet for these energetic hounds.
While your Dachshund should not be running if you know they have back issues or some other kind of health condition, most healthy adult Dachshunds can handle anything from a few short sprints on walks to running for miles.
It’s important to check with your veterinarian before starting any new exercise with your dog to make sure they are healthy enough to do so and to ask any specific questions you may have.
Running can be a great way for your Dachshund to get enough exercise and stay healthy. As a bonus, it can also help you build your bond.
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.
I was wondering what is the max length you’d walk a healthy 3 year old dachshund? With the current situations, we’ve been able to walk 6+ miles. Sometimes all at once and sometimes over the whole day. I did notice he lost weight since this increase in exercise.
Previously we did 2-3 miles daily.
Hi Laura. I actually just wrote an article on that too. You can read it here: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/how-long-should-i-walk-my-dachshund-each-day/. The bottom line is though, as long as your Dachshund is healthy, over 12 months of age, and you increase the distance slowly (or at least not faster than your dog can handle), the sky is the limit. Summit and Gretel regularly hike over 6 miles in a day.
what about when it’s cold out… Should do ies wear boots? or just let them walk normally? Her paws get so cold when outside in the snow she is 5 months old.
Hi Pat. My Dachshunds never wear boots but it depends on your dog. Here is my article about how to decide: https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/does-my-small-dog-need-to-wear-boots-in-the-snow/. I will note that a puppy’s paws are tender because they don’t usually have thick callouses yet so they can be more sensitive to cold. Try putting some Musher’s Secret paw balm on if you don’t want to try boots at this point.
Thank you for all the information on Dachshunds. We have a rescue Miniature Dachshund. Her name is Princess. We love her so much, sometimes I think we are kinda over protective of her. We have had her for about 4 years. She has IVDD operation. Doing well. The Doctor that did the operation said that we really don’t have to treat her as if she is fragile, because she is far from that. Sometimes I believe she thinks she can fly. Because when she get excited she leaps from the couch directly to the floor, right over the ramp with padded steps on either side of it. She is so funny. And smart. We have had many dogs before, but none like this little Miniature Dachshund.
Charles and Becky Baskerville