Raw diets have become quite popular among Rottweiler owners, particularly with research suggesting it can extend a dog's lifespan. However, safety concerns for consuming raw animal products has made this topic a controversial one. Therefore, I have set out to answer the mystery of whether or not Rottweilers can eat raw meat and how to do it properly.
Rottweilers can safely consume raw meat mainly because they are a carnivorous species. Carnivores have stronger stomach acid and a faster digestive system to kill or remove potentially harmful bacteria. However, raw meat can still cause illness if it is not reputably sourced or stored correctly.
I will explain why Rottweilers can eat a fully raw meat diet in the article below and explain the two main raw diets, PMR and BARF. You can also find the risks and benefits of a raw diet and how you can implement a successful raw meat diet for your Rottie.
Can Rottweilers Eat Raw Meat?
Rottweilers are carnivores and can therefore eat raw meat. Carnivores have certain mechanisms in place to protect themselves from the bacteria that grows on raw meat, hence why they can live off animal carcasses.
These mechanisms include a higher concentration of stomach acid, which kills off the majority of the nasties in the food. They also digest food a lot faster, expelling any surviving bacteria through their stools.
That being said, there are still things to look out for on a raw diet, particularly when the meat has been processed and shelved. Below, I will talk about the benefits and some risks associated with eating raw meat.
Benefits of Eating Raw Meat
Eating raw meat preserves many of the vitamins, enzymes and minerals that can be destroyed in the cooking process. The nutrients are also absorbed better in your Rottweiler's gut.
This is one of the main reasons that Rottweilers on a raw meat diet are generally healthier. Below are some of the key benefits you will notice in your Rottie if you switch to a raw meat diet.
- Healthier skin with less flaking
- Shiny healthy coat
- Strong lean muscles
- More energy
- Stronger immune system
- Improvement on any allergies
- Lower chance of degenerative diseases
- Healthier stools (smaller and harder)
- Improved dental health (particularly if fed bones)
Although research is sparse, it is said that a raw food diet may also increase the lifespan of your Rottweiler. Many of the world's oldest dogs have eaten a diet of fresh raw meat and bones.
For example, an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, who died in 1939 at 29 years old. Or Bobi, a Rafeiro do Alentejo, who is over 30 years old. Both of these dogs were able to hunt their own fresh meat as they roamed freely in the open.
If you would like more information on the lifespan of a Rottweiler (including the oldest Rottie ever recorded), take a look at this article.
Risks with Eating Raw Meat
As with anything, there are risks associated with feeding your Rottie a raw meat diet, which should be considered before you choose to do so.
Kibble is designed so that you don't have to think about your Rottweiler's nutrition intake. Each pellet of kibble contains roughly the same amount of nutrients and should meet the needs of your Rottie.
When on a raw meat diet, nutrition comes from different food sources and must therefore be calculated. If you feed your Rottweiler too much or too little of something, they may become unwell. I have explained more about getting adequate nutrition in a raw meat diet below.
Problems with Digesting Bone
Most Rottweilers are perfectly fine eating raw meat bones. They have incredibly powerful jaws that can adequately chew through the bone, and the digestive system to cope with it.
However, below are some of the risks associated with eating bone, particularly with an unhealthy Rottweiler or when the bones are cooked (cooked bones are brittle and will shatter).
- Broken teeth
- Intestinal obstruction (the bone becomes stuck in the bowel)
- Intestinal puncture (sharp bone may pierce through the bowel wall)
Having a fit and healthy Rottweiler, as well as only feeding them raw bones, will significantly reduce this risk. I have also outlined which bones are best to feed your Rottie below.
Feeding your Rottweiler spoiled meat is an obvious risk associated with feeding them a raw meat diet. Even if the meat does not smell or appear spoiled, it can still contain harmful bacteria.
We had this problem when feeding our dog raw chicken necks. They were supposedly fresh, but led to vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy. Classic symptoms of food poisoning. Thankfully for her, this went away quickly after removing the chicken necks from her diet.
There are ways you can prevent this from happening, including sourcing your meat fresh from a reputable farm or butcher. You can find more preventative measures below.
How to Feed Your Rottweiler Raw Meat
There are different raw food diets or models you can follow, mainly 'PMR' (prey model raw) and 'BARF' (bones and raw food), which I will outline below. The main difference between these two models is that BARF includes raw fruit vegetables. This only slightly alters the proportions of meat/organs fed to your Rottie.
What Raw Meat Should I Use?
There are many things to consider when choosing the meat for your Rottweiler's raw meat diet. You need to consider which foods to choose as well as their specific proportions (see further down). You also need to look at the quality of those foods.
Below are all the foods you could include in a raw meat diet. These foods are best sourced fresh from your butcher or direct from the farm to ensure their quality. As a starting rule, avoid meats/organs that are not suitable for human consumption.
In addition to this, look into what may be found in the meat (or fruit/vegetables). Some things to avoid are pesticides (not just produce, consider the fields where the animals are grazing), GMO, hormones, chemicals (chicken is particularly known for a bleaching process), preservatives and other additives.
Muscle Meat (Protein)
Muscle meat is what we would typically eat, such as steak, brisket, ground meat, fish, poultry breast/thigh, etc. However, some offal can also be considered muscle meat, such as heart, tongue or cheek. These, as well as off-cuts from the butcher, are good to incorporate to keep costs down.
