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Older Rottweiler Acting Strange

We have had Buddy the Rotweiller for 8 years and adore him but he is now acting strange. Suddenly though he seems to be very nervous and turn on people. He has bitten two friends in the past two weeks simply for walking into the room. Can you give us guidance on this? He is so loving to us, but we do have friends in and out of the house. Thank you so much

Judi (Gainesville, GA)

Why Might a Dog Suddenly Start Acting Strange

Hi Judi,

Off the top of my head, whenever a dog starts acting strange out of nowhere, there are two areas I would consider and both assume that this change in personality is truly that – a change as opposed to an extension of some other known idiosyncrasy in the dog’s personality.

When a dog behaves completely out of the character you’ve experienced during the first 3 years of life (acting strange) the first thing to look to is an undiagnosed physical problem. I had a similar case years ago with the same breed. That dog had been trained using a Gentle Leader and damage had been done to the cervical vertebrae so when the dog extended his neck to seek out a pet, he would feel pain and got confused as to what the actual cause was. I think the first stop should be your veterinarian clinic. It is important that you tell your veterinarian you are not looking for a check up. Listening to the dog’s heart rate, taking temperature and the normal cursory review done during an annual check up will not suffice. I would ask for no less then, ear, tooth and skeletal examinations (x-rays) and full blood work.

Another possibility, although he’s a tad young is CDS, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (dementia). Is he more out of sorts later in the evening rather then earlier in the day? This can indicate a serotonin deficiency oriented cause. Here is a link to a Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome questionnaire to review and share with your veterinarian as it might help you determine if there are other symptoms related to CDS.


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10 thoughts on “Older Rottweiler Acting Strange”

  1. Saralee

    My dog has been acting strange. Extra hypo and bolting around the yard. She gets plenty of attention but as soon as we go out side she charges at you and throws her self on the grand in front of you for a pat she has been doing this for 2 weeks now. She is 3 years old

    1. Hi Saralee,

      You’d have to send some video but it sounds like the spins which is what I call it when a dog does that when it’s not getting enough physical exercise.


  2. Kim rundle

    Hi John, I have a 4 yr old bitch rottweiler, she has a beautiful nature and wouldn’t hurt anyone but when my 10yr nephew comes into the house Tia the dog go’s crazy keeps looking at him in the eyes, drawling , panting, won’t leave him alone, and getting herself worked up. If she hears him, sees him smells him she goes crazy and gets so worked up. Please can you throw some light on this and tell me what I can do for her.

    1. Hi Kim,

      Thanks for writing to me about your Rottweiler.

      It might be a while for me to get back to you as the number of emails I receive every day from around the world has grown to the point I can’t always keep up. Here are 3 suggestions.

      1. I give emails that include video of the dog issue much higher priority as I feel with that element it will help more people reading the column so if you can send some video involving the behaviour you are concerned about I’ll give your inquiry priority. Small files sent as attachments are usually fine. If it’s a larger file, instructions on how to send it for free are below my signature line.

      2. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest doing a search on my website to see if I’ve written about anything similar that may be of some help.

      3. I also do telephone or Skype consultations if you think that would help. I can send you the details regarding what’s involved and on how to go about booking if you wish.


      John Wade


      If you feel it would help, send John Wade any video or photographic examples of the issues in advance of our appointment or in relation to an email question you are sending. Photographs can be sent as email attachments. Videos are usually too large so please send to me using this simple to use free service.

      1. Load the video onto your computer.
      2. Visit the site
      3. Click on the +Add Files button
      4. Find the video file or files and add
      5. Add my email to “Friend’s email” *protected email*
      6. Add your email to “Your email”
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      The file will upload. Once it has, I will be notified by email. I will upload and once I have done so you will receive an email letting you know I have the file. If you have other questions you will find the answers here,

  3. Fergus boyle

    Hi John

    Don’t know if you can help. 18 month old Rottie has developed a limp on front legs. X-ray and CT scan indicate nothing. Dog is 56kgs, female spayed and otherwise good health. No signs of discomfort or pain…..any ideas?

    1. Nothing I’ve run into in the past. Everything I can think of would have shown up. Is the limp ongoing or intermittent? In my experience, an x-ray taken by a veterinarian is better than you or I could do but not always the same as someone that wears fewer hats for a living and specializes in the activity. Same goes for reading/interpreting.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense
      London’s #1, Most Experienced and Most Referred To Puppy and Dog Trainer

  4. Jennie Helton

    My Rottweiler is 3 years huge and has been acting aggressive at times like he does not know who I am ! Scares me . He will growl and put ears back ! What would cause this and it’s usually at night

    1. Hi Jennie,

      Is his vision going? Does he settle right down once he recognizes you? Or, is it a startle reflex if he’s suddenly awoken?

      – John Wade (

  5. Hi John,

    My 19 month old female Rottie has started lunging, growling and trying to attack any female dog that simply walks past. It’s like she can smell them coming, absolutely fine if it’s a male. This started directly after being spayed and is getting worse every walk…any suggestions as to why this could be happening and how to combat it please?

    1. Hi Amy,

      There are a few factors that may be in play. Three off the top of my head are:

      1. On rare occasions, spaying a female dog can increase aggression. Unlikely here, as the aggression is pretty specific.
      2. Window watching can exacerbate this sort of tendency and, left unaddressed, make it virtually impossible to help the dog.
      3. More likely, you may have one of those females who is just hard-wired not to tolerate any other female. More common in females than in males and so intense in many cases that breeders often have to rehome other females or the instigator. She’s at the age that this often kicks in.

      As you don’t have another female in the house you’ll be able to go the training route. You will not likely ever change her nature, though. What you’ll do is teach her to respect you enough to do what you want her to do (or not do), overriding what every fiber of her being is telling her to do. You’ll need the right sort of training, though. This article may help. Questions To Ask The Breeder Or A Rescue Before Deciding This Is Where You Want To Get A Dog. Or read this ebook. What Are The Different (and best) Puppy and Dog Training Methods (ebook) – John Wade. The latter has probably more information than you ever want to know about approaches to dog training, but certainly, in this case, you’ll want to get it right the first time.

      – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

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