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Joint Problem in Rottweilers

One of the popular breeds of dogs is Rottweiler. It is a large and a powerful dog that has its origin as Roman military dogs and developed in Germany. Its nobility is matched with its endurance. The common concept of it is as a vicious dog but through proper training and breeding it is an excellent house pet.

It has a massive muscular body with a broad head being rounded at forehead. Its muzzle is well developed and its teeth form a scissor bite. Its rear dewclaws are often removed. Its coat is short, thick and hard. The coat is red in color with a little rust to mahogany markings on several body parts. There is a deficiency in hair gene.

Also known as Rottie, is powerful, calm, courageous and very loyal to its family. While defending against threat it seems immune to any pain. It has proved its worth in fields of police, military and various others. The breed needs to be socialized and will not be happy confined in a club.

Joint problems in Rottweiler

Joints of Rottweiler pay a toll to running and jumping. More use results in more injuries especially joint related problems like ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tears and Osteoarthritis. They like all other breeds are prone to joint problems. Some of these joint problems are as follows.

(i) Hip Dysplasia:-

One of the common inherited orthopedic diseases in large and giant breeds of dog is Hip dysplasia. Rottweilers are also not immune to it. Hip joint is “ball and socket joint”. Ball represents the top part of thigh bone or Femur and socket represents Acetabulum formed by Pelvis. If there is looseness between bones or ligaments holding them together then ball may slide out of socket. This mode of inheritance is genetic i.e. can be due to different genes.

Hip dysplasia is determined by scoring the X-Rays. Scores are determined by allocating points to each imperfection on ball and socket of each hip joint. The minimum best for each hip joint is 0, maximum is 53. This makes total of 106 of both hips. The average score for Rottweiler is 13. Some of the other dysplasia problems are as follows.

  • Shoulder disorders.
  • Knee problems.

(ii) Elbow Dysplasia:-

Elbow dysplasia in Rottweiler refers to following several conditions affecting the elbow joint.

  • Osteochondrosis of medial humeral condyle
  • Fragmented medial coronoid process
  • Ununited aconeal process
  • Incongruent elbow

One of these conditions may be present to cause shoulder dysplasia and the common affect is on front legs. This is also a polygenic condition. The scoring system of it is different from hip


Grade Description
0 Normal
1 Mild ED
2 Moderate ED or Primary lesion
3 Severe ED

 (iii) Cruciate Ligament Rupture:-

Ligaments that hold top and bottom part of hind legs together cross over behind kneecap. Sometimes these ligaments rupture and snap rendering dog lame. This condition is considered partially hereditary through straight angulation in hindquarters. Other factors contributing towards this condition are as follows.

  • Size
  • Obesity
  • Muscular and ligament laxity

(iv) Osteochrondrosis Dissecans (OCD):-

One of the problems found in other breeds and also Rotweiler is Osteochrondrosis Dissecans also simply called OCD. Joint cartilage is comparatively a sensitive structure and is prone to extensive damage. In this condition, the cartilage undergoes extensive damage and is very painful for the dog.

Symptoms of joint problems in Rottweiler:

Pain can take many forms from severe to mild, dull to sharp pain in dogs. As dog cannot tell us from mouth what is their problem we must look for these signs and symptoms ourselves. Some of these symptoms are as follows.

  • Lethargy
  • Severe pain in joints
  • Hind limb weakness
  • Fever
  • Slow or stiff when getting up
  • Dragging of rear feet
  • Inability to stand or function
  • Disturbance in diet
  • Moaning or groaning
  • Due to lack of muscle usage some dogs may suffer from the atrophy of  muscles (loss of muscle mass).
  • Change in moods like aggression and irritation
  • Overt lameness i.e. holding the limb up or holding it funny.
  • Joint swelling
  • Lack of Coordination

Prevention and treatments:

Treatments for joint problems are divided into following.

(i)  Aggressive Surgical treatment:-

Surgical treatments include the arthroscopic cleaning of a joint all the way to total joint replacement. Suffering with Hip dysplasia treatment is surgery. There are few Dysplasia surgeries depending on severity of dysplasia and importance of Arthritis. Surgery requires a recovery time of 6-8 weeks and is quite expensive.

(i)  Non operative treatment:-

Non surgical procedures include:

  • Management of weight as weight management helps both reduce stress on the joint and excessive fat in joints also cause damage to the joints due to inflammation.
  • Management of body and dietary needs.

(ii) Medications:-

If surgery is not an option you can use different medications prescribed by vet. There are various types of food additives and medications. Drugs include anti-inflammatory, analgesics and pain relievers. Some of the medications include Rimadyl, Metacam and Tramadol etc.  A tablet of the joint health supplement P&B Hip and Joint Support is recommended to the dogs suffering from Arthritis.

(iii) Therapy:-

Other than surgical procedures and treatments there are physical therapy programs; professional scientific base programs with aid of a rehabilitationist. Therapies include are as follows.

  • Underwater treadmills
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Electric stimulation

(iv) Natural relief:-

Hip pain in Retrievers can be eased by giving nutrient supplements for dogs that have following inside them.

  • Chondroitin Sulfate
  • Glucosamine
  • Methylsulfonylmethane

Essential fatty acids also help in easing the pain by reducing joint inflammation. These fatty acids are normally found in the following.

  • Fish oils
  • Vegetable oils
  • Flaxseed

(v)  Exercise:-

A leash controlled walk lubricates hip joints, warms up hip muscles and keeps the cartilage moving smoothly. Swimming is good as water buoyancy takes weight off the hips and give support encouraging hip movements.