Bad Breeder? Think Again.
Friday, 02 January 2015 13:30

I don't often talk here about the problems that ALL breeders have with Animal Rights Extremists.  These folks are NOT about Animal Welfare; their goal is the elimination of all companion animals, among other issues.  They are full of hate, they have no open mind, and they paint all breeders with the same brush, whether they have one litter or 500.  I don't generally talk about these people here because this is my safe space for myself, for my little dog family, for people who love Dachshunds and for those who might need help or information.  I fuss about ARists on my Facebook page quite often, but even then, I don't think it often sinks in for people who see my posts, even with fellow show breeders.  They think, "Oh, my dogs are sooo well cared for, no one would ever be able to accuse me of being a bad breeder." 

Think again.

I was recently accused of being a bad/inattentive breeder and threatened with being "reported" and I didn't even KNOW it until yesterday.  Wanna hear the story?  You should, because even though this was relatively minor, it shows how people can misconstrue what they think they are seeing, and this could have EASILY been a major problem for me.  Very often, regular people get caught up in the AR talking points without even really knowing what they are saying.

Yesterday, I received this email:

I just found your webcam this morning.I have been watching the little puppy in the cage. His litter box is full, not just one day's worth, but many. He has no food or water. Someone came into the area, not on camera, but did not ever go to the cage and hold him, nor did they give him food or water. Other viewers have commented on this litter box being full. This poor little pup needs some attention. He needs some food and water.I am going to continue to watch and monitor this situation and report it if I see that it continues.You need to clean his box every day.

Watcher in Illinois

I emailed this person back and told him I didn't know what he was talking about.  I don't currently have baby puppies and I haven't since mid March through late May last year.  I do live stream my litters on The Pet Collective channel on YouTube, as a way to both keep tabs on my litters while I am at work and to educate people that most breeders don't have puppies living in squalor.  However, that stream hadn't been up since late May 2014.  I cautioned him against assuming he could really have a true handle on what was going on from a webcam.  I wasn't quite sure this wasn't some kind of scam, though his email appeared to be from an legit individual (I am in Data Security and have my ways!), so I asked him not to email me back. Later in the day, this kept bumping up for me.  So, I emailed him again:

Actually, the more I think about this, the more ticked off I am. WHO are you? Where did you get my email address? I don't currently have a webcam up and I haven't had one up for almost a year! That said, I would never ignore a puppy (my God, other things fall to the wayside b/c I spend so much time with my pups when I have them) or let waste pile up.

But the worst thing for me, besides the fact that you are totally targeting me when I don't even have an active webcam up, is that you think by watching a webcam for a few hours that you know exactly what is going on at the other end and you feel you can just start calling people out based on something you thought was going on. Something like that can tell a totally different story than reality. Kinda like you thought I was the person with the webcam.

He responded:

Dawn-Renee I appear to have reached the wrong person. Let me explain how I got your email.

I was on a webcam site, and saw a puppy in a cage, barking, litter box full, with no food or water. At the bottom of THAT page, it said it was in  a place called Ruger Dachshunds located in Colorado.  It said if you were interested in dachshunds, to go to a page and gave the web address of  When you go to that page, it gives the persons name, Dawn-Renee Mack, and an email  anderuel@rugerdachshunds.  It appeared that that was the person who maintained the webcam. That is the email I used and the email that you have responded from.

I noticed, when watching the cam, that in the comments section below it, several other people had made the same type of comment. That the litter box was full, the puppy cried non stop, no one came around etc. I was not the only person who had noticed that. Others had spoke of trying to report it.
As for you asking me to stop emailing you, I only emailed you  once.
I am only sending this so you know how/where I got your email. I apologize again for upsetting you, but I (and others) were concerned about this puppy on the camera. Perhaps if you know where this puppy is, you can look into it. It appears to be a live feed, but maybe it is not.

I will not contact you again, don't worry.

So, I went to and searched "Dachshunds."  DANG if a loop of my old webcam didn't come up!  When I was live streaming, I did see this link, but they were positive, so I didn't fuss about The Pet Collective stream being redirected.  However, once my live stream went down, this site continued to stream a loop of a random section of the stream, unbeknownst to me.  It appears to include time while I was at work, and puppy Emme, recently by herself because Sprocket went to his new home, is fussing about being in the pen.  She has a litter pan, with a layer of litter in the bottom (one poop, I think), a very clean puppy pen with lots of toys and an open crate.  She has water, and the empty pan from her breakfast, which she likely inhaled in 30 seconds.  She alternately fusses and cries for less then 15 minutes, and then falls alseep for the next almost 4 hours.  I guess at some point someone picks her up and loves on her, but I didn't watch the whole loop.  Here's the link:

Read the comments.  And then read my addition from today.  It doesn't even take DOCTORED photos or video for ignorant or uninformed people to start thinking that a dog is being "abused."


