It is often said, “The way to a Rottie’s stomach is through it’s mouth.” But from there, the path leads directly to his heart! Rottweilers like to eat. Sure, there are the occasional oddball dogs that really could care less about food, but if given a choice between laying on the couch with a nice round tummy and watching the Homeward Bound video or doing another lap around the block, most Rotties would get up off the couch long enough to bring you their food dish for another refill. Don’t get me wrong, they are working dogs, but with their wide shoulders and powerful “glutes,” they were built more for short, intense hauls and not for speed or endurance like the Greyhound. Between hauls, they like to eat!

It’s fun to give dogs treats. It makes us feel good, and we feel like we are handing out little morsels of love. Just be careful – Rotties who are overfed can get quite chubby, putting a big strain on their hearts — and their life expectancy is only 8-10 years anyway. Keeping them at a healthy weight is crucial to a long, healthy life.

Many of the Rotties that end up in rescue were not very well cared for during their lives. To give them a boost, I say feed the dogs a high-quality dry kibble, or organic foods. On the scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the most unhealthy and 10 being the absolute best, grocery store brands (like Dog Chow, Pedigree, Kibbles N Bits, etc.) range from 1-3, Petsmart-type foods (like Nature’s Recipe) range from 2-7, and ultra-premium specialty foods range from 8-10.

Many people feed their dogs once per day. Some feed twice per day. Generally, the more sedentary a dog is, the less frequently you can feed him and get away with it. However! Two or three smaller meals per day is probably a better use of calories than one big meal. Puppies tend to eat frequently because they need a constant supply of energy to keep going. Adult dogs that get a lot of exercise should also eat more frequently. Normally active dogs do well on two meals per day. Just split the recommended daily feeding amount in two and feed one in the morning, and one about 12 hours later.

If you happen to have adopted a puppy, I don’t advise feeding “puppy food.” I recommend regular adult food. Large breed puppies must grow slooooowwwwwly to avoid developmental problems in their joints, like panosteitis. Too much protein in the diet can accelerate their growth and contribute or even cause joint problems and pain. Puppy formulas all have more protein than adult formulas, and the Rottie puppies don’t get enough benefits from eating them to justify the agony they must endure from the joint problems.

If your new dog needs training, try to schedule your training sessions for that hour or so before one of his meals. He’ll be more attentive when he’s hungry!

 

Water

Don’t forget to provide dogs with clean fresh water at all times! My three rotties drink about 3-4 bowls of water per day in the summer, so I know that several times during the day I need to check their supply, dump out the left-over with the floaties and hair, and fill it up with clean water.

One very important note about water: Please DO NOT let your dog drink from the toilet. There are bacteria in the bowl left over from your recent deposits that are poisonous to animal life. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself if you would scoop up a cup of toilet bowl water and drink it yourself. You wouldn’t because it’s nasty — and unsanitary. It could make your dog very very sick. Don’t do it. Keep the lid down.

Elderly Rotts, Elderly Joints

Geriatric dogs, like geriatric people, tend to have more physical problems than their younger counterparts. Arthritis is not uncommon, and many rotties have canine hip dysplasia (CHD). As your dog slows down in his/her advanced years, have your vet determine whether a joint supplement like glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate would be beneficial. I give it to my elderly rottie every day, and to my youngest rottie also since she has CHD. It helps them get around more easily and with less pain.

Those of us with older or dysplastic dogs sometimes struggle with what used to be simple things like getting the dogs in and out of our vehicles. I drive a large truck, and while it’s easy for my 7 yr old to jump in and out of, the 10 yr old and the dysplastic 5 yr old need some help. Here are some ideas that you might find useful:

Home-made styrofoam steps are light-weight but sturdy enough even for big dogs:

http://www.gricgoldentown.com/dog-steps.shtml

Telescoping, carpeted dog ramp:

http://www.dogramp.com/