Dachshund Derby Downplays Deadly Deformities; German Fest Is Asked to Spotlight Homeless Dogs Instead

For Immediate Release:
May 8, 2024

Reed Bolonyi 202-483-7382

Milwaukee, Wis.

After learning that German Fest Milwaukee plans to host a Dachshund Derby—and as lawmakers in Germany consider a ban on breeding dachshunds, whose unnaturally elongated spines and shortened legs often cause them medical issues as they grow—PETA sent a letter today to festival President Eric Radue asking him to replace the spectacle with an adoption event that features homeless dogs from local shelters.

PETA points out that due to their intentionally bred deformities, dachshunds have a higher risk of developing lifelong spinal, knee, and other joint problems, and up to a quarter of them suffer from painful intervertebral disc disease. Germany’s recently proposed ban includes dachshunds and other dogs with “skeletal anomalies” that cause severe health problems, who are victims of what the legislation refers to as “torture breeding.” Breeding any dog also contributes to the companion animal overpopulation crisis, in which around 70 million cats and dogs are homeless in the U.S. at any given time.

“Dachshund races mislead attendees into thinking that these dogs’ deformities are something to celebrate, when in reality they can cause lifelong suffering,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA urges German Fest Milwaukee to actually help dogs by putting the spotlight on homeless ones in need of loving families.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Radue follows.

May 8, 2024

Eric Radue


German Fest Milwaukee Inc.

Dear Mr. Radue:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that you replace the Dachshund Derby at German Fest with an adoption and socialization event for dogs and their potential guardians.

As you may know, dachshunds are intentionally bred to have a long spine and stubby legs, which causes 20% to 25% of them to suffer from intervertebral disc disease. Due to these painful deformities, Germany recently proposed banning “torture breeding” as part of its Animal Protection Act. The proposal focuses on banning the breeding of dogs with skeletal anomalies, including dachshunds, who have a higher risk of lifelong spinal, knee, and other joint problems, sometimes even leading to a collapsed spine. Solely to “conform” to an appearance some humans deem more desirable, these dogs are bred or even inbred to be malformed, and many experience chronic discomfort as a result. A Cornell University veterinarian recently noted that “the miniature dachshund is the most likely breed to have an intervertebral disc displacement and … multiple [individuals] com[e] in for surgery every week.”

We, of course, understand that the event is meant to be lighthearted and fun as well as designed to bring humans and dogs together. But we hope you’ll consider that a race featuring these dogs not only promotes the breed but also misleads attendees into believing that their appearance and underlying ailments are something to be celebrated. An event featuring one breed—especially one whose breeding is so controversial that it has prompted proposed legislation in the nation whose culture your festival celebrates—creates demand, in this case for dogs who often suffer immensely throughout their lifetime and require costly medical care that their guardians may not be aware of or cannot afford. The deformities compromise their health, quality of life, and psychological welfare, and events like this one put the dogs at higher risk of injury because of their short legs and long spines.

Would you please consider changing this event at German Fest to instead offer homeless dogs from local animal shelters for adoption and give them a chance to socialize with one another and their potential guardians? Doing so would send a message of compassion and awareness. We appreciate your consideration for the dogs’ sake and thank you for your attention.


Elise Fisher

Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department


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