Last Updated on Friday, 02 January 2015 19:46
The Last Year, In ONE Post
Monday, 22 December 2014 06:19

arya fuzzyface
Yes, I suck.  I know.  I haven't updated this site in over a year.  But, I am trying to be better.  If you really want to know what's going on with Ruger, you may just have to head over to Instagram (@anderuel) or Facebook.

SO....the big thing.  Maximus is pretty much 100% of his old self.  It took him about 5 weeks to get his legs under him,but then he improved rapidly.  You would never know now that anything ever happened to him, and he's back to being a regular dog.  This protocol (+patience) really works; it's worked on my 3 and countless others.  Familiarize yourself with it before you need it.  It makes IVDD that much less scary.  If you have a Dachshund, it's just mandatory to educate yourself prior to having an issue.  Then hopefully you never have one.

Then, I started a new business, Oui Naturals, because I hated that I cringed and worried about what they were ingesting everytime one of the Dachshunds licked my freshly-lotioned legs.  We had a litter of two puppies by Cyndy Senff's Stig - CH Dynadaux Storm of Swords MW out of GCH Ryan.  One, Emme, a red smooth girl I would have liked to keep, is with some dear friends who are working her in obedience and eventually agility, and I will show and breed her if she turns out. She is incredibly smart; one of the smartest Dachshunds I've ever had. Hopefully, we can show the boy, Sprocket, who is up in FoCo with the parents of one of my sweetest dog friends ever.  I co-bred a litter out of Shelby (GCH Gator x DC Evie) sired by the same boy, and I took Arya, pictured above.  This puppy is a HOOT.  She likes everything except nails and baths, and she tolerates those just fine.  No one is a stranger to her, and we suspect she is a Golden Retriever changeling.  lol.  We have a new adult girl, Sansa, Dynadaux Winds of Winter MW, who is Stig's litter sister.  And we placed Finn with a wonderful family with two young boys.  We weren't looking to place Finn, but this family was so loving, and so deserving, and no one else would consider them because of the boy's ages.  They are just awesome, and Finney was the perfect fit for this family not interested in a puppy.

The site is woefully out of date, and that's something I am going to try very hard to rectify in the new year.  Love you all!

Last Updated on Monday, 22 December 2014 06:55
Lessons in Gratitude
Friday, 27 September 2013 08:50

Maximus in his sweaterSo, for years, I’ve talked the talk. I’ve said over and over that IVDD is not a death sentence, except in rare cases. Dogs don’t give a flying fig if their hind ends work or not; they don’t have the same hangups to which humans are prone. I’ve said, here is the best protocol. Follow it. I’ve said, patience is key for the humans. Until now, I’ve personally had two Dachshunds with IVDD, FC Tania ME ROMX (at age 6 and currently she’s 11), and her daughter, CH Evie SE (at age 5 and she’s currently 6). Evie was linebred on her dam before any problems were known. I’ve rehabbed or been closely involved in the rehab of countless others, both in and outside of my extended Dachshund family. There has never been one treated conservatively and immediately that didn’t get back up on his or her feet fairly quickly. Until now. I must walk the walk; or roll, as it were.

DC Maximus ME ROMX is down.

Maxi is fine otherwise…I want that to be clear right up front for anyone reading this who loves Maxi. However, I made some very significant mistakes this time around which endangered his life. Not only do I want to be very honest about this situation in general as an owner and a breeder, I think there are very specific lessons to be learned from my mistakes. Also, please be aware I have two very distinct sets of emotions regarding these events; my emotions as an owner, and those as a breeder. I will try to describe the events, then talk about the very significant impact this will have on my breeding program, but don’t be surprised if I wander back and forth between the two sets of emotions. It’s nearly impossible to keep them separated, but I will try.

