What is a Rottweiler’s Lifespan?

What is a Rottweiler's Lifespan?

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Rottweilers are courageous and loving dogs whose fans are utterly devoted to them. Whether you have a Rottweiler in your life or you are considering adopting a dog of this breed, you are likely wondering just how long you can expect your Rottweiler to live. 

Unfortunately, Rottweilers don’t live as long as some other breeds, but they also aren’t the shortest-lived of any breed. 

What is a Rottweiler’s lifespan? On average, Rottweilers live from 9 to 10 years, although individuals living as old as 13 have been recorded. This may not seem very long, but unfortunately, it is a fairly common lifespan for a breed of this size. Rottweilers often weigh over 100 lb, which often goes along with a reduced lifespan. 

Here’s what you need to know about how long Rottweilers live, why their lives are relatively short compared to some other breeds, and what you can do to help your Rottweiler live as long as possible.

Rottweilers Health Issues

Rottweilers are generally very sturdy, robust working dogs. However, they are prone to a couple of health concerns. Most of the health concerns that Rottweilers are prone to are not life-threatening, but some are. 

Some are debilitating enough that euthanasia may be the only option available to you. Here’s what you need to look out fo: 

Hip Dysplasia 

Like many very large breed dogs, Rottweilers can be prone to hip dysplasia. This is a malformation of the hip joint. Good breeders evaluate all breeding stock and puppies for hip and elbow health. 

Dogs with hip dysplasia often develop a limp and have trouble getting up and down. It typically develops later in life, although dogs that are severely affected may begin showing symptoms when they are only a few years old. 

There are surgeries that can be done to attempt to correct hip dysplasia, but they are not always successful. These surgeries are expensive and have a significant recovery process. 

Some dogs can do well even as they develop the symptoms of hip dysplasia if they are kept at a good weight, provided the appropriate exercise and treatment like physical therapy is provided.

Cancer

Cancer can occur in any breed, but Rottweilers are one of the breeds that seem to be somewhat more prone to it than others. Extensive research has been done by the Gerald P Murphy Cancer Foundation on the prevention of cancer in Rottweilers, funded by the Rottweiler Health Foundation. 

The likelihood of cancer and resulting death from the disease may be linked to less-than-stellar vaccination regimens and spaying or neutering before the dog is at least 6 years old.

Cardiac Problems

Rottweilers can be prone to some heart problems. Potential issues can be screened for in breeding stock, so by choosing a responsible breeder you reduce the likelihood of having problems with your puppy. A number of different potential issues can arise with your Rottweiler’s heart, so it’s important to pay attention to heart health from the time they are very young puppies.

The most common heart issue is sub-aortic stenosis (SAS) which will typically first show up as a heart murmur that your veterinarian will be able to hear. That’s why it’s important to stick to regular exams with your veterinarian. 

Supplements like fish oil can be beneficial to build a strong heart. 

Eye Concerns

Rottweilers are prone to a number of eye issues, and the most common is entropion which occurs when the eyelid flips inwards causing the eyelashes to rub against the eye. One study estimates the presence of entropion in Rottweilers to be around 1.18%- at least in the UK. This condition is typically pretty noticeable and occurs early in life. 

What Do Rottweilers Usually Die From?

According to a 2017 study in the United Kingdom, the most common cause of death in Rottweilers is cancer. Researchers wrote, “The mortality findings in this study highlighted neoplasia [cancer] as the most common reason for death in Rottweilers, accounting for 33.0% of deaths. In addition, many of the 7.1% of deaths ascribed to mass-associated disorders may have been undiagnosed neoplasia, so the true impact of neoplastic-related deaths may be higher than reported here.”

A study in the United States came to a similar conclusion attributing 28.2% of Rottweiler deaths to cancer. 

Another major issue is mobility and quality of life. While hip dysplasia and arthritis may not be a direct cause of death for Rottweilers it can greatly decrease mobility to the point where owners have to consider euthanasia. The same study from the UK found that “inability to stand”  accounted for 16% of Rottweiler deaths. While that could be related to a variety of combined conditions, mobility is certainly a factor. 

You can see the full list of conditions contributing to mortality here: 

Grouped-level disorder Overall Count (%) Female count (%) Male Count P-Value male vs female
Neoplasia 103 (33.0) 52 (32.1) 51 (34) 0.690
Inability to stand 50 (16.0) 29 (17.9) 21 (14) 0.361
Mass-associated disorder 22 (7.1) 11 (6.8) 11 (7) 0.839
Gastro-intestinal 19 (6.1) 8 (4.9) 11 (7) 0.369
Brain disorder 13 (4.2) 8 (4.9) 5 (3) 0.486
Undesirable behaviour 13 (4.2) 5 (3.1) 8 (5) 0.315
Musculoskeletal disorder 12 (3.8) 8 (4.9) 4 (2) 0.303
Lower respiratory tract disorder 10 (3.2) 6 (3.7) 4 (2) 0.611
Spinal cord disorder 9 (2.9) 6 (3.7) 3 (2) 0.374
Vertebral arthropathy 8 (2.6) 4 (2.5) 3 (2) 0.787
Other 53 (12.8)

Why do Rottweilers Have a Short Lifespan?

