The average life expectancy of a Rottweiler is 9-10 years. So, if you’re a current or future Rottie owner, you can expect this breed to give you a decade of love and loyalty.
Rottweiler life expectancy has been affected by the breed’s history. This herding, carting, and guard dog was originally bred for strength. But when the breed became a popular family pet (due in part to the Rottweiler‘s gentleness with kids and its overall sweet nature), there was a period of overbreeding to meet the high demand for Rottweiler puppies. Overbreeding increases the prevalence of genetic health problems in purebred dogs, and Rotties are prone to several health issues that can shorten the dog‘s life.
We’ll take a look at the factors that affect Rottweiler life expectancy, the breed‘s most common health problems, and the steps Rottweiler owners can take to keep these dogs healthy for as long as possible.
Factors that Affect Rottweiler Life Expectancy
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs typically live between 8-15 years. The Rottweiler life expectancy of 9-10 years is on the lower end of this range primarily because of its large size. But other factors can also affect the Rottweiler lifespan, including the dog’s gender and breeding.
A scientific study involving more than 74 dog breeds found that small dogs live longer than large dogs, in part because large dogs have an increased risk of developing cancer.
Another study of more than 2 million dogs found that a dog‘s size was the single most important factor in predicting its lifespan. In this study by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), small dogs had a median lifespan of 14.95 years, while big dogs had a median of 13.38 years.
This places the Rottweiler life expectancy slightly below the average for big dogs. So, the life expectancy of a Great Dane or a Mastiff will be significantly shorter than that of a Chihuahua. The life expectancy of a Rottweiler will also be shorter than a small dog like a chihuahua — or even a medium dog like a beagle. But, the Rottie’s lifespan does align with the average lifespan of many other large breed dogs.
The Rottweiler life expectancy is similar to that of German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and Doberman pinschers. While some large breed dogs — like pit bulls, huskies, and Dalmatians — can live to be 12-15 years of age, these long life expectancies are the exception rather than the rule.
Much like how human women live longer than men, female Rottweilers appear to live longer than male Rottweilers.
In order to better understand the factors that contribute to longevity in both people and animals, The Center for Exceptional Longevity Studies looks at remarkably long-lived Rottweiler dogs — including dogs that are the equivalent of over 100 years old in human years. In an academic review, they found that the majority of exceptionally long-lived Rotties were female dogs.
Purebred dogs have shorter lifespans than mixed breed dogs, according to research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the United Kingdom. One of the reasons behind this shorter lifespan is a lack of genetic diversity, which can lead to inherited health problems.
Both American Rottweilers and German Rottweilers are prone to similar health problems in spite of their slightly different genetic lineages. Working with a responsible breeder who runs all of the AKC’s recommended health screenings for Rottweilers can help you avoid some of these health issues.
Common Rottweiler Health Issues
Rottweilers are prone to a variety of health problems that can affect their longevity. Because they're a large breed, these dogs often have issues with their bones and joints, and those issues can lead to immobility, which will shorten a dog's life. A responsible breeder will run health screenings to ensure they’re producing the healthiest possible puppies, but there’s still a chance your Rottie will inherit one of these conditions.
- Hip dysplasia: This condition occurs because of a genetic abnormality that causes the hip joint to be malformed, so it doesn't fit correctly into the socket. While it's not a cause of death, the condition can be extremely painful and lead to decreased mobility, which will shorten a dog‘s life.
- Osteochondritis: Another joint disorder that commonly affects large breeds of dogs, osteochondritis occurs when the dog‘s cartilage becomes inflamed and begins to separate from the attached bone. This can affect the elbow, hip, shoulder, or knee. Like hip dysplasia, this condition can be extremely painful and lead to immobility.
- Osteosarcoma: This cancer leads to bone tumors, which can then spread to other parts of the body. Because this bone cancer affects the dog‘s musculoskeletal system, it can lead to immobility. This is a fast-spreading cancer that requires early diagnosis and treatment.
How Rottweiler Owners Can Promote a Longer Lifespan
There‘s a lot that dog owners can do to decrease the likelihood of their Rottweiler suffering from genetically inherited health problems. And there are steps you can take to ensure your dog leads a healthy life for as long as possible, keeping issues at bay into the dog‘s golden years.
- Find a reputable breeder: This is the first line of defense against genetic health issues. Make sure your breeder runs recommended health screenings and raises the puppies in their home as beloved pets. You can look for a breeder that has achieved AKC certifications, or you can ensure you‘ve found the right breeder by asking the right questions.
- Feed a high-quality dog food: Nutrition is essential to a healthy life. Look for a food that features real meat as the first ingredient and includes other recognizable whole foods, like vegetables and whole grains, in the ingredient list. If you give your dog homemade food, talk to a veterinary nutritionist to ensure those meals are complete and balanced.
- Start their life with large-breed puppy food: Many of the joint issues that affect Rottweilers occur because their bones grow too fast during puppyhood. A puppy food formulated specifically for large breed dogs contains less calcium to help prevent rapid bone growth, which can prevent joint issues later in life.
- Maintain a healthy weight: While veterinarians still aren‘t sure which diet leads to the longest lifespan in dogs, they are certain that obesity will shorten a dog’s life — by up to two-and-a-half years, according to research. Work with your vet to determine an ideal weight for your dog. Then, adjust their feeding regimen to ensure your Rottie maintains that weight throughout their life.
- Protect their joints: Many dog supplements are designed to protect your dog‘s joints. However, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements — the most common kind — are still unproven. Instead, try fish oil. Fish oil supplements for dogs are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to reduce inflammation and protect the cartilage around your dog’s joints.
- Provide regular exercise: According to scientific research, regular exercise can help prevent obesity in dogs, which reduces the risk of immobility. Low-impact physical activity, like walking and swimming, is particularly helpful for keeping your Rottie mobile without putting excess strain on the dog’s joints.
- Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with your family veterinarian are essential for identifying health issues early so you can design a successful treatment plan. Preventive care is not only the best way to keep your pet healthy but also the best way to keep your medical expenses down, so don’t skip routine vet visits.
- Keep vaccinations up to date: Vaccinations help prevent unnecessary causes of death in dogs, like rabies, distemper, parvovirus, Bordetella, and canine influenza, among others. Make sure to get your Rottweiler puppy vaccinated by four months old, then renew their vaccines on an annual basis.
- Spay and neuter: The AAHA study of over 150,000 dogs found that spaying and neutering have a strong correlation with increased lifespan. If you don‘t plan on breeding your Rottweiler, consider spay or neuter surgery to improve their long-term health.
A Life Well Lived
The Rottweiler life expectancy of 9-10 years may seem short, but it’s actually comparable to many other large breed dogs, including German shepherds and Labrador retrievers.
Large dogs tend to live shorter lives than small dogs, and Rottweilers are prone to several genetically inherited health problems that can lead to immobility and further shorten their lifespan.
But, for as long as your Rottweiler lives, you can be sure that they will fill your life with love and loyalty. Show them the same love by ensuring they live a good life.
Get your Rottweiler puppy from a reputable breeder, feed them a high-quality dog food, support their health with all-natural supplements, and make sure they get regular exercise to prevent obesity.
We hope you and your Rottie have many happy years together. For more information on your favorite breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.