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Is the proposed legislation to ban breeding of Dachshunds in Germany really in the best interest of the breed?




Many of our readers will have seen articles in the UK press over recent days describing proposed new legislation in Germany that, potentially, could result in a ban on the breeding of Dachshunds. The legislation has been supported by animal rights campaigners such as PETA.


This follows on the heels of proposed legislation in New Hampshire, USA, that would ban the breeding of brachycephalic dogs. Numerous court cases and examples of welfare legislation have been seen in Europe and Scandinavia in recent years. Although the majority of these have focused on the brachycephalic breeds, it is not surprising that Dachshunds and other short-legged breeds are also under the spotlight.


Journalists have asked several Dachshund breeders and owners for their comments on the German proposals, including trustees of Dachshund Health UK. Our response to the Daily Mail who asked if buying Dachshunds was cruel and how breeding practices inflict suffering is shown below. We also referred them to our website www.dachshundhealth.org.uk


Dachshunds have always been a popular breed in the UK and the 6 varieties (Standard and Miniature; with Smooth, Long and Wire coats) now account for over two-thirds of the Royal Kennel Club’s registrations of Hound breeds.  In particular, the Miniature Smooth variety has grown massively in popularity and now rank No. 4 in overall pedigree dog registrations.

Being a dwarf breed with short legs, Dachshunds have an increased risk of “slipped discs” (Intervertebral Disc Disease) which is associated with degeneration of the discs at a younger age than in dogs with normal length legs. The risk of IVDD varies considerably across the 6 varieties, with the Wires and Longs having the lowest risk (about 1 in 20) and the Smooths and Mini Smooths having the highest risk (about 1 in 4).

All 6 varieties are active dogs that enjoy and benefit from plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. They originated as hunting and tracking dogs, bred for their working ability. On average, they live to 12 years or more.

With the increase in demand, there has been an inevitable increase in breeding, often done by people with very little knowledge or experience of the breed and its characteristics. In the UK, we have a screening programme for IVDD which is run by the Kennel Club and supported by DHUK. It aims to help breeders identify dogs with a lower risk of IVDD so that they can be used more safely for breeding.

The idea that a breeding ban will be effective seems fundamentally flawed. We have seen with other breed-specific legislation in the UK that unscrupulous breeders often find ways around the legislation, or there are insufficient resources to police it. We hope that the publicity surrounding the proposed German legislation will help raise awareness of the importance of educating buyers, owners and breeders and build support for our screening programme.

Dachshunds are a special breed in the eyes of their many owners and none of us would support the idea that it is cruel to breed them. They typically live long, active, and happy lives. We do hope that potential buyers do their research before getting a Dachshund. DHUK and our Breed Clubs all strive to provide evidence-based information on their health and welfare, including the risks of IVDD.


The German Kennel Club (VDH) has written a detailed response to the proposals and point out many ambiguities in the way the legislation is being drafted. It appears that, in its current form, the legislation would encompass many breeds (anything that "doesn't look like a wolf"). Equally, it will likely be unenforceable and have many unintended consequences as breeders and owners find ways to get round the legislation.


There are several key messages for Dachshund breeders and owners in the UK:


  • Do not assume that similar legislation could not be proposed here (the existing Animal Welfare Act contains clauses that have yet to be tested in the courts, whereby breeding dogs with exaggerated conformation and associated health or welfare issues could be banned)

  • The Dachshund has, inherrently, an exaggerated conformation due to selection for dwarfism but the UK Breed Standard calls for moderation (excessive length of body, depth of chest and lack of ground clearance are all faults to be avoided by breeders, judges and buyers)

  • The breed has an increased risk of IVDD, associated with the genetics of short legs and our best available tool to reduce the risk of IVDD is our UK x-ray screening programme (which is managed by the Kennel Club and subsidised by them and by DHUK)

  • We all have a duty to breed for the moderate conformation described in the Breed Standard, as well as health and correct temperaments (using the available screening tools)


It's certainly not as simple as "change the Breed Standard" or "breed them like they were 100 years ago" (as these photos from 1900 to the 1930s demonstrate).



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