Thinking About Rescuing a Dachshund? Things You Might Want to Know
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 things I learned before I adopted my doxie, and some things since.
What, You Can See Me?!
Dachshunds Like to Burrow Under the Covers
Dachshunds are Burrowers and Diggers
Dachshunds were bred as badger hounds, and 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 at 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 Can Be Biters
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 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.
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 used for breeding, no doubt 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 related to not having a jaw below to aid 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.
Dachshunds 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 my 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 back yard to bark. And house breaking? Well let’s just say it became a necessity to have my own steam cleaner.
Many Dachshunds Need Back Surgery
Don't Let Doxies on the Furniture
Dachshunds 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 through 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.