Believe it or not, most Dachshunds love hiking.
That is my experience anyway.
I founded a Dachshund club in 2010 to help people get active with theirs and many times a Dachshund has come to our hikes that has never done it before.
The owners are shocked how their Doxie takes to hiking right away and how happy it makes them. I’ve seen many Dachshunds “come alive” on the trail.
However, many owners don’t take their Wiener Dogs beyond their neighborhood out of fear.
The Misconception About How Fragile Dachshunds Are
Many people hear that the Dachshund breed is prone to back problems. It is a fact that 25% will have some kind of back issue in their life.
The misconception though is that the owner can completely control whether their Doxie hurts their back or not.
What people don’t understand is that the primary cause of back issues in Dachshunds between 4 and 8 years old, when there has been no obvious, acute injury like a car accident, is a genetic disease.
This genetic disease is called Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). It causes a dog’s spine to age prematurely and become brittle, which can result in a disk rupture.
You can’t 100% control whether your Dachshund will injure their back or not because the primary cause is a genetic disease.
I’m not saying owners shouldn’t give their Dachshund the best chance they can at no injury, a mild injury, or easier recovery. They should.
Things to avoid include jumping from high places, a lot of rough play where their Dachshund is twisting their spine, play with large dogs that result in the bigger dog “slapping” a Dachshund’s back.
But many people lump hiking into this “danger” category and, in reality, hiking can actually be a beneficial activity for Dachshunds.
One of my Dachshunds has IVDD and suffered a back injury. I worked with several specialists to help her get back to normal as much as possible.
Every one of them told me her recovery would be easier because she regularly went hiking – she was a healthy weight and her core muscles were strong because of it.
Dachshunds Were Bred for Hiking
The Dachshund breed originated in Germany and was bred for hunting badgers and other small game that like to fight back.
The characteristics needed to hunt these small animals makes them bold and fearless dog with a lot of energy.W
The Dachshund breed was developed to be hunters. Although they are rarely used for that purpose in the United States, they maintain many of original the traits and characteristics.
Dachshunds are regularly used to track and hunt in Europe.
Dachshunds aren’t used for hunting as much in the United States but I have heard of some being used for bird hunting and tracking down wounded deer (scent tracking).
Several genetic traits that make Dachshunds good hunters also make them great hikers.
5 Reasons You Should Hike With Your Dachshund
There are many benefits to your Dachshund if they go hiking regularly.
1) It gives their sniffer a workout
Dachshunds can get bored of the same old smells in their yard and around their neighborhood.
Smells in the woods are very different. There are way more of them and they are more delightful than the ones most dogs encounter on a daily basis.
When most Wiener Dogs hike, they keep their nose to the ground and their sniffer working overtime. You can see the joy and excitement on their face.
2) It provides mental stimulation
In addition to all the sights and smells, hiking provides mental stimulation.
A Dachshund has to use their brain to solve problems like climbing over a small log or rocks.
Think of hiking with your Dachshund like placing them inside of a gigantic puzzle.
3) It releases happy chemicals in their body
Hiking gets your Dachshund’s heart pumping.
This increased activity will release endorphins, which make them feel happy and full of energy.
4) It will help keep their weight in check
Hiking burns a more calories than a general stroll around the block.
Making sure your Dachshund is not overweight is important not just because obesity can shorten their life by up to 2.5 years.
Keeping a dog at a healthy weight is balancing their calories in (food) with their calories out (exercise). Hiking is a great cardiovascular workout that burns a lot of calories.
If your Dachshund has a lot of fat on their body, simply walking around can be physically uncomfortable and it can make their joints hurt, including their back.
5) They won’t get reprimanded as much
There are many behavior problems that can result from a Dachshund not getting enough exercise.
These behaviors can range from mild like not sleeping through the night or being a little cranky to more severe like excessive barking or licking paws.
These unwanted behaviors can result in you yelling at your dog or getting very frustrated, which a Dachshund can sense.
Hiking is a fun way to help make sure your Dachshund is getting the exercise they need.
How to Hike With Your Dachshund
Some of you reading this may already be hiking with your Dachshund and were looking for reassurance that, as some people claim, you were not being “mean for making them hike so far on their short little legs”.
It’s easier to start hiking with your Dachshund than you think. You can begin by walking some short, unpaved trails around your neighborhood.
Some of you may have stumbled across it while looking for a small dog capable of hiking and adventuring with you (if that’s you, check out my list of 15 small dogs that make great hiking buddies).
Some of you may have a Dachshund puppy with a lot of energy and you’re trying to figure out how to tire them out.
No matter what intrigued you about this article, some of these resources may help answer your questions.
If you have a very young Dachshund, please read my article about the safe age to hike with a puppy.
Although a Dachshund puppy under about 6 months old shouldn’t go for a long or hard hike, it’s ok to carry your puppy into the woods with you.
This way your puppy will start to be exposed to the wilderness and the adventure life.
These backpacks are the best, safest options I’ve found for carrying a Dachshund. This sling carrier is also a good option.
While you’re out, as long as your puppy has received all of their vaccinations, you can put him or her down on the ground to sniff and walk around a little at breaks.
Exploring in the woods will provide mental and physical stimulation for your Dachshund puppy and help to tire him or her out.
If you are ready to start going on hikes with your little dog, read my best tips for training a Dachshund to hike.
Like people, some Dachshunds are more naturally athletic than others.
Also like people, naturally athletic or not, almost every Dachshund can be trained to hike, build up their fitness so they can do more, and learn to love it.
With that being said, it’s not for every Dachshund.
If your Dachshund is new to hiking, and you plan to do more than a 2-3 flat walk in the woods, I highly suggest checking with your veterinarian beforehand to make sure they are healthy enough.
Things that might prevent a Dachshund from hiking are underlying medical issues or a previous injury without full (or even most) recovery.
While it’s true that most Dachshunds will like hiking, some won’t. Don’t push them if they are just not into it.
I will say don’t give up on hiking with your Dachshund if they seem disinterested the first few times you go.
If it’s a new activity for them, it may seem strange or they may be confused. Also, if they are used to sitting around, they may be out of shape and get tired very quickly.
However, if you have tried hiking with your Dachshund a dozen times and they are still not into it, hiking may just not be your dog’s thing. It’s probably best to not push it.
You’ve heard the saying a tired dog is a happy dog? Well, I say I tired dog is a happy owner!
Hiking for exercise can help your Dachshund stay in shape, satisfy their natural instinct, make them better behaved, and make them happier in general.
Many people think, because of their size and propensity for back injury, that it’s dangerous for a Doxie to hike.
Hopefully this article has convinced you that the benefits of hiking with your Dachshund far outweigh any potential risks.