Dachshunds – Common Diseases in Dachshunds

The title is a little misleading since no disease is truly common in Dachshunds. The overwhelming majority are born healthy and live long, mostly disease-free lives. Some minor health issues arise for nearly every dog at some point, even those who receive early vaccinations and excellent life-long care.

Nevertheless, there are some conditions that tend to occur more frequently in Dachshunds than in other breeds.

– Adrenal Gland Malfunction

One common form of this malady is Cushing's Disease, known in other breeds with some regularity, too. Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, the disease causes the adrenal gland to overproduce cortisol. Since that hormone helps regulate blood sugar, one result is to keep it too high over a long period of time if the disease isn't treated. The net effect can include creation of diabetes as a secondary disease.

The condition is sometimes caused by a malfunctioning pituitary gland or adrenal tumors. As such, the disease can be treated once proper diagnosis is made. In the first case, hormone treatments help balance cortisol levels. In the second, surgery is warranted.

The opposite condition is possible in a malady known as Addison's Disease. This produces too little cortisol, resulting in hypoglycemia. Some of the symptoms are lethargy and poor appetite, both rare in healthy Dachshunds, a situation calling for a vet visit.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an eye condition that produces gradual degradation of eyesight. In PRA, the membrane at the back of the eye slowly deteriorates, leading to loss of vision and ultimately blindness. There is currently no cure.

PRA, when it occurs, tends to start at around 2 years of age but may not become obvious until as late as age 10. The average age of diagnosis is just shy of 5 years old. Since it may not be detected for so long and can be subtle, it is possible to accidentally breed a Doxie with PRA, which perpetuates the bad gene responsible.

Regular eye exams for your Dachshund are advised.

– Kidney and Urinary Tract Problems

One common form of a fluid system problem in Dachshunds is kidney stones. These painful pebbles are produced when the kidneys fail to properly filter cystine, an amino acid, causing a condition called cystinuria. The root cause is a genetic disorder, but can be made worse by lifestyle factors such as diet.

One tell-tale sign apart from the dog having difficulty urinating, which can be hard to detect, is a sulphur or rotten-egg smell in the urine. Also, look for walking with an arched back which may also be the result of spinal problems. Treatment may entail a change of diet to reduce protein intake or surgery to remove the stones.

– Spinal Problems

Because of their long bodies and short legs, coupled with muscular and heavy chests, Dachshunds are much more prone to spinal problems than other breeds. Among the most common manifestations are disc problems, such as IVDD (Intervertebral Disk Disease).


Keep in mind that most Dachshunds, if they receive proper diet, exercise and care, lead normal, healthy lives of up to 15 years or more. Regular vet visits, including routine vaccinations and tests, will help ensure that outcome.