We are aware it was suggested on the Saturday Crufts TV programme that Dachshunds should not be allowed to jump on and off sofas or to use stairs; linking these activities to an increased risk of back injuries. In response, the RSPCA commented that it was the way the dogs are bred – too “long and low”, which is the root cause of back disease (IVDD) in the breed.
The Dachshund Breed Council recognises that IVDD is the most prevalent health issue in the breed and it is therefore the prime focus for our breed health improvement initiatives. We have introduced an X-ray screening programme to help to identify dogs at risk of IVDD and we support the ongoing research into the genetics of IVDD which is a complex condition.
In relation to the statement regarding jumping on and off furniture and using stairs, our advice, based on numerous research studies, is that a Dachshund in good body condition, that is well-muscled, should be perfectly capable of tolerating the normal activities of day-to-day living. In our 2015 breed survey, Dachshunds over the age of 3 that were allowed to go up/down a flight of stairs every day had lower odds of IVDD than those not allowed to use stairs. A previous Scandinavian study showed moderate use of stairs also reduced risk. Clearly, there is a risk of injury due to putting sudden stresses through any dog’s spine, but most reported cases of dogs with back problems are not directly attributable to an event such as running down stairs or jumping off furniture.
Turning to anatomical structure, the Breed Council has made it clear that exaggeration of body length or shortness of legs is to be avoided and is not consistent with the current Kennel Club Breed Standard. Dog show judges, in particular, have a responsibility to judge to the Breed Standard which defines a dog that is fit, healthy, temperamentally sound and capable of serving its original working purpose. The Breed Standard was amended in 2008 to make this clearer. There is also significant variation in the risk of back disease across the 6 varieties of Dachshund in the UK (Standard vs. Miniature and Smooth, Long, Wire-coated) showing dogs with similar body proportions have very different risks. These differences point to a genetic predisposition to back disease.
Our advice to owners focuses on lifestyle factors to ensure they keep their dogs slim, well-muscled and fit and to avoid early neutering which has also been shown to double the risk of IVDD.
For more information on IVDD please visit our website www.dachshund-ivdd.uk