Young Rottie with torn cruciate ligament

by Martha
(St. Louis, MO)



I'm so happy to have this site to turn to! It seems as though my Rottie girl, Zoe, has partially torn one of her cruciate ligaments in a back leg. I'm waiting to hear back from the orthopedic vet at my dog's office for a final diagnosis. I'm heartbroken that this has happened, she's so young (she'll be 2 in August).

The vet said she'll probably need a "tibial plateau leveling osteotomy" (TPLO), and is sounds like recovery from this is rough and lengthy. I went to another office for a second opinion (I have an appointment to go with my dog to see their ortho vet, and it sounds like he has quite a bit of surgical experience); from their website it sounds like this vet usually prefers doing a "tibial tuberosity advancement" (TTA), and this procedure supposedly is a bit easier and has a quicker recovery time.

My questions are, do any of you readers have experience with this? How old was your dog when it happened, did you opt for surgery, and what was the recovery like? Did your dog eventually tear the 2nd side?

I have learned that it's common for dogs with one torn ligament to tear the other eventually, so I looked into dog insurance and only found one company (Pet's Best) that says they'll consider paying for the 2nd side if it happens, but they also don't pay for "hereditary and congenital" problems, and I'd hate to pay them for a few years only to have them say she had "congenitally weak" knees or something like that. Has anyone purchased insurance and had cruciate surgery covered?

I will appreciate any information anyone can provide ~ Thanks!

Hi Martha
I'm so sorry too to hear that this has happened to Zoe, but unfortunately it IS reasonably common in Rottweilers. Just stepping awkwardly can sometimes be enough to do it.

It sounds as though you're looking into things very thoroughly and are obviously keeping on top of your options which is excellent. I'm sure that you will get good advice from the orthopedic specialist and several opinions always helps.

I'm afraid I don't have personal experience of dealing with this, although I do know that surgical options are usually effective... albeit expensive! I also am not sure whether this is a hereditary condition as elbow and hip dysplasia is most commonly passed down genetically... cruciate ligament weakness.. I'm not at all sure, sorry to have to say that, but I don't want to venture a 'guess'.

You may want to check with the breeder that you originally bought Zoe from though. They usually know their dogs extremely well and if there is any weaknesses in that respect, a responsible breeder would give you that info. Also, if they have many dogs they may well have had to deal with this anyway, hereditary or not, and could offer advice or help.

Other than that, with the size of the Rottie community we have here there may well be some visitors who have had personal experience with this and who will be able to give you some more advice. It is now open to them.....

If you have time it would be helpful to all of us if you could keep us updated with her progress and your experiences. I wish you both the very best of luck, and hope Zoe is on the mend soon.

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Mar 19, 2016
Now on #5 acl tear NEW
by: Bill

I've had three different rotties tear their acl. The first two tore both legs over time and now my 1 1/2 year old looks like she's torn one of hers. I've owned rotties for about 30 years and it is fairly common to have them tear an acl or two. My little girl looks to have torn hers just running across the yard.

The first time we had the traditional surgery performed whereas as the next we went with the TPLO. To be quite honest, I never really saw much difference after they had recovered in regards to activity, stiffness, etc. The TPLO was a much lengthier recovery time as I recall (I believe it was done somewhere around 2002).

Since the TPLO about 15 years ago, we've gone the traditional repair route as the recovery was shorter and we're going on 6 years or so since the last surgery. She's old now but has been running and playing since recovering from the surgery back around 2010.

Hope this helps

Jan 04, 2016
torn cruciate ligament NEW
by: Fibs

Hi Zoe,

So sorry to hear about your operation. Im a female Rottie, not even 3 years and upcoming Thursday I will have my other knee operated. I have had the TTA operation. the strongest option for our young age (titanium plate). It costed my mum R 12000 excluding medication and hydro therapy. Luckily Im insured this time (medi pet). Despite all of this, Im still a happy chappie and still love to walk/ play and being naughty.