Most very large breed dogs have a fairly short life span. Smaller breed dogs live the longest. Lifespan reduces the bigger the dog is. Other giant breed dogs, like the Irish Wolfhound, may only live 6 to 8 years. 

Other giant breed dogs like the Tibetan Mastiff can weigh more than Rottweilers, up to a 150 lb, but live 10 to 12 years. Rottweilers fall pretty close to the average for dogs of their size and lifespan.

While larger breed dogs do age faster, it isn’t exactly clear why. 

It isn’t clear why large breed dogs live shorter lives than small breed dogs. However, there are some theories. In addition to aging more quickly, large breed dogs may live riskier lives than small dogs. Large breed dogs like a Rottweiler may be more likely to work and put themselves at risk, which can reduce the average lifespan for the breed.

How Old is The Oldest Living Rottweiler?

The oldest well-recorded Rottweiler was studied by a veterinarian trying to understand why some individuals live longer than others. The dog’s name was Bort and he lived in Massachusetts

It is unlikely that he is still living, as he was 13 years old in 2010. There are also reports of a Rottweiler in Bulgaria that is 15 years old, but this information has not been well documented. There are reports of dogs living to be 13, 15, or even 17 years old in forums and conversations from Rottweiler owners. 

How to Increase a Rottie Lifespan

Your Rottweiler may die at the time most likely for the breed, around nine or ten years of age, no matter how well you take care of them. However, there are some things that you can do to help your dog live longer:

Spay or Neuter Later in Your Dog’s Life

It used to be standard to spay or neuter dogs at about eight weeks of age, but increasingly, research suggests that it may be better to wait. Rottweilers that were spayed when they were at least six years old were considerably more likely to reach the age of 13 than Rottweilers spayed at an earlier age, according to one study

Furthermore, there has been evidence in a variety of breeds that early spaying can lead to orthopedic issues like hip dysplasia even in dogs that were not predisposed to it by genetics. There are some downsides to spaying or neutering later that it is important to discuss with your veterinarian, but in general, when it comes to Rottweilers, it is best to spay or neuter later to give them their best chance at a long, healthy life.

Keep Them at a Good Weight

Rottweilers are big, burly dogs that look heavy set by nature. It can be easy to let your Rottweiler put on a few extra pounds without noticing. 

However, allowing your Rottweiler to carry excess weight makes a number of problems more likely. Obesity may make cardiovascular issues and diabetes more probable. 

Excess weight will put more strain on the joints, leading to earlier arthritis or the development of hip dysplasia. It is important to know what the ideal weight is for your particular Rottweiler and keep them at it throughout their life.

Choose From a Good Breeder

To set yourself up for success in having a Rottweiler with as few health concerns as possible, choose from a breeder who is dedicated to the health and longevity of their dogs. Talk to your prospective breeder about how long their dogs have lived. 

Choosing a Rottweiler from a line of dogs that have tended to have long, healthy lives may make it more likely that your dog will also have a long, healthy life. Quality breeders do health checks on breeding dogs and on puppies in all areas recommended by the Rottweiler Club of America

Do your research on what health requirements and certifications a great breeder should have and make sure that they are all lined up for you when you go to pick up your puppy. Good breeders also should not let their dogs go home until they are at least eight or ten weeks old. 

Some breeders suggest waiting until even longer with a powerful breed dog like the Rottweiler since good socialization with parents and littermates sets them up for success with good bite inhibition and self-control as adults.

Train and Socialize Constantly

Unfortunately, many perfectly healthy Rottweilers are euthanized every day because of behavioral concerns. Rottweilers are bold, brave dogs with very strong natural protective instincts. They also can be prone to herding instincts and prey drive. 

To make sure that your Rottweiler grows into a dog that is happy and well-adjusted, it is essential that you train, socialize, and handle your Rottweiler appropriately throughout life. Rottweilers go through a number of changes in instincts and personality as they age. 

You can expect them to change throughout their puppyhood and adolescence and have another significant change when they enter adulthood at about three years old.

Do What You Can to Extend Your Rottweiler’s Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, Rottweilers are not one of the breeds that live the longest. However, Rottweiler enthusiasts are dedicated to this breed and doing their best to improve their lives and lifespan. 

Ongoing research into cancer and other life-shortening conditions in Rottweilers may open the door for Rottweilers to live longer in the future. By keeping your dog at a good weight, training and socializing them, and making educated choices about spaying and neutering, you can do a lot to extend your dog’s life span.