A wire-haired dachshund’s top spot at the UK’s biggest dog show yesterday (8 March) has prompted vets to raise concerns that many prospective owners may be inspired to get a dachshund without realising that this breed can suffer from serious health problems. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging anyone thinking about bringing home this increasingly popular breed to be aware of the spinal issues that dogs bred to have a long and low body type can suffer from, and to speak to their vet for tailored advice.
This year’s Crufts winner, Maisie, featured alongside a Best in Show line-up that also included a Miniature Smooth Haired dachshund and a Basset Hound, which is another breed bred to have a long, low body and short, stubby legs.
Their extreme body shape makes all six varieties of dachshunds– Standard Long-, Smooth-, and Wire-haired, and their miniature versions– at risk of serious spinal and neurological issues which usually require surgery to fix. These problems may not be immediately obvious, but often cause them life-long discomfort and may need costly treatment.
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) tops the list of common health issues, which is a condition which causes the dog to be unable to walk and can seriously compromise the dog’s quality of life. Research shows that the risk of IVDD in dachshunds is 10-12 times higher than other dog breeds, with at least one-fifth of all dachshunds showing clinical signs in their life. The median age of onset of disease is between 5-7 years, with the Standard and Miniature Smooth Haired and the Miniature Wire Haired having the highest prevalence of this disease.
These health issues are a specific concern as recent figures show dachshunds may be on their way to pip their flat-faced cousins to the top spot as the UK’s most fashionable breed, helped along by their Instagram, advertising, and celebrity appeal among the likes of Adele and Declan Donnelly. Their Miniature cousins lead this demand, with registrations for the Miniature Smooth Haired dachshund showing an almost 200% jump in the past decade. This rise comes at a time when breed registrations for flat-faced dogs such as Pugs and French Bulldogs have fallen for the first time in ten years following sustained campaigns by veterinary and animal welfare organisations to raise awareness about their health issues.
While these are official figures, a 2018 BVA survey of vets also showed that the high demand for these tiny dogs has also made them among the list of top breeds that vets suspect of being illegally imported into the country.
BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said:
“We’re concerned that seeing a dachshund crowned top dog at Crufts could lead to a further rise in their popularity and related increase in the health issues that can unfortunately affect these and other long and low breeds. Vets of course love and care for all dogs, but success in the show ring may lead to a further boom in demand outside of it from owners who may not be aware of these health issues and the extra care and treatment they may require as a result.
“The message from vets is loud and clear- always pick health over looks or Insta-appeal. Before adding a dog to their family, we encourage anyone thinking of getting one to seek information and advice from their local vet on the right breed for them. If you are buying a dog, using the free online Puppy Contract will ensure you get a happy, healthy and well-socialised puppy from a responsible breeder.”
BVA’s policy on extreme conformation can be viewed at: https://www.bva.co.uk/take-action/our-policies/extreme-conformation/
The UK Kennel Club considers all 6 dachshund breeds to be Category 2 under their Breed Watch scheme – ie they all have “points of concern”. You can read more about what the Kennel Club does to support breed health here.
The Dachshund Breed Council also has a dedicated breed health website.