- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
Originally bred to hunt badgers in the 15th century, dachshunds are still known for their long bodies and short legs. The smallest of the hound breeds, dachshunds aren’t used in sport as much as they once were, but there are plenty of other qualities that make them wonderful to have around.
Full of spirit and intelligence, the dachshund breed is one of the most devoted dog breeds you’ll come across. Your dog deserves your devotion in return, and you can show it by providing him with the best dog food for dachshunds available. We’ll help you learn what to look for.
Though he may not look like it, your dachshund’s ancestors were descended from the wild wolf. Though thousands of years come between them, you can learn a lot about your dog from his evolution, particularly when it comes to his nutrition.
Dana Scott of Dogs Naturally Magazine writes that while there “has long been debate as to whether the dog is a carnivore or an omnivore,” she argues that dogs are “scavenger carnivores.” They possess the sharp teeth, shortened digestive tract, and lack of enzymes to break down plant foods characteristic of the classic carnivore. Dogs prefer and subsist best on meat, but they can survive on whatever is available.
According to Scott, your dachshund is technically a carnivore, so animal products like meat, poultry, and fish are essential to provide the most important elements of balanced canine nutrition: protein and fat. Protein provides the building blocks for healthy muscle and fat provides a concentrated source of energy. Dogs need certain vitamins and minerals as well but in much smaller concentrations.
Your dachshund needs a high-quality diet that provides ample protein, moderate fat, and limited carb content in addition to meeting his needs for micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). If you want to know the specifics about your dog’s nutritional requirements, the guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) are a good place to start.
These guidelines recommend a minimum of 22% protein for puppies and lactating females and an 18% minimum for adult dogs. The minimum fat requirement for puppies is 8% for puppies and 5% for adults. This is the same across all breeds. AAFCO has also established minimums for key vitamins and minerals. Products that meet these minimums will carry a statement of nutritional adequacy on the label but pay close attention to that term: adequacy.
The AAFCO statement indicates that a product meets these bare minimums, but it isn’t necessarily an indication of quality. Avoid products that don’t carry these statements because they won’t meet your dog’s minimum needs, but don’t rely on this statement alone. The truth about dog food is that you can’t believe everything you read on the label and you still need to do the work to judge a product’s quality for yourself.
Though all dogs have these same basic requirements, there are some special considerations to make with your dachshund as he develops from a puppy into an adult dog and again into seniority.
The biggest thing to remember about the dachshund is that he is classified as a small breed. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, the average size is 16 to 32 pounds. How this affects your dog’s nutrition is primarily related to his calorie requirements.
Small breeds have faster metabolisms than larger breeds, though not quite as high as toy breeds. They burn through calories more quickly, so your dachshund may need 3 or 4 meals per day if he is very active. Frequent feeding is also recommended for dachshund puppies to prevent hypoglycemia.
But how much food does your dachshund actually need?
The average daily calorie requirement for dogs is 30 calories per pound of body weight but small breeds may need up to 40 calories per pound. For your dachshund, you need to find a recipe that will provide plenty of calories without requiring him to eat a large volume of food. His stomach is very small.
Puppies require a higher concentration of protein and calories than adult dogs.
High protein and calorie intake are particularly important for dachshund puppies under 6 months of age because this is the period during which they grow most rapidly. High-quality proteins are essential to provide the amino acids your puppy needs to develop strong, healthy muscles. Animal-based fats offer more calories per gram than protein, so they are your puppy’s primary source of energy.
As your dachshund gets older and his metabolism slows down, you need to be concerned about obesity.
The dachshund breed is prone to hypothyroidism, a disease that usually presents between 1 and 3 years of age but can affect your dog well into his adult and senior years. This condition is characterized by low thyroid hormone and can reduce your dog’s activity level, making him more prone to weight gain.
Your senior dachshund may not need as many calories, but he still needs plenty of protein to maintain lean muscle mass. Senior dachshunds can also benefit from more natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin in their diet (like chicken meal) to support their aging bones and joints.
Dental issues can also affect older dachshunds. Wet food may be easier to chew and is often lower in carbohydrates which can contribute to dental problems.
If you’re concerned about finding a dog food that will meet your dachshund’s high energy and protein needs, start with a small breed dog food. These recipes are formulated in keeping with the unique nutritional requirements of small breeds.
Though small breed dog food is a great place to start, you also need to check the label for important clues into the product’s quality. Check for minimum amounts of protein and fat in the guaranteed analysis and look over the ingredients list.
Here are some other things to look for:
- Two sources of high-quality animal protein in the top three ingredients
- Plenty of animal-based fat (ideally at least 12% for healthy adults)
- Minimal content of digestible carbohydrates (like whole grains and low-starch veggies)
- No artificial preservatives or added flavors and colors
- Limited use of synthetic supplements (whole foods are a more valuable source)
Keep in mind as well that not all dog foods have the same calorie content. Your dachshund needs a calorie-dense diet, so he doesn’t need to eat a large volume of food to meet his needs. Compare the calories per cup to the feeding recommendations according to your dog’s age and weight.
Small as he may be, it is just as important to meet your dachshund’s nutritional needs as for any other dog. That being said, we know that shopping for dog food can be tough—there are just too many options. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best dog foods for dachshunds based on the requirements and recommendations discussed above.
Here are our top picks for the best dog food for dachshunds.
Formulated to support brain, bone, and muscle development while meeting your dachshund puppy’s high needs for energy, this recipe features real deboned turkey as the first ingredient.Buy Now on Chewy
With chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients, this protein-rich recipe is both calorie- and nutrient-dense, providing your puppy with the nutrition he needs to grow and develop properly.Buy Now on Chewy
A grain-free alternative to traditional puppy food, this small breed recipe contains a high concentration of calories for your dachshund puppy as well as plenty of premium animal protein.Buy Now on Chewy
Made with 60% animal ingredients from regional sources, this red meat formula contains a rich blend of proteins including beef, pork, and lamb.Buy Now on Amazon
If your dachshund prefers canned food, this protein-rich recipe is formulated for small breed puppies and adult dogs, so you don’t have to worry about when to make the transition.Buy Now on Amazon
This freeze-dried recipe isn’t cooked at high temperatures, so the nutrients are more biologically valuable for your dachshund. Plus, this recipe is formulated to meet the needs of small breeds.Buy Now on Amazon
Made with chicken, duck, and lamb this small breed adult recipe is packed with protein and real meat flavor with plenty of animal-based fat to provide a high concentration of energy and omega-3s.Buy Now on Amazon
Featuring cage-free chicken as the first ingredient, this recipe contains a limited number of main ingredients with added fruits and vegetables for natural sources of key nutrients.Buy Now on Chewy
As your dachshund gets older, his metabolism may slow down. He may not need as many calories, but protein and balanced nutrition is still important and that’s exactly what this recipe provides.Buy Now on Amazon
Easy on sensitive teeth, this senior recipe dog food is packed with real animal protein including nutrient-rich chicken liver with vitamins and minerals added for nutritional balance.Buy Now on Amazon
With those floppy ears and that ever-wagging tail, it’s hard not to love the dachshund. The best way to show your dog how much you love him is to feed him well with a balanced diet. Try one of the recipes we’ve recommended above and check out our handy guide to the dachshund breed to learn more about your dog.
For more articles about dachshunds, healthy dog food, and treats, check out one of the articles below.