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If you are a proud new parent of a little Rottweiler, then you need to know everything about Rottweiler puppy vaccinations. Sadly, Rottweiler puppies are more at risk of the deadly parvovirus than many other breeds, so vaccines are absolutely vital for these pups.
But to really help our Rottie babies avoid and beat the many dread puppy diseases, we need to understand how our young Rottweilers develop their immunity in their first year. We also have to look at what diseases they need inoculations for and how to protect our dogs from Rotties in general.
Rottweiler puppies should get their first vaccination at 6 weeks, just after they are weaned and lose their mother’s protective antibodies. They then need to be inoculated every month for another three months and a booster at one year. Young Rottweilers need to be vaccinated against
- Canine hepatitis,
- & Kennel cough.
Are Rottweiler Puppy Vaccinations Necessary?
Vaccinations for Rottweiler puppies are not negotiable for a responsible pet parent. There are several common, contagious and deadly canine diseases that kill puppies. Vaccinations are a puppy’s best possible defense against these diseases, especially while they are young and their immune system is still developing.
For example, if a pup catches Parvo (Canine Parvovirus) before she’s had all her puppy vaccines – the dog has less than a 20% chance of recovery.
When it’s a Rottweiler puppy, the chances are even slimmer because this breed is especially vulnerable to this particular virus and is likely to be severely affected.
Rotties are one of the breeds which succumb easily to Parvo and are more likely to die from it, along with Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, and other similar black-and-tan breeds.
Parvo isn’t the only disease you need to worry about.
- Coronavirus (no, not our strain, dogs have their own version),
- and, of course, Rabies are all real threats to your puppy.
Your puppy is the love of your life, and of course, you want to protect her and keep her safe, so keep reading, and you’ll find out everything you need to know about puppy vaccinations.
The Timing of Puppy Vaccination
I’m going to start with the ‘when’ of puppy shots. It’s pretty important to get your timing right.
Colostrum and passive immunity
Puppies get a natural passive immunity to diseases that their momma has been vaccinated against during the first few days of their lives. This immunity is transmitted through the colostrum (sort of pre-milk) the mother produces in the first 48 hours after giving birth. Colostrum is the yellowish substance released before the actual milk.
It’s fairly short-lived protection. We cannot say exactly how long the period of protection is because there are big differences between one litter or puppy to another in terms of how much passive immunity they absorb.
An approximate time frame for passive immunity protection from their mother’s milk lasts anywhere between 3 weeks and 12 weeks of age. We know that the antibodies the pups receive gradually become weaker and less effective as time passes.
When these antibodies are above a certain level, they prevent a vaccine from being effective, basically canceling out any puppy vaccinations given at that time. This seems pretty straightforward, but it gets more complicated at this point.
The problem is that there is a period when the antibody levels are too low to give the pup adequate protection against disease but too high to allow canine vaccines to be effective.
This is the critical point when puppies are at high risk, but it’s impossible to tell exactly when it will happen. It can vary from breed to breed, from litter to litter, and even from puppy to puppy. It could last from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
This is why puppies are vaccinated several repeatedly in the first six months of their life, rather than just once. We are constantly trying to boost the antibodies in their little bodies while their immune systems mature.
See this video of six-week-old Rottweiler puppies getting their very first inoculations.
Titer testing of antibodies
Titer tests are a way to minimize the risk of both unnecessary vaccinations and infectious diseases in puppies. They tell you whether there are enough antibodies against a certain disease in the dog’s blood.
You can discuss titer testing before vaccination with your veterinarian. If you decide on this step the vet needs to take a small amount of blood from the dog and run it through the tester. A high titer means that the dog is still protected by antibodies, and a low titer is vice-versa.
Nowadays, there are commercially available tests that don’t cost a fortune and are readily available for dog owners. You can use them to see whether the puppy still has the mother’s immunity active or if the series of vaccines provided the desired level of protection
Rottweiler Puppy vaccine schedule
A vaccine protocol with multiple shots is the best way to make sure that your puppy doesn’t spend time in the no-protection zone more than necessary.
By following this vaccination schedule and keeping your puppy’s shots up to date, you are giving her the best chance of staying healthy.