Maximus in the grassOn August 15th, Logan was guarding the still-in season Fiona. Afghans (at least THIS Afghan) seem to stay interesting to the boys right up until they go out of season. Of course, she was totally out of season two days later. Logan and Maxi got into a little skirmish. I wasn’t right there, but Jody said when he was trying to split them up, Logan briefly hung by his teeth from Maximus’ right foreleg while Jody was holding Maxi up in the air by his scruff. Even though Logan outweighs Maxi by about two pounds, this was nothing that should have caused anything more than a little bruising, straining or stiffness. I couldn’t find any of those things, even two days later, on Maximus. I am not telling this part of the story to make excuses, but for full disclosure. The following Monday, Maximus was on our bed at bedtime, and something landed near his head (a pillow?) and he yelped. I went over him, and found nothing. He had acted perfectly normal all day, so I moved on. The next night, he did the same thing when a sheet fluttered over his head. This time, I found painful muscles right near the junction of his thoracic and lumbar spine; right behind the ribs on his right side. The very next morning, I started him on my back protocol at breakfast. At this point, he had zero neurological symptoms and no pain when I manipulated his neck, etc. I figured it was just muscle pain, and I would get him into my acupuncture vet and get him a massage. The back protocol is overkill for muscle pain, but it’s still indicated, and if the issue resolves in a couple of days, you know you simply were dealing with a soft tissue issue. The meds can be discontinued at that point without a taper for the prednisone. On the other hand, if the “muscle pain” morphs into something more serious, you are on all the right meds, and you have a head start. What I should have done immediately was to schedule him for blood work…to rule anything else out and to keep an eye on his liver enzymes. I didn’t. Mistake number one.

Maximus balancingMistake number two was being too optimistic that Maximus would recover just as the rest of the dogs I’d rehabbed did. By Thursday, August 22nd, he had neuro involvement. The next day, the 23rd, he was down. We went to acupuncture the 22nd, and I just thought, we need another session and some more patience and time. I should have, within seventy-two hours, steroid blasted him. But two weeks passed before that entered my mind. Once it did, my vet agreed, and we did blood work. His liver enzymes were through the roof, but my vet expected this with the immosuppressive levels of oral steroids he was getting. We probably should have been giving him prednisolone, rather than prednisone, from the start, as the former is easier on the liver than the latter, but prednisolone is not always readily available. His WBCs were also high, but my vet attributed that to the ticked-off liver. We steroid blasted him anyway, on September 6th and 7th. At this point, prior to blasting, he had been painful. Not horribly so, but enough it set my teeth on edge. After the blasting, that went away. We set him up with some Denamarin, to support his liver. In hindsight, we should have added that from the beginning (mistake number three), along with antibiotics (mistake number four). The following Tuesday, September 10th, we sent off blood work to check his liver enzymes. His ALT had come down a bit from pre-blasting (from 2200+ to 1458, where high normal is 84), but his ALK Phos had doubled to 15,000+, where normal is 212-ish. ALT is more concerning, and usually slower to come down, so we were fairly happy with these numbers. Unfortunately, over the next few days, he slowly deteriorated. On Wednesday morning, he refused food for the first time. That night, he ate. He refused to eat the next morning, then ate at acupuncture that evening. A dog on max prednisone is like a furnace out of control; it increases his metabolism to the point he is constantly thirsty and constantly peeing. My acupuncture vet was concerned about his wheezing. He’s always been a bit of a weird breather, and pain and being uncomfortable changed his breathing. However, she recognized he might be headed to pneumonia, and asked if I could get into my regular vet for chest films that evening, as she didn’t have the ability to do xrays. I called my vet and she said she would wait for me. I raced from Kittredge to Highlands Ranch in the pouring rain (this was the day of the start of all the Colorado flooding), and a chest film showed fuzziness if we really, really squinted and tried to find it. We decided to start him on oral Clavamox, just in case. Incidentally, a xray, which is usually worthless right after a rupture in terms of seeing anything significant, this time showed the herniation right where I had felt pain three weeks earlier. You could now see the disc material on the film because it was starting to calcify over.

I took him home and we had a rough night. Lots of drinking and peeing. About 5:30 am, I noticed blood on his crate pad. I frantically looked him over, as some dogs chew on appendages as feeling is returning. I quickly realized the blood was coming from his ureter, and I took him out again to pee. He was peeing blood, including clots. I texted my vet, who asked me to get him to the clinic, and to stop on my way at the ER and get a clotting factor test. It’s a long(er) story, but I was afraid he was going into DIC, which stands for disseminated intravascular coagulation. Clotting factors are produced in the liver, and a failing liver can cause acute DIC, where small blood clots form inside the blood vessels throughout the body. From “As the small clots consume coagulation proteins and platelets, normal coagulation is disrupted and abnormal bleeding occurs from the skin (e.g. from sites where blood samples were taken), the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract and surgical wounds. The small clots also disrupt normal blood flow to organs (such as the kidneys), which may malfunction as a result.” DIC is a horrible death. I didn’t want him to go through that.

