Rottweiler lovers and fans of this breed will likely say that a Rottweiler Lifespan is “too short!” Fact is, the Rottweiler dog scores quite low when it comes to the longevity department. The American Kennel Club claims this breed has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years while some fortunate owners may attest longer lifespans, some sadly have Rottweiler puppy who don’t even make it to 10. Sure, let’s face it: the Rottweiler’s lifespan is not as short as the lifespan of say, the Bernese mountain dog, who is estimated to live between 7 and 10 years, or the lifespan of the mastiff, great dane and Irish wolfhound which is estimated to be between 8 and 10, but it sure could be better, or at least, we all wished it was. Truth is, when we hear about other breeds of dogs reaching remarkable ages such as 15 or even 17, a Rottweiler’s life seems so short. We may therefore wonder, why is the Rottweiler breed living significantly less? This has baffled researchers for years, but there are several theories.
5 Factors that Impact the Rottweiler Lifespan
Let’s face it: trying to unveil the secret behind the longer lifespans of other breeds isn’t really going to help much for the simple fact that the Rottweiler breed has several factors known to have a negative impact on his lifespan. Some of these factors can up to a certain extent be under our control, while others we have no control over. Let’s take a closer look to some of these factors.
Rottweiler Lifespan “A Matter of Size”
For starters, the Rottweiler breed is large. Standing between 22 inches and 27 inches at the withers and generally weighing anywhere between 82 to 130 pounds, the Rottweiler for sure gives the impression of a powerful and robust dog. While these may be appealing attributes, these same attributes play a role in the breed’s overall short lifespan. At a first impression, this may not make sense if we think that many large animals are known to live longer than the smaller ones (think an elephant living 70 years versus a mouse living 4) Yet, when it comes to dogs, it has been proven that most large breeds age at a faster rate than smaller ones. Why is that? Researchers have several theories.
According to a study appearing in the April 2013 Issue of The American Naturalist journal, large dogs have shorter lifespans for the simple fact that they age quickly. Most likely, if you raised Rottweilers from early puppy hood you were surprised at how fast they grew. Cornelia Krause, an evolutionary biologist of the Gittangen University in Germany, explains that it’s as if the lives of large dogs “unwind in fast motion.” Indeed, scientists found that for every 4.4 pounds of body, the life span of dogs reduced by about a month!
Rottweiler Lifespan “A Matter of Health”
A large dog’s accelerated growth comes with a drawback: increased free-radical production, a factor responsible for speeding up the aging process, and ultimately contributing to abnormal cell growths and cancer–and unfortunately, the Rottweiler breed is quite prone to cancer, particularly two of the most deadly ones: osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma. On top of that, puppies are vulnerable to parvo, and as they grow, they may be prone to developmental problems, orthopedic problems and their deep-chested physique makes them prone to bloat. These may be the side effects of selectively breeding dogs for large size over a relatively brief period of time—if we compare it to the millennia involved in natural selection of other species.
Rottweiler Lifespan “A Matter of Hormones”
A study published in an article for Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention in 2002, revealed a correlation between the age Rottweilers are spayed and neutered and their lifespans. The study found that male and female Rottweilers spayed and neutered before the age of 1 had about a 1 in 4 risk for developing osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bones which is very common in this breed. With this in mind, choosing when to spay is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Veterinarian Karen Becker recommends consulting with holistic veterinarians and reputable breeders to make an informed decision on the best age to spay. Nowadays, many Rottweiler breeders have in their contracts to wait to spay at least until the dog is at least 12 but many even suggest to wait 18 months or even 24 months.
Rottweiler Lifespan “A Matter of Genes”
A Rottweiler’s lifespan of course is also driven by genes. This is where the role of good breeders becomes so important. Breeding for health is fundamental for a breed that is large and prone to health problems. By selectively breeding and health testing dogs, it’s possible up to a certain extent to prevent the passing of congenital, heritable defects. For a breed like a Rottweiler this means breeding healthy, mature specimens that have been screened for health problems. Yet, as much as genes plays a role in the longevity of a dog, the environment in which a Rottweiler is raised also plays a major role.
Rottweiler Lifespan “A Matter of Environment”
Nature or nurture? Which has more an impact on longevity, heredity factors or the environment in which a Rottweiler is raised? Turns out, it’s likely both. For sure, a Rottweiler raised in nurturing environment has better chances for living a longer life. Nutrition has a big impact in this breed, and of course, other breeds too. And how much your Rottweiler eats and exercises has a role too. According to a study conducted by Nestle Purina, it was found that leaner dogs tend to live about 2 years longer than the chubby ones. Less weight means less strain on the heart, less chances for orthopedic problems and less likeliness to develop diabetes.
Take Action to Help Your Rottweiler Live Longer
As seen, several factors we may not have control over, but there are plenty we can really consider to help this beautiful breed live longer. Here are a few tips that may help out.
Feed your Rottweiler a good diet and healthy supplements.
Provide high-quality drinking water free of contaminants.
Keep your Rottweiler lean.
Provide exercise and mental stimulation.
Follow twice-yearly geriatric check-ups. In large breeds, these should start at 7 years old.
Don’t over vaccinate adult dogs. Ask your vet about the option of titer testing instead.
Maintain good dental hygiene. Periodontal disease may cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect the heart.
Hold off early spaying and neutering if possible.
Prevent exposure to toxins such as lawn chemicals, household cleaners and pesticides.
Last but not least, love your Rottweiler and keep him with you the most the can. Rottweilers love to be with their families, and loneliness such as being secluded in the yard alone all day, can cause stress and depression which can also shorten a dog’s lifespan.
The Bottom Line
As seen, when it comes to the Rottweiler’s lifespan, there’s really no exact guide as to how long they can live, only general approximations as each Rottweiler is different and there are so many factors to consider. How old is your Rottweiler? What do you think contributes the most to a long lifespan? How can the lifespan be improved? These are questions we would all like to have a sure answer. In the meanwhile, let’s love on our Rottweilers and enjoy every moment with them, because a Rottweiler’s life is worth living every moment!
Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as substitute for professional nutritional or veterinary advice. For appropriate diet and health recommendations, consult with a veterinary nutritionist or veterinary healthcare professional.