Dachshunds are small, friendly dogs with long bodies carried low to the ground. They are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. Originated in Germany to hunt badgers, and built to follow their prey through underground tunnels, both miniature and standard dachshunds have elongated, muscular bodies. Their long bodies make dachshunds prone to serious back problems, and excess weight greatly increases the likelihood of such problems. It is important to determine and maintain your dachshund's ideal weight.
The judicious eye of the dachshund's owner is needed to determine the ideal body weight of a dachshund, and the correct quantity of a nutritious diet, plus regular exercise, are needed to maintain it. The breed standard, which can serve as a starting point, says the ideal body weight of a miniature dachshund is 11 pounds or less, while standard dachshunds will weigh from 16 to 32 pounds, depending on their body height and length.
The dachshund’s body should be lean and muscular with a pronounced arch behind the ribs, leading to the hindquarters. The dachshund’s chest bone should visibly protrude, with a dimple on each side. If you notice that the fat around the chest covers the breastbone, or that the dog displays a rounded waistline that does not arch upward at the abdomen, your dachshund is overweight. This holds true for both miniature and standard dachshunds. At the ideal weight, you should be able to feel the ribs without probing through fat, but you should not see them.
Dachshund puppies should eat up to four times daily. Moist food is best for puppies, especially when they are first weaned. Dachshund puppies can start eating dry kibble after about 3 months of age and cut down to three meals per day. One ounce of food for each pound of body weight helps dachshund puppies stay at a healthy weight, according to the Dachshund Club of America Handbook. When dachshunds reach about 6 months old, they should get two meals per day.
Free-feeding allows dachshunds to eat as desired from a full bowl of food throughout the day. This is generally not the best method for maintaining an ideal weight. If you use the self-feeding method, it is important to watch your dachshund's body shape and weight to guard against obesity. Many dachshunds raised with the self-feeding method will not overindulge, according to the Dachshund Club of America, but some dogs are not able to adjust to this method and will become overweight.
Portion feeding divides your dachshund's ration into two or more measured portions per day. Commercially prepared dog foods include daily ration recommendations on the bag, based on the calories per cup of the food; these tables are generalized and may not be accurate for your dog's needs. Caloric needs vary, depending on the dachshund’s activity level, age and health. For this reason, it is important to look at your dog at feeding time and consider whether the dachshund is tending to gain or lose weight. Always measure your dog's food. Make small adjustments to measurements as needed to keep your dachshund at an ideal weight.
If your dachshund is overweight, reducing the daily calorie intake by 20 percent is sufficient for weight loss. Consult a veterinarian when your dachshund is overweight and needs to slim down, or if your dachshund has trouble gaining weight.
If your dachshund loses weight on the recommended daily ration, have the dog checked by your veterinarian. Intestinal parasites can cause weight loss, as can a variety of other health issues.