Common Health and Genetic Disorders in Rottweilers
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
- 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.
- 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 disorder as well.
- Osteochondrosis 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.
- 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 can 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.
- 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 overeating, 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.
- 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.
- Sub Aortic Stenosis: This is a cardiac 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.
- 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 and irregular heat cycles in females. The condition is corrected with thyroid medication.
- Eye Disorders: Entropian and Ectropion 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).
- Cancer: Unfortunately, bone cancers (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 a 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.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli