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Thinking About Rescuing a Dachshund? Things You Might Want to Know

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I am the proud owner of a Dachshund and love giving advice to other owners.

Sebastian in his sock monkey bed.

Sebastian in his sock monkey bed.

Doxies Are Irresistibly Cute

I’m not really sure why I decided to adopt a dachshund. I never had one before. They are irresistibly cute, right? I searched on Pet Finder online. I looked at dozens of potential adoptees, reading all of the profile information. It sounded like they all have such a wonderful temperament. Profile after profile remarked on what cuddle bunnies they all are, and how they just can’t get close enough to you.

I think all those wonderful things are true, but I should have read that Dachshunds for Dummies book before I got so headstrong about rescuing a dachshund. I could have done more research, and maybe I would have known that doxies are in the top five of dog breeds that bite. Even better, maybe I would have learned how prevalent back issues are, even if “you do everything right.”

So I am in the beginner phase of “all things dachshund," but have already learned some important lessons. Some of the things I learned before I adopted my doxie, and some things since.

What, You Can See Me?!

What, You Can See Me?!

They Are Burrowers and Diggers

Dachshunds were bred as badger hounds. They would thrust themselves into tunnel holes in the ground to flush out badgers.

Most dachshund owners will tell you that their doxie likes to burrow under covers. Mine likes to burrow under pillows as well. He likes a bed with a pillow, then another pillow and blanket on top so he can burrow between the two pillows. I bought him a cave bed, and he didn’t touch it for maybe 10 months. I was ready to give it away but put it next to my feet on the couch one day, and he just crawled in. Now he loves it and doesn’t come out for hours. I would say the burrowing is a pretty endearing trait.

Dachshunds also have a reputation as diggers, which would not be so endearing. Before I brought Sebastian home, I hired a friend to put up chicken wire around my fence so he could not dig under. You just dig a six to ten-inch trench right next to the fence line. Then bury the chicken wire, covering it over as you go, and staple the remaining to the fence. I think I got 24” wide chicken wire.

For Sebastian, it seems the chicken wire was not necessary. I’ve seen him scratch in the dirt from time to time, but he’s never done any serious digging.

Dachshunds Are Frequent Biters

Dogs like Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and Dobermans have a reputation as potentially aggressive breeds, who may attack and cause serious injury or even death. In terms of biting, however, the small dogs lead the pack, like dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell terriers.

My dachshund Sebastian is a biter. In the first 18 months or so that we had him, he bit my brother, sister, and me a couple of times each. I was blaming it on his status as a rescue, assuming he had been mistreated. My veterinarian however told me about an interesting study on foxes published in National Geographic. This study concluded aggressive vs docile traits are likely inherent in many animals, and not learned. This is not to say that an animal can’t be trained to be aggressive, but that some may be aggressive vs docile despite their environment or upbringing.

Sebastian has not bitten anyone in a while, but I am the only one that can pick him up, and he has to be heavily sedated for all veterinary care. If you have a biter, get yourself some Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. It will prevent infection and bring redness and swelling down quickly.

Dachshund overbite. My, what beautiful toofs you have!

Dachshund overbite. My, what beautiful toofs you have!

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Dachshunds Have an Increased Incidence of Overbite

Dachshunds have a higher incidence of overbite when compared to the general population of dogs.

Sebastian has a very large overbite, and he was no doubt used for breeding because of his beautiful chocolate dapple coat. But he should not have been used for breeding because of his huge overbite.

Breeding a dog like Sebastian can result in puppies with such a small lower jaw that they may not be able to feed adequately. Worse, they can have breathing difficulty, to the point they may not survive.

Sebastian has an incredibly cold nose, which I believe is related to not having a jaw below to aid in warming. Thankfully he has no chewing and feeding problems. He can go through a bully stick over twice as fast as our spaniel, who is much bigger.

Sebastian sunning himself on his ramp

Sebastian sunning himself on his ramp

They Have a Stubborn, Independent Nature

Before rescuing my dachshund, I did some research. I saw the words “stubborn” and “independent” listed on many dog breeds in the many books I collected on dogs. This seemed to have a high correlation with being difficult to house train. According to Almost Home Rescue, the independence that served dachshunds well as hunters is not only related to housebreaking difficulties, but associated with excessive barking as well.

I’d have to say guilty on both counts at our house. One of Sebastian’s favorite pastimes is going to the backyard to bark. And housebreaking? Well, let’s just say it became a necessity to have my own steam cleaner.

Sebastian recovering from surgery.  He was walking normally within 5 days.

Sebastian recovering from surgery. He was walking normally within 5 days.

Sebastian is no longer allowed on the couch.

Sebastian is no longer allowed on the couch.

