Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) in Rottweilers


When a Rottweiler is afflicted with Osteochondritis Dissecans, the cartilage has been damaged or has an abnormal conformation. Instead of fitting snugly on the tip of the bone, the cartilaginous surface tends to separate or crack forming a loose flap that may interfere in the action of the affected joint.

Most giant dog breeds (Rottweilers and Golden Retrievers, and German shepherd) are prone to developing Osteochondritis Dissecans. Cases have been observed to be more common in male dogs which can be attributed to the male dog’s bigger size that puts more stress on the joints of the weight-bearing bones. It is frequently observed in dogs between 5-12 months of age however adult dogs can also be affected.

The joints commonly affected by Osteochondritis Dissecans are the joints of the shoulder, hock, knee, and elbow. Lameness is almost always present in the affected limb. There may be dogs with barely conspicuous limps and there are those which hesitate to put any weight on the affected leg.


The lameness is most noticeable right after engaging in exercise. It usually lessens after the dog has rested. When the shoulder joints are affected, the dog may have a noticeable shortened stride because it is reluctant to fully flex and extend its shoulder.

Your veterinarian can easily make a diagnosis based on a detailed history and thorough physical exam and x-rays done on the affected limb. Pain is a constant sign during physical examination particularly if the affected joint is fully extended and flexed. The dog may cry out when the joint is manipulated.

Radiograph results show abnormal changes of the bone on areas where the cartilage has been damaged.

Osteochondritis Dissecans is caused by a variety of factors including genes, nutrition, trauma to the affected joint, endocrine disturbances, and rapid growth. Trauma may be brought about by an injury that causes the abnormal separation of the cartilage from the bone. A poor blood supply will often lead to the formation of cartilage flap.


There are several breeds of dogs where Osteochondritis Dissecans can easily be transmitted from parents to offspring. Thus careful screening of prospective parents should be done before it can be used of breeding.

There are two ways by which the treatment of OCD can be approached. One is the conservative method which is indicated for mild cases of OCD. The other method is a more radical approach because it involves surgery to remove the lesion.

Conservative treatment involves a period of strict rest (1-2 months). You may take your dog outside on a leash to attend to the call of nature however running and playing is not allowed.


Symptomatic treatment includes prescriptions for painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Glucosamine-Chondroitin supplements may also be given for these products have been known to promote joint health.

Surgery involves opening the affected joint and removing the damaged flap or cartilage. Osteoarthritis is commonly present in affected joints. The presence of OCD in a joint often paves the way for other joint abnormalities to set in.