Maximus at the vet'sI raced him to the ER on Friday, September 13th. We pulled blood for the clotting factors. His PT was normal, 13 seconds on a scale where 12-17 seconds was normal. His APTT was 122 seconds, on a scale where 71-102 seconds is normal. I was truly frightened. We went straight to my vet’s, though Maximus was attended by one of her new vets, as my vet was going out of town that morning. We discussed options, including euthanasia (he was really that bad and I was afraid of DIC), but I saw him still looking at me with his eyes, and he looked like he wanted to fight. We knew he had a raging bladder infection, perhaps even a kidney infection. He was put on IV fluids and antibiotics. Blood work was pulled, and his WBCs, high just that Monday, were non-existent at .11, which means he basically had 110 or so WBCs in the sample, where he should have 7,000-16,000. His ALT was down some more, but the vet was concerned his liver might be shutting down. He did eat for them, but looked terrible all day; he wouldn’t relax. The few times he did get to sleep, he would invariably kink his IV and it would have to be adjusted. He was still wheezing terribly, so about midafternoon they took more chest films, and sure enough, he had pneumonia. So, he was fighting two very serious infections on top of everything else.

Maxi and meI went to work at about 10, after leaving him at 9 and sitting outside the vet’s for about an hour. I didn’t know what to do. I was covered in blood, and scared to death. Thankfully, my manager is a dog person, and I had dark clothes on. “What’s that on your pants? Ketchup? Okay.” I am pretty sure I would have been a disaster at home with nothing to do but fret. Plus, work was closer to Maximus than home. After work, I went to be with Christine, as she works near my vet. She offered to go with me to see Maximus; the afternoon update hadn’t been encouraging. We waited until the last minute, as we wanted him on the IV as long as possible, then we went to visit. I had a decision to make. When he saw us, he was instantly happy, and looked better than he had all day according to the staff. He was so tired, he fell asleep as I held him. I decided he was definitely not ready to leave me, and Christine and I felt he looked better than we’d hoped. I decided to take him home with tons of oral antibiotics and sub-q fluids and lots of prayers.

Maxi and ChristineI set my alarm that night to get up every 2.5 hours to potty him. I didn’t want the bacteria load in his bladder to be any higher than necessary. He looked great on the morning of the 14th, and terrible again that night. My vet’s voice echoed in my mind, “You have to give antibiotics 48 hours to work!” Saturday night was rough, and then Sunday morning, he was better. He was better still Monday morning, and I took him before work to my vet’s so he could be monitored and have labs rerun while I was at work. His ALT was higher again, but the vet felt this meant his liver was working again. WBCs were high now…29,000, but at least his bone marrow was also working. She said she would rather they be high than non-existent. The next day was Christine’s day off, and she came and stayed with him until I could get home from work. I had a corporate shadow that morning, so I couldn’t work from home until later in the day. By this time, he was looking great, so I have been bringing him to work with me almost every day. I have a great, shady spot, the weather has been cooperating, and I spend my breaks and lunch with him and he spends the rest of the time sleeping and getting better. He spends Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Christine. This way, he doesn’t have to hold his bladder. He’s almost weaned off the prednisone, and besides the last few days of Baytril, he is just on Gabapentin. He’s perky, looking for rabbits and wanting to GO every time he’s put down to potty. He’s got quite the fan club going at my yoga practice, as he goes with me straight from work on afternoons I attend 4:30 classes. My boy is back! We are continuing to monitor his blood work. Earlier this week, he was 6,000 closer to normal on his WBCs and his liver values are holding steady. We hope those will start to come down as his medication is decreased.

Maxi in his strollerIn the past, when I’ve had a health issue with one of the dogs, I inform the folks in my dog family immediately. I was really initially broken by what happened to Maximus, and I wanted to have some good news before I went to everyone officially (though many people knew). I kept waiting, and waiting, and the good news was slow to come. And then, when he lived after the infections, I was just too exhausted for a bit. Mentally spent. I guess you do whatever you have to, but I have no earthly idea how people with human children with serious, long term illnesses make it through. A weekend spent with his life in the balance just completely drained me. I have spent my time since re-exploring the meaning of the term “grateful.” I am so grateful. There just isn’t any better way to say it.


