Canine Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a potentially debilitating, developmental disorder affecting the hip
joint of the dog. It is probably one of the most important inherent genetic disorders to screen for.
OFA ranks Rottweilers as 29th on their list of percentages of dysplasia. Out of the 86,551
rottweilers surveyed 20.5% were dysplastic. This is considerably down from what it used to be,
but it is still relatively high. This estimation is probably not accurate as this only reflect those dogs
that were submitted to OFA, the reality is probably closer to 30 - 40% of rottweiler as being
dysplastic. HD is a progressive arthritic condition that is evident in dogs as young as 6-7 months,
but the true effects don't became apparent until the dog is older. Affected dogs could possibly
become very lame and painful and the corrective surgery can cost in excess of $3500 or more.
OFA claims to have a 95% accuracy at 24 months of age in diagnosing HD. It is imperative that
all rottweilers be screened for HD.
Elbow Dysplasia (ED) is a progressive, potentially crippling disease, that leads to arthritis or
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) in the elbow joint in dogs. There are three conditions that
lead to the formation of DJD. They are Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP), Fragmented
Coronoid Process (FCP), and Osteochondrosis of the humeral Condyle (OCD). All three
are believed to be caused by the failure of the conversion of cartilage to bone during the
maturation process resulting in an instability in the joint. OFA ranks rottweilers as #2 on their data
base for ED. Out of 10,148 rottweilers being surveyed, 40.9% have ED in varying degrees.
Again, like HD, this estimation is not accurate because it only reflect those radiography that were
submitted. The number is probably closer to 50% or more.
The most common problem seen in rottweilers is retinal atrophy, degeneration, or dysplasia
which results in the eventual loss of vision. The second is cataracts which also results in the
eventual loss of vision and is noted by a normally clear lens turning cloudy or grey. There are two
major eye lid deformities that effect rottweilers and are considered to be disqualifications in all
rottweiler breed standards and unfortunately are seen quite regularly. The first is Entropia, the
rolling IN of the eye lid, and the second is Ectopion, the rolling OUT of the eye lid. Both of these
deformities are very painful and requires surgery to correct.
The most common defect noticed in rottweilers is Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS), a
congenital heart disease. Affected dogs are at risk of developing heart valve infections,
congenital heart failure, even death. Dogs that are mildly affected can live very normal lives, but
a dog that is severely affected may never see it's second birthday. Another common disorder
seen in rottweilers is heart murmurs. A heart murmur is the abnormal sound caused by irregular
blood flow patterns into, through, or out of the heart. These murmurs can be "innocent"
murmurs, that never lead to any health problems, or Pathologic murmurs that are present at
puppy hood and are caused by congenital birth defects such as SAS and Patent Doctus
Arteriosus (PDA). Some birth defect are inherited, some are not. The majority of murmurs are
not apparent at birth and develop with age. These types of acquired murmurs are associated with
leaky heart valves.
Hypothyroidism is the lack of production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. It is considered
to be an inherited disease amongst rottweilers and once diagnosed, is usually permanent. It is
easily treated with supplemental thyroid hormones. This disease is easily detected with a simple
blood test. Affected dogs may appear lethargic and slow, they may gain unusual amounts of
weight, and coat changes may be notices. In rottweilers you may notice that previously clearly
defined markings become sooty, even turn completely black. The coat may appear dull and thin
and profuse shedding is common. Males my exhibit low sperm count and sex drive and females
may have irregular heat cycles.
Von Willebrand's Disease
Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) is a hereditary bleeding disorder similar to hemophilia and is
diagnosed through blood screening.