Since dachshunds are an achondroplastic breed, the truth is that deformities have basically been bred into them. Achondroplasia is a form of dwarfism that results in the doxie's classic short legs. Other types of deformities occur fairly often in dachshunds. Some are repairable with surgery. Affected doxies shouldn't be bred.
While pes varus, a condition causing a bowlegged appearance, affects only a small percentage of dachshunds, this genetically based disorder appears to be growing in the breed, according to the Dachshund Club of America. Also known as angular hock deformity, affected doxies can experience pes varus in one or both hind legs. While the bowed appearance of the rear legs is a tip-off, other symptoms include lameness, exercise intolerance and general weakness. Mildly affected doxies might not show physical symptoms. Surgery can correct the condition. Without the surgery -- which is costly -- early arthritis develops, creating even more mobility issues for the dog.
Antebrachial Growth Deformity
Dachshunds are prone to antebrachial growth deformity, a condition in which one front leg continues growing while the other one stops. The end result is a dog with different-size front legs and, if severely affected, an abnormal gait. In smaller dogs like the doxie, this limb length disparity generally means that joint issues develop. While it's always important to make sure your doxie doesn't become overweight because of back problems in the breed, it's especially important if his joints are stressed. If your dog is in pain from the deformity, your veterinarian might prescribe medication for relief.
Dachshunds diagnosed with elbow dysplasia were born with abnormal elbow joints. While some affected doxies are asymptomatic, in many dogs it becomes quite obvious that something's wrong. Symptoms include short steps with an odd gait; holding the elbow outward when moving; stiffness; joint swelling and limited range of motion in the affected leg. Dysplasia of both elbow joints isn't uncommon. Elbow dysplasia is often painful, and to make matters worse, it usually develops into arthritis. Your vet can prescribe medication for pain reduction. Your vet might perform surgery on your dog to correct the condition, but results vary, and an operation might not make much difference.
While red and black-and-tan are the best-known doxie colors, they're not the only colors in the dachshund palette. One coloration, dappling, an expression of the merle gene, can cause deafness and blindness in puppies along with a variety of colors in the coat. Dogs with the nuance can have one or two blue eyes. Breeding two dappled dogs together, resulting in double dapple puppies, is usually a recipe for genetic disaster. Breeding a dappled dog to a solid-colored doxie means the litter will probably contain solid and merle puppies, but they're likely to be much healthier.
- Dachshund Club of America: Part of Effort to Raise Awareness About Pes Varus
- petMD: Antebrachial Growth Deformities in Dogs
- Provet: Elbow Dysplasia
- petMD: Osteochondrodysplasia and Achondroplasia in Dogs
- Louisiana State University: Genetics of Deafness in Dogs
- American Kennel Club: Dachshund Breed Standard
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.