There are varying reasons I haven’t had a litter in almost three years. After Evie’s IVDD incident last year, and her subsequent spay, my tiny breeding program was in tatters. I was unsure where to go or what to do, other than outcross my only intact bitch, Ryan, to the healthiest (and most correct; not easy in miniature wires) dog I could find. Maximus had produced some puppies who later went on to have varying degrees of IVDD, but the problems seemed to be almost exclusively limited to offspring out of bitches from one particular line. So, I (and others!) thought, just don’t breed Maxi to bitches from that line. After the problems became known, I disclosed to the few people who came to use him (or his sons) the problems I’d seen out of him, and refused two bitches (to their owner’s relief once I told them of the issues) from similar lines to the one with whom he’d produced issues. Once he hit eight years of age (he is nine now), I really thought I’d made the correct decisions. It seems as if most dogs who have what I think of as genetic IVDD are going to have it from four to seven years of age. After that, especially at ten or after, it seems to be more age-related. (These are simply my opinions, not scientific facts.) However, the number of problems around Maximus (Tania is his dam, and Evie is his half-sister on one side and his granddaughter on the other) indicate to me that in his case, it’s very genetic. Even at his age. How in the world is one supposed to have a breeding program when your best-producing stud dog doesn’t exhibit problems with a non-testable disease until age nine? While I x-ray spines at twenty-four months, I have found the results to be less than helpful. Tania had three calcifications. Evie had zero. And still they went down. All due respect to the Danish, who I believe require Dachshunds be x-rayed and have three calcifications or under to be bred, I think the problem of IVDD is far, far more complicated than numbers of calcifications. I actually have a theory, but that’s for another article.

Even before Evie’s issue, because of the overall lack of good conformation in miniature wires, I had been gravitating to the idea of attempting a breed down from standard wires. I have standard wire sperm that was initially intended for Evie. After Evie’s issue, I pursued the breed down idea in earnest. I have a standard wire bitch reserved from a line that is not only full of very correct and gorgeous movers, but very healthy Dachshunds in the thirty-some years this breeder has been breeding this line. She breeds a similar number of litters as I do, and follows her pet dogs closely, so I am pretty sure she would be aware of any problems. The majority of problems don’t generally occur in one’s own house, after all. My dirty little secret is that I prefer the in-between size of Dachshund, anyway. European standard size, large miniatures in the United States. In my opinion, eleven to sixteen or seventeen pounds is enormously functional and sturdy, and still easy to handle.   And it’s much easier to breed consistently correct ones than it is in the under eleven pound realm. If I were just breeding for conformation, maybe it would be easier? I don’t know. But when you are considering conformation with a large emphasis on the front assembly, “Dachshundy” temperaments, health, hunting ability (I want a very specific kind of hunter) and voicing, well…if size comes, great. If it doesn’t, well…size has never been a priority for me, anyway. To me, the former attributes are at the core of great Dachshunds. Great Dachshunds come in all sizes.

So, I have a long, long way to go. A small part of me wants to quit breeding altogether. A large part of me is plain heartbroken. Maximus and this line produced puppies that are very consistently pretty in type…many have lots of forechest and correct shoulder assemblies set well back from the neck and most are pretty movers. He produced laid-back in the house kind of dogs that are hell on wheels in the field, consistently voicing. Maximus is three champions from being the first wire DC ROMO of either size; that fact seems pointless now. So much of what I wanted, gone. But, another huge part of me is looking forward to a new adventure, with a new line and a new, very lofty goal. I was so lucky in so many ways the first time around…could I possibly be that lucky and more on the second try? We will find out. Thank God I am still relatively young! Wish me luck; I am going to need a LOT of it.

Maximus, who is now standing on his own, sloppily “walking” and has deep pain back in his rear feet, is currently at five weeks post issue. He still has control of all elimination and his tail wags beautifully, which is good for my soul! His cart from Eddie’s Wheels will be here just before the eight week mark. Perhaps he won’t need it long term...perhaps he will. I was counseled to wait on getting it to save the money. But I look at my boy, way past ready to return to his old life of going, going, going, and I know I have made the right choice for his mental health, regardless of outcome. He gives so much to me, and he has taught me so much, it’s the least I can do for him. I hope this cart ends up dusty in a corner, or donated to some other Dachshund, because Maximus is walking on his own again. But if that doesn’t happen, I know my boy will still be as happy as he was before, and that’s really all that matters.

