The Rottweiler has had various working functions since its origins, but most importantly guarding livestock. He is a handsome, large, extremely strong and agile dog with natural guarding instincts. He loves to work and loves to train in obedience. He has been given a bad press in recent years due to inappropriate treatment by some human owners. He is generally not aggressive by nature but if aroused will put up a fight. He needs an experienced and intelligent owner who will give him the challenges he deserves. He should have plenty of exercise, including free running, every day. Groom once a week. Average lifespan 9 years. Males are significantly heavier, shorter-lived and predisposed to aggression than females.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 6.0% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS190.82
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- Bloat / Torsion (stomach fills with air and twists – emergency, life saving vet treatment required) common in deep chested breeds.
- Aggression is a problem in this breed
- Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain, disability and chronic arthritis): breed mean score 9.7 (parents should be lower) Very high incidence in this breed – 30 -50%.
- Elbow dysplasia (malformation of the elbow joint causing pain and disability): ideally O:O
- Eye Disease: Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) (litter screening) (severe cases are visually impaired); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (gradual loss of vision) (annual testing)
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
- Bitches not to produce a litter under two years of age.
- Bitches not to produce more than one litter within a 12 month period
- Bitches not to produce more than 5 litters in their lifetime
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Cancer: osteosarcoma (an agressive bone cancer, severe pain, usually fatal; histiocytic sarcoma; squamous cell carcinoma of the digit; subungual malignant melanoma (the most common cause of death)
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture (rupture of ligaments in front leg)
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (degeneration of heart muscles – progressive loss of heart function leading to heart failure)
- Pyotraumatic folliculitis (‘Hot Spot’)
- Parvo-virus susceptibility
- Osteochondrosis (OCD) of shoulder, stifly and hock (abnormal cartilege within the joint causing pain and leading to osteoarthritis))
- Panosteitis (painful bone inflammation)
- Entropion (inversion of eyelid)
- Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes)
- Medial canthal pocket syndrome of the eye
- Aortic stenosis (narrowing of the artery, leading to heart failure)
- Muzzle folliculitis (acne)
- Haemophilia (blood clotting disease)
- Laryngeal paralysis (throat)
- Ciliary dyskinesia (recurrent pneumonia)
- Neuroaxonal atrophy (progressive weakness and muscle wasting)
- Leukoencephalo-myelopathy (progressive weakness of hind limbs in young dogs)
- Renal dysplasia (failure of development of kidneys)
- Narcolepsy (excessive sleepiness)
- Urinary sphincter mechanism incompetence
- Pyometra (womb infection)
- Immunodeficiency syndrome (systemic inflammatory disease)
- Hypoadrenocorticism (lethargy, weakness, dehydration, vomiting)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: