Darcy Pajamas

Cute picture, right?

This is Mr. Darcy. He’s a dachshund mix. Doxies are consistently within the top dozen or so popular breeds in the US. For good reason. I mean, the wiener jokes alone. Besides that, they’re cute, spunky dogs with a lot of attitude in a little package. When they’re not on the hunt they’re lap sluts, content to curl up next to you on the couch or in a puppy pile with their canine housemates.

Just be aware that if you’re looking to get a dachshund or doxie mix, that you have a good chance of needing to buy a used car at some point. And you should budget for that.

Let me explain.

You will hopefully have done your research on the breed before deciding to contact a breeder or to adopt a shelter or rescue dog. You have most likely seen buried in the list of positive attributes of your potential wiener-pal a warning about IVDD and spinal issues. Due to the genetics that give doxies their low-slung stance, which is a kind of dwarfism, there are risks that come along with it, and they are not insubstantial. Intravertebral Disk Disease is the calcification of the soft tissue between the spinal bones. It makes the intravertebral disks less flexible and weakens their ability to absorb load. And based on estimates across the veterinary community, your doxie has between a 1-in-4 and 1-in-3 chance of developing it.

Of those dogs that develop IVDD, a good percentage will require medical intervention at some point.

Darcy Recovery

This is Mr. Darcy after a surgical spinal disk decompression. A procedure that can’t be done at your neighborhood vet, but requires the services of a veterinary neurosurgeon. At age 5, Darcy ruptured a lumbar disk and became incapacitated. He underwent decompression surgery and recovered very well.

A month and a half later, it happened again.

Another surgery, another recovery, and because his rear legs had been affected both times and were under-used during recovery, a follow-up period of physical therapy. Today, two months out from his last surgery, he is doing very well.

Remember that car I was talking about? Total vet bills for the two incidents approached $16,000. Two neurosurgeries, an MRI, post-surgery medical boarding, and therapy. So know what you are potentially getting into before you commit to the well-being of this breed for the lifetime of your dog.

You have better odds in Russian Roulette than you do with IVDD and dachshunds. Think about that, and plan appropriately. You’d be crazy to drop a bullet into the random chamber of a revolver, point it at your own temple, and pull the trigger. But many will blithely adopt a wiener-dog thinking that the stories about paralysis, surgeries, and wheelchairs won’t apply to them – they do, and you’d better be prepared. Studies show that pet insurance is no better (and economically sometimes worse than) a rainy-day savings account. I’d recommend establishing a $10,000 buffer in that account if you want to be a dachshund owner. And if you never need it, great – go buy yourself something nice.