How Old Is Old?
When does your rottweiler become old? That is a matter up for debate because dogs age differently. This is the same with people. Some look ancient when they're fifty, and some others look terrific when they're in the seventies. Your rottie's longevity and the quality of his life depend largely on genetics, diet, and exercise. While genetics plays a role in a dog's life, whether you take advantage of good heredity is up to you. Your rottweiler can have the most long-lived ancestors only to die at an early age, feeble and inactive, because you kept him too fat and allowed him to become a couch potato.
Don't be distressed at the thought of your rottie getting older. Older dogs are often more enjoyable to have around. The puppy destructiveness is gone, and you can often kick back and relax with your old friend.
As with humans, exercise adds years to and even increases the quality of a dog's life. Exercise is important in the older dog. While your rottie may not feel like going on a long hike, you can certainly still take him for walks, play fetch, and even do some dog sports. Some agility trials have veteran's classes for the aging dog. However, as your rottweiler grows older, he is more susceptible to cancers, tumors, and other conditions. He may be more inclined to stretch out and snooze by the fire instead of waking you up for the early-morning walk. He may show stiffness due to arthritis.
Looking for Cancer
Always note the changes in your rottweiler's health. If you find any lumps or bumps that are not symmetrical — that is, your rottie does not have the same bump or lump on the other side in the same place — you should take him to the vet for an examination. A good time to examine your rottweiler is when you are grooming him. This way, you can learn what is normal and easily spot something abnormal, should it arise.
Compared to humans, dogs have a short lifespan. Some rottweilers can live over ten years of age, but many start having problems when they're eight or nine. Much of your rottweiler's health depends on your care but also on his genetics.
Signs of Aging
Your rottweiler should start showing signs of aging somewhere between eight and ten years. This might include a little gray or white on the muzzle and perhaps a little cloudiness in the eyes. The eyes start changing at eight years of age. If you see cloudiness in the eyes, have your vet check them to be on the safe side. You don't want to mistake progressive retinal atrophy or glaucoma for normal aging.
If your rottweiler is not active, you may see signs of arthritis early. Some supplements, such as glucosamine and MSM can help relieve arthritis. Do not give analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil); they are very poisonous to dogs. Your vet can prescribe the right amount of buffered aspirin, anti-inflammatories, or steroids to alleviate pain and swelling.
If your rottweiler is starting to gain weight, you may wish to cut back a little on his food. Unless he is inactive or has kidney disease, do not be tempted to switch him to a lower-protein or senior diet. Active dogs still require protein — even when they age. This is perhaps even more true if they are active, as their bodies must work harder to repair muscle and damaged tissue.
After age ten, your rottie may still look healthy, or he may start aging rapidly. Observe any changes in diet, mood, or activity level and alert the vet. Incontinence is a sign of possible bladder or kidney problems and requires a trip to the vet. Spayed females may become incontinent as they grow older. If so, your vet has medications that can help.
Rottweiler life spans are usually between ten and thirteen years. Occasionally, you'll find a rottie that lives past thirteen, but that is rare. Enjoy your rottweiler's golden years together. If you keep him active and fit throughout his life, it should make them that much more enjoyable.