Securing the pup’s immunity requires at least three separate vaccine shots. After the first shot, the second is given three weeks after, and the third after a further three more weeks. Rottweiler puppies should ideally get their first vaccines at six weeks and their second shots with their owners at roughly ten weeks.
You can find out which vaccines are given at what time in our article on the Rottweiler puppy vaccine schedule.
What vaccines should Rottweiler puppies get?
Certain Rottweiler vaccines are considered ‘core’ vaccines (the necessities), and there are others that are optional.
Whether or not your puppy needs any of the optional puppy vaccinations may depend on what part of the country you live in, whether or not they will be in contact with many dogs (in a kennel or boarding facility, or puppy classes for example), and so on.
Generally, the core vaccines will be given as a ‘combination shot,’ so your puppy gets 3-6 different canine vaccines in one shot. These vaccines are also referred to as ‘polyvalent vaccines.’
The actual vaccines included in a combination shot are differently combined by vaccine manufacturers. I’d recommend discussing the best type (brand) with your vet so that you know what your puppy is getting exactly.
Core Vaccines for Rottweiler puppies
Core vaccines protect your puppy from the following infectious diseases. Combination vaccines can protect against some or all of them:
- Canine Distemper – a viral infection that can affect the lungs, intestines, and brain
- Hepatitis – a viral infection that usually affects the liver
- Parvovirus – a virus that affects the intestinal tract, bone marrow & occasionally the heart
- Rabies – a virus that causes different and severe symptoms – vaccination is required by law and is usually given somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Non-core vaccines for puppies
The canine vaccines that are considered optional include:
- Bordetella vaccine – also known as Kennel Cough, an upper respiratory bacterial infection
- Leptospirosis vaccine – a bacterial infection that affects the kidneys, lower urinary tract, and the brain
- Coronavirus vaccine – a virus that affects the intestinal tract
- Lyme disease vaccine – a bacterial infection transmitted by the Deer Tick
- Parainfluenza vaccine – a viral infection affecting the upper respiratory tract
Although it’s not considered a core vaccine, the Leptospirosis vaccination segment is generally found in almost all brands of puppy vaccines. It’s recommended for all dogs in the USA.
Some veterinarians prefer not to include the Leptospirosis vaccine in the schedule before 12 weeks old to prevent complications or severe allergic reactions.
The Bordetella vaccine can be given as a shot or as nasal drops. The drops become effective more quickly, and one dose is enough. The shot must be given twice, at a 3 to a 4-week interval, and takes a bit longer to become effective.
This vaccine is not thought to give full protection for more than six months, so if your pup/dog is kenneled regularly, attends doggie daycare, or is around many other dogs regularly, you may want to have a booster dose given twice a year rather than annually.
You can learn more about the most common canine illnesses and their symptoms (including the ones mentioned above) on the Rottweiler Diseases And Symptoms page.
Example of a Puppy Vaccination Schedule
The exact puppy vaccination schedule your veterinarian will follow may vary from this sample. Different professionals and practices have their preferred protocols.
However, this schedule will give you a good general idea of how to get your Rotweiler puppy vaccinations set up.
- Rottweiler puppy vaccine at 6 – 7 weeks:
Distemper, Parvovirus (Bordatella is optional)
- Rottweiler puppy vaccine 9 – 10 weeks
5-in-1 (DHPP) vaccine for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus + Bordetella if needed
- Rottweiler puppy vaccine 12 – 13 weeks
5-in-1 (DHPP) vaccine for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus + Bordetella if needed (optional: Lyme disease, influenza & Leptospirosis)
- Rottweiler puppy vaccine12 – 16 weeks
5-in-1 (DHPP) vaccine for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, parvovirus, rabies+ Bordetella if needed (optional: Lyme disease, influenza & Leptospirosis)
- Rottweiler puppy vaccine 14 – 16 weeks
Rabies vaccination with the option of Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
- Rottweiler adult vaccine every 1 to 2 years after
5-in-1 (DHPP) vaccine for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, parvovirus, and rabies with the option of Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease. Note that rabies may be required by law every 1 to 3 years.
