Parvo Virus Facts and Information






Due to the ongoing confusion/misunderstanding and lack of information regarding the dreaded canine parvo virus; this additional information, along with warnings/suggestions and safety procedures was deemed a necessary addition to the current contracts and Medical Information sheets.

It contains the facts regarding the virus, the incubation period, the risks, vaccination information, safety measures, additional protocols as well as basic information regarding the Virus itself – and why so many Rottweiler puppies do not survive this dreaded virus.

We request that ALL new owners take careful note of everything that is contained in this sheet; as your puppy’s health and safety will benefit from this. It is ESSENTIAL that all dog owners (pet homes, show homes, urban, rural) know the facts as well the risks and the warning signs. *remember, just because your puppy has received 2 vaccinations before leaving us – does NOT mean the puppy has guaranteed resistance to the Parvo virus – it is only once the FULL course has been completed, and the immunological gap has been adequately covered, that your pup will have antibodies to prevent Parvo*





When a puppy is born, he/she receives adequate maternal antibodies from the mother to protect the immune system from attacks from bacterial and viral diseases (Parvovirus specifically). These antibodies remain HIGH enough for a period of time to give the young newborn protection, but the downside is there is NO definite period of time than can be determined by vets as to how long this mother protection period is. ANY vaccinations given at a time when the mother’s antibodies are still at a relatively high level within the pup, will NOT be effective. (In other words the mother’s antibodies within the puppy will render the vaccination null and void – the live virus from the vaccine will be killed). As each puppy is also different to the next in terms of how long the mother’s protection lasts, a series of vaccinations is necessary in order to ensure that at least ONE of the injections does take place in the period known as the immunological gap. (This is the period when the mother’s antibodies are gone/disappeared OR are so low, that the vaccine is effective)

While we are most certainly against over vaccinating dogs of any age; we take no chances in terms of puppy vaccinations, due to what is at stake. Some vets believe the first vaccine should only be given at 8 weeks, others believe the mother’s antibodies remain in the puppy for up to 16 weeks making all previous vaccinations for Parvo ‘wasted vaccinations’ and there are many others who believe a strict 4 week gap in between vaccinations is the safest as some pups might receive very little protection from mother’s antibodies.

The bottom line is: Until ONE of the vaccinations within the series is effective; your puppy is at risk of picking up Parvo. It is essential that owners understand the immunological gap, and why a final injection at 20/22 weeks for Rottweilers is something we STRONGLY recommend – even though many vets are against this. Remember as well: once your puppy has received the vaccine that DOES provide them with protection (it could be at 12 weeks, 16 weeks or 20 weeks) it does take the vaccine a full 14 days to take effect, so the utmost care must still be taken in these times to NOT expose your puppy to anything/anyone/anyplace that could pose a Parvo risk.





We take Parvo very seriously at Craffenheim Rottweilers, and I can proudly say we have never in over 16 years of breeding had an outbreak at our kennel. This is because we are obsessed with cleanliness, disinfecting all areas, vaccinations of our adult dogs, sterile conditions, strict monitoring of who and what enters our farm and an entire safety protocol we follow daily without fail.

The first protection our puppies receive from parvo in the ‘milk’ that the mother’s produce for the first 72 hours after birth. It is in THIS that the maternal antibodies are present.

Our puppies are vaccinated at 4 weeks of age – it seems young, but we are always concerned that even one pup might not have the mother’s antibodies needed – and SHOULD the dreadful virus somehow find its way onto the farm, we would like to be safe in the knowledge we have protected all. *We know vaccines can put young puppies’ immune systems under pressure, which is why we continue to give our pups Colostrum, raw feeding and other immune system building supplements throughout their lives on the farm. We also allow them to continue to drink from their mother for as long as she will allow them – and with most of our mothers: they allow their pups to take a last sip of mother’s milk before they leave the farm and go to their new families. (We believe the mother’s milk is beneficial right up until the pups leave)

The next injection takes place at 8 weeks, along with the full examination by our veterinary surgeon and he guarantees the puppy will be leaving Craffenheim Parvo FREE. (There is a test performed with a 100% accuracy rate within veterinary surgeries countrywide that can confirm this within 15 minutes)

This is also why we mention in our contract, that new owners are encouraged to take their puppies to their own vets within 24 hours of arrival at home in order to receive another examination – including another parvo test. The Veterinary booklet that accompanies your pup, will indicate the next vaccine due at 12 weeks of age, then again at 16 and a final one at 20 weeks (This is a safe protocol for large breed black and tan dogs, who as we have mentioned before, are far more prone to Parvo, and to dying from it – than any other breed). Should your vet have any issues or give you any alternative advice, please remind them that studies within the USA from renowned expert on Immunology, Dr Jean Dodd’s, does state that on average it seem MOST puppies receive the protection needed between 18 and 20 weeks in terms of vaccinations within a series. So NO, we are not vets, and we are not advocates of over vaccination but we are aware of too many puppies who have completed their ‘so called entire course of vaccinations’ by 16 weeks old, and who STILL get Parvo virus as not one of the injections in the series was given at the optimal time in order to be effective.

