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How Fast Can a Dachshund Run? Breed Characteristics

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

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With their tiny stature and short legs, one would naturally assume that the long-bodied Dachshund wouldn’t be grouped in the fastest breeds of canines. They were originally bred as hunting dogs though, and hunting dogs are built to catch their prey, so how fast do Dachshunds run?

Surprisingly, a Dachshund can run at a top speed of 15 to 20 miles per hour on average, but only in quick bursts. While this may pale in comparison to a lot of other breeds, we are impressed that they can be so quick considering their overall physique. Let’s find out more.

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The Athleticism of the Dachshund

Dachshund means “badger dog” in German and that is exactly what they were created for. They were bred to have short legs that allowed them to be close to the ground to better catch the scent of their prey and maneuver through burrows on the hunt for badgers.

Over the years the Dachshund were used to hunt and flush out an even wider variety of prey, which they did well. From their ears to the tip of their tail, the breed was purposefully bred to look the way they do.

It’s easy to see past these hunting dog traits and abilities, being that more recently these dogs have become viewed as pampered little companion dogs, but don’t be fooled. These courageous and feisty little dogs are actually members of the Hound group within the American Kennel Club (AKC) and have excelled in many competitive sports.

dachshund with football
Image Credit: Sylvie Corriveau, Shutterstock

Dachshund Races

We all know that the Greyhound is a famous racing dog, but did you know that there are Dachshund races? They began in Australia back in the 1970s and have since grown in popularity and spread around the world.

The most popular Dachshund race is The Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals which is held in California and The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in California also holds the annual “Doxie Derby” as part of their Picnic Day event that helps fundraise for the veterinary students. Many other states within the U.S. also hold Dachshund races that bring in large crowds.

These races aren’t anywhere near the same as what you’d see a Greyhound compete in, the Dachshund races are either 25 or 50 yards in length since they are only quick in short, quick bursts.

The Controversy Behind Dachshund Races

Like with both Greyhound and horse racing, there is a lot of controversy surrounding Dachshund races. This is largely due to the breed’s genetic predisposition to back injuries and the fact that they are not bred to be racers. The Dachshund Club of America is a vocal opponent of these races, works to protect the breed, argues that the racing is a form of exploitation, and notes the negative impacts that racing could have on the dogs’ bodies.

Dachshund race at Rathdrum, Idaho
Image Credit: Gregory Johnston, Shutterstock

Predisposition to Back Issues

The physical build that makes the Dachshund stand out amongst other breeds is unfortunately the cause of the severe back issues to which they are predisposed. Their long backs and short legs make them prone to disc herniation which can range from mild to severe.

These discs can press into the spinal cord causing pain and damage. The severity can range from mild to severe chronic pain and can even result in paralysis.

According to veterinary experts, it’s not just their short, long stature that is a problem, 1 in 5 Dachshunds are said to have a gene that creates mineral deposits within their spinal discs which also increases their risk of disc herniation and disc rupture.

Dachshunds should be provided with exercise and an overall lifestyle that does not put any excess stress on their spine.

Signs of Disc Herniation
  • Back pain
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lameness
  • Inability to walk (hind legs or all four)
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Paralysis

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Preventing Herniated Discs

While you may not be able to prevent disc herniation entirely, there are some things you can try to minimize the risk even further. If you ever have concerns that your Dachshund is in pain and possibly suffering from this condition, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

1. Keep Your Dachshund at a Healthy Weight

Dachshunds are no strangers to becoming overweight or obese. It is important to keep them at a healthy weight not just to prevent all the other health issues associated with obesity, but to put less stress on their body, including the spine.

2. Use Baby Gates

Stairs can be very stressful on a Dachshund’s spine and it’s best to have them avoid going up and down stairs constantly. Try using baby gates at the entryway to the stairs to prevent them from using them too frequently.

dachshund dog sitting on pet ramp
Image By: Masarik, Shutterstock

3. Have Ramps for Furniture

It is not good for a Dachshund’s spine when they jump up and down off furniture. This can put a lot of strain on their spine and ultimately result in injury. Instead of banning them from jumping up on the furniture, which is quite the challenge in and of its own, use furniture ramps so they can more easily access where they want to be, which is typically your lap.

4. Carry your Dachshund Up Stairs

If a Dachshund needs to go upstairs, carry them whenever you can rather than allowing them to do the climbing themselves. This can be difficult every time but the more you can keep them from traveling up and down stairs, the better off their back will be.

Is it Okay to Let My Dachshund Run?

There is no reason to keep your Dachshund from running, though you should not be taking them out for a daily run. If you are looking for a running companion, the Dachshund isn’t the right breed for that job, but don’t be afraid to let them run around and play within their limits.

Dachshunds do well with daily exercise that consists of a normal walk around the block, playtime in the yard, or even learning new games or tricks.

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Final Thoughts

The mighty little Dachshund can run at speeds of 15 to 20 miles per hour in quick, short bursts. While Dachshund races have been around since the 1970s and are typically either 25 or 50 yards, they are met with scrutiny due to the breed’s genetic predisposition to back problems.

For Dachshund owners, there are plenty of ways to ensure they get a good amount of healthy exercise and there are some preventative measures you can take to help prevent back issues. As for the Dachshunds, we are quite impressed with their top speed.

Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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