While the dachshund’s body shape and size might seem a comical mishap of nature, it has a purpose. Dachshunds were bred for hunting, primarily for flushing badgers and small game out of holes and burrows. Its long, thin body and short legs allow the dog easy passage through underground tunnels and good leverage for pulling animals from their hiding places.
But your Dachshund’s famous hotdog-figure is also his vulnerable point, leaving him susceptible to spinal injury, painful back ailments, ruptured discs, even paralysis. This is why veterinarians recommend that you prevent your Dachshund from jumping up on furniture or running down stairs too often. It’s an attempt to try to limit any activity that jars or puts added stress on his long spinal column.
Vets also suggest that owners use the “horizontal hold” method when carrying the breed. Rather than lifting straight up from the forelegs, lift with one hand under the chest and another under the rear body, keeping your Dachshund’s back horizontal at all times.
Why a harness might be a smart choice
Many Dachshund owners believe that a harness is safer and more comfortable than a collar when walking a Dachshund. A collar pulls on the neck and can result in neck or back trauma, particularly if you have to yank your dog hard during walks to avoid cars, street hazards, or other dogs. Collars can also slip off during a walk.
When fitted properly, however, a harness wraps securely around your dog’s torso, evenly distributing any pressure you apply to the leash when directing him on sidewalks or parks.
Special harnesses for Dachshunds are available in many pet stores. Consider a padded harness rather than the naked nylon type that can pull fur and chafe your dog’s skin. Also pay attention to fit: If you can slide your index finger under the harness it’s probably loose enough to be comfortable but snug enough so it won’t fall off.
With his muscular body and strong legs, your Dachshund is no weakling. But taking a few precautions to prevent spinal injury may help your dog lead a happier life.