Why Does My Rottweiler Shake Its Head?

A Rottweiler’s head shake may look like any other kind of head shake – but it isn’t.

It’s different because it involves the whole body.

There are many reasons why your Rottweiler may shake her head.

The most common one is when she has an itch on her head.

But there are some other less obvious reasons why your Rottweiler might shake her head too, including when she has an ear infection or when she’s trying to dislodge anything stuck in her ears.

And sometimes, even though she seems healthy, your Rottweiler will shake her head just to express her frustration with you!

Possible causes of your Rottweiler’s head shaking

Before we go into the possible causes of your Rottweiler’s head shaking, let’s first talk about what exactly a head shake looks like.

If you think about it, people can only shake their heads up and down.

But dogs can move their heads left and right as well as up and down.

So if your Rottweiler shakes her head from side-to-side (from left to right) it’s likely that she’s feeling frustrated with you.

Or perhaps she’s annoyed that you just sat down next to her and won’t get out of her way.

Similarly, if your Rottweiler shakes her head up and down, this means that she’s agitated with you.

It could mean that she’s frustrated at being kept cooped up inside all day or maybe she’s upset that you didn’t give her enough food today.

And if your Rottweiler shakes her head back and forth, which usually happens when she’s excited, this could indicate that she wants to play with you.

So what do these behaviors mean?

1. Your Rottweiler is scratching herself

This is by far the most common reason for your Rottweiler’s head shaking behavior.

You’ll see your dog scratch her head, ears, neck, nose or paws whenever she feels uncomfortable.

She may also try to rub her face against things to soothe the irritation.

When you notice your Rottweiler doing this, check her ears first.

If they’re red, irritated or swollen, then she’s probably itching them.

If she scratches her face or ears excessively, you should pay attention to her skin.

Is it dry or oily?

Does it have scabs?

Are there fleas?

If your Rottweiler is scratching her ears constantly, this could be a sign of an ear infection.

So if she keeps doing it, make sure she gets to the vet immediately.

2. Your Rottweiler is trying to remove something stuck in her ears

If you noticed that your Rottweiler was scratching her ears or moving around in circles while she was trying to dislodge something stuck in them, then this is definitely worth mentioning.

This could mean that she’s experiencing discomfort, pain or distress.

You can help your Rottweiler remove whatever it is that’s causing her pain and discomfort.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Try gently pulling on the object with your fingers. If the object is small and not very heavy, then you can use a pair of tweezers to pull it out.
  • Use a cotton swab to wipe away the dirt, wax or debris that’s blocking your Rottweiler’s ears. Then use a Q-tip to clean the opening of each ear canal.
  • Put drops of olive oil into your Rottweiler’s ears. This will stop the blockage from forming again.
  • If none of these methods work, and you don’t want to risk hurting your Rottie, try putting some drops of vinegar in her ears. This will cause the blockage to dissolve.

3. Your Rottweiler is stressed out

If your Rottweiler is tense and nervous, this could be a sign that she’s anxious or fearful.

If she’s been acting like this for a long time, it could be a sign of anxiety disorder.

A lot of dogs experience anxiety during stressful situations, such as going to the vet or being alone outside for too long.

To help your Rottweiler deal with anxiety, practice calm, stress-free communication with her.

Keep her focused by playing games together instead of sitting quietly in the corner.

4. Your Rottweiler is having trouble sleeping

This is another common reason for your Rottweiler’s head shaking behavior.

A lot of dogs sleep with their heads resting on their legs.

When they’re tired, they stretch themselves out by lifting their heads off their legs.

However, if your Rottweiler doesn’t seem to be able to relax, she may be having problems falling asleep.

She may also wake up frequently throughout the night.

To prevent this, try to keep her active during the day so that she stays awake at night.

Also, feed her smaller meals more often than once every three hours.

5. Your Rottweiler is chewing something

Chewing is one of the most natural activities that dogs do.

They chew everything from toys to furniture to bones to wood.

Sometimes, however, your Rottweiler will chew something that isn’t good for her teeth.

This could be anything from a piece of string to a toothbrush handle.

To avoid accidents, never leave items lying around for your Rottweiler to chew on.

Instead, store them somewhere where she can’t reach them.

Why Does My Rottweiler Shake Its Head

When to worry about your Rottweiler’s head shaking

So what exactly does your Rottweiler do when she shakes her head?

If she’s doing it for no reason at all, then it probably won’t cause you any concern.

But if she’s doing it frequently, or if she’s having trouble breathing or swallowing, then you should take her to see a vet as soon as possible.

The good news is that you can usually tell pretty quickly whether or not your Rottweiler needs to go to the vet.

So, if you notice that she’s doing her head shake more often than usual, or if she’s coughing or choking while she’s doing it, then you need to take her to the vet right away.

How to get your Rottweiler to stop shaking its head

Shaking its head is a normal behavior in dogs, so you shouldn’t be alarmed if your Rottweiler does this occasionally.

However, if your Rottweiler shakes her head more often than usual, or if she does it while you’re playing with her, or if you notice her doing it at any time of day, you should take her to see the vet.

Here are some other signs that your Rottweiler needs to see the vet:

  • Your Rottweiler is having trouble breathing.
  • She’s not eating well.
  • She’s coughing up blood.
  • She’s vomiting more than usual.
  • She’s limping.
  • Her eyes are red or watery.
Why Does My Rottweiler Shake Its Head

Possible treatments for your Rottweiler’s head shaking

So how do you fix a problem with your Rottweiler’s head shaking?

