Your Dachshund's bodyweight

For a healthy, happy Dachshund, you need to keep him at the right weight throughout his life.  Being overweight, or indeed underweight, can lead to serious health risks. It is good to get into the habit of checking your Dachshund's weight  on a regular basis.  The Pet Size_O-Meter is the perfect tool to help you do this.

Your Dachshund is at an ideal weight if you can easily feel his ribs, but they are not visible. He should have an obvious waist behind the ribs, when viewed from above. There should be little abdominal fat and a slight tuck-up should be evident when he is viewed from the side.

Your Dachshund is not getting enough to eat if you can easily see his ribs, spine and pelvic bones. You will be unable to feel any fat on his bones, and will possibly notice some loss of muscle mass. He will have an obvious abdominal tuck-up, when viewed from the side. You should increase the size of his portions and maybe consider finding a food with a higher calorie level.

Your Dachshund is overweight if you cannot feel his ribs and can see fat over his back and the base of his tail. He will also have rolls of fat on his neck and over his shoulders. He will have no discernible waist behind the ribs, when viewed from above, and you will be able to see excessive abdominal fat or a distended underline, in profile. The risk of obesity increases with age and is more common in neutered animals, and there are associated risks of diabetes and osteoarthritis. The most obvious solution is to reduce the quantities your Dachshund eats (including titbits!), or move him onto a lower calorie food.

Both weight and body condition score should be measured and recorded. Both of the values are important to be used in conjunction, they are not separate entities. A dog can lose weight but not body condition - e.g. if it has lost muscle mass or if there has been a minor weight change. Therefore an unexplained weight loss could be critical in early diagnosis of certain conditions such as renal disease, liver disease or diabetes - but the BCS may conceivably remain the same. BCS is important in gauging if the dog is at the correct weight for its individual attributes as every dog is different.

For those Dachshund owners interested in showing their dog, the Breed Standard defines the Miniature and Standard varieties on the basis of their weight: 
Standards: 9-12 kg (20-26 lbs), Miniatures: Ideal weight 4.5 kg (10 lbs), desired maximum weight 5 kg (11 lbs);  The Breed Standard also says: Exhibits which appear thin and undernourished should be severely penalised.  

Remember, the Breed Standard describes the ideal sizes of Standard and Miniature Dachshunds; these ARE NOT "target weights" for individual dogs.  Every Dachshund will be different and will need to be fed to keep his ideal weight for his frame.  

Judges have a responsibility to ensure that there are no welfare issues, particularly of Miniature Dachshunds, related to the weight clause in the Breed Standard.  You can download the Breed Council's Dach-Facts information sheet from the link at the bottom of this page, or here.  A dog is too thin if, when running your fingertips over its body without applying any pressure, you can:
  1. Easily feel the ribcage and
  2. Easily feel the spine and
  3. Easily feel the shoulder-blades and hip-bones
If your Dachshund is one of life's "thin dogs" no matter how much you feed him or her, we would prefer you not to show him/her, however good you feel he/she is in other respects.  Sometimes, young male dogs can go through a phase of not eating well and appearing underweight; such dogs would be best left at home until they body-up, rather than being shown looking thin.  It is equally unacceptable to show a dog that is overweight and who looks like it needs more exercise and/or less food.  Dachshunds should be shown in fit, well-muscled condition so that it is clear they could do the work for which they were originally bred.

Here are some useful links on getting your dog's weight right:

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Ian Seath,
17 Aug 2011, 09:54