Can You Run With Your Rottweiler: Understand the Rottie’s Exercise Needs
The Rottweiler is an incredibly popular pet and guardian dog. In the United States, the “Rottie,” as owners have nicknamed these dogs, is the eighth most popular purebred dog breed nationwide!
This is even though these dogs often have a distressingly short life expectancy and are particularly prone to developing dangerous canine cancer.
Rottweilers are popular because they are strong, fast, devoted, playful, and extremely loving. But how fast are Rotties, exactly? Can you run with a Rottweiler dog?
In this article, we take a close look at the Rottweiler dog’s energy level in different stages of life so you can know what exercises you and your Rottie can enjoy safely together.
Watch a Rottweiler Dog Run Full Out!
If you are reading this and are brand new to owning and caring for a Rottweiler, you may wonder if Rottweilers are fast runners.
They sure can be! You can watch a Rottweiler running full out in this short video by a Rottie owner.
Can Your Rottweiler Run With You? No, and Yes
A full-grown adult Rottweiler can be a truly enormous dog. Adult male Rotties easily weigh up to 135 pounds and stand up to 27 inches tall (paw pads to shoulders).
You might wonder, what does it have to do with your Rottweiler running with you?
Large to giant dog breeds like the Rottweiler grow more slowly than small to medium size dog breeds. As King Rottweilers Kennel and Breeder explains, it can take a Rottweiler up to three years to mature fully!
This means that until the growing-up phase is complete and your dog’s bone plates are fully fused, too much exercise can injure your Rottweiler (we will discuss this here shortly).
For this reason, the best approach is always to talk with your dog’s veterinarian at each health checkup and find out how your Rottweiler puppy’s growth is progressing.
You can get advice on what type of exercise and how much exercise your puppy can do based on its growth pattern.
We will also take a more general look at appropriate exercises for each life stage. Still, since every Rottweiler puppy will grow at a slightly different rate, it is vital to customize this information to your dog’s growth.
Health Issues Linked to Running With a Rottie Puppy
The Rottweiler Bible says that too-fast bone growth can cause joint, bone, and muscular issues in adulthood.
As PetMD explains, there are three main health issues veterinarians now know can be triggered by running too early or too much with a large breed puppy like a Rottweiler.
OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans)
OCD is a condition where the cartilage doesn’t grow properly and turns into bone as a dog grows up. It can cause several health issues, including pain and constant lameness.
Hip and elbow dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasia are common in large-breed dogs for genetic and environmental reasons.
Some dog breeds are predisposed to the condition, but it can also be triggered or made worse by what veterinarians call “forced exercise” before the dog’s body is ready to support that.
Dysplasia is a term to describe a malformation in the ball and socket joint in the hip or elbow. When the joint doesn’t form properly, the leg doesn’t work properly.
Like OCD, dysplasia in any joint can cause intense pain and chronic lameness.
What Is Forced Exercise and How Can You Avoid It?
As PetMD defines it, “forced exercise” is an exercise that meets the following criteria:
- Fence running.
- Long sessions of any running or jumping game.
- Letting a Rottie puppy play with big adult dogs.
- Jogging with their keeper.
- Any kind of strenuous play you wouldn’t see puppies engaging in together naturally.
The key here is to understand the Rottweiler personality and temperament. Rotties are “people dogs” through and through. They want to be with you, doing whatever you are doing, for however long you plan to do it.
This means that while you may not intend to force your Rottweiler puppy to keep up with you, go for a run with you, or throw the stick for hours, your Rottie will over-exert to keep up with you because that is just what these dogs do!
When you start to get the Rottweiler’s devotion to their people, this can help ensure your puppy doesn’t exercise too much before its body is ready.
An Easy Formula to Calculate How Many Exercises Your Rottweiler Can Do
As you learned earlier here, every Rottweiler puppy will grow slightly differently.
However, some generalization is possible when you know this dog breed well as a Rottweiler breeder does.
This Rottweiler growth chart from Karma’s Rottweilers gives you a good ballpark estimate of when your puppy may hit certain important milestones.
When you think about how your puppy comes out into the world weighing only a pound and will grow up to weigh into the triple digits in just a year or so, it makes more sense how your dog’s body could be under a lot of stress with growing pains.
There is a simple math formula you can use to err on the side of caution when planning your Rottweiler puppy’s daily exercise routine.
Simply take your Rottie puppy’s age in months and multiply that number by five.
So let’s say your Rottweiler puppy is four months old. Multiply four by five, and you get 20. Your Rottie puppy can do about 20 minutes of exercise safely each day.
When your Rottweiler is 10 months old, multiply 10 by five, and you get 50. So your Rottweiler can now do 50 minutes of exercise safely each day.
While not every Rottweiler owner and breeder agrees with this formula, and some think it is too conservative, you want to be cautious with such a large dog breed.
Once there has been damage to the bones, muscles, or joints from over-exertion too early in life, it cannot be undone. Your dog may need physical therapy or expensive surgery, and even that may not be able to correct the problem fully.
It is much smarter to take it slow until your veterinarian confirms that your puppy’s growth plates have closed and it is safe to enjoy more exercise together.
How Far Can a Rottweiler Puppy Run Safely?
The answer to this question depends in part of how old your puppy is and in part of what type of surface you are running on together.
Let’s say your Rottweiler puppy is four months old. Using the formula above, you now know your puppy can enjoy about 20 minutes of daily exercise in relative safety.
Does this mean you can go running together on hard concrete full-out for 20 minutes without stopping?
You probably already see where this is going. It is very important to consider the running surface as well as how you break up your puppy’s 20 daily minutes of exercise.
If you are walking at a leisurely pace at a local park, you can probably go for 20 minutes safely.
If you are running or jogging on hard concrete or asphalt, even five minutes of sustained activity may not be safe for your puppy’s bones, joints, and cartilage.
But you could run together for five minutes at a time at the park as long as the pace was reasonable and you took breaks in between.
When Do Rottweiler Puppy Growth Plate Close Permanently?
Ready To Go Vet Rehab explains that the earliest you might expect to see a Rottweiler puppy’s growth plates closed and fused would be 12 months.
Since adult Rottweilers can weigh anywhere from 90 to 130+ pounds, it is smart to have your veterinarian X-ray your dog at 12 months to see how close you are to that point.
It is also important to pick a time for your dog to get spayed or neutered that is after the growth plates have closed. Otherwise, the closure may get delayed.
The Safest Way to Run With Your Rottweiler
Adult Rottweilers enjoy exercise, especially with “their” people. The safest way to enjoy a run together is to pick a softer surface with some give to it to protect your dog’s joints (and yours!).
Start off at a slower pace and a shorter run time. This is so you can build up to your ideal running pace and distance so your dog’s muscles can become properly conditioned.
When in doubt or if you see any hint of lameness or over-exertion from your Rottweiler, always stop and consult your dog’s veterinarian for guidance. This way, you can be sure you and your Rottie will be able to run together for many years to come.