Doxies are certainly one of the more unique-looking dog breeds out there. Why are dachshunds so long, however, and why does that matter? Is this particular body shape a matter of chance or is it something dog breeders purposefully aimed for? And, more importantly, are there any significant health problems that stem from the dachshund’s long back and short legs?
Why Are Dachshunds So Long?
They actually aren’t, at least not as much as they seem to be. Dachshunds look long when you examine their proportions but the actual reason for that is that their legs are extra short. There are quite a few other lanky and athletic dog breeds that’d look just like a dachshund if you could just shorten their legs.
The genetic reason behind this unique dachshund bone structure lies in a gene mutation called chondrodysplasia. The direct result of chondrodysplasia is exactly shorter legs.
Do Dachshunds Have Dwarfism?
You might see people calling the dachshund body shape a type of dwarfism. In fact, we’ve phrased it that way too. And that’s not wrong as chondrodysplasia is a type of dwarfism trait. It is something that can happen to any dog just like dwarfism can affect people too.
What makes dachshunds different, however, is that they were selected for that trait by their breeders. The selection process was quite simple – the German breeders who created the dachshund breed some 6 centuries ago likely just noticed that some of their “normal” dogs (i.e. dogs from other breeds) are born with short legs.
And, in a moment of inspiration, they decided that this can actually be a useful body shape for hunting. So, they just started isolating dogs with this body shape and breeding them with each other to make sure that the genetic mutation is passed on.
What Were Dachshunds Originally Bred For?
You might be wondering how exactly are short legs a beneficial trait to have for hunting. Well, it turns out that a short dog is quite well-suited for hunting a few of the forest animals that plagued German towns and villages at the time – namely badgers, foxes, and rabbits. In fact, the name dachshund means exactly “Badger hunter” in German (Dachs-hund).
What made this body shape so perfect is that it allowed dachshunds to effortlessly sneak into the underground holes and tunnels of badgers, foxes, and rabbits. It also made them quite mobile in those tunnels too – it’s much harder to move around inside a narrow tunnel when you can’t fit your legs in there.
With badgers, in particular, this was a true stroke of genius on behalf of the German breeders. If you’re in the habit of watching wildlife programs, you know that badgers are one of the most fearless and feisty animals on the planet. They don’t hesitate to go toe-to-toe with snakes, crocodiles, lions, elephants, and even bears (in the case of the badger’s North American cousin, the wolverine).
So, the breeders had to select a dog that could successfully track, get inside the home of, and then fight off one of the most aggressive and peppy animals on the planet. Besides, the short stature of dachshunds and many other scent hounds also have the simple benefit of keeping their heads close to the ground so they could more easily sniff around and catch their prey’s scent.
So, why are dachshunds so long? Cause that allows them to be the perfect hunters. It should come as no surprise that dachshunds are still used for hunting in Europe to this day.
How Long Are Dachshunds Really?
The standard dachshund length is about 17 to 17.5 inches (43 to 44 cm). Note that it’s counted from the back of the neck to the base of the tail. If you count your dog’s whole length, you can expect it to find in an average of 21.5 to 25 inches (55 to 64 cm).
Longer dachshunds are possible, of course, especially when you account for dachshund mixes. There are even dachshund & Great Dane crosses after all.
Dachshund Health Problems That Stem From Their Elongated Bodies
This unique body shape does lead to certain health risks, however. The two most common issues are Intervertebral Disc Disorder (IVDD), i.e. back problems, as well as hip joint issues. The next time you wonder why are dachshunds so long, remember to also look into such health problems and what you can do about them.
In Conclusion, Why Are Dachshunds So Long, and Why That Matters
Dachshunds are the result of random genetic mutations and centuries of selection, just like any other breed (and species, really). So, why are dachshunds so long? Because of chondrodysplasia/dwarfism mutation and selection for badger hunting.
While this does make dachshunds both cute and highly-efficient hunters, however, it also makes them predisposed to certain back and joint problems so you should keep that in mind.
Are there other dogs with long bodies and short legs?
Doxies are usually the first breed to pop in our minds when we think of short-legged dogs but there are a lot of other examples. Most of them are either scent hounds like the dachshund or just new pet breeds. Few look as elongated as the dachshund, however. The Basset Hound is quite similar but that breed’s body type is more “chunky” and so they don’t look as long. Corgis and Pekingese also have long backs but their fluffier coats and wider bodies also hide that fact better than dachshunds. Of course, there are also a lot of long-legged dogs with extra long bodies too. Most sight hounds like the Greyhound or the Saluki come to mind, as well as many others such as the Scottish Deerhound.
What is the longest body dachshund?
Finding the longest dachshund is actually not easy as there are quite a few contenders for the crown. The famous dachshund Hurricane Ike is often cited based on photos but the exact length of the dog isn’t even clear. There are also many people on message boards claiming to have dogs as long as 5 feet (150 cm) or even 63 inches (160 cm), but getting conclusive proof for such claims is difficult.