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Common Health Issues and Genetic Disorders in Rottweilers

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Rottweilers are prone to a number of health issues, so it's important that they see a vet consistently.

Rottweilers are prone to a number of health issues, so it's important that they see a vet consistently.

Rottweilers may look tough, stocky, and powerful on the outside, but when it comes to health problems, they tend to encounter more issues than some other breeds. For this reason, it is extremely important it is to purchase Rottweilers from reputable breeders that test their breeding specimens for hereditary disorders. Breeding specimens that test positive for any hereditary disorders are supposed to be eliminated from the breeding pool. This significantly lowers the chances of encountering any genetic disorders. Even in healthy dogs, however, health issues can arise. Below are some of the most common faced by Rottweilers.

What Health Problems and Diseases Are Rottweilers Prone To?

As mentioned earlier, Rottweilers may be more prone to certain problems and disorders than some other breeds, so it's important to take them to the vet regularly. The issues listed below are some of the most common problems you are likely to see come up in a Rottweiler.

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 disorder as well.
  3. 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.
  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 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.

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 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.
  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 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 and irregular heat cycles in females. The condition is corrected with thyroid medication.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.

Always Adopt From Reputable Breeders

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


Chevy baby1373 on July 15, 2020:

My husband and I just had our 10 1/2 year old Rottweiler Chevy past away Sunday.

I thought maybe if i went ahead and share my love for my fur baby my heart wouldn't feel such pain. She had the most adorable face any mother could love she was very smart and even though she looked very intimidating she would lick you silly then mowe you down with excitement. my heart is broken knowing the loyalty as well as the unconditional love she adore us in for so many years is no longer. ❤WE LOVE YOU CHEVY GIRL RIP. MY FUR


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 17, 2020:

Jackie, any history of ingesting something toxic? Injuries? What happened before your dog became paralyzed? Is she a purebred Rottweiler? In what country are you? So sad that vets seem so incompetent there.

Jackie on February 16, 2020:

Hi my dog is Maggie she's 9month old just recently she got paralysised on all four legs and she hasnt gotten up since. Shes quite active even lying down on her tummy but when ever i massage her legs shes in total pain how do i help her the vets in my coumtry dont run test on dogs they just guess whats going own whether wrong or right and based on their judgement they diagnose them and give them drugs and injection. Please help me out.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 03, 2019:

Beverly Walker, so sorry to hear about your daughter's Rottweiler. I have lost my two best friends one year apart from cancer and it's devastating when they get older and start acting ill. Has a neurologist been seen? There are board-certified vets specialized in nerve function. A CT scan or MRI perhaps can help screen for cancers. Differentials that come to mind include facial nerve paralysis, mini stroke, nerve sheath tumor, lymphosarcoma, cancer of the trigeminal nerve, some type of nerve inflammation, Cushing's disease, hypothyroid neuropathy to just so name a few. Unfortunately, I hate to say this, but in dogs over the age of 10 cancer is quite rampant, affecting 1 in 2 dogs. Both my Rotties got cancer, my female at almost 11 and my male at almost 12.

Beverly Walker on September 03, 2019:

I am writing this in hopes of maybe saving my daughter's rottweiler.

She had just lost her other rotty about 2/3 months ago from blood disease.

Now this one was so much healthier and he has fallen sick.

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His face is paralysed and cannot eat or drink well. His eye won't close and he cannot blink. She has been trying her best to help keep him alive.

She raised him from a 2 month old baby.

Now he is over 10 years old. He had been so healthy and all of a sudden she noticed that his eye was drooping and that's when she knew there was something wrong.

The vet has been checking him over but he is fast deteriorating.

Please we do not want to lose him if there can be some cure or help we may be missing. But even the vet has no idea what it is.

Mike on March 13, 2012:

Hey, My name is Mike, somone please contact me, michaeldopaco@hotmail.com. 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

Nathan on December 03, 2011:

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

millionstars on September 06, 2011:

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.

Lyudmyla Hoffman from United States on June 10, 2011:

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

shelley on November 22, 2010:

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 from USA on June 23, 2009:

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 from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice on June 22, 2009:

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

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on June 22, 2009:

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

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