Dachshunds are one of the most recognizable and beloved dog breeds. With their charming, personalities, love for snuggling in blankets, and wiggly low-slung little bodies, it’s easy to see why so many people adore Dachshunds. So why are there so many Dachshunds in shelters?

I’ve certainly asked myself that question when encountering this lovable breed at my local shelter. How on earth did they get there? 

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters

Why are there so many Dachshunds in shelters?

There are so many Dachshunds in shelters because the breed is prone to some disabling health issues that owners may be unable to handle. Other Dachshunds end up in shelters because their families weren’t prepared for this little dog to have so many houndish characteristics. 

A poorly handled and socialized Dachshund may be more likely to behave aggressively and even bite than other breeds.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds in Shelters

1. The Cost of Ownership

At first glance at the adorable little Dachshund, you wouldn’t think they were very expensive to own. You’d be wrong.

The financial burden of owning a Dachshund, including the high costs associated with feeding them high-quality food to prevent health issues, frequently replacing toys due to their destructive nature, and covering substantial vet and dental care expenses, often leaves owners overwhelmed and unable to meet their pets’ needs. 


Dachshunds may not eat much, but it matters what they eat. If these little dogs gain weight, their chances of suffering from back problems go up exponentially. 

On the other hand, this is often a high-energy, muscular little dog that needs plenty of protein. Therefore, high-quality and expensive food is a must. 

The significant costs associated with feeding dachshunds high-quality food to prevent health issues is one reason so many doxies are in shelters.


Dachshunds tend to be destructive players. They were bred to pull badgers out of holes! Did you know Dachshund is actually just German for “badger dog?” A dog bred to pull badgers out of holes can make quick work of stuffed toys. 

The cost of constantly replacing their toys adds up, but the cost of not replacing them is even higher.

Without plenty of toys, doxies are more than happy to pretend the couch cushions are badgers as well. 

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
Get ready to go through some toys with a Doxie in your life!

Many Dachshunds have a determined dedication to digging, leading many owners to purchase sandboxes for them. You’ll spare your garden and you won’t ‘have to wash the dirt off your dog every day.

The high costs of frequently replacing toys for dachshunds, coupled with their destructive nature and digging habits, have led to many owners being unwilling to pay for their care and subsequently contributing to the increasing number of these dogs in shelters.

Vet and Dental Care

Aside from the typical vaccinations and parasite prevention that every dog needs, doxies have some particular medical costs. 

I go into their medical needs in more depth later, but suffice it to say that medical bills can quickly enter the thousands for dental care and assistance with conditions resulting from their long back, like IVDD. 

Dachshunds typically don’t suffer from diseases that are deadly but from ones that are expensive and last over the course of the dog’s long life.

Pet insurance can help to offset some of these costs. However, most pet insurance doesn’t cover supplemental tools like ramps or wheelchairs.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
Dachshunds gain weight easily, which is dangerous for their spines.

The high vet and dental costs associated with Dachshunds often lead to financial strain on their owners. This can make it challenging to afford necessary medical treatments. Consequently, Dachshunds end up in shelters due to the burden of these expensive and long-term medical bills.

Home Alterations and Equipment for Special Needs

Equipment to manage health conditions, such as special dental treats and food, ramps, special beds, and walking and immobilization devices, all add up quickly over a Dachshund’s life. 

Many people install permanent ramps or buy temporary ones to use around the house to help Dachshunds get onto the couch, into the bed, etc.

This is a popular option for Dachshunds but as you can see, it’s another expense that many wiener dog owners don’t anticipate.

The costs associated with home alterations and specialized equipment for managing Dachshunds’ health conditions can become overwhelming for owners, often leading to unanticipated financial strain and, in some cases, surrendering these dogs to shelters.


All Dachshunds have hard, strong nails that require regular filing to keep them from becoming overgrown and impacting the way the dog stands, which is particularly dangerous for a long-backed dog prone to IVDD like the wiener dog. 

Practically no household Dachshund digs enough to wear those nails down by themselves. Therefore, you’ll need to file them a couple of times a month or else take your dog to the groomer. I recommend a tool like this one from Casfuy if you’ll be trimming your Dachshund’s nails yourself.

