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Caring For Your Rottweiler


Proper care for a Rottweiler involves more than feeding, grooming and housing the dog. Albiet these basic requirements certainly must be met now and for the rest of the dog's life. Owning a Rottweiler brings with it a greater than average amount of responsibility. An owner must be aware of the breed's special qualities and must work actively to shape and enhance the dog's natural abilities. This means providing an abundance of affection, exercise, socialisation and obedience instruction from the dog's first days in the home. A puppy will then get a good start in life, which is the key to having it grow to its full potential as a trusted companion in the home.






Mutton, Roo, Chicken Mince, Whole Chicken Necks, Beef,


Mutton Fat (do not overfed a ration of 1 fat to 4 parts meat)


Pet Mince - available from most Butchers


Make sure the meat is minced small and fine for your puppy.




Super coat Puppy


Make sure when you buy a dry food for your puppy it has the words "Puppy" on it. You should not feed your puppy adult formula until it reaches approximately 12-14 months of age. Try to pick one that has no artificial colors, flavors or additives and is high in Protein.


When your puppy reaches 12-14 months of age you may with to change over to an adult formula. Again try and pick a natural form of dry food not one with artificial colors etc as these could shorten the life of your dog.


Remember natural is better.




Natural Yogurt (with acidophilus & bifidous)


Pasta, Rice


Vegetables - either cut up yourself, use scraps or peels left over or you can buy the cheap


Natural Yogurt is excellent for any stomach problems, the runs etc. I buy Yoplait Plus 1 kg (which is available in most supermarkets) and give my puppies 1-2 tablespoons with each meal. (They also like a bowl of this as a special treat)


The pasta, rice and vegetables I cook up together in a stainless steel pot once a week.


Directions: Put hot water on and bring to the boil, add the vegetables, add a spoonful of vegemite and then add the pasta and rice. I bring this to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes and then put the lid on and turn it off. Once it cools I put it in the fridge and use it in every meal.




Eggs - give them the whole egg (shell as well) - but no more than 2 a week


Sardines - I feed mine 1-2 cans a week (with a puppy break a can up into 2-3 feeds as a whole can will probably give the puppy the runs) Note don't leave the sardines in the opened can as it will become poisonous.


Vegetable Oil - This keeps if the coat and pads (of paws) are dry just add 2 - 1 teaspoon to the dog's food




Calcium - Sandoz Liquid Calcium


Do Not use powdered calcium as most dogs do not absorb this and require Vitamin D as well.


Give pup 3-5 ml daily in food or by mouth.


You may find that you need to increase this amount when the pup goes through a growth spurt ie. between 5-9 months.


To tell if your puppy requires more calcium look at his paws. They should be tight and well knuckled (like cat's feet). If the toes look splayed and his pasterns (ankles) look low to the ground increase the calcium to 10ml twice a day until his feet look tight again and then go back to the normal dose.


ASCORBIC ACID (Pure Vitamin C Powder)


This is available from most Health Shops and comes in a 500gm packet for a cost of about $23.00


Give the pup 2 a teaspoon once a day mixed in with his food.


Bone meal


It is not essential that you give this to your pup if you are feeding Sandoz ad Ascorbic Acid but Bone meal can be used as an additive.


Note Calcium and Vitamin C are essential for healthy bone growth and if it is not given can lead to bone problems in Rottweilers such as Hip Dysphasia.


If you do not raise your puppy on the Calcium and Vitamin C I will not guarantee that puppy as stated in our Contract of Sale.






This is the most common cause of rear end lameness in the Rottweiler.


The problem lies in the structure of the hip joint. The head of the femur (thigh bone) should sit solidly in the acetabulum (cup). In hip dysplasia, loose ligaments allow the head to begin to work free. A shallow acetabulum also predisposes to joint laxity. Finally, the mass or tone of the muscles around the joint socket is an important factor. Tight ligaments, a broad pelvis with a well cupped acetabulum and a good ratio of muscle mass to size of bone, predispose to good hips. The reverse is true of dogs who are likely to develop hip dysplasia. Environmental factors, including weight and nutrition of the puppy and rearing practices figure into the final outcome.


Hip dysplasia is a moderately heritable condition. It is about twice as common among littermates having a dysplastic parent, but even dogs with normal hips can produce dysplastic puppies. Some dogs with x-rays showing severe hip dysplasia show no clinical signs and the diseases goes entirely unsuspected until an x-ray is taken to check for it.


Signs of hip dysplasia first appear during the time of rapid growth, in the Rottweiler this is normally between 4 - 10 months of age. A puppy might start walking with a limp or swaying gait, show pain in the hip, it might bunny hop when it runs and experience difficulty getting up and a desire not to move around much when it is laying down. Pushing down on its rump often causes the puppy's pelvis to drop. If you roll the puppy on its back the rear legs may resist being spread into a "frog leg" position.


Dur to joint laxity, there is abnormal wear and tear on the articulating surfaces of the joint. In time this leads to arthritic changes in the dysplastic hip. Pain and limitation of movement frequently parallel the degree of bone deformity (or grade of dysplasia) at the joint.


