Saturday, February 23, 2013


I have been contemplating the problems faced by Dachshunds, and other dogs with similarly low ground clearance, in negotiating tall bumps or other tall obstacles..Specifically it seems reasonable to suppose that, halfway across a bump of sufficient height, a Dachshund would bottom-out, unable to propel itself forward with either its front or hind legs (see Fig 1). Given the popularity of the breed, it is strange then that, when out walking, I don’t frequently see a Dachshund stuck halfway across a bump with all four legs thrashing wildly in the air. Nor, when I see a  Dachshund-owner walking their dog, do I see them having to go back to pick up their flailing dogs and set them down on level ground.

One possible explanation is that Dachshunds have learned to instinctively arch their spines upwards as they go over bumps in  a sort-of inverted limbo dance (see Fig 2). However, while this would help the dogs go over some medium sized bumps, it does not seem an adequate solution overall.
After some thought reached a remarkable conclusion: Dachshunds have evolved the ability to shift their center of gravity by a few inches forward and backwards. They use this ability to see-saw back and forth on the top of a bump, gaining traction first with their hind paws and then with their front paws, in order to pull themselves over (Fig 3).

At first this conclusion might seem surprising, but after considering the problem carefully I'm convinced this must be the case. Nevertheless, I think with would be appropriate to carry out some experiments to verify this theory. I will require the loan of one Dachshund, some thumbtacks and a piece of string.