Long-haired Dachshunds can have especially challenging coats that require regular combing and clipping to keep them in shape.

Wired-haired Dachshunds need to have the coat stripped twice a year along with regular brushing and occasional trims. Not all groomers can perform this technique, so paying for one that can is often pricey.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
All Dachshunds need grooming, but wire-haired Dachshunds have special grooming needs.

Regular grooming is a crucial aspect of Dachshund care. It will require expensive trips to the groomer or frequent, time-consuming DIY grooms at home. Overwhelmed with the constant, expensive grooming needs, many owners neglect their doxies’ needs and end up surrendering them.

2. Impulse Purchases

Impulse purchases driven by the distinctive appearance of Dachshunds often lead to unprepared owners who may later struggle with the breed’s specific needs and responsibilities.

Dachshunds may not be the most frequently impulsively bought breed, but they’ve got to be up there. The distinct and unique look with long bodies, short legs, and incredibly expressive eyes and faces attracts impulse buyers.

Since sausage dogs are so recognizable, bad breeders are able to make a sale without paperwork. Even a Dachshund at the shelter may be adopted impulsively. 

These dogs aren’t uncommon in municipal shelters where they can be acquired very cheaply. They tend to be lively, playful, and happy, even in a shelter setting, which can convince a potential adopter that this will be an easy dog to bring into their lives.

In fact, Dachshunds have very specific needs an uneducated or amateur dog owner may not be ready for. Once the unique needs of a Dachshund set in, someone who impulsively bought a Dachshund puppy or adopted an adult may find themselves looking for a way to get rid of the responsibility. 

This is especially true if the dog suffers from medical conditions, but often happens even with healthy dogs.

3. Misunderstanding Their Needs

It can be easy to look at the adorable, sweet-eyed, floppy-eared Dachshund and think they’ll snuggle as effortlessly into your life as they do into your pillows. However, despite their small size and special build, this dog is 100% hound. 

They were bred to hunt in packs, pursuing a badger on their own while the hunter followed. This leads to an independence that is typical of working pack dogs. Unfortunately, it also makes them difficult to train. This is also why there are so many rescue Huskies and Beagles in shelters, too.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
It may be little, but the Dachshund is all hound.

Furthermore, Dachshunds weren’t trained and bred just to trap the badger; they actually went right in after it. That’s why they have that low-rider frame, so they can easily navigate into a burrow. 

The bravery it takes for a relatively small dog to pull a badger out of a hole can’t be understated. This is the same bravery that makes Dachshunds happy-go-lucky in just about any situation. 

However, it can also result in doxies sometimes being stubborn and indifferent to the negative consequences of their actions. 

Like most hound dogs, Dachshunds are loud. After all, they had to make a noise that hunters could hear even when they were underground. 

Many prospective owners get these dogs thinking they are acquiring charming lap dogs, not realizing the intense, brave, loud hound dog inside this cute little package.

4. Time Commitment

Misunderstanding the significant time and socialization requirements of Dachshunds, combined with their tendency to get mobility issues, often results in unprepared, overwhelmed owners ditching their problematic Dachshund.

Sausage dogs demand interaction from their owner. Ideally, they’ll have other Dachshunds in the household too. Without other Dachshunds, this pack animal can be even more dependent on their owner. 

Since they don’t always get along well with other household pets, often doing best with their own breed, owners aren’t always prepared for the interaction requirements that Dachshunds impose on their owners.

Despite being such a small dog, Dachshunds are energetic, prone to hyperactivity, and demand lots of physical exercise. While a Dachshund can certainly entertain themselves for some time in the yard, they are bound to do it loudly, and probably with digging

Left on their own to occupy themselves for too long, Doxies tend to develop behavioral problems like excessive barking and separation anxiety. This can easily result in strained relationships with their owners and neighbors. 

Dachshunds that develop limited mobility or partial paralysis due to IVDD require even more time, potentially even needing to have their bladders expressed several times a day. 

Since Dachshunds are otherwise healthy and can live as long as 16 years, this can be a very significant requirement.

5. Life’s Unpredictability

The unique personality traits of Dachshunds, such as their strong bonds with a few individuals, aversion to changes in their family dynamic, and their potential challenges with other pets or children due to their high drive and sensitivity, often result in owners facing difficulties when life circumstances change.

