Common Health and Genetic Disorders in Rottweilers

Updated on April 27, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Petra and Kaiser: 8-weeks-old
Petra and Kaiser: 8-weeks-old

Rottweilers may look tough, stocky, and powerful on the outside, but when it comes to health problems, they tend to encounter many issues. For this reason, I cannot repeat enough how important it is to purchase Rottweilers from reputable breeders that test their breeding specimens for hereditary disorders. Breeding specimens that test positive to any hereditary disorders are, therefore, eliminated from the breeding pool. This significantly lowers the chances of encountering any genetic disorders.

Common Health Problems in Rottweiler Dogs

Orthopedic Disorders

1. Hip Dysplasia

This genetic disorder is a common occurrence in large and giant dog breeds. It tends to occur when the hip bone and socket bones do not adhere as they are supposed to causing severe pain and debilitation. Responsible dog breeders will only breed their breeding dog specimens after they have received clearance for OFA, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Diagnosis is obtained after reviewing hip x-rays and classifying the hips under the following categories: Excellent,Good, Fair, Borderline, Mild Dysplasia, Moderate Dysplasia or Severe Dysplasia.

2. Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a malformation of the elbow. Just as hip dysplasia, OFA can certify dogs for elbow dysplasia on a pass or fail basis. Responsible breeders will test their breeding specimens for this disorer as well.

3. Osteocondrosis Dissecans (OCD)

This is a disease that affects the bone cartilage of growing dogs causing symptoms similar to arthritis. Multiple joints are affected the most common ones being the shoulder and elbow followed by elbow, hock and knee. The causes may be various ranging from genetics, rapid growth as seen in large breeds, hormone imbalances, and nutrition.

4. Panosteitis

Also known as growing pains, pano is a disorder affecting large breed dogs for even 18 months. The causes are unknown however, there may be chances it ca be due to genetics, nutrition, or even bacteria. Affected dogs develop lameness that typically shifts from one leg to the other.occasionally dogs may also develop a fever.

Non-Orthopedic Conditions

1. Bloat

As any other deep chested dogs, Rottweilers may be prone to developing bloat, a life threatening condition where the stomach swells due to the presence of gas and/or fluids. Dogs may develop bloat from over eating, drinking water after strenuous exercise or after eating or eating after vigorous exercise. Affected dogs will pace, retch without being able to vomit, drool and appear restless. This is a medical emergency where time is of the essence.

2. Von Willebrand Disease

This disease is hereditary and is somehow similar to hemophilia experienced in humans. However, unlike hemophilia it is not sex linked and may affect both sexes. Because this disease affects the blood's ability to clot properly, affected dogs will experience prolonged and significant bleeding even after minimal trauma such as a broken toenail.

3. Sub Aortic Stenosis

This is a cardiac problem problem which has a genetic link. Responsible breeders are also working on preventing such disorder from happening. The disorder is due to a structural defect where there is additional tissue that prevents the heart from pumping the blood as it is supposed to, therefore working harder than necessary.

4. Hypothyroidism

In other words, affected dogs have low thyroid levels causing a variety of symptoms such as being lethargic, loss of energy, a dull coat with thinning hair a irregular heat cycles in females. The condition is corrected with thyroid medication.

5. Eye Disorders

Entropian and Ectropian are both defects of the eyelids either rolling inward or rolling outward. Other conditions are Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cataracts. Board certified ophthalmologists can screen for genetic eye disorders and the dogs free of hereditary eye disorders can be registered with the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).

6. Cancer

Unfortunately bone cancer (osteosarcomas) are becoming common in this breed. There are studies suggesting a link between spaying and neutering at an early age and the incidence of bone cancer.

As seen Rottweilers may be prone to a variety of disorders.However, the chances of such disorders may be reduced greatly by staying away from back yard breeder newspaper ads and resorting to responsible qualified breeders only that offer health certificates. The Rottweiler's life expectancy ranges between 10 -12 years of age.

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Petra and Kaiser 15 months oldMy Pack
Petra and Kaiser 15 months old
Petra and Kaiser 15 months old
My Pack
My Pack

Questions & Answers


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        Mike 6 years ago

        Hey, My name is Mike, somone please contact me, i want to share pictures of my dog, she has an issue with her coat that i need help adressing. I have a female Rottweiler she is 4 years old, she’s beautiful and healthy, although she does have an issue with her coat, she lives outside all year, she has a big heated dog house, during the winter she grows a thick coat with a white undercoat,

        When spring comes she looses her thick coat slowly but a weird patchy pattern appears on her back on both sides, it’s not hair loss because the patch is thinner shorter hair and its dark brown in color and the rest of her coat is black… I know it’s a problem because when I take her for walks people always ask me what’s wrong with her, while she sheds, the white undercoat becomes visible near her bum and on the back of her neck, this never happened before, she use to have a butiful thick dark black coat and its depressing for me to see her coat so ugly, shes still gorgeos... she was born with a white patch on her chest aswell, the white patch never went away and she still has it, i plan on breeding her this year but i want to figure out what the problem is before, any help would be greatly apriciated

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        Nathan 6 years ago

        AHh that's so sad millionstars when i moved to indianapolis from gary we had to take our rott to the vet to hold her for 1 day exactly when we came back the next day they had put her down the said she was being vicious when everyone in my family no she wasint and friends knew she wasint either she accepted strangers very easily

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        millionstars 6 years ago

        have to put our rott down today due to hip Dysplasia she has been a great dog. protective and loving to all our family. great with the kids. it is a sad day for us. we are going to miss her. her pain is just to much now.

      • Bukarella profile image

        Lyudmyla Hoffman 6 years ago from United States

        A proud owner of a rottie over here. Enjoying browsing through your topics. We have much in common. (:

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        shelley  7 years ago

        it is important to train them at a young age or they will control you rottweilers are a intellegent breed and will be a great dog with proper socilizing and training

      • brad4l profile image

        brad4l 8 years ago from USA

        My friend has a rotty and he is a great dog, although still very young and in need of a little bit more discipline then he is getting. This is an excellent Hub!!

      • ocbill profile image

        ocbill 8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

        nice dog pictures. makes me rememebe passing by one place on the way to walking my kid to school.

      • RGraf profile image

        Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

        The pictures are great. I never owned one, but the ones I've met have been great.