Potential health issues in Rottweilers
Not all rottweilers are affected by these issues, but being aware and asking breeders about these conditions is critical to ensure the health of your puppy.
Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy (JLPP) is a recently identified inherited disease in Rottweilers and many breeders have started testing for JLPP. There is no cure and it is fatal to affected puppies. Symptoms can start from 12 weeks and most affected puppies die before 1 year. Without a DNA test, breeders cannot tell if a puppy is affected before it leaves for it's new home at 8 weeks old. Before buying a Rottweiler puppy make sure at least one of the parents has been tested JLPP clear.
*Please note that most vets are still not aware of JLPP, and some breeders are not aware that there are increasing numbers of JLPP carrier dogs being identified here in Australia and overseas. Reputable breeders are ensuring their breeding practices eliminate any risk of producing affected offspring.
If talking to breeders, it is critical that you ask about the JLPP status of both parents of your puppy. Insist on seeing the certificates and ensure that your puppys' parents are either both JLPP Clear or only one is a carrier. If one parent is clear then the breeding will not produce an affected puppy. Do NOT be embarrassed to walk away if a breeder will not provide this, and the other health information outlined here. Reputable breeders will give you the required certificates and clearances that ensure your puppy is healthy.
Hip Dysplasia (HD) most often affects medium and large breeds like Rottweilers and is considered part inherited and part environmental. Identifying inheritance is difficult because there is no specific gene responsible, but a number of genes. Pups from the same litter can have severe HD to no symptoms at all, depending on the combination of genes they've inherited. During early development, rapid growth, overfeeding, and exercise can influence HD. While good judgment with feeding and exercise can reduce the risk of HD, it is generally accepted that a structurally and genetically sound hip will likely stay structurally sound.
Elbow Dyslpasia (ED) - In Rottweilers, the first signs of ED are usually seen aged 4-6 months with lameness that can affect one or both elbows. Research suggests ED is inherited.
In Australia Hip and Elbow x-rays are mandatory for all Rottweilers used for breeding. The lower the score the better and for Hips the combined score (sire and dam) should be less than 20.
Ectropion & Entropion are inherited conditions that affect the eyelids causing them to roll outwards (ectropion) or inwards (entropion). They can cause conjunctivitis, damage to the cornea and ulcers with severe cases requiring surgical correction.
Rottweiler Info & Rottweiler Breeders
Rottweilers are considered one of the oldest dog breeds with their orgins going back to Roman times. They were used as herders or driving dogs and marched over the Alps with the Roman legions, protecting the humans and driving their cattle. These dogs mixed with the native dogs in the Rottweil region, in a natural crossing. The Rottweilers main task then became the driving and guarding of the herds of cattle and the defence of their masters and their property. They became known as "Rottweil butchers' dogs" with butchers using the breed for their performance and usefulness which evolved into an excellent watch and driving dog which could also be used as a draught dog to pull carts. The breed was used in this way until the mid-19th century when railways started to be used to transport stock to market places.
Rottweilers are still used in herding but after being being identified as highly suitable for tasks set by the police service they are now widely used as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and guide dogs for the blind.
Rottweiler general appearance
The Rottweiler is a medium to large size, stalwart dog, neither heavy nor light and neither leggy nor weedy. His correctly proportioned, compact and powerful build leads to the conclusion of great strength, agility and endurance. Rottweiler breeders aim at a dog of abundant strength, black coated with clearly defined rich tan markings.
Rottweilers can be wonderful companions provided they are handled responsibly and with a good understanding of the dominant nature of the breed. They are an intelligent dog, extremely hardy and adaptable.
While temperaments can vary, they are generally loyal with strong instincts to protect home and family. They absolutely require appropriate socialization, obedience training, and supervision, otherwise the combination of the size of a rottweiler and their dominant nature can become too much for many households.
Most rottweilers will test for position in the family pecking order, and will push these boundaries where there is weakness and inconsistencies. They require an assertive pack leader who knows how to lead a strong-minded dog. If this leadership is absent and the rottweiler is allowed to exert dominance there will be issues. The dogs position should be at the bottom of the human pack where it will be quite happy and respect the whole family.
The Rottweiler Club of Victoria has detailed information about rottweiler stages of development and socialisation, stressing that socialisation during the first 16 weeks is vital. Introducing a rottweiler pup to as many different situations as possible during this time is crucial to it's development and long term sociability. It needs to learn that other animals are not threatening for example.
At 1-2 years of age a rottweiler pup will start to see other dogs as rivals - a behaviour that should not be condoned and never be considered cute. Discipline must be firm, fair and consistent and if confrontations with other dogs are avoided the behaviour will not be reinforced and will settle.
Rottweilers are strong and muscular and need space and exercise. Appropriate type and amount of exercise is important. Young rottweilers need enough exercise so that they are relaxed and to stay lean, but not so much that growing bones, joints, and ligaments are stressed and damaged. Likewise, adult Rottweilers need to be exercised enough to maintain the correct weight, but excessive exercise like running long distances, and exercising in hot or humid weather is not good for the breed, and they can be prone to overheating.
Above all it is important to have a good understanding of rottweiler temperament as they can be a demanding breed. They require a confident and experienced leader to correctly train and handle them.
Special thanks to the The West Coast Rottweiler Club for help with this breed and health screening information. They are happy to be contacted if you have any questions about health tests or anything else Rottweiler related. We are also very grateful to Sharon Gossage for sharing the beautiful photos you see here.