I think its fair to say that a dachshund is up against it when it comes to moving around. Climbing is certainly not easy for them. But does this mean that they shouldn’t at all? What about the stairs – should they be prevented from using them? These are fair questions that absolutely need to be addressed.
So, should dachshunds climb stairs? Dachshunds should not climb stairs, at least very regularly. While the odd climb here should not pose a problem; dachshunds are not best equipped with the right body and framework to take the strain of this task. In time, repetitive use of the stairs can lead to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a spinal injury common to this breed.
Dachshunds are notorious for their sausage-like appearance and bodies.
From an anatomical perspective, we have to remember that they have longer spines, short legs, and a stomach this distends downwards.
Any dachshund owner will be aware that they are not the most agile movers. When it comes to stairs, they are a significant hurdle for this small and short-statured breed.
Neverthless, let us now take a closer look at why a dachshund will do its best to avoid the stairs, and a practical alternative if you decide that you want them to have free roam of your home.
Can Dachshunds Climb Stairs?
While dachshunds may be able to climb stairs (depending on the depth and height of the steps), this does not necessarily mean they should.
Of course, climbing stairs is not something that can and necessarily should be avoided. It may have to happen from time to time.
For the most part, the average fit and healthy dachshund will appear up for the challenge and try to attempt it.
Others, maybe more reserved and be less likely and enthusiastic about it at all.
It will come down to the individual temperament and personality of your dog; along with other factors including age, weight, and if they are carrying any health complications and injuries.
It is when a dachshund is regularly attempting to, or climbing stairs in your home, that you need to be careful.
This is when you will likely need to take precautions. Whether this is eliminating the behavior or actively putting in measures to prevent it.
Here is why.
If dachshunds climb stairs too often, it can lead to an injury called Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD); a spinal injury that is common to this breed.
Knowing exactly what IVDD is, the causes, and how to limit the risk of your dog developing it, will help your doxie live a more comfortable, pain-free life.
What Is IVD (Intervertebral Disc Disease)?
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVD) is prevalent in certain breeds of dogs, including the Dachshunds, Basset Hound, Shih Tzu, and German Shepherds.
In fact, the findings from this study, discovered that around 19–24 % of Dachshunds will get IVDD during their lifetime.
The condition is where the cushioning discs, that are positioned between the vertebrae (bones) of the spinal column, either bulge or burst.
This then causes the discs, to press directly onto the nerves in the spinal cord – resulting in pain, nerve damage, and in the worst-case scenario, paralysis.
Signs of IVD in Dachshunds
First and foremost, it’s important to consider the age of your Dachshund; the older that they are the higher the risk that they will begin to develop this condition.
Aside from this, the main symptom is pain, discomfort, and anxiety. It will be displayed in their behavior – getting worse over time as the condition develops. Your doxie is likely to whine, whimper, and cry out in pain.
Other signs are not being willing to jump, moving less frequently, being more averse to being picked up, and starting to walk abnormally.
In certain cases, dachshunds may present a hunched back, or raise their head up high as a way to reduce the pain they are experiencing.
If you begin to observe signs of paralysis, whether this is the dragging of their legs, not being able to move at all, or loss of bladder/bowel control, then the IVDD has developed to a point whereby damage could be irreversible.
In this instances, your dog will require immediate attention from a vet.
Either way, if you suspect the development of IVDD; the best thing you can do is visit a vet. The sooner you do so, the higher the chances of a complete recovery and reduced time in pain for your dog.
If you detect signs of IVDD early on and before it has progressed, then your dachshund may be able to make a full recovery without the need for surgery.
However, non-surgical treatment is not an overnight cure; it does require time for your doxie to heal and will mean complete rest with minimal activity.
It often involves leaving your dog in their crate and limiting their ability to get up and move about. Consider that while this may sound mean – they are going to be in pain and less likely to want to move anyway.
You’ll also need to consider that without regular movement, your dog’s leg and back muscles will weaken. And they will need time to strengthen back up again.
Some vets may recommend acupuncture, and sometimes even laser therapy is suggested during this time.
Nonetheless, after a period of rest, psychical therapy will be needed to help teach your dachshund how to walk and move appropriately.
In the beginning, you’ll need to be careful with the length of your walks and not be too hasty to increase their activity levels.
Wobble boards (like this highly-rated one from Amazon) are often prescribed by vets as a way that you can help your dachshund regain their strength and posture.
Recovery from early on-set IVDD typically lasts for around 2 months; but may require more time depending on your dog, their age, speed of recovery and the severity of the condition.
Also, consider that there is no permanent cure, and it is estimated that 50% of IVDD cases, will return again in the future.
If the IVDD develops to a certain extent, then surgery may be required. This will most likely be required if signs of paralysis are observed; dragging of legs, unable to move, etc.
