I get a lot of questions about the Dachshund breed, and, because our blog is one centered around being active with your Dachshund, one of the common question I hear is “Do you think my Dachshund is fat?”
I’m no veterinarian, but I’ve owned Dachshunds for 15 years, I’ve blogged about them for almost 8, I’ve organized the Dachshund club for over 6, and I was a Doxie walker and sitter (yes, I stuck primarily to the long and low) during my 3 years of grad school.
I would venture to say have a high level of expertise when it comes to Dachshunds, and I am more than willing to share what I know when asked.
So, let’s get down to it.
What Should Your Dachshund Weigh?
I want to clear up some things about Dachshunds and their weight.
First, Dachshunds come in several sizes. The most widely recognized categories are miniature and standard.
With Dachshunds, their category is determined by size/weight, not breed lines or the size of their parents. For example, two miniature Dachshund parents can have a puppy that grows up to be a standard.
In other words, all Dachshunds are the same breed. The different sizes are just sub-categories of the breed.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes two sizes in the AKC Dachshund breed standard – standard and miniature. A Miniature is 11 lbs and under at 12 months of age. Standards are between 16 and 32 lbs.
In Germany, they also recognize a “rabbit” size dachshund. Rabbit Dachshunds are smaller in stature than miniatures. When they are full grown their rib-cage circumference is 11 inches or under and they weigh no more than 8 lbs.
Most Dachshunds, at an ideal weight, weight between 5 and 35 lbs.
Note: you may see a “Toy Dachshund” for sale sometimes but that’s not a real classification – there is no such thing.
However, as Dachshund owners know, there are many more size variations than that.
What about Dachshunds that are between 11 lbs and 16 lbs? We know they exist. The Dachshund community has fittingly deemed them “tweenies.”
Some people claim that they are technically standards since they don’t fit into the miniature classification.
Having so much variation in weight among the breed can make it difficult to determine what the proper weight for YOUR dog actually is.
An easy mistake Dachshund owners often make is saying “my Doxie weighs 18 lbs so he/she must be a standard.” However, your pup may be 2, 4, or even 10 lbs overweight and is actually a miniature underneath that unnecessary fat.
So, the most important thing is to determine your Dachshund’s ideal weight.
The most common condition in Dachshunds in regard to weight is having too much fat. So hat’s what this article primarily deals with.
However, there is a section on what to do if your Dachshund needs to gain weight at the end.
How Do I Know if My Dachshund is Fat?
Pet Obesity is an Epidemic.
A Veterinarian can examine a dog’s bone and body structure to make recommendations for ideal weight.
Estimating body condition, using an illustrated weight chart, is a “simple” thing you can do yourself at home.
A body condition chart has photos or sketches, as well as descriptions, which tell you how to determine the proper weight by look and feel.
Below is the general chart for dogs. A body score of 3 is typically considered ideal.
It’s pretty easy to see these weight “markers” if your dog has a short or slick coat. If they have longer hair, these things generally need to be determined by feel and by smooshing the hair down to look.
When determining whether your Dachshund is over or under weight, you will have to use both sight and feel.
In summary, your Dachshund is overweight if:
- You look at your dog’s ribs while they are standing up and you can’t see them and you can’t easily feel them under the skin (ie. have to push into their skin a lot to feel them).
- You look at your Dachshund from the side when they are standing up and their abdomen does not “tuck” up behind their rib cage (think Greyhound) . In other words, their chest and belly are equal distance from the floor.
- You look at your dog from above when they are standing up and your Dachshund doesn’t have a waist (hourglass shape). In other words, their body just one round cylinder with, basically, straight lines from front to back
Your Dachshund may be underweight if:
- You look at your dog’s ribs when they are standing up and you can see all of them from a distance.
- Looking from above while your dog is standing up, you can clearly see their spine and hip bones sticking out.
Note, you can see the last two ribs on my Dachshunds. Sometimes people ask me if there is something wrong with them.
I’ve spoken to several veterinarians about their weight and have been assured that seeing a rib or two does not necessarily mean a Dachshund is too skinny.
Use the information you have gathered above and consult this ideal weight chart for dogs.
Use both the look and feel information for both the ribs and waist to determine where your Dachshund falls on this chart.
If your Dachshund is classified as 4 or 5 on the chart, your pup is overweight. heir ideal weight may be 2-5 lbs, or more in server cases, over their ideal weight. l
If your Dachshund is classified as a 1 or 2 on the chart, they may be underweight. Their ideal weight may be 1-3 lbs heavier than their current weight.
Whether your Dachshund is over or under weight, it’s never a bad idea to confirm your suspicions with your veterinarian.
Obesity is the Most Common Weight-related Issue with Dachshunds
Over 55% of all US dogs are estimated to be overweight or obese according to the latest study from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
A recent article in the Scientific American highlighted a study that found many people do not know a fat dog when they see one.
It says that people often minimize how overweight their pets are. They tell themselves, “I guess he could lose a pound or two” but don’t see it as a big deal.
It can be hard to admit that your Dachshund could stand to lose a few pounds.