All the best!
Kisses Fibs

Aug 10, 2015
3 year old with both torn acls in the matter of 4 NEW
by: Anonymous

So sorry to hear about your dog! It's super heartbreaking. My rottie, Mika is 3 and tore her right acl fully in April and got surgery. Recovery time was 12 weeks, and her right leg is super healthy. I took her back to the surgeon today because she was limping on what I thought was her right knee, but it was her left go figure. She has partially torn her left acl just four months after her right acl. She's getting surgery at the end of this month. Both surgeries are $3,650, but since she's so young you have to do it. Also, she's getting a little arthritis due to the rubbing for the left torn acl. With the surgery it wouldn't spread anymore. It's super expensive surgery, but it's totally worth it. And after this knee, I wouldn't have to spend anymore money on knee surgery, woohoo!! Recovery time flies!

Good luck.

Aug 08, 2015
2 Rotties With Torn ACL's NEW
by: Anonymous

My first Rottie slipped on the ice three years ago and tore one of his ACL's. The surgery was $6000 which is ridiculous but we did it. Recovery was about 3 months and worked perfectly. He was 7 years old and ran like a puppy until he died of cancer a year later. The second Rottie slipped on the ice last winter and tore both ACL's. We don't have $12000 to pay for another surgery so we had him on Adequan injections and laser therapy for 8 weeks and he was much better. He's only 3 years old and part of the family so we don't want to put him down unless it gets really bad. We live on a farm and I leash walk him and he swims in our pond. He'll never be an active dog again but he's fine as a house dog with several walks a day. We had VPI pet insurance for the first one but they only paid about $1000 out of the $6000 so it was a total rip off. They base their payouts on the lowest cost vets in the country so even though we live outside of Philadelphia they paid what a vet would charge in Northern Idaho. Pet insurance is a total scam.

Aug 06, 2015
crucial ligament tear NEW
by: Anonymous

I had 2 rottweilers and max tor his first ligament at 2 years old.
We opted for surgery and within 2-3 weeks he was putting full weight on his leg as normal.
When he was 5 he tor the ligament in the other leg.
We had surgery done again and in the same amount of time he was OK again.
Max went on to live till he was 12 with no other problems with his legs.
He was weighing in at around 83 kilo,he was not fat but a very large stocky dog and he didn't look fat in anyway at all.
His repairs carried this weight with no more problems.
Max had a small brain tumour that triggered epilepsy and the medication caused bloat leading to a twisted gut but his legs were perfect till the day he left us.
Betsy died aged 6 of parvo.

My opinion is get the surgery done for your pets benefit.

We now have 2 male rottweilers who are brothers so no doubt 1 of them will get the injury as well.

Good luck.

May 01, 2015
by: Martha

Good luck with your dog! Both knees at a time will be tough, but soon your dog will be fine. My dog's first surgery was almost 4 years ago. She wound up having both knees done, but she is absolutely fine now.

May 01, 2015
Surgery NEW
by: Anonymous

Surgery is expensive- my two year old Rottie just had bilateral TPLO surgery this morning. I was given an estimate of 8k, which includes a week long mandatory stay at the vets.

Jan 05, 2015
cld NEW
by: Anonymous

Is any other healing for cruciate ligament damage than surgery... what about medicine or diet

Aug 31, 2014
Torn CCL Recovery NEW
by: Martha

Hi, I hope your pup does well, the recovery is a slow process and stressful for the human and the dog! My vet was very conservative for recovery, she stayed in a crate with potty breaks for 2 weeks postop. Use a sling under your dog's rear tummy when walking to support his or her weight, and increase activity very slowly. An easy way to give pills postop is to press them into a bite of "pate" like dog food, Zoe just slurps down anything like this. Be patient, I'm happy to report that Zoe is just like any other dog now. Both knees are fully healed, and she runs, walks, and jumps around with our other dog like nothing ever happened, she has no signs of pain or discomfort. Good luck!

Aug 30, 2014
by: Kimberly

So sorry to hear about zoe, although I am glad there are sites like these. My 9 month old rottie pup has torn his ccl. I was wondering what people have done in regards to the recovery. Any advice on how to help my pup in his recovery.

Feb 14, 2014
Torn Ligament NEW
by: Martha

Hi D.A., thanks for your comments! Recovery is slow, but I'm happy to say that my dog's 2nd surgery was over a year ago and she's completely fine, runs around like a baby and no sign of pain or discomfort. When she runs her gait looks a little different, but it's fine, she's doing very well. Good luck with your dog.