How is it diagnosed?


The only positive means of establishing the degree of hip dysplasia is by a hip x-ray that is then read by a specialist. Heavy sedation or general anaesthesia is usually required. The most common x-ray scoring method in Australia is now carried out by the AVA (Australian Veterinary Association). This is similar to the Murdoch Method (Professor Wyburn).


Canine hip dysplasia is graded according to the severity of joint changes seen on x-ray. Joint laxity and minor remodelling characterise mild dysplasia. Erosion of the joints, subluxation of the hips (moving out of the socket) and arthritic changes, characterise moderate dysplasia. In severe dysplasia, the acetabulum (cup) is extremely shallow or nearly flat, the femoral head is rough and flattened, subluxation is severe and arthritic changes are marked.


Severe cases may become evident radiographically at an early age (for example 6-8 months) but more than 70% of dogs who have hip dysplasia will be missed at this age unless it is very severe. If signs of the disease are not evident on the x-rays at 12 months however the hips are unlikely to change significantly after this time (unless an injury occurs). For this reason all schemes require the dog x-rayed must be over 12 months of age.


Under the AVA scheme, a score is given by assessing 9 different aspects of the hip x-ray. 8 aspects are scored out of 6 and 1 out of 5, giving a total of 53 for each hip. The two scores are then added together to give an overall score out of 106. The lower the score the better. That is 0 for the right hip and 0 for the left hip is a total of 0. This means perfect hips 0:0 = 0.


At the time of writing this book in 1997 the average for the Rottweiler breed in Australia is 15 (which means adding the left and right hip score together they come out to a total of 15 eg 7:8 = 15.




1. Is directed at relieving the pain and improving function by giving aspirin or one of the newer synthetic aspiring products used in the treatment of degenerative joint disease (arthritis).


2. Two surgical procedures advocated in the treatment of hip dysplasia are;


(a) Removal of the femoral head and


(b) Division of the pectineaus muscle


These treatments may relieve pain and improve function in some individuals.


There have been reports that high doses of Vitamin C (Absorbic Acid) can prevent dysplasia in susceptible dogs although these reports have not yet been fully confirmed by known scientific studies.


You will note that I advise you to use Absorbic Acid when raising your puppy as I have had excellent results using this with Sandoz Liquid Calcium.


It has been shown that repeated selection of normal dogs for breeding stock reduces the incident of hip dysplasia in a susceptible bloodline.




ELBOW DYSPLASIA (Ununited Anconeal Process)


This condition is caused by a faulty union of the anconeal process (one of the elbow bones) with the ulna. It is of developmental origin. There is not a lot of documented evidence on this but it is thought to be like hip dysplasia in that environment may play a part. It is also though to be inherited.


The loose fragment in the elbow acts as an irritant and abrasive. Arthritis is a common sequel.


Pups begin to sho lameness in the front leg at about 5-8 months of age. Some are unable to bear weight; other limp only when trotting. Characteristically, the elbow is held outward from the chest, although this is not always the case.


Treatment: x-rays taken after 5 months of age are diagnostic. The most effective treatment is surgical removal of the loose piece of bone.




Osteochondritis Dissecans affects dogs of the large rapidly growing breeds (such as the Rottweiler) and usually comes on between the ages of 4-12 months. It is usually found in the should joints, but rarely it can affect the hocks and stifles.


It is due to a defect in the cartilage overlying the head of one of the long bones. A puppy who jumps down stairs might sustain such an injury. The tendency for cartilage to be easily damaged may be hereditary. Repeated stress to the joint accelerates the condition.


The signs are gradual lameness in a young dog. Pain is present on flexing the joint. x-rays may show fragmentation of the joint cartilage, or a loose piece of cartilage in the joint.


Treatment:The condition can be treated by confinement, or by surgical removal of the damaged cartilage. Pain pills are contradictory to the condition as they are in most traumatic joint conditions because they encourage the dog to exercise and what you really want is to keep the dog quite.


WANDERING LAMENESS (Eosinophilic Panosteitis)


Panosteitis, also called "growing pains" or "wandering lameness" is a disease of puppies between 4 - 12 months of age. The cause is at this stage unknown but there is a tendency for the disease to run in families.


A characteristic sign is the tendency for pain and lameness to shift from one location to another over a course of several weeks or months. The disease often is accompanied by fever, eosinophils in the white blood count, muscle wasting and unthriftiness. Pressure over the shaft of the affected bone gives pain. x-rays show the characteristic picture of increased density in a large bone.


Treatment :As the cause is unknown, treatment is directed at the relief of bond pain. Most dogs recover spontaneously, but if severely affected, may never regain full muscle strength and condition. It is thought that rest and very light exercise along with time will help matters.


TORN KNEE LIGAMENTS (Ruptured Cruciates)


The knee or stile joint is stabilized by two internal ligaments (the cruciates) which cross in the middle of the joint of the knee. Rupture of a cruciate is a common serious derangement of the stifle joint. Some people believe that Rottweilers that lack angulations in their stifle joints are more prone to this complaint.