Any dog can find themselves at the shelter because of their owners’ changing lives, and this is true for the Dachshund as well. However, the Dachshund’s particular personality and dynamics offer more issues here than other breeds.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
Regular training is essential to keep Dachshunds from developing behavior issues.

Dachshunds tend to bond tightly with one or two people. They may struggle to accept a new partner or baby, particularly if they have previously been the baby of the household. 

Health issues in a pet parent can lead to serious problems in caring for a Dachshund, particularly if the Dachshund also has health problems. 

Since Dachshunds are often adopted by seniors, this becomes a problem as both the dog and the person’s age and mobility decrease. A Dachshund with limited mobility can be a serious challenge for a person with limited mobility. 

Dachshunds don’t always get along well with other pets or children, thanks to their extremely high drive. Their bravery means they may not back down from a fight, even when they should realize they’re going to lose.

Kids and Dachshunds can be a great match, but they can be problematic too. Dachshunds may nip at children who are moving quickly. They may also react to a child acting rudely with them by correcting the child by nipping at them.

Children who handle Dachshunds without care can easily damage their delicate backs.

6. Animal Compatibility

Dachshunds tend to love other sausage dogs, but they don’t always get along well with other animals, even if they’ve been raised with them since they were puppies.

A Dachshund that got along well with the family cat or even a bunny or chicken as a puppy may suddenly start showing breed-related prey drive and aggression as they mature. Many are fine with other animals until the animal behaves erratically or runs quickly. 

This certainly isn’t true for every Dachshund. However, many wiener dog owners find themselves having to either keep their Dachshunds separated from other pets or surrender them as they enter maturity.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
This Dachshund may well always love this cat, but as it gets older, issues could develop.

7. Behavioral Aspects

The Dachshund’s inclination to bite, coupled with their fondness for burrowing, strong prey drive, susceptibility to separation anxiety, tendency to bark loudly, and difficulties with housebreaking, frequently result in behavioral problems that owners may find challenging to address, contributing to the number of Dachshunds in shelters.

Dachshunds have many characteristics that I love, but they have a lot of potential to develop problematic behaviors if they are not trained and socialized appropriately. Dachshunds who end up in shelters are more likely to have these behavior problems. 


Dachshunds bite more people than many other breeds, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania. There are likely many reasons for this. The sausage dog’s small, adorable, and good-natured appearance makes everyone want to touch them, and can make it easy to disrespect them. 

However, this is a brave badger hunter never afraid to back down from a fight. They may react strongly to being grabbed or picked up without permission. 

Dachshunds love their food and toys and can become possessive. 

Early socialization and positive training are the best ways to prevent serious biting issues. Make sure that the Dachshund puppy you adopt has spent plenty of time with their litter mates and mother to learn bite inhibition.

Continue socializing them to keep developing bite inhibition. A dog with good bite inhibition may still bite, but they are much less likely to do damage.

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
This Dachshund couldn’t care less whose stick he’s stealing. Typical for the endlessly brave Sausage Dog.

Related Articles: Steps For Leash Training A Rescue Dog and Essential Tools For Leash Training

Breed Habits

Hands down, one of my favorite behaviors of any breed is the Doxie’s love of cuddling and blankets. There’s just something about seeing that little nose poke out from a big pile of blankets that gets me every time.

However, that love of burrowing can get Dachshunds into trouble. Some owners don’t appreciate having a little mole in bed with them. Many Dachshunds end up being destructive of bedding in the process of burrowing. 

Naturally, burrowing doesn’t just happen in the blankets. Most Dachshunds are very difficult to dissuade from digging in the garden.

While getting a sandbox or a big snuffle matt they can rub in can help some live with their Dachshund’s digging habits, other people have a hard time letting the dog loose at all without having it destroy the entire garden.

Prey Drive

We touched on prey drive a little bit with animal and child compatibility, but prey drive is an issue all over a Dachshund’s life. 

Most Dachshunds can never be safely off-leash, since the desire to chase after a potential prey item is too overwhelming for training to counteract. Prey drive can lead Dachshunds to chase household pets or kids and get into fights, even with much larger animals. 

Dachshunds can also become obsessive about their toys, whether it’s ripping out the stuffing or just constantly covering them up with blankets, and this can lead to toy possessiveness.