Feb 14, 2014
ACL repair with TPLO NEW
by: D.A. Berry

My 1 1/2 year old rotti just had TPLO surgery this wed. I will say I was a nervous wreak (though totally confident with the doctor I chose) because of all the horror stories I've read on the net. When I picked my baby up today, the instant I saw her I knew I made the right choice. The only advice I will give is this... do your homework and find a board certified diplomat of surgery to do the repair. Don't shop around for the cheaper price to fix the injury. My pups surgery site alone is pristine and she is already bearing some weight on the leg. Dr. Callum Hay and his staff will forever hold a place in my heart...

Aug 24, 2013
same boat NEW
by: Anonymous

martha,I have a 2 1/2 yr. old rotti that has torn both acls within 8 days apart.recovery time from what i understand is long,and will only do one at a time.please keep me informed of any receive .as with anyone who ownes a rotti he's my world loyal, best friend ,companion.

Dec 04, 2012
Update on Zoe NEW
by: Anonymous

Here's an update in case anyone else refers to this thread for cruciate ligament info: Here we are over a year later, and Zoe is fully recovered from her first was very challenging for both of us. Unfortunately, just about a year later, she tore her other CCL, and had the same surgery by the same vet (TTA/Tibial Tuberosity Advancement). She's doing very well, for some reason the 2nd side was easier for both of us. I was very reserved with her activity for the first year, because I was afraid she'd tear the second side. One day she scooted out the front door with my daughter's pit-mastiff mix. It was about 5 minutes before we got them back, but that's the day she tore her 2nd knee, she would not touch her back foot to the floor, and I knew what had happened. On the bright side, she's almost finished with her recovery, and I'm really excited that she can finally go back to the dog park in the spring, which she used to love! If anyone lives in the St. Louis area and needs an orthopedic vet, I can share the name of mine, he was wonderful.

Jul 02, 2011
TTA Surgery
by: Martha

Just a quick note to say that we're now 10 days post-op from the TTA. When we went to visit the vet said we could bring Zoe home early, so she's been back for 3 days. I was very glad, because one of the vet assistants said she seemed sad when we left after the first visit, and that some dogs don't do well with separation. She's confined to the crate with the lovely e-collar on, or she has to be by us with a leash on and a support sling on her belly to assist in holding her rear weight. She does not seem to be in much pain, she's on lots of drugs! So far so good, I'll keep you posted - thanks so much for all of your support!

Jul 01, 2011
torn ACL
by: Mr Andy

My Rotti (2.5 yrs old) also tore her ACL. She was running around in the yard and just landed wrong on it. She had both surgeries about 6 months ago and you would never know anything was wrong. Recovery was slow since they actually cut and move the bone to assist the weakened ACL. Once the recovered she had another surgery to remove the metal plates that helped to support the bone. Long process but, my dog is family so the decision was easy...expensive but, easy!

Jun 17, 2011
Good luck
by: Natasha

Poor baby. Good luck Zoe. It sounds as though you are a healthy, strong young puppy with an amazing mum that cares deeply about you well being.

I'll be sending good energy and big hugs your way. Hopefully your recovery is fast and pain is minimal xxx

Jun 17, 2011
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your info. We will probably go with the TTA surgery on Tuesday, 6/21. It is very expensive - $475 for the initial visit, including pain meds and a huge bottle of chondroitin/glucosamine which he said will benefit her for her whole life; then the surgery bill with everything will be about $2300.00. From what I've seen across the country, this seems to be on the lower side. I may have her stay with the vet for the first 2 weeks (we of course will visit), but he can perform range of motion PT exercises for her, and keep her subdued while healing begins. As much as I love her, it is a tough decision to spend that much on a dog, especially since it's likely to happen on her other knee as well. I have learned that this injury is not uncommon in rotties - either young and active (like Zoe) or older and I'm sort of planning on doing it twice. She is young and a good weight, so we're hoping for the best. Prayers and good energy sent our way would be appreciated! I'll keep you posted on her progress. Again,thanks for the site, I'm glad to speak with you and other rottie owners.

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