They Are Vulnerable to Back Injury

I had a friend who had several dachshunds over the years. He warned me about the back issues, but I guess I didn’t think it would happen to Sebastian for some miraculous reason. Magical thinking perhaps?!

I remember meeting some buttinski veterinarian at some social gathering, who felt compelled to say “not if, but when” in regard to severe back problems when he found out I had a dachshund. I could have peed in his coffee.

I guess Sebastian had his back surgery about a year and a half after I got him, at about five years old. He became essentially paralyzed in his hind legs in a pretty short period of time. The whole shebang- MRI, surgery, and post-op care- was over $3000, and that was after my $500 military discount.

Looking back, I wonder why the All Texas Dachshund Rescue representative didn’t say anything to me about back precautions. I had to have a home visit interview before I was allowed to adopt. She was impressed with our chicken wire fence, and with our doggie steps, which we had to each of our beds for our spaniel, Hope.

We also had steps to the couch. All the steps are gone now, and regrettably, Sebastian is no longer allowed on the bed or couch. He would use the steps to go up because that was the only way he could get up. Unfortunately, however, he jumped down more often than not.

We have had to take bricks to close in our back porch, and have a ramp and less steep steps that my sister built for him. He still occasionally seems to get a little stiff and slow at times, maybe just from running like a lightning bolt. I give him conium from my naturopath, five drops, then again in three days. So far that does the trick. Fingers crossed.


bigandsmallhounds on May 24, 2015:

We've been breeding dachshunds for about 6 years, Never have mine had back problems, and the many happy homes we've placed our akc pups into, have never had issues with back problems, our oldest female which just had her last litter is 8 years old, has only had 5 litters in her whole life, her name is Saleen and she still hops up and down with no problem, We've always kept ours inside when it's cold but they love it outside. we have 4 normal steps on our porch, and one of saleen's daughters loves to climb and fit through any hole she can to get out of the yard, but Always hangs around by the gate.

our male we got in Oklahoma to prevent the possibility of our male being related to our female, sounds really far fetched but it can happen, and the last thing you want is dog cousins having oddball pups!

Love my doxies and our bassets, Never have mine ever Bitten anyone, they will let you know when a stranger, or anyone outside the yard is there like an automatic doorbell! but up in the country, you depend on your dogs for things like that and it comes with the breed.

If you adopt a dog from a shelter or the pound, your basically getting a car from craigs list, they'll tell you everything good about it, but one it's yours, you'll start to find all the fix-er-up things, but now and then, you'll luck into a real Gem. in our 6 years of breeding, I've only had 1 person bring a puppy back, and that's because his girlfriend didn't want to house train it on $3000 carpet haha.

Love the breed, and Enjoy giving people a 4 legged companion to complete or start a family. Remember, if you go looking for bad on the internet, you'll end up with posts like above that make you think every dachshund will need back surgery, this is not the case, simply a collective of the handful of people who Did have issues with theirs.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on December 29, 2013:

Thank you for this story of your dachshund. What an adventure he's been in your lives! So sorry about his back, despite all the care you had given him. It seems that despite all his imperfections, you love him very much. I have a wire haired dachshund. She doesn't really bite but will snap. However, she barks LOUD. This was voted up, as it was obviously told with so much humor, love and heart.

Margolyn from Wisconsin on November 29, 2012:

I got a Doxie from a shelter. She was 2 years old, and the shelter never told us she had diabetes. I have adopted many dogs from shelters and rescue organizations and none of them have informed the customers of the dogs health. So, many times people get the dog home, find out that it is sick and the shelters and rescues won't take them back.

My dog Weener was very sensitive about her paws. Aparently previous owners pulled or picked her up by her front legs and she limped slightly on one side and became defensive if I tried to play with her paws while she laid on her back. She finally trusted me and I was allowed to play with her paws gently.

She was smart, and had back issues because she was running up and down 3 flights of stairs and eventually stopped and we had to carry her up. When I moved back to my home I had ramps put in and she quickly learned to use them along with the steps for the sofa. She always stopped at the end of the bed, and would not jump as I knew she could hurt herself. So, I gently put her on the floor whenever she signaled me.

She learned quickly to stay withing the boundaries of my home, and wouldn't go up to the second floor.

My Jack Russell was not socialized but after Weener came Jaqi was alpha but eventually started to play with Weener.

I am appalled at the shelters and rescues for selling sick dogs, most of the time the animal has something wrong with it and are given up or abused after the owners find out they have been duped into a sick animal. There is no guidelines for the foster care people, many times they are paid to keep these animals and they are caged for the rest of their lives or transferred from one foster home to another.

