Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) represents a major problem in the Dachshund, with at a relative risk of IVDD 10-12 times higher than other breeds, and an estimated 19-24 % of Dachshunds showing clinical signs related to IVDD during their lifetime. A variety of genetic, physical and lifestyle-related risk factors for IVDD have previously been identified, with some conflicting findings. As such, advising owners and breeders regarding best-practice for IVDD prevention is challenging at present. This study aimed to (i) estimate prevalence of IVDD in six Dachshund varieties, and (ii) identify risk factors associated with IVDD diagnosis from a wide variety of demographic, conformational, dietary, activity and exercise-related variables.
A web-based survey "Dachs-Life 2015" was carried out from January-April 2015, with responses received for 2031 individual Dachshunds. Three-hundred and ten dogs were classed as Cases based on veterinary-diagnosis of IVDD, and 56 dogs were excluded from further analyses due to a lack of veterinary-diagnosis of their clinical signs. The remaining1665 dogs with no previous signs of IVDD were classified as Non-Cases. The overall prevalence of IVDD was 15.7 % (95 % CI: 14.1-17.3). Breed variety was significantly associated with IVDD risk, with the highest prevalence seen in the Standard Smooth-Haired (24.4 %, 95 % CI: 22.5-26.3) and lowest in the Standard Wire-Haired (7.1 %, 95 % CI: 6.0-8.2). Older dogs and neutered dogs were at increased odds of IVDD. Of the lifestyle risk factors, univariable analysis identified dogs that exercised for <30 min per day, were not allowed to jump on and off furniture, or were supplemented with glucosamine or chondroitin were at increased odds of IVDD, whereas dogs that exercised for more than 1 h per day, that were considered highly or moderately active by their owners, and those that showed at Open or Championship shows were at decreased odds of IVDD.
In line with previous reports, IVDD is commonly diagnosed in the Dachshund, with significant differences in prevalence between Dachshund varieties. Lifestyle risk factors were identified which are hypothesis-generating for future prospective studies, and can inform an evidence-based approach to mitigating IVDD risk for Dachshund owners and breeders.