X-ray showing calcifications in a dachshund spine.
X-ray showing calcifications in a dachshund spine.

What do backscores REALLY mean?​

Dachshunds are unfortunately prone to developing IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease), which results in debilitating back pain and paralysis that can last for the remainder of their lives. IVDD is a very painful condition for dachshunds, and often their prolonged suffering is compounded by misdiagnosis or incomplete treatment. The exact cause of Dachshund IVDD is not known. However, there are several contributing factors which may include:

  1. Genetics and/or Calcifications,
  2. Structure
  3. Accidents and/or blows to the lower back region.

Back scoring is a breeder’s tool for risk assessment for the potential for IVDD in dachshunds.

To get an X-ray of an adult dachshund’s spine, the dog must be X-rayed from different angles. The idea is to see if the spinal column has degenerated because of water loss and the formation of calcifications at the disks between the vertebrae. In high-risk areas of the spine, disc calcification can cause weakness. This weakness can make the disc vertebrae herniate, often called “slipped disk”, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The spinal annalist counts the number of calcifications, and the dachshund is given a grade of 0 to 3. The goal is to achieve the lowest possible grade, a grade of 0 being the best possible outcome.

Regardless of the backscore test results, backscoring will not provide a definitive answer as to whether or not your dachshund has IVDD. However, breeders use these score results to analyse and compare different areas of the spine in order to make more informed decisions about breeding. By combining this information with the pedigree history of known IVDD occurrences, breeders are able to select the most suitable mates for breeding in order to reduce the number of calcifications in the offspring of the selected pairings.

It is our mission to provide healthy, quality Dachshunds in Australia. We place a strong focus on the prevention of IVDD. We back-score our breeding stock at the age of 2 years old and this has been very successful in helping us keep IVDD at bay.