I got a fox terrier from a rescue organization and found out he didn't have much time to live due to a liver problem. I had to put him down after a year of watching him just lay around feeling badly. The Doxie was another sick animal that was passed on to unknowingly owners.

All dogs have a propensity to have back problems. Espescially the longer animals and large dogs. If you allow your dog to jump excessively or go up and down stairs a lot, they will developed a spinal injury. Fortunatley my Jack and the Weener had to be treated with cortisone, but eventually got better after I stopped them from running up and down stairs. The vet says the spine right above the shoulders and the back by the tail are affected. But when they refuse to walk up the stairs or go for a long walk it usually is an indication of pain someplace. So precautions should be taken. No small child should be left alone with puppies, as they inadvertantly can hurt the animal and destroy their trust in people.

amithak50 from India on April 06, 2012:

That is really interesting ..funny to read this hub ..Nice

glutenallergy on April 04, 2012:

My neighbor has a doxie and she's such a sweet dog! She's also great with their pet cat (the cat usually has the upper hand between the two of them).

Liz Hancock on April 04, 2012:

You sound like such a great dog owner. I know what it is like to rescue a dog. You never know what they have experienced before you and you have to have a really big heart to help them trust and love again. Kudos to you for giving Sebastian a better life. Loved reading this and hope he has stopped his biting.

hvacunits from Longview, TeXas on April 03, 2012:

Simply an amazing Hub. Thanks so much for all your wonderful work. "Awesome." A big vote here for your hub!

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on April 03, 2012:


Cornelia Brown on April 02, 2012:

I have a little longhaired miniature with an overbite and she is absolutely adorable. She is our little princess and everyone that sees her is smitten with her beauty. The amber fur is long and healthy and looks great especially on her ears. We had her for 4 yrs now and enjoyed every moment. She is a true blessing gret with the grandkids and great with my father. He was so lonely when we lost mom but Trixie is keeping him company and she makes the lonely days a little easier for him! Thank you and please visit my hubs I am very new to this!

Lisas-thoughts101 from Northeast Texas on April 02, 2012:

rm, we have two miniature dachsunds. We got both of them as puppies. They have the personalities of lions. One is a human with fur on..... the other is her dog :) Both potty trained fairly well. Neither have had back trouble yet, knock on wood. They are 10 and 12. The 10 year old does get arthritis in his back legs in the winter but he takes a mild medication for this and is fine. They are the loves of our families' lives. We don't know what we would do without them. I guess we got lucky. Neither is a biter either. I suppose there are anomalies in every breed and we found two. Now, if you try to clip their nails without valium there is trouble. But we can do the vet without sedation. I guess you never know. Great hub. Your Sebastion is precious. One of ours is a black and tan and the other is red.... Lady Charlotte (Charli) and Sir Maximus (Max) I voted up and interesting.


Fred Smedley from Devon, United Kingdom on March 31, 2012:

Great hub and so true. When I was a baby and still in my pram my parents bought a dachshund puppy so that we could grow up together (so I'm told obviously). To cut a long story short, apparently he used to lie by my pram for hours on end and would not let anyone near me and as you say, if someone did venture too close, he would become very aggressive and wasn't averse to the odd bite - even much larger dogs weren't exempt. We became inseparable and he was very docile with me but he suffered ill health and unfortunately didn't live for many years. I wouldn't hesitate to have another if it were possible.

DS from Danville, IL on March 30, 2012:

Appreciate your detailed information about dachshund traits. My friends own a difficult dachshund with every negative trait mentioned in your hub. Although difficult they wouldn't trade her in for a million dollars! i also have a hub about dachshund barking and territorial issues. Great writing and informative hub.

jaswinder64 from Toronto, Canada. on March 30, 2012:

Great hub and great knowledge.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 30, 2012:

Thanks for an informative hub on doxies. We have several breeds on the list for our next dog, and I may scratch doxies off. Our local pet store brings in animals to be adopted, and recently had the most regal looking piebald dachshund. I had never seen a piebald before.

I had a friend who trained his two doxies to use a litter box. He said that nobody told him he couldn't train a dog to a litter box, so he tried it and it worked.

Add chows and chow mixes to the list of biters.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on March 27, 2012:

Very nice hub. I have had friends who have had dachshunds that they loved dearly. But I would always be worried about their back. Sebastian is a gorgeous dog. I can see why you were taken with him. Congrats on hub of the day!

