The Dachshund is a little dog with a multitude of nicknames, lots of character, and a great big heart. His real name comes from his German origins and means badger dog because he was bred to hunt badger and to get down into their burrows. The Dachshund, because of his long low body, has been nicknamed the sausage dog or wiener dog. The Dachshund's back is an important feature of this breed. However, the Dachshund’s back can be the root of back problems and it is a part of his anatomy that needs to be treated with care. Lying on his back is a great way for the sausage dog to cool down and relax and if he is in this position it is important to remember the adage of "let sleeping dogs lie" Lying on his back, the Dachshund shows you he is totally relaxed and at ease in his home environment.
The Root of the Behavior
The Dachshund has been bred to hunt badger and other smaller animals that are classified as vermin. The specific points of the breed are all carefully directed towards hunting in burrows. He has a long sleek body, short strong legs, a deep chest with good lung capacity, and a pointed snout, all ready for burrowing. However, his back is a weak point in his build. Lying on his back could be a good stretch and relax position for the Dachshund. Generally, dogs in the wild would not lie on their backs as it is a vulnerable position and a submissive posture that exposes the stomach. The Dachshund lying on his back is showing you he feels totally comfortable and at ease in his home and can submit to the other members of the family. This could also be his way of asking for a good scratch or rub on his tummy. He is saying I am comfortable here and trust you will not take advantage of me.
The Dachshund that finds a sunny spot may enjoy exposing his underbelly to the warmth of the sun on a cool day. Showing off their stomachs, by lying on their backs, is a great way to regulate their temperature. The Dachshund has less fur on his stomach and exposing this part of his body, together with keeping his paws in the air, helps cool down body temperature. There would always be a temptation to snuggle up with your Dachshund if he is lying on the rug in such a relaxed position. Remember, the Dachshund’s greatest weakness is his back and if he is lying exposed on the floor in this position, he is relaxed, but at risk for back injuries. While your Dachshund is laid back and resting, it is a good time to check his tummy for any rashes and to look at his claws. A digger like the Dachshund needs to keep those claws in check if he is not engaged in his natural digging activity. The Dachshund is not a ‘laid back’ kind of dog and so use his stretched-out moments to see if there is anything needing attention on that low slung under belly.
Encouraging the Behavior
Choosing a Dachshund as a family pet is going to channel your affections to another level. The Dachshund is a little dog with a zest for life. He is energetic and probably a little stubborn. Obedience training and puppy socializing are always sensible options with a breed that is feisty and adventurous. Dachshunds have been known to lie on their backs to resist the leash put on them for the afternoon walk. Towing a reluctant Dachshund behind you is embarrassing, to say the least. Every little Dachshund needs daily exercise so don’t allow the reluctant behavior to jeopardize this activity. When your Dachshund exposes his belly, while lying on his back, you will have a good opportunity to see if he is gaining weight and may need more exercise.
Always be aware of his tendency to have back problems. The Dachshund is very prone to Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). This disease affects the mid to lower back and will cause pain and difficulty getting up. The hunched position of the Dachshund is a clear indicator of this painful problem, so watch his back and have regular check-ups with the vet if you suspect a problem. Most of the time, the Dachshund is just showing how relaxed he is and happy to be the ‘hotdog’ of your household. If you have two Dachshunds, they may sleep back to back next to each other in pure contentment of their companionship and their happy space.
Other Solutions and Considerations
The Dachshund knows how to relax and his laid-back timeout position on his back lets you know he is a happy dog. However, he is an excellent watchdog and if the need arises he can get into action to bark at any intruder or unwelcome guest. The Dachshund has a strong prey drive and may like to give chase to other small animals. There are two sizes of Dachshund and the mini Dachshund is equal in temperament and attitude to the standard Dachshund. They are strong-minded little hunters but do enjoy a stretch out in the sun and a welcome tummy rub. Lying on their backs communicates this information to you. I am relaxed and a tummy rub would be welcome as I lie in the sun getting warmth on my long body.
The Dachshund comes in a few sizes and coat lengths but the name sausage dog or Wiener dog rings true for all the members of this character breed of dog. They are one of the most popular little dogs and steal the show on many occasions. Show dogs, agility for little guys and races too. And so - What do you call a hot dog race? Wiener takes all! Every Dachshund owner will have to agree, a Dachshund, by any name, is always a winner.
By a Rhodesian Ridgeback lover Christina Wither
Published: 04/18/2018, edited: 01/30/2020