Dachshunds are a unique dog breed with high intelligence and strong personalities. Their characteristic sausage shape helped early Dachshund’s hunt prey, such as badgers in their burrows, yet this shape has its downsides. Hereditary conditions such as Intervertebral Disc Disease or IVDD make your Dachshund prone to serious back ailments.
Dachshunds can jump up to four feet despite their short legs, but jumping from excessive heights should be discouraged. However, healthy Dachshunds, who exercise regularly and are allowed to jump onto furniture occasionally or use stairs, develop strong muscles to support their spines and may be less susceptible to IVDD, according to a clinical survey.
You may have been warned about allowing your Dachshund jump, and to some degree, it is true. The elongated spine of a Dachshund is not made for jumping excessive heights, but preventing your Dachshund from jumping at all may be worse for their back in the long run.
I’ve included a very helpful YouTube video later on in this article about ways to lower the risk of your Dachshund having a bad back, but for now, here’s a very short video of a mischievous Dachsie really climbing the ladder:
Why Can Jumping Be Bad for Dachshunds?
Dachshund’s short legs reveal a particular type of dwarfism with the scientific name of “chondrodystrophic dwarfism.” (what a mouthful!)
Chondrodysplasia refers to a skeletal trait that affects cartilage growth plates. Due to their genetic make up, Dachshunds are prone to the IVDD disease of the intervertebral discs causing pain, weakness, and even paralysis.
Dachshunds are particularly vulnerable to this back condition, and 19-24% of Dachshunds will show some signs of IVDD in their lifetime. Owners and Dachshund experts began to associate IVDD with activities such as jumping and stair climbing; however, this is not necessarily true.
Contrary to popular understanding, it is not the length of a Dachshunds spine that makes them susceptible to spinal problems, but rather their legs’ shortness.
One should take precautions with the Dachshund breed in protecting their spines from injury, but does that mean your Dachshund can’t jump?
Does Jumping Cause IVDD?
A recent peer-reviewed survey titled “DachsLife 2015: An investigation of lifestyle associations with the risk of intervertebral disc disease in Dachshunds” presented some interesting findings. In a study of 2,031 Dachshunds, they found that Dachshunds who enjoyed regular exercise, including access to furniture and stairs, showed statistically less prevalence of IVDD.
Dachshund owners who kept their pets from jumping and only conducted moderate exercise have a higher incidence of IVDD.
A previous Scandinavian Study found that moderate use of stairs also reduced the occurrence of disc calcification. These studies suggest that jumping on and off furniture and moderate use of stairs may increase the muscles’ strength around the spine. It is also likely that increased exercise led to improved nutrition of the discs and reduced mineralization incidence.
While it is likely you won’t be competing in top agility trials with your Dachshund, keeping your pet from natural motions out of fear may cause more harm than good.
I’ve actually already talked about how much good exercise can be for your Dachsie in another article on this website here that you might find interesting as well.
Your pet needs strong back muscles to provide support for the spine and maintain healthy intervertebral discs.
Important Note: Proper weight and moderate to high-intensity daily exercise is a must for a healthy Dachshund.
Is My Dachshund Allowed to Jump?
You may allow your Dachshund to jump off furniture and especially climb moderate flights of stairs provided your pet is healthy. You should factor in your dog’s age, weight, condition, and whether your Dachshund has exhibited symptoms of IVDD.
One should always ensure that you prevent injuries typically caused by sudden stress on your pet’s spine. You should always intend to keep your pet from jumping from high positions that place stress on their spine.
However, most injuries and IVDD are not common injuries caused by jumping off furniture or running downstairs.
If your dog is in good condition and well-muscled, they should be able to tolerate day to day living activities. Puppies and dogs over the age of seven years are more at risk of injuries from jumping, and care should be taken to provide suitable alternatives such as platforms.
Ultimately, the individual dog owner should decide whether they believe the risks are sufficient to impose a ban on jumping.
When Should I Prevent My Dachshund From Jumping?
If your Dachshunds have been diagnosed with IVDD or spinal injuries, in general, they should be prevented from activities such as jumping or using stairs. Other circumstances where jumping can be harmful are:
- Dachshunds that are overweight
- Senior dogs
- Young puppies
- Dogs with injuries.
How Do I Prevent My Dachshund From Jumping?
If your Dachshund is elderly, very young, or suffers from IVDD, there are ways to eliminate opportunities for jumping on and off furniture in your home. Some preventative measures include:
- Provide a ramp or soft stairs in the area your Dachshund most commonly lies down, such as the couch or your bed. An excellent example of this type of stair is the USA Made Pet Steps.
- You may block off your furniture to ensure your pet does not jump on the furniture when you are not there with a freestanding gate such as the Unipaws Freestanding Dog gate.
- Place your bed on a lower base or place your mattress and box spring onto the floor. This way, you have no added costs of a ramp or stairs, and your companion can hop on and off your bed with ease.
- Train your dog to sit and wait before jumping on or off the furniture using firm and patient training methods with positive reinforcement. In this way, you will have a chance to lift them onto the furniture or the floor before they jump.
Below is a video by Lenny in the UK who owns six (yes, six) dachshunds of various types who shares her own experience on what she does to prevent IVDD in her sausage dogs and what symptoms to watch out for:
Ultimately it comes down to your choice whether you allow your Dachshund to jump on and off furniture in your home.
Although the breed does have a genetic predisposition to back problems, a healthy and well-muscled adult Dachshund should not encounter any problems jumping on and off the furniture in your home occasionally.
Keeping your dachshund from daily exercise and prompting a sedentary life may reduce the muscular support for their spine, which can be just as harmful to your pet’s health.
If you are concerned about the potential hazards, there are multiple solutions to keep your companion from jumping; even if it means you might have to lower your sleeping arrangements or have a house full of ramps.