It’s a general recommendation for all Rottweiler puppies to get a fourth Parvovirus vaccine when they are 16 weeks of age. The breed is especially sensitive to the virus, so a “booster” inoculation is required.
Because a puppy should be at least 8 weeks old before she leaves her momma, your pup should have had her first set of shots (at a minimum) before coming into your home.
All responsible breeders ensure that their litter’s puppy vaccinations are done on time and kept current.
Once you have bought your pup, it is your responsibility to make sure that the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian is kept ‘on track.
5-way shot for puppies
Polyvalent vaccines boost your pup’s immunity against more than one disease. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are better.
When the body has to expend the immune system for 4-5 infectious diseases, it won’t be as strong against all of the as opposed to when activated against 1 disease.
That’s the biggest reason the vaccination can start with DP (Distemper-Parvo) vaccine, as these 2 diseases are the most dangerous ones – the body must be strongly prepared for them.
5-in-1 vaccine for puppies schedule
The schedule should be discontinued when the dog gets the last shot depending on geographical location and the vet’s recommendation your dog can get booster shots annually or every 3 years.
It’s best if you test your dog for antibody titers for different diseases after 1 year of age. If the pup is still protected, there is no need to re-vaccinate. If the titer for some of the diseases is low, you can give shots for the diseases the dog’s vulnerable to rather than 5 in 1 vaccine.
Possible Canine Vaccination Side Effects & Reactions
Many puppies have no noticeable reaction at all to the vaccines, apart from maybe objecting to the actual needles. It’s an interesting thing that I often find that the biggest/strongest boys are the biggest cry-babies
But, as there is a whole range of possible side effects or reactions that your puppy may experience, it’s a good idea to be aware of these and know when you need to consult your veterinarian.
The most common reactions are mild and include:
- Lethargy or depression – Your pup may sleep more than usual and have difficulty standing
- Vomiting – Shouldn’t be severe, but it may occur once or twice
- Diarrhea – If the diarrhea is bloody, contact your vet immediately
- Soreness, swelling, or lump at the injection site – can be noticeable for days or even weeks
- Loss of appetite
If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t panic, but do keep an eye on your pup. If any of them last more than 24 hours (except for a single swelling or lump at the site of the shot itself), call your veterinarian and ask his/her advice.
More serious reactions to puppy vaccinations are usually seen as allergic reactions. They most often occur within a few minutes to an hour of your puppy receiving the vaccine. They can include:
- Generalized swelling of the face, head, neck, or body
- Hives or large swellings anywhere on the body
- Difficulty breathing, poor coordination, disorientation
- Seizures or loss of consciousness
These sorts of reactions are serious, and you need to get veterinary help right away if your puppy develops them. They don’t usually happen after the first set of puppy shots but may be seen after the second or subsequent vaccinations.
The reason why they don’t happen on the first shot is the way immune hyper-reactions (allergies) work. For the body to have a strong reaction, it needs to be sensitized. The first vaccine gets the immunity ready to strike with all its power on the repeated shot.
The most severe reactions are called anaphylactic shocks. If your pup has this sort of reaction, she still needs to have the remaining shots, but talk to your veterinarian about it.
The veterinarian may want to give her individual vaccines rather than a combination. Or they may want to give her antihistamines before the puppy is fully vaccinated. In any case, she needs to be closely monitored for a while.
Although the potential for a reaction applies to all puppy vaccines, some seem more likely to trigger allergies. These include the Leptospirosis and Rabies vaccines.
Breeds prone to vaccine reactions
Rottweilers are not especially sensitive to any particular vaccines, but some breeds are. These include (but aren’t limited to) Miniature Dachshunds, West Highland White Terriers, Old English Sheepdogs, Japanese Akita, Portuguese Water Dogs, Weimaraners, and Harlequin Great Danes
Now that you know pretty much all there is to know about puppy vaccinations, you’re all set to protect your Rottweiler puppy. Good luck!
Vaccines are the biggest medical breakthrough of the XX century. A responsible dog owner is an owner that regularly vaccinates his/her puppies according to the local regulations and suggested schedules. The final goal of vaccinating is to create collective immunity and possibly eradicate some of the infectious diseases permanently and, in some cases, save your dog’s life.