Rottweilers are a large breed and can come with ailments that ethical breeders are working to reduce and/or eliminate from the breed by education and thoughtful breedings. This includes, but is not limited to JLPP, hip/elbow dysplasia, panosteitis, bloat, heart conditions and cancers.
All Rottweilers should be tested for juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (JLPP) prior to breeding. If they are found to have the gene or the disease itself, that rottweiler should not be bred. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who has not had testing done for JLPP. To learn more about this devastating and deadly disease, please click the following link:
As with other large breeds, the Rottweiler can be prone to Hip Dysplasia. In hip dysplasia, the hip socket fails to develop properly and therefore is unable to maintain the femur in the proper position leading to arthritis/pain/lameness over time.
Hip dysplasia is an inherited trait that can be affected by environmental factors such as over weight, over exercise and injury to a young dog. Hip dysplasia is rarely diagnosed in puppies less than 6 months of age and is most reliably diagnosed by age of 24 months.
Having two PASS-ing parents does not mean your puppy will not develop dysplasia later in life. Studies have shown that up to a third of puppies can still develop hip dysplasia despite having clear parents. It is important to keep your puppy's skeletal system healthy from the start to help prevent the development of hip dysplasia.
The OFA has a registry to track the incidence of this disease. Your breeder should be able to provide you with the completed OFA certificate of their rottweiler's clearance. The OFA scores hips as PASS (fair/good/excellent) or FAIL.
Rottweilers can also be prone to elbow dysplasia which is similar to hip dysplasia in that the elbow joint has failed to develop properly. Like hip dysplasia, environmental factors can greatly affect the incidence of elbow dysplasia in Rottweilers, such as early injury to the area, obesity, and over exercising your dog.
Your breeder should be able to produce OFA certification of their dogs elbow results. Elbows are graded on a PASS or FAIL basis
Panosteitis also known as Pano or "growing pains". This growth disorder tends to occur in large, big boned breeds, such as the Rottweiler. It is caused by the growth plates growing at different rates and will subside once the pup has finished growing. Panosteitis can occur as early as 4 months and usually manifests as a rotating lameness. A vet should be contacted to rule out any other more serious problem.
Bloat (gastric dilatation- volvulus) is a serious medical and surgical emergency. It is the rotation of the stomach (along with the spleen and pancreas) caused by the build up of air and pressure that cuts off the circulation to the hind end as well as internal organs.
The exact cause of bloat has yet to be determined however how often the dog is fed, how much and how fast the dog is eating can affect the incidence of bloat in large breeds. To learn more, click here: Bloat: What is it?
Sub-Aortic Stenosis is the most common type of heart condition in the Rottweiler. The exact cause of this heart condition is not fully developed yet but breeders are able to work in conjunction with canine cardiologists to learn more about this disease. OFA has a canine cardiac registration like with hip dysplasia. A breeder should be able to show you a cardiac ECHO (required for rottweiler) certificate from OFA, however not all breeders have started using this practice.
Cancer, the "Big C", is unfortunately quite common in the Rottweiler, with the most common type being bone cancer. Breeders are working to reduce the number of incidences however difficult it may be. If you notice any new lumps, bumps or lameness in your furry family member, seek the advice of a veterinarian.
The health and well being of a Rottweiler depends a lot on what they are eating. Rottweilers can become over weight easily, the majority of them LOVE food, so it is important to make healthy choices in both meals and treats.
Obesity in a Rottweiler can be quite detrimental to their body. The extra weight can be a factor in the development of hip as well as elbow dysplasia and contributes to medical illnesses such as diabetes, kidney and heart issues among others.
It is recommended to feed your Rottweiler either high-quality dry kibble or an adequate raw food diet.
Some premium, high end kibble we recommend include:
Acana and Horizon. Not only are these companies producing quality product but they are also Canadian! Do not be afraid to switch between these brands or their flavors, a little change once in a while can keep your dog excited and on their toes about meal time. For more information about each product, click the name of the one you want to learn about.
The two most used and well known raw food diets include: BARF and the Prey Model Raw. Both of these have their positives and it is up to you to research and determine what type of food is going to be right for you and your dog. For more information about either diet, please click the name you are interested in learning more about.
We supplement our dogs with yogurt, human-grade salmon/fish oil, frozen raw knuckle bones and dog-friendly fresh fruit. It is not 100% necessary to supplement these into your dog's diet, however including foods like these (and others such as vitamin C) in your Rottweiler's meals and treats can help facilitate bone/joint, skin, eye, circulatory and digestive development throughout their lives.
Being a large breed, it is important not to over-exercise or over-work your growing Rottweiler. Over exercising your puppy can lead to increased incidence of elbow dysplasia, ligament tears, joint dysfunction and panostietis (see Health). The growth plates do not completely close until about 18-24 months of age. See below.
The Rottweiler is a working breed and is happiest with a job or task to do. They are a large breed and enjoy their down time but they do need daily exercise and mental stimulation to maintain their mental and physical health. They enjoy pleasing their person or persons and love to be around you constantly.
Low impact play/exercise, short walks that increase with age and training classes are good ways to ensure your pup is getting adequate exercise during his/her growth. It is also recommended to carry your puppy up and down stairs until you can no longer carry him/her as the impact of doing both can affect the development of the growing joints.
Your puppy should do as little jumping, rough-housing and long, quick paced walk/runs for as long as possible, with the recommendation of starting these activities around 18 months of age. You can have your puppy x-rayed to ensure proper development of the bones prior to starting these activities (highly recommended).
There are a lot of options for exercising your Rottweiler's brain and body. These activities include, but are not limited to:
Fetch, disc dog, agility, rally, obedience, scent detection, herding, conformation, tracking and learning tricks. Be sure to keep in mind the age of your Rottweiler and level of impact each involved in each activity.
Fully Developed Bones
Source: Google images; original source unknown
Source: Google images; original source unknown
Click to enlarge
Eye Diseases can occur in the Rottweiler. These include entropion (eyelids rolling inward and ectropion (eyelids rolling outward), both are inherited conditions that require surgery and are automatic disqualifying traits.
Along with those two conditions affecting the eyelids, there are inherited conditions that the eye anatomy itself, some that are seen more often are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) which is the progressive partial or complete wasting of the retina that can eventually lead to blindness. Central progressive retinal atrophy (CRPA) which is less common than the above mentioned PRA. CRPA affects the the pigment cells at the center of the retina. Various kinds of cataracts are also known to be found in the Rottweiler. Rottweilers to be used for breeding should have their eyes examined yearly by a Board-Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist. It can take up to 8 years for some hereditary eye problems to be identified. Dogs found free of hereditary eye disease can be registered annually with the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).