What many people don’t realize is that extra pounds on a pet can take TWO YEARS off of their life. And that’s not necessarily two years off of a healthy life either.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, obesity is our pets’ #1 health threat.
Obese pets are at higher risk of developing diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. In addition, carrying extra weight is terrible for a Dachshund’s back.
So, if your Dachshund is fat, it’s VERY important to recognize it – to be honest with yourself – in order to help your dog live their best life.
Did You Call My Dachshund Fat? That’s Kind of Harsh
If you think I’m a little harsh about the weight issue sometimes, that is because I am very passionate about it.
I promote hiking and being active with your Dachshund on my blog, and with my Adventureweiner Club, to bring awareness to, and combat, obesity.I
I am not going to lie. I get angry when I see people post pictures online of their fat Dachshund and celebrate their “cute, chubby dog”.
Although it can be painful to hear from a stranger, those that don’t live with your dog every day, and who don’t have an emotional attachment like you do, can offer objective feedback about your Dachshund’s weight.
Yes, all dogs deserve to be loved and cherished but fat is NOT cute! It’s sad and, quite frankly, it’s unfair to your pup.
Dogs can’t speak up and tell us how they are feeling about the extra weight. However, I can speak from experience myself that it’s possible to look happy despite being overweight and feeling like crap a lot of the time.
People can look “healthy” from the outside but still have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
Those things can severely limit ones quality of life and be a significant factor in determining how long they live (spoiler alert: it’s shorter).
The same is true for dogs.
That being said, I admit that I don’t know each individual dog’s story. There ARE circumstances beyond an owner’s control that can result in an overweight pet such as limited mobility of the owner, a disease the dog has, or medication.
That’s why I mostly keep my opinions and thoughts to myself. If someone asks for my opinion about their Dachshund though, I am not afraid to “tell it like it is.”
So, What Can You Do About It If Your Dachshund is Overweight?
Now that we’ve addressed the issue, let’s discuss the solution to either obtaining or maintaining that trim and fit body type your Dachshund was born to have.
Control Food Intake
The most basic and important thing you can do is to control your Doxie’s daily food intake—this includes food portion and schedule.
Read this article to determine how much food you should feed your Dachshund.
Commercial dog foods contain a feeding guide with portion recommendations on the label.
However, as with people, the perfect amount of food for your Dachshund is a case-by-case situation, and should be adjusted according to the exercise levels of your pup.
If you are not sure, I recommend talking with your vet about the proper amount of food to feed your Dachshund.
Additionally, establish a regular feeding routine. Decide how many meals a day is best for your Dachshund (I feed my adult Dachshunds twice a day and fed my puppy three times a day), and stick to it!
I know it may take a little extra time to do so, but leaving food out all day for your dog allows them the opportunity to overeat, and consequently gain unnecessary pounds.
Minimize Extra Calories From Treats
Speaking of unnecessary weight… how often are you handing out treats? Also think about how big they are and how many calories each one has.
I know all too well the temptation to slip your little one a tasty token of your love here and there throughout the day.
Dachshunds have a way of totally disarming their owners with those hilariously convincing eyes (I’m sure you all know the look I’m talking about).
While I don’t discourage the occasional treat, it’s important that you’re careful not to over-do it.
It’s also best to stay away from feeding them fattening human food.
On the days that you feed your Dachshund more treats, feed them a little less at each meal to balance out the calorie intake.
There are a few ways you can minimize calories from treats:
- Use a small portion of your Dachshund’s kibble, set aside from their daily allowance, and give that throughout the day as treats
- Use very small dog treats
- Find other ways to show your dog the love for being so wonderful
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a firm believer that Dachshunds can get outside and be just as active as your neighborhood lab.
Don’t let those short legs fool you: Dachshunds are athletic and love to be outdoors, and daily exercise is just as important to their health as is their eating regime.
Make sure your pup is getting outside for at least thirty minutes every day, whether it be walking around the block or hiking up a mountain.
Staying active is key to weight loss, and will ensure your dog is not only staying fit, but happy as well.
For more information, check out my article How Much Exercise Does My Dachshund Need?
How Can I Help My Dachshund Gain Weight?
Remember, most people think that their Dachshunds are too skinny when, in fact, they may be a healthy weight.
However, being too thin, and not eating enough food, can lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health issues.
If you suspect your Dachshund needs to gain some weight, the first thing you should do is double check with your veterinarian.
The two primary ways to help your Dachshund gain weight is to increase their calorie intake by:
- Feeding your dog more of the same food
- Feeding your dog the same amount of food but one that has more calories per cup (volume)
If your Dachshund is too thin, it’s also likely that they could use to build some muscle.
It’s helpful to start doing some strength building exercises at the same time you increase your dog’s calorie intake.
I hope, if anything, this has challenged you to view your Dachshund in a different light.
Remember: your 16 lb “standard” Dachshund may actually be an overweight miniature.
Rather than let the scale tell you which category of Dachshund—rabbit, miniature, or standard— your dog falls under, let their body size, shape, and energy levels do the talking.
Pet obesity is an epidemic that needs to end, and the change starts with you.
When is the last time you checked your dog’s weight?