MarkRFox on March 27, 2012:

I have a mix dachshund and mini pinscher. Her name is Minnie Mouse.."Minnie" for short. She displays some of the traits you described especially digging, having difficulties with house training (luckily most of the house is tile and hardwood) and especially burrowing underneath the covers. I hope she does not develop back problems considering she is a mix. She loves to jump very high in the air off of her two hind legs. Sometimes I joke she is part gopher, ground hog, and kangaroo because of all her weird traits, but I guess some of them are not so weird. She has only bitten one person, the vet. Although, I wish she had that independent trait you described as she is very needy and must always be next to you or preferably on your lap. Sometimes I wake up with her laying on top of my legs or chest. Good Hub. Voted up.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on March 27, 2012:

It's really good to know all these information. Caring for pets and in particular dogs is close to my heart. you're doing the pet enthusiasts out there a huge favor in publishing this hub. Congratulationis on making the the Hub of The Day.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 27, 2012:

Magician, DON'T get steps!!! And DON'T let your doxie on the bed or couch. Even though they may go up the steps to the bed or couch, they tend to jump down. Jumping stresses the spine. It was difficult not letting Bastian on the bed and couch anymore, but we both adjusted relatively quickly.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on March 27, 2012:

Thanks soooo much everyone. I've had over 30 comments today!! I would love to answer each and every one of you, but I don't know how realistic that will be.

I have spent the last few weeks working on a presentation on shoulders, that I finally delivered Saturday. So I’ve been itching to write some hubs, and hope to do a few before deadline Friday for the contest.

I’d say to anyone else passing through: There are some great comments above. Many are from doxie owners, and offer some great advice and great stories. Read above and enjoy!

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on March 27, 2012:

As a dyed in the wood dachshund lover, I feel like I need to stick up for them a little. Sounds like you really hit the jackpot as far as problems go. I have owned 4 1/2 dachshunds in my life (the 1/2 one is half pug.) All were previously owned, but the only one that came from an actual rescue agency was the only one that had back problems, and he has not needed surgery, the rest were spry and athletic. Only one had a biting problem, which I was able to get him over by training.

You do make some good points. Their personality is similar to other hounds, they tend to bond most closely with one person, they are barkers and diggers, they follow their nose, and if you call them when they are giving chase they do tend to just look back over their should like "yeah right." Maybe not the easiest dogs, but I love them. I wonder if any breed of dog is really easy.

Melinda from Oregon on March 27, 2012:

Very interesting. A friend of mine recently got a chihuahua/dachshund mix and now I'm wondering if that will aid in the back problems, since her dog isn't as long as most dachshunds I've seen.

Arlene V. Poma on March 27, 2012:

Right on, right on! Congratulations on making Hub of the Day. Your article and your photographs of your dog will steal any dog lover's heart. It was a winner from the get go.

Rufus rambles from Australia on March 27, 2012:

Congrats on HOTD! What a great, personal hub about your experience with this breed. Before getting my Shetland Sheepdogs I wish I'd read a similar article about their penchant for barking! They are an adorable, gentle breed but massive barkers! My hubs on their traits and ways to get around their "negatives" such as an overly shy nature is similar but I just love the way you used humour and pictures of each aspect of the breed. Great work and voted up!

Catherine Taylor from Canada on March 27, 2012:

My girls and I loved this hub. They adore weiner dogs but I am so glad you shared the pros and cons of this breed. Lovely pics!

Paulie on March 27, 2012:

I have two doxies, one's a barker, the other not. One likes to burrow, the other not. Neither bite and will roll over, show their tummies and wave their arms in the air if threatened by a human. One will kill any small animal if given a chance. The other is just curious. Both like to be near their human, except when gnawing something or wanting to run freely until pooped. Neither shed (yay!). Both hard to housebreak and can't be completely trusted to roam freely. Both trained to go on a verbal command (hurry up!) to do it and do it now. Neither has back problems and use stairs all the time. One is a smooth hair and the other is a long-hair. So some of the stereotypes don't hold up.

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on March 27, 2012:

Excellent hub. I love that dog bed on top, the sock monkey one :)

CookwareBliss from Winneconne, WI on March 27, 2012:

Thanks you so much for sharing your experiences with your dachshund. I have a dachschud that we bought from a local breeder who is now 7. His name is Oscar and has been such a great dog for my wife and son. We got lucky with him because he does not bark and has never bitten anyone...knock on wood. He does have issues going to the bathroom in the house but is something we have learned to deal with. He is in good health and has had a strong back, so I'm happy we have not had to deal with surgery. This hub really hit home for me because I don't know what I would do without my dachshund. Thanks so much for sharing! I voted up :)

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on March 27, 2012:

I've never owned a pet before, but these Daschund look adorable; They look nice and cute. Great hub and congrats on winning HOTD


Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on March 27, 2012:

Love these little fellows. Baby-sat Toby, my neighbor's short-haired rescue doxie and he didn't want to go home when he came to get him. Great hub.