Separation Anxiety

Dachshunds tend to form very strong bonds with their people, often only with a couple of people in the household. This can lead them to experience severe separation anxiety, even if they’re still with some member of the household but not their preferred member. 

Not only does this cause problems for the dog and their preferred person, but it also makes the rest of the family feel less inclined to take time to bond with and train the dog. Some Dachshunds do better with other dogs, particularly other Dachshunds, but not always.

They’re Loud

Excitement and barking go hand in hand with Dachshunds, as it does with many hound dogs. Expect your Dachshund to bark if it’s chasing a squirrel, but also don’t be surprised to hear some intense barking even if your dog is just playing with toys or sees something out the window.

A Dachshund can be trained to bark less or only when appropriate, but it isn’t easy. Some Dachshunds are so persistently loud that owners struggle to keep them due to complaints by neighbors.

Housebreaking Hurdles

Most small-breed dogs are more difficult to potty train, and the Dachshund is no exception. Since this breed tends to have its own mind and can be quite stubborn, they can be particularly difficult to potty train.

Doxies that suffer from IVDD may become incontinent or require bladder expression. Older Dachshunds may become incontinent in their senior years, which can span five or six years or longer

Even with dedicated training, some sausage dogs always struggle with accidents. Solutions such as a litter box that may work well with other small breed dogs are unlikely to work with the burrowing Dachshund.

8. Health Aspects

Misunderstanding the potential lifelong commitment and financial responsibility required to care for Dachshunds with conditions like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and their specific health needs, including weight management and exercise, often leads to owners surrendering these dogs when their health problems become unmanageable, contributing to the number of Dachshunds in shelters.

Dachshunds are generally healthy dogs in many ways, but they have a couple of serious diseases that haunt the breed. None are more serious than IVDD.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) In Dachshunds

According to a study by UC Davis, “Chondrodysplasia is a short-legged phenotype characteristic of many dog breeds. Chondrodystrophy, a separate mutation, also includes a short-legged phenotype as well as premature disc degeneration and increased susceptibility to disc herniation.(Shout out to one of my commenters on the Rescue Poodles and Doodles in Shelters article for pointing out this study!)

What does this mean for Dachshunds?

Dachshunds are 10 to 12 times more likely to get intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) than other breeds.

IVDD is a degenerative spinal disease that affects the intervertebral discs, which absorb shock between the vertebrae. IVDD occurs when those discs burst, bulge, or become herniated.

They press on the nerves and the spinal cord, which may or may not be painful for your dog. It can cause temporary or permanent paralysis and lack of bladder and bowel control.

Sometimes IVDD comes on acutely, resulting in apparently instant paralysis. It often occurs after a jump or when the dog was playing or moving, but sometimes for no apparent reason.

Other times, IVDD is very subtle, just a bit of a wiggle when the dog walks or a little bit of a delay in picking up the feet. A neurologist can easily diagnose IVDD.

The ongoing care and management necessary for Dachshunds with IVDD may mean the consistent use of supportive harnesses, the installation of ramps or stairs for house access, buying orthopedic bedding, and providing preventive therapy.

Treating IVDD is a significant and long-term commitment. Many Dachshund owners choose to implement these measures to ensure their dog’s well-being, but for some, the continuous effort and expenses involved in caring for a dog with IVDD can become overwhelming. 

Dachshunds should be kept at an ideal body weight, as even a couple of ounces of extra weight can have an effect on their likelihood of developing IVDD. Unfortunately, finding spine-conscious exercises for your Dachshund can be difficult.

Plus, Dachshunds love food, and that sweet expression can be difficult to deny. This misunderstanding of the importance of weight control and exercise can contribute to Dachshunds ending up in shelters when health problems become unmanageable.

I certainly know firsthand how challenging it can be to care for a paralyzed dog. I did it myself, and wrote a book about it.

Dachshund owners should be prepared for the possibility of paralysis due to IVDD, but it just isn’t feasible for every Doxie owner to handle this kind of extra responsibility.

Other Dachshund Health Issues

Merle Dachshunds are prone to deafness, and if two merle Dachshunds are bred, the resulting litter is much more likely to be deaf than single merles or non-merles.