Consider that in cases of paralysis; it is essential that surgery is undertaken promptly or severe damage can be caused. Within 24 hours is usually all the time that you will have.
Otherwise, you risk the surgery not being successful.
That being said, with swift attention and a timely procedure, the success rate of surgery can stand up to 96%.
Surgery involves the careful removal of the burst fluid, that will be building in the spinal canal. Removing this solves a lot of the issues.
In certain cases, fluid may also be removed from unburst (but soon to burst discs) – this is of course a preventative measure.
Again, physical therapy will be required shortly after surgery. Recovery times for surgery are anticipated to be around 5-10 weeks.
So, as you can see – preventing this condition is always going to be the best approach.
It’s a very painful condition and one that is hard to watch your dog go through. It can also be costly too and require a lot of time to care for your dog.
Unfortunately, if you were unable to afford the cost of veterinary bills, your only other option is euthanasia.
Therefore, it goes without saying, but doing our best to prevent this condition is essential.
This means no stairs or absolutely minimal use of stairs for your dachshund.
But this is easier said than done; this advice may present a challenge to some of you reading.
Let us now look at some of the practical things you can do to limit the amount of stair use. Regardless of the layout of your home and other lifestyle factors.
How To Limit Dachshunds Using The Stairs
Depending on your home or where you live, it may not be as easier to limit your dachshund from using the stairs. This is especially true if you need to leave the house often, or there are extended periods of time that you are away (like at work for example).
These are the best, most practical solutions most commonly used by dachshund owners:
Option #1 – Add Ramps
Perhaps the best solution is to purchase ramps designed for these types of dogs. You can place these next to your staircase, or into/outside of your home – allowing your dachshund to access where they need to without risking their spine.
You can also add ramps next to your bed, or specific furniture like the sofa – to equally allow your doxie the opportunity to get up without needing to jump.
There are many options available on Amazon.
When using ramps, you will need to train your dachshund. They will not instinctively use them or know what they are for.
Teaching your doxie is not too difficult. You just need to spend some time letting your dog get used to the ramps and what they are for.
Firstly, set them up somewhere safe (inside/outside) with an appropriate incline.
Then, get your doxie to get on the ramp by using treats – and place many treats across the length of the ramp.
If your dog gets off the ramp, encourage them to get back on and reward them with another treat if they do so.
Take your dachshund up and down the ramp using treats, and keep one in closed in your hand as you go up and down. At each end (top/bottom) of the ramp, give them the treat and replace.
Once they are comfortable on the ramps and get on them eagerly, you can stop using treats and use your hand instead.
From there, you just need to reinforce the behavior. Once your doxie successfully navigates the length of the ramp, give them a treat. Reduce treats as they become more competent and use it without any signs of hesitation.
From there you just need to raise the incline and let your dog get used to it and be confident using it without treats.
Then, you can install it next to your stairs and your dog should know how to and be confident to use it. To ensure they do so, get them up the stairs via the ramp and reward them with a treat for doing so.
Fortunately, your dog will now know how to use all types of ramps; you don’t need to teach them for each new one you install around your home.
Option #2 – Use a Pen
A very simple, practical solution that will also give your dachshund more roaming space is to get a playpen.
The Midwest Metal Exercise Pen from Amazon is a best seller in its category.
It’s very reasonable and is easy to set up, collapse and move to other areas of your home.
By putting your dachshund in a pen, you’ll be able to give them room to wander around while cutting off access to the stairs and other furniture that they may attempt to climb.
Option #3 – Install Child Gates
This option enables your dachshund to have better access to your home. You’ll be able to close specific areas, or even place them at the bottom/top of your staircase.
They are easy to install and takedown.
These are the Child Gates I purchased for my doxie, having researched around for the best ones.
Option #4: Shut Doors, Restrict General Access
The cheapest and completely free option (but does come with an element of risk) and will require management is to proactively restrict access to stairs. It may or may not even be possible.
Here, you will need to actively prevent your dachshund from being able to climb the stairs.
You’ll need to keep them locked in specific rooms when you are out of the house, and you need to be careful no doors can be opened by your dog!
Dachshunds should not use the stairs; they are susceptible to a condition called IVDD which can be very problematic, painful, and damaging.
It’s also particularly worrisome for us to observe in our pets; it’s disheartening and it’s also a challenge to help your dog recover. It can also be expensive.
Not using the stairs, or climbing furniture is perhaps the best thing you can do, and preventative measures to reduce your chances of your dachshund suffering from this condition.
So, never leave your Dachshund alone to freely roam up and down the stairs. Even if they may or may not take them on.
With that being said, you’ll probably never be able to completely stop your dachshund from climbing stairs or jumping on and off furniture.
If it happens only every now and again, there is nothing to worry about. You just need to ensure it is not a regular and repetitive exercise.
Thankfully there are some things you can do to eliminate the chances, likelihood, and impact of your dog using the stairs.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.