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The Rottweiler’s Eye by Yvonne Bekkers

Yvonne Bekkers eye article


“The eyes are the mirror of the soul and reflect everything that seems to be hidden; and like a mirror, they also reflect the person looking into them.” This sentence says a lot and if you ask my personal opinion, it’s very true! When you look into the eyes of your dog, you know what they are feeling. Therefore, I find it very important that our Rottweiler has a correct eye that looks like it is described in the ADRK/FCI Breed Standard. In the Standard, it states:

Eyes: Of medium size, almond-shaped, dark brown in colour. Eyelids close fitting. In the Standard, there are also faults and even eliminating faults regarding the eyes.

Faults: Eyes: Light, deep set. Also too full and round eyes; loose eyelids.

Eliminating faults: Eyes: Entropion, ectropion, yellow eyes, different coloured eyes.

The Standard:

Of medium size: not too big or too small.

That is in the eyes of the beholder, I always say. It depends on the size of the head in relation to the eyes and the opinion of the judge.

Almond-shaped is easier to point out. You can simply see this form. If the shape is different, it is considered a fault.

Dark brown in color: the eye-box is something judges use as a guideline. When you have taken or watched an ADRK Ztp, you have most likely seen this box. Many breed specialists also carry their eye-box to
every judging they do. The most ideal eye color for a Rottweiler is 1B/2A.

Some people like to see the eye of the Rottweiler as dark as possible, so they prefer the 1A eye color. However, in the Standard it states dark brown, not black. If you look into the eye of a Rottweiler who has a black eye, you look into an eye that appears dead. There is no “life” in an eye with that color. If you have a dog with the preferred dark brown eye, you can see (as I call it) the soul of the dog. This is also a very important feature in the expression of our breed.

1A = black
1B/2A = dark brown (ideal)
2B = Brown
3A/3B = medium brown
4A/4B = light brown
5/6 = yellow

The eye is just a small part of a Rottweiler, but it is a big part in his appearance. When there is something wrong with the eye it takes away a lot of the dog’s expression, and sometimes it can cause problems with his health as well! There are just a few things in the Standard about the eye and it’s quite clear what is meant by it all. But that’s on paper. In real life, many things are different from what is in the Standard.

Here are a few things that I have encountered during my judgings. All of these things take away from the Rottweiler’s expression and therefore are faults. It depends on the judge how strongly some of the faults are taken into consideration. Except for the things described in the Standard as a disqualifying fault—then the decision is clear.

Eyelids close fitting: This speaks for itself. The eyelids are tightly fitted around the eyeball.

Round eyes: This is an eye that is round instead of almond shaped (see Picture 1).

Big eyes: These eyes are still almond shaped, but in relation to the rest of the skull, the eyes look big. With the changing of the shape of the head (refer to the article I wrote about the “fashion heads” in Issue 1 of 2014), the skull of the dog is also changing. They show a high forehead and a very short muzzle. With this, the sockets of the eye are also changing shape and the shape of the eyes changes, too. Many of the “fashion head” dogs have round eyes, often combined with big eyes.

Visible third eyelid: In the corner of the eye, you can see an “extra” eyelid (and yes, I know it’s a picture of a cat).

Open under eyelid: The under eyelid is not closely fitted to the eyeball. The problem with this condition and the visible third eyelid is that these natural barricades against bacteria and viruses are not working optimally. This can cause eye infections and those are very painful for a dog (yes, this is also a picture of a cat).

Wet eyes: The eye is watery-this can be caused by all kind of different factors. For instance, when you walk outside and the wind is blowing in your eye, this can cause your eyes to be watery and tears are running down your cheeks. This can also happen with a dog that has been held on a bench at the show grounds with the wind blowing into the bench. This does not mean you need to cover your bench! It is just an example of how it could happen.

Deep set eyes: The eye lies deep in the socket. This is not the same thing as a small eye.

Small eyes: The eyes look small in relation to the rest of the skull.

Two different colored eyes: I have seen it once with a Rottweiler at a dog show where I was a spectator. I must say that unless there is quite a big difference in color, it is not easy to see when you are judging in a hall or at  night with artificial lighting. At an outdoor show with good light, it can still be difficult to spot because of the reflection of the sun.

Light eyes, yellow eyes or too light eyes (eye-box colors 4A/4B, 5/6): When a Rottweiler has yellow eyes or too-light eyes, it takes away from the expression of the dog.

Entropion: This means that the hairs on the eyelids are turned in towards the eye. The hairs are then constantly rubbing against the eyeball. As you can imagine, this constant rubbing hurts! Dogs with this problem will often show wet eyes and they pinch their eye. This problem can be fixed by an operation, BUT keep in mind that it is a hereditary condition!

Ectropion: This means that the hairs on the eyelids are turned away from the eye. Eyelids are normally sort of a barrier to bacteria. When the eyelids turn away from the eye, this natural barrier is not as efficient anymore and the dog has a higher risk for eye infections. This problem can also be fixed by an operation, BUT again, keep in mind that this is also hereditary!

The conclusion is that the eye is not only important for the expression of the Rottweiler, but also has a lot to do with its health and state of mind. If the dog does not feel good because his eyes are painful, you cannot expect the dog to perform at his best. Not in the show-ring, not on the training field, not during protection work, not at home, nowhere.

Until we meet again.

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