I always knew that people with physical disabilities shouldn’t be pitied, and that they have just as much opportunity to live full and fabulous lives as their non-physically disabled peers. But I never truly understood that until now. Neither I nor Maximus needs or wants your pity. (Maxi-B says the only reasons you need to feel sorry for him is because he doesn’t get to bunny hunt 24/7 and he doesn’t get unlimited treats, lol.) His life will continue to be rich and full. Everything happens for a reason, even when the reasons aren’t readily apparent or fathomable. What a gift he has been to me, in so many ways. I am a fortunate girl.

 All photograpy by Christine Kim




Last Updated on Friday, 27 September 2013 11:22
Dachshund Backs - The Parts You Can Control
Monday, 04 February 2013 00:00

This is an article I originally published in May 2010.  I've expanded and made some significant clarifications and additions to my back protocol, so I wanted those back up to the top, so to speak.

So, I try to keep my blog posts mostly fun.  And silly.  Because I think we can all use more fun and silly in our lives.  However, today, I am going to again attempt to cover a topic that is not really 'fun'.  Definitely not silly.  But knowing this information can help us keep more fun and silly in our lives in the form of our beloved Dachshunds.  I don't know about you, but mine keep me in stitches, the little squirts!  So, in the spirit of more fun, we begged asked Miss Doxie to contribute one of her famous 'drawrings' to this know, to lighten the mood!


I hope that isn't Bo in this drawring. Hee!  Okay, back to Seriousness.

One of the most frustrating parts of Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) in Dachshunds, next to not having a way to definitively identify young dogs who may produce IVDD or who will be affected, is that we do not have a way to diagnose common symptoms (outside actual ataxia or paralysis) we are seeing without a myelogram or an MRI.  Neither of these methods are very cost effective simply as diagnostic tools.  A myleogram, which is a procedure in which an anesthetized dog has contrast dye injected into his subarachnoid space with a thin needle and xrays taken so that the veterinarian can see what is happening with the soft disc tissue, costs around $800.  It's also fairly invasive.  A MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is not invasive, but it also requires anesthesia and costs around $1500.  As a result, both of these tools are used primarily for the information of neurosurgeons prior to heading into surgery.  If you have a dog who is exhibiting signs that are similar to IVDD symptoms such as muscle tenderness, limping, screaming when you touch him or pick him up, but is still mobile and not showing signs of ataxia or just the beginnings of ataxia, your dog is not generally a candidate for a myelogram or a MRI.  Unless you are independently wealthy.  So, instead of knowing, we have to guess at what's going on with our dogs.  Is it just simply a strained muscle?  Is the disc swelling into the cord space?  Has the disc actually extruded?  Will conservative methods work?

Now, I should clarify that it's my opinion that IVDD in Dachshunds is genetic.  That has not been proven, but it's my opinion.  Dachshunds, by their very nature, are dwarves.  They are affected with a condition called, in it's simplest form, achondroplasia. The obvious result of this condition are shortened limbs and regular sized bodies.  The not-so-obvious part of this condition is that this condition causes premature aging of cartilage, joints and discs.  Issues more normally seen in older dogs of other breeds are often seen in Dachshunds ages 4-7.  Here are some in depth articles written by Fred Lanting* that help explain the various forms of achondroplasia:

If it is genetic, all the massages & supplements in the world won't keep some form of IVDD from happening to a dog who is destined to be affected. However, I also think that IVDD is partially environmental and there are ways that you, as a Dachshund owner, can help to limit the effect of IVDD in your Dachshund.

So, what can you do?  Much of it is common sense, but let's review the basics things you, as a Dachshund owner, can do and then we will flesh out each point:

  1. Keep your Dachshund in good weight
  2. Keep your Dachshund's nails as short as possible
  3. Feed your Dachshund the best diet you can afford
  4. Keep your Dachshund strong and well-muscled
  5. Limit the "Downs"
  6. Supplements for your Dachshund
  7. Massage Therapy
  8. Acupuncture/Chiropractic

Good Weight: Dachshunds should not be portly.  Excess weight doesn't cause IVDD, but it doesn't help dogs affected with IVDD and just may make their case worse and recovery more difficult.  You should be able to touch your Dachshund lightly on the sides and feel ribs.  If you have to dig, even just a little, to feel ribs, your Dachshund is TOO FAT! (sorry, Charlie, but now is not the time for subtlety; Tongue out)  Cut back the calories!  In 99% of overweight Dachshund cases, the problem is completely within the control of you, the owner.  If I have a training session with one of my Dachshunds that includes lots of treats, that's their next meal and they don't eat with the rest of my dogs or they just get a taste in their bowls.  I know it's tough to resist treating your Dachshund, but remember, dogs aren't exactly like we are...they are excited to get the treat and portion size of the treat makes no difference to them.  I use semi-moist treats, like string cheese, cooked chicken breast, cooked beef heart, Natural Balance dog food rolls, etc., cut into tiny pieces.  Think of a green pea size or smaller as an appropriately-sized treat for your Dachshund.  You can cut these up and freeze them in plastic bags and take them out as you need them.