***Very Important: On the trip home (after puppy collection) do NOT stop anywhere to allow the pup to urinate or stand on strange grass at filling stations etc. Keep him/her in the travel crate until you reach your destination. Stops at strange places are not only stressful for the pup emotionally, but can be potentially LETHAL. If your pup is flying to you from our kennel, we rely on the very professional services of our carriers who do not open the travel crates at all – nor do they take the pups out for toileting at the cargo holds on departure or arrival. We insist on this. Please leave your puppy in its sterile travel crate when you collect him/her from cargo at the arrival point. Only once you are home, open the crate and allow the pup out. 




This is something not spoken of much within South Africa, but it is the only 100% accurate manner to confirm that your puppy is in fact protected from Parvo virus by means of sufficient antibodies. You can request a titer test at ANY stage from your vet, who will then have to send it to Ondersterpoort (University of Pretoria) for a reading. This will indicate if your puppy is immune to the illness, and if one of the vaccinations have taken effect. Some of our owners start having titer tests at 12 weeks of age, thereby knowing if any further vaccinations are necessary or not. Please speak to your vet about this – if you are prepared to pay for this testing, it is a wonderful tool and guarantees peace of mind, allowing you to safely start exploring the world with your pup.





4. How to avoid the virus

Parvo is strong, and it can travel in the wind, at the bottom of shoes, on clothing, in feces and could be sitting on your neighbor’s lawn without you knowing it. Because it is so powerful and elusive we believe in FULL and 100% environmental protection for your puppy until at least 2 weeks after the final vaccination, OR once a titer test result has shown your pup has the antibodies needed for full immunity against the illness.

4.1. Veterinary Practices: Many will deny it but unfortunately puppies can and DO often pick up the dreaded virus while at veterinary surgeries. Do not let your pup out of your car to wait for hours in the waiting room among other animals. Do not allow staff to weigh your dog on the ‘dog’ scale. Do not put your puppy down on the ground outside OR inside the practice. Take your own crate, your own blanket and hold the puppy while the vet examines him/her. Do not let your puppy socialize with other dogs at the vet, and do not let other people come over and pet your puppy (you do not know what they are carrying via their dogs). When returning from a visit to the vet, take your shoes off before entering your home or carry a spray bottle of F10 formula (already mixed) in your car at all times, so that you can spray the bottom of your shoes when entering your home and puppy zone.

 4.2 . Remember, it is not only vet practices where parvo carrying dogs can be found. Many dogs will shed the virus in their feces only without being sick themselves, so dog parks, TRAINING FIELDS, puppy classes, dog show venues, the beach etc. are all possible areas of contamination. While this might sound paranoid and delusional, the truth is many puppies in our breed can and DO pick up this lethal virus at the places mentioned above. The same can be said for ‘playdates’ for puppies at friend’s homes: please be very careful about where you take your pup and where you allow your pup to roam/sit/sniff. The virus is usually inhaled or taken in by mouth and as we all know, puppies will shove their faces into anything and anyone.


4.3.Keeping your own environment sterile is also important, and this can be done easily if you do not allow strange dogs on to your property, or you simply ask guests to disinfect the bottom of their shoes before entering your home. A simple hand wash with Dettol before petting your puppy is not too much to ask of your guests. (Or even asking them to leave their shoes outside before entering your home)


4.4.Early signs: Remember the virus will lay dormant in your puppy’s system for approx. 7-9 days after he/she has in fact picked it up. During this time you will notice NO changes at all and feeding, toilet habits, behavior will all seem normal. This changes pretty fast and this is why we encourage ALL owners to be on permanent puppy watch in the early weeks. At the first sign of any of the following, we encourage immediate veterinary attention:

  • Temperature
  • Refusal of food (any meal or treat usually eaten with gusto)
  • Any vomiting
  • Loose stool (even if there is no blood present in the stool yet – we recommend immediate veterinary care) – Bloody stool is already in the critical stage – do NOT let it get to this
  • Any sign of dehydration, listlessness, lethargy, seizures, strange behavior



4.5 Special note about dog shows: PLEASE be warned: even though puppy classes at dog shows are wonderful to watch and you might truly want to enter your young one, please wait until you have either had a successful titer test or a final vaccination at a later age (20 weeks). Where there are so many dogs gathered the risks for many infectious diseases is extremely high (not only Parvo shedding dogs, but Kennel cough, herpes and more) and it is not worth the risk. This is the professional opinion of Craffenheim Rottweilers.


4.6.Special note about Puppy Classes (Socialization): While we highly recommend your puppy attend training, we also believe in putting health above risk. Please select any training facility very carefully. Enquire as to their policy re: parvo, vaccination checks on other dogs, sterility, cleaning, soiling of grass, specific puppy areas declared parvo and other dog ‘free’. This is a balance of doing what is right for your puppy, both in terms of training but also in terms of safety. When risk is higher than reward – the reward must be ignored. PLEASE discuss all the potential parvo risks with the trainers you select, and the facilities they use. We cannot reiterate this enough. There are many cases on record of Rottweilers who have picked up parvo at 6 months and older due to no immunity (in other words, not one of the injections in the series managed to provide the antibodies required due to mother’s antibodies being present up until 16 week injection – this is why we call on a 20 week injection).