The first thing to know is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your Rottweiler shakes her head.

Sometimes it can mean she wants you to scratch her behind the ears.

If this is the case, then try scratching her head and see what happens next.

If the shaking stops, then keep doing it until it starts up again.

This is probably the easiest solution and the best way to find out which part of your Rottweiler’s skin is causing the problem.

Sometimes, however, your Rottweiler will shake her head as a warning to let you know that something is bothering her.

If this is the case, then you need to figure out what it is first.

Here are some possible causes of your Rottweiler’s head shaking:

  • Hair loss
  • Ear infections
  • Head lice
  • Excessive licking (or chewing)
  • Dislodged food items
  • Something stuck in her ears
  • Puppy teething
  • Anxiety

1. Hair Loss

Your Rottweiler may have lost her hair due to a medical condition, such as cancer or diabetes.

It’s also possible that she lost her hair as a result of being mauled by another dog.

In either case, you need to check with your vet to see whether it’s caused by any ongoing illness.

If nothing else, you should take your Rottweiler to the vet so they can run tests and find out what’s going on.

2. Ear Infections

Ear infections are very common among dogs, especially puppies who haven’t been properly vaccinated against diseases.

They’re often caused by bacteria entering through the ears or by foreign objects getting trapped inside them.

You should always clean your puppy’s ears regularly with cotton balls soaked in warm water.

You can use baby oil to help loosen things stuck in your puppy’s ears.

Then you can gently remove the item using tweezers or a pair of needle-nose pliers.

3. Head Lice

Head lice are tiny insects that live on the bodies of humans and pets.

They feed off human blood and cause intense itching all over the body, including the scalp.

They spread easily between people and animals, so if your Rottweiler is showing signs of head lice, it’s time to consider taking action.

If your Rottweiler is infested, you should wash her head thoroughly with soap and water every day — preferably with a special shampoo designed for dogs.

After washing, put a fine-tooth comb through her hair to remove any eggs left by the lice.

Clean your dog’s bedding and towels frequently to prevent spreading the parasites around.

4. Excessive Licking (or Chewing)

Lick therapy is a controversial treatment that’s usually administered to dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

It works by rewarding your dog with treats when she licks a certain area of her body.

However, excessive licking can become a habit that leads to other problems.

For example, licking can irritate the skin and lead to skin allergies, yeast infections, and more serious conditions like ringworm.

If you think your Rottweiler is excessively licking herself, talk to your vet about ways to reduce this behavior.

They can recommend specific products to treat your dog’s skin and give you tips on how to redirect your Rottweiler’s attention away from the areas where she’s licking.

5. Dislodged Food Items

Some dogs love to play with their food, especially if they aren’t hungry.

This can lead to a variety of issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, and even choking or stomach ruptures.

To avoid these problems, you should never leave wet food lying around in bowls.

Instead, make sure your dog only eats dry food — ideally, she should eat twice a day instead of three times.

That way, if she chews on the bowl, she won’t choke on the food.

6. Something Stuck in Her Ears

Another reason your Rottweiler may be shaking her head is that something is caught in her ears.

To remove whatever it is, you need to carefully pull each side of her ear down and back to expose the opening.

Then you can gently remove the object using tweezers or a pair of needle-nose pliers.

7. Puppy Teeth

Young puppies can experience tooth decay, which can cause painful jaw pain and head shaking.

You should see your vet right away to discuss the options available to treat your puppy’s teeth.

How to prevent your Rottweiler from shaking its head

The first thing you need to know about your Rottweiler’s head shake is that this doesn’t always mean she’s unhappy or frustrated.

She may actually be trying to tell you something important – so don’t dismiss it as nothing more than a nervous habit.

If your Rottweiler shakes his head often, he may have an underlying health issue that needs investigating by a veterinary surgeon.

And while it’s normal for dogs to shake their heads occasionally, they shouldn’t be doing it frequently.

In fact, it can be a warning sign that something is wrong with them, and they should see their veterinarian.

So how can you tell if your Rottweiler is shaking his head too much?

Well, you can’t really tell unless you ask him.

And if he does start showing signs of discomfort, then it’s time to pay attention.

When your Rottweiler starts shaking his head excessively, keep an eye out for these signs:

  • He’ll shake his head when he’s standing up or lying down.
  • He won’t stop until he gets what he wants.
  • His eyes will get red and puffy.
  • He’ll try to lick his lips.
  • He’ll pant heavily.
  • He’ll have trouble breathing.
  • He’ll seem to be in pain.
  • He’ll appear distressed.
  • He’ll become aggressive.

If you notice any of these signs in your Rottweiler, you should bring her in immediately to see a vet.

What else can go wrong with your Rottweiler’s head?

What to do if your Rottweiler’s head shaking persists

If your Rottweiler shakes her head for more than a few seconds at a time, it’s probably not an itch – so don’t worry about that.

But if it lasts longer than a minute, then you should take her to the vet right away.

The reason?

There are several possible causes for long-lasting head shaking including:

  • Ear infections
  • Anxiety
  • Puppy teeth
  • Chronic ear inflammation
  • Dental disease
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Fungal infections
  • Brain tumor
  • Meningitis
  • Other neurological problems

So what can you do if your Rottweiler shakes her head for more than a minute?


If your Rottweiler is shaking her head at random intervals for no reason, then it’s probably nothing serious.

But if the head shaking is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition and you should take your dog to the vet.

Megan Turner
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