Short Nails: Dachshunds get away with long nails because they are smart.  They fool their owners into thinking that any kind of nail clipping or dremeling is clearly devil torture and that they are in great pain before it even starts.  Don't let the little darlings fool you.  If you hear nails clicking, they are too long.  Long toenails contribute to Dachshunds gaiting incorrectly and that can lead to backs that go wonky.  Imagine what your back would feel like if you had toenails so long they curled around and clicked when you walked!  Okay, it's not the same thing, but it's close!

If you are in Colorado and having trouble keeping those little toenails trimmed, come by and I will give you a personal lesson.  Or two.  Maybe more?  If you are elsewhere or don't know me, check out my Nail Tutorial.

Feed the Best You Can:  This is pretty self-explanatory.  With commercially-prepared pet food, you generally get what you pay for.  Personally, I prefer a raw diet.  In her book, Dogs, Diet and Disease, Caroline D. Levin, RN, eloquently discusses the relationship between elevated cortisol (the fight or flight stress hormone) levels and disease.  There is a school of thought that theorizes constantly elevated cortisol levels 'turn on' bad DNA and is responsible for disease.  What elevates cortisol levels for dogs?  It has not been proven that grains elevate levels of cortisol, but it is accurate that grain protiens are very large.  Viruses also have similarly large protiens.  It is theorized that canine systems see constant levels of large grain protiens as virus proteins, thus keeping their bodies' levels of cortisol constantly elevated.  Elevated cortisol also leaches calcium from bones and deposits it into soft tissue, such as vertibral discs.  Not to mention that dogs are built to eat raw meat and bones - they have hinged jaws that don't allow for side to side movement, no flattened teeth for grinding and no digestive enzymes in their saliva.  They do not produce the type of amylase that breaks down the cell walls of plants, their stomach pH is between 1-2 (hydrochloric acid levels), and their proportionally shortened length of intestine, while it doesn't allow any bugs that make it through the stomach acid bath the time to build to dangerous levels, also doesn't allow digesting grains to be in the system long enough to be properly digested.  Compare the stools of raw-fed dogs to kibble-fed dogs and it's completely obvious which diet is utilized more completely by the canine system.

Strong & Well-Muscled:  Please don't swaddle your Dachshund in cotton and put him in a bubble because you are afraid for his back.  These dogs should be athletic.  Additionally, strong, well-muscled dogs ideally have muscles along the spine and in the abdomen that help to protect the spine.  Think of a strong core, if you will.  I train my dogs to do doggy-situps.  Ask your massage therapist about this.  It really needs to be done in a controlled way, so don't just make it up in your head, okay?

Additionally, I walk all the dogs on a regular basis.  All of them walk at least a mile every other day.  I walk them on harnesses so if they pull, they aren't going to crank their necks.  There are other Dachshund breeders who do this on a regular basis and who have had excellent results with this type and consistency of exercise.

Limiting the "Downs":  Non-achondroplastic breeds have long legs that absorb the shock of jumping down and of lots of of going down stairs.  Dachshunds, with less length of leg, absorb the shock of a down mainly through their bodies and spines.  I am not against healthy Dachshunds jumping down or going down stairs, but both should be limited, especially prior to the closure of growth plates.  Limiting the "downs" prior to the age of 2 is simply a good idea.  Flying off the back of the couch, at any age, is probably not a great idea.

Supplements:  Because achondroplastic dogs have joints and discs that age at an accelerrated rate, I supplement my dogs from 8 weeks of age on.  I like glucosamine and hyaluronic acid, so I give all of my healthy, young dogs 1.5 mL of Acti-flex K9 and 375mg of additional glucosamine per day.  Dogs 5 and over get double that; 3 mL of Acti-flex K9 and 750mg of additional glucosamine per day at equal amounts with each meal.  I use the Kirkland brand of glucosamine from Costco.