There might be a history of trauma, but in many cases the presenting sign is just moderate to severe lameness in one or both hind legs. The diagnosis is confirmed by palpating the stifle joint and finding instability (this is usually done under anesthetic).


Treatment: Surgical repair of the torn ligaments is the treatment of choice. When allowed to heal spontaneously the leg develops scar tissue around the joint capsule which lessens the degree of mobility. Arthritis occurs later in life.




A bad bite is a common problem and causes dog breeders more concern than any other mouth abnormality. The ideal bit for a Rottweiler is a scissor bite in which the upper incisors just overlap and touch the lower incisors. A Rottweiler should also have 42 teeth.


Types of Incorrect Bite include:


Even or Level: The incisors meet edge to edge. If your dog has an even or level bit this is still acceptable to show and breed with.


* Overshot: In this condition the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw so that the teeth overlap without touching. It is also called parrot mouth. This problem, which occurs in young puppies may correct itself if the gap is not too great. Most bites are "set" by the time a puppy is 14 months old. (Although I have known a dog who was overshot at 14 months whose bite corrected by the age of 2 years).


* Undershot: This is the reverse of an overshot jaw, with the lower jaw projecting beyond the upper. It is considered correct in some breeds such as the Bulldog, Boxer and Boston Terrier but is incorrect in the Rottweiler.


I have never known this condition to correct itself.


* Wry Mouth: This is the worst of mouth problems. In this situation one side of the jaw grows faster than the other side, twisting the mouth so as it gives it a wry look. This condition can be quite a handicap and can lead to difficulties with grasping and chewing food and in the extreme can cause problems breathing.


* Any of these mouth conditions in a Rottweiler means that dog is not suitable for breeding or showing.




This is the most common congenital defect of the eyelids and is when the eyelids turn inward. It is usually found in dogs with deep set dyes and with too much loose skin around the head.


I have found Entropion to be a moderately heritable condition and by breeding with stock that does not have this disease limits the possibility of children getting this disease.


Entropion can also be caused by outside intervention such as an injury to the eye, allergies or a long standing disease of the lids. I have also found that if a dog has an irritation to part of its eyes or face and is allowed to continually rub at it this can also lead to Entropion. I refer to this as secondary entropion because it was caused through outside factors.


Most commonly entropion affects the lower eyelid although it may be found in the upper lid as well.


In my experience I have found that hereditary entropion normally appears in both eyes and develops in a Rottweiler under the age of 12 months.


Treatment:Surgery is usually called for and a triangular wedge is normally taken from under the outer corners of each eye and then is stitched back up. If this is done in a younger dog sometimes when the dog becomes older the surgery is required to be done again.




In this condition the lower eyelid rolls out from the face exposing the eye to irritation. (This looks like bloodhound eyes or a dog that's spent to much time on the booze). This condition is usually seen in dogs with loose facial skin. It can be seen in older dogs in whom the facial skin has lost its tone and sags. You may notice this temporarily in dogs that have been working for many hours in the heat or that have been severely ill.


Treatment: Surgery may be necessary to tighten the lid and protect the eye.


LIMPING (Lameness)


A limp is the most common sign of bone or joint disease. However, muscle, ligament or nerve damage can produce lameness. It indicates pain or weakness in the involved leg.


Locating which leg is affected can be difficult. A dog often will take weight off a painful leg when standing. When he is moving, usually he will take a shorter step on a painful or weak leg and you may notice that his head "bobs" or drops as weight comes down on the affected leg.


Having identified which leg is involved you should attempt to identify the site and possible cause. First flex and extend all joints to their maximum to ascertain if joint or tendons are involved. Next carefully feel the leg from the toes up Attempt to locate a point of tenderness by applying pressure. Having located an area of pain, see if it is produced by movement of a joint, or by local tenderness in a muscle (such as might be caused by a puncture wound or a bruise) check for swelling, heat and discolouration of the area. With this information consider the following:




Infected areas are tender, reddened, warm to touch, often are associated with a break in the skin and progress gradually, lameness becomes steadily worse. Fever usually is present.




Sprains and stains (of joints, tendons and muscles) are of sudden onset, frequently they show local swelling and discoloration, they gradually improve. Ordinarily the dog has limited use of his leg. Pain is normally mild. There is no fever.




Fractures and dislocations are associated with severe pain and inability to put weight on the leg. Deformity often is present. Movement of the involved part produces a gritty sound. Tissues are swollen and discolored from bleeding.


Degeneration of Bone


Degenerative, congenital and metabolic bone and joint diseases come on gradually. There is no local discoloration and pain is usually mild and swelling slight. The more exercise the dog is given the lamer it becomes.






There are a number of other conditions seen in the Rottweiler that have an inherited nature these include:


. Immune Deficiency (This is like AIDS in people)


. Umbilical Hernia


. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (initially causes a lack of night vision)


. Pigment Loss in the Eye - unsure if this is inherited


. Stania - Canine Inco-ordination (like Wobblers)


. Prolonged Soft Palate


. Dental Abnormalities


. Heart Malformations (such as murmurs)


. Cancer



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