Edible Bones (Calcium)
Edible bones are small bones that can be chewed, crushed and swallowed. For example, wings, ribs, necks, small legs (ie. poultry), etc. Giving your Rottweiler an entire chicken carcass (uncooked) is a great way to boost their calcium intake.
Liver and Other Organs (Other Nutrients)
Liver is nature's multivitamin, which is why it is an essential in any raw meat diet. Other than that, other organs, such as brain, kidney, pancreas, etc. can also be rich in nutrients and provide some variety. These are usually easy for your butcher to source and very cost effective.
Fruit and Vegetables (Optional)
Fruit and vegetables are not required in your Rottweiler's diet because dogs are naturally carnivores - they can survive entirely on meat. However, most produce is safe for your Rottie to consume and can be another source of nutrients. Just make sure you check which fruit and vegetables are not safe for dogs!
The proportions of the above food groups are relatively similar in both raw meat diets, and can be found below. These proportions ensure your Rottweiler is receiving enough nutrients to remain strong and healthy.
Bones and Raw Food Diet (BARF):
- 70% Muscle Meat
- 10% Edible Bone (Never Cooked)
- 5% Liver
- 5% Other Excretory Organs
- 10% Fruit and Vegetables
Prey Model - Raw (PMR):
- 80% Muscle Meat
- 10% Edible Bone (Never Cooked)
- 5% Liver
- 5% Other Excretory Organs
- No Fruit or Vegetables
How Much Should My Rottweiler Eat?
Rottweilers need to eat approximately 2% of their body weight in raw meat. However, this varies depending on their age and general health, so aim for anywhere between 1.5% and 4%.
- 1.5% of body weight - Overweight or elderly Rottweiler
- 2% of body weight - Healthy adult Rottweiler
- 4% of body weight - Underweight or adolescent Rottweiler (keep in mind young puppies need even more)
For example the average 110lb male needs around 2lbs 3oz (ie. 35oz) of raw meat each day. An average 92lb female, on the other hand, would only need around 1lb 13oz (ie. 29oz) of food.
This should also be spread across 2 meals in the day. So our 110lb big boy would be getting 1lb 2oz for breakfast and dinner. Don't forget that this is inclusive of any treats they get during the day. I like to use whole numbers, so below is an example of what you could feed an adult male.
Feeding Rottweiler Puppies a Raw Meat Diet
Puppies can also be fed a raw meat diet, but you need to be careful to consider how much they are eating and adjust the proportions of the food groups. This is because puppies need more energy to sustain their rapid growth, and they need more calcium to strengthen their bones.
That being said, here are the key changes you will need to make to the above diets to accomodate a young Rottweiler puppy.
You should be feeding your Rottweiler puppy more bone for a higher calcium intake. This will establish healthy and strong bones as they grow. A Rottweiler puppy should be eating around 15% bone, instead of 10%, until they are 2 years old (when they have grown to maximum size).
This percentile can be subtracted from the muscle meat portion. Therefore, if using a model that requires 80% muscle meat and 10% bone, you should adjust this to 75% muscle meat and 15% bone.
As well as more bone, your puppy should eat more food overall. Below is the recommended raw meat intake for a Rottweiler puppy per day, which ranges between 3%-10% of their body weight.
- 2 Months: 10% of their body weight.
- 3 Months: 9% of their body weight.
- 4 Months: 8% of their body weight.
- 5 Months: 7% of their body weight.
- 6 Months: 6% of their body weight.
- 7 Months: 5% of their body weight.
- 8 Months: 4% of their body weight.
- 9 Months: 4% of their body weight.
- 10 Months: 4% of their body weight.
- 11 Months: 3% of their body weight.
- 12 Months: 3% of their body weight.
After 12 months, you will need to assess when to scale back the food to 2% of their body weight. This is determined by whether your Rottie has reached maximum size. As this is usually reached by 24 months, it is safer to continue feeding your Rottweiler 3% of their body weight in food until 2 years old.
Lowering the Risks of a Raw Meat Diet
I discussed some of the risks associated with a raw meat diet earlier in this article, including an unbalanced diet, complications with eating bone and consuming harmful bacteria. Below are a few tips to minimise this risk.
- Follow the recommended proportions of each food group to ensure a balanced diet.
- Monitor your Rottweiler's stools. Stools that are too firm and white indicate too much calcium. Those that are too loose and dark indicate too much organ meat. You want a balance between these two extremes.
- Never cook the bones that your Rottweiler consumes.
- Commit to a full raw meat diet, if doing so. Combining a raw meat diet with kibble can upset your Rottweiler's stomach.
- Source your meat/organs from a reputable butcher or farm, with as few nasties as possible. Fresh from the farm is best.
- Freeze the meat for 2 weeks before defrosting and feeding to your Rottweiler. The extreme cold kills most harmful bacteria (eg. E. coli and Salmonella).
- If feeding fresh meat, make sure it is not in your fridge for more than 3 days.
- Wash your Rottweiler's food bowl after each meal to remove traces of raw meat products and prevent bacteria growth.
- Have a designated eating place for your Rottweiler so they learn they can't eat raw food from the bin, which could make them sick.
There are many Rottweiler owners who have successfully implemented a raw meat diet for their Rottweiler and not had any issues in doing so. So please be careful, but never fearful of giving it a go.