Specifically, double merles have a 15% chance of being completely deaf in both ears compared to just 0.9% for single merles. Similarly, 10% of double merles are completely deaf in just one ear compared to 2.7% of single merles (Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine).

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
This merle Doxie pup is adorable, but may have a higher chance of being deaf. If it’s bred to another merle Dachshund, the puppies are very likely to have health concerns.

Dachshunds can also be prone to some eye issues, and many go fully or partially blind by the end of their lives. Floppy Dachshund ears can also tend to cause ear infections.

Here’s the rub: Most of the issues that Dachshunds are prone to are chronic, not fatal. And since they may develop these issues early in their life, owners are faced with the decision of committing to 10+ years of intensive care for their Dachshund, euthanasia, or surrender.

Keep in mind, too, that it’s been clinically proven that dogs with pain in their spine are more likely to exhibit undesirable behaviors like barking, furthering the issues.

Many owners choose to surrender their Dachshunds instead of making the time and financial commitment to care for their specific health issues.

9. Popularity Paradox

The more popular Dachshunds get, the more likely they are to end up in shelters. As fads like mini Dachshunds and new color and coat types become popular, breeders strive to meet the demand, often setting aside health and temperament. 

Because Dachshunds are easily recognizable and highly sought after, convincing would-be owners to buy dogs without proper paperwork or vet clearances or from subpar breeders is easier for this breed than many others.

Unfortunately, many Dachshund owners, even those who purchase well-bred and registered Dachshunds, may not be adequately prepared for the unique needs of this breed. 

Impulsive buyers who obtain Dachshunds from poor breeders are even less likely to be prepared.

Meanwhile, doxies from bad breeders are likely to have more serious problems. These breeders sometimes prioritize profit over responsible breeding practices, leading to generations of inbreeding and poor overall breeding quality. 

Dachshunds kept in such environments or in houses that don’t properly contain them are prone to wandering. Wandering dogs inevitably create even more accidental litters of mixed-breed Dachshunds who often find their way into the shelter system.

These mixed-breed Dachshunds may or may not inherit the distinct low-slung bodies. However, if they do, they become susceptible to the same health issues that afflict purebred Dachshunds.

How You Can Help Keep Dachshunds Out of Shelters

Dachshunds often tolerate the shelter system better than most dogs, especially dogs of such a small size. The fierce bravery, determination, and good nature of this breed shine even under the roughest conditions. 

That doesn’t mean I like to see them there, and neither should you. Here are some things you can do to help keep Dachshunds out of shelters:

9 Reasons Why There Are So Many Dachshunds In Shelters
Every Dachshund should have their own home in which to snuggle.

Make educated choices

If you’re thinking about getting a Dachshund or someone you know is interested in the breed, make sure to do your research.

It’s vital you invest time and effort in proper training, socialization, and positive reinforcement methods right from the start. Consistency among all family members in employing these positive techniques helps ensure a strong bond with your Dachshund. Here are a few highly rated books I recommend:

Consider adopting

Explore the option of adopting a Dachshund from your local shelter or a breed-specific rescue organization. Many wonderful Dachshunds in need of homes can be found there, and while they may require some adjustment, they often make fantastic pets from day one.

As of writing this, there are over 2,000 Doxies available on Petfinder alone.

Spay and neuter

Dachshunds are prone to wandering, especially if they aren’t spayed or neutered. Unless you are completely sure you can keep yours contained, spay or neuter your pet to avoid undesired litters.

SpayUSA is a nationwide referral network for affordable spay neuter services that accepts donations. There are also many local spay/neuter programs. Fix Them All is a popular one in my area that I support.

Seek help if you need it

If your Dachshund displays serious behavioral issues like aggression, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. Addressing these problems early on is crucial, as even these adorable dogs can act on their aggression.

Local dog trainers are likely your best bet, but some trainers have innovatively brought dog training into the digital world. The K9 Training Institute offers free online dog training workshops many people swear by.

Engage them fully

Dachshunds need lots of exercise, training, and engagement to keep from falling into behavioral issues.

If you have a Dachshund in your life, be sure you’re meeting all of their needs. They should be worn out and relaxed at the end of the day. Here are a few tools to help make sure your Dachshund is getting everything they need:


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