Massage Therapy:  Those folks in my little dog family know that I espouse canine thereaputic massage as one of the best ways to keep a Dachshund back supple and pain free.  Lots of people laugh about massage for dogs (I know I did), especially if they, like me, don't get massages for themselves as often as they would like.  However, if we were as physical on a daily basis as most of our dogs are, we would be world-class athletes.  In which case, we would have massage therapists and physical trainers on call!  Keeping those muscles supple certainly seems to help Dachshund backs from being torqued, possibly putting extra pressure on discs that can't handle it.  Look for someone who specializes in dogs and is very good at gait analysis.  My massage therapist of choice, here on the Front Range, is Debbie Towndrow, owner of Woof & Hoof Thereaputic Massage.  Debbie has massage sessions at her house in Broomfield, at various training centers up and down the Front Range and at most conformation and agility shows in the area.  Debbie occasionally has weekend-long seminars that teach you how to massage your own pet.  See her website for details.

Acupuncture/Chiropractic: I have used acupuncture for my dogs with great success since 1997.  I've used it for many issues other than back pain, but it works great for Dachshunds who are "owie" or worse and I think it's a great preventative, as well.  It's a good alternative for people who, for whatever reason, don't choose surgery and instead go a more conservative route.  I don't know if anyone can definitively explain why acupuncture works, but it does.  I might have psychosomatic reactions, but I know the dogs don't.  I do think it's important that your veterinary acupuncturist believe spiritually in what they are doing.  That's one of the reasons I prefer acupuncturists who practice acupuncture full time and not in addition to a regular allopathic veterinary practice.  Many veterinary acupuncturists are also trained in chiropractic.  My favorite acupuncturists are Dr. David B.Y. Fong, DVM, L.Ac., Dipl Oriental Medicine, who is now in San Francisco full time, and Dr. Rhea Dodd, DVM, MA, who currently practices in the Denver Metro area.  They are both IVAS Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists.  I have been recently using Dr. Diana Roberts at Harmony Animal Wellness in Kittredge, CO.  Find an IVAS acupuncturist in your area here.

Are Dachshunds more pre-disposed to IVDD than most other breeds of dogs?  Sure.  But every breed and mixed breed has some kind of major issue and some have way more than one.  In my opinion, the whole idea of "hybrid vigor" makes me roll on the floor with laughter...think about humans, most of whom are total outcrosses (hybrids).  Are we without genetic disease?? ---------- Exactly! Other than the risk of IVDD, Dachshunds are, overall, pretty healthy little critters.  If you, as a Dachshund owner, are educated about the ways you can possibly limit IVDD and about what to do if you think your Dachshund might be heading towards an IVDD episode, then you are forearmed.  Isn't that the best place to be when it comes to anything?

Of course, all of this is simply my opinion based on my experience and research.  I am not a veterinarian and I don't play one on TV.  Do your own research.  Talk to your own veterinarian.  If your veterinarian does or says things that don't jive with your research, question, question, question.  You are your dogs' best advocate.  No one knows your dogs better than you do.  If your veterinarian bristles at your questions or belittles you for asking questions, find another veterinarian immediately!  Don't be lazy about this.  My regular veterinarian is wonderful; she listens to my concerns and never lets her ego get in the way of my research or opinions.  That is what I wish for all of you.

*About Fred Lanting:  A well-respected AKC and Schaferhund Verein judge, Mr. Lanting has judged in more than a dozen countries, including the prestigious FCI Asian Show hosted by Japan Kennel Club, the Scottish Kennel Club, a Greyhound specialty in England, and more.  National Specialties: 1994 GSD Club of America National; 1991 Tibetan Mastiff National; 1990 Shiba National; Fila Brasileiro Nationals (several times), Dogo Argentino National, Pyrenean Shepherd National.  Numerous Chinese Shar Pei and Australian Shepherd specialties; regional Anatolian Shepherd specialty. Numerous GSD, Rottweiler, & Boxer specialties worldwide.  He is also the author of several ‘must read’ books, including THE TOTAL GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG, CANINE HIP DYSPLASIA, CANINE ORTHOPEDIC PROBLEMS.  A former professional all-breed handler in the US and Canada, he has lectured in over fifteen countries on Gait-and-Structure (Analytical Approach), Canine Orthopedic Disorders, and other topics, as well as being a  Sr. Conf. Judges Ass’n (SCJA) Institute instructor. WV Canine College instructor & member, advisory board. 
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 08:00
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