4.7.Please avoid all stray dogs, kennels, neighbors who have dogs not vaccinated etc. and ensure any staff/friends/family entering your property that may be in contact with unvaccinated dogs; takes the necessary precautions – shoes off, wash hands etc.

Even with the best intentions and most vigilant of owners, this terrible virus can hit our breed (our puppies mostly) at any time and prevention is key. In the case of parvo, forewarned is forearmed. KNOW the illness, know the risks, know the safety measures, know the action to be taken immediately. Parvo is a curse, and vets are no closer to working out just why it is Rottweilers and Dobermans are more susceptible to death from this virus than other breeds. (The general feeling is immunity related – due to being large breed dogs, and a gene re: the black and tans). But whatever the cause/reason: the reality is what it is and we need to be prepared.





MUST READ: THIS IS THE ADRK (who Craffenheim follows as close as possible in terms of health and standard to health) official opinion on Parvo and its explanations and discussions. “(Translated from the Original German verbatim)”




Doris Jessen, specialist journalist, Hamburg


Doris Jessen (45) studied communication science and market and advertising psychology in Munich. After ten years of working as a press clerk of various companies, she ventured into self-employment in 1996 and has been working as a PR consultant and freelance journalist since then. Apart from information and communication technology, her main focus is on topics related to her two hobbies: dogs and horses.


Her particular interest is in veterinary medicine, whereby she attaches great importance to presenting complex facts easily. In this environment, she will continue to support the Allgemeine Deutsche Rottweiler-Club eV in future with regular contributions.


Doris Jessen is married and lives in Hamburg. In addition to her husband Lars Jessen, the small family still includes the Australian Shepherd Bitch "Apron" as well as the two American Quarter Horses "Peppy" and "Pago".


Parvovirus - Close the immunological gap (PLEASE READ!)


The risks of an infectious disease are known to every responsible dog breeder and dog owner. For puppies particularly dangerous, because in 80 percent of cases lethal, is the parvovirus. To date, they have not been vaccinated at a particularly vulnerable age between the 5th and 8th week because the maternal antibodies were a barrier against vaccination. With the modern vaccination virus (CPV 2b), an early vaccination has also been possible recently.


The paper also contains extensive recommendations on how a breeder should behave, whose operation is affected by parvovirus.


The parvovirus, caused by canine parvovirus (CPV), is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases for the dog. It affects especially the immune system and the intestinal mucosa. "Three to ten days after infection, which takes place over the nose and mouth, the dog gets fever, becomes dull and appetite. Shortly thereafter, the typical symptoms are vomiting and nauseating, increasingly bloody diarrhea. If the animal is not treated immediately, it can die within a few days, "explains Dr. Med. Vet. Günter Allmeling, specialist for surgery and head of the animal clinic Börnsen near Hamburg.


Intensive medical therapy usually has to be carried out in an inpatient clinic. "The goal is to keep the animal stable in its constitution and condition until its own defense takes hold. Since the virus itself is not very effective, the treatment mainly consists of continuous infusion in order to stabilize the fluid balance. In addition, there are strong antibiotics against secondary infections and virus-specific interventions such as the administration of interferon and hyperimmune sera, "says Dr. Allmeling.


Puppies protected by mother's milk


It is important in every case that the mother dog is vaccinated, the puppies are protected during the first weeks of life by the "maternal" (maternal) antibodies. They take this in the first two days of life with the breast milk of the bitch. The maternal antibodies are, however, different in their number during the first weeks of life, and since the puppy does not yet produce its own antibodies, the protection becomes ever lower and the risk of infection is higher.



The "immunological gap"


Patients are particularly prone to infection - depending on the number of maternal antibodies - between approximately the fourth / fifth and tenth / twelfth weeks of life. To vaccinate the puppies at this time was not very useful until recently. Because the remnants of the maternal antibodies regard the vaccine virus as infection and inactivate it. However, they are not sufficient for protection against an actual infection. This phase is called an "immunological gap".


Another problem the breeder has when one of his dogs falls ill. Then the immune protection should be refreshed in the still healthy stock again. This, however, was at least risky for other breeding bitches of the breeder with the present live vaccines because the vaccination viruses could infect or damage the fetuses via the placenta of the mother animal.


Researchers are developing early vaccine


As a result, the research and development efforts of vaccine manufacturers have long been waged to produce vaccines that can be used to shorten this critical phase to a minimal period. The advantage was that the parvovirus CPV type 2 formed smaller mutations with time: the antigens CPV 2a and, for some years, also increasingly CPV 2b. The changes are very small. They nevertheless ensure that the new "Virbagen Puppy 2b" vaccine is not inactivated by maternal antibodies in the puppy organism (whose mother was usually vaccinated against type 2 or 2a) on type 2b. Nevertheless, the vaccination virus produces a so-called "cross-immunity" which protects the puppy against the other virus strains.


The vaccine had no influence on the course of gestation, birth or litter size and the healthy puppies developed normally.



When to vaccinate?


Eight to ten days a healthy body needs at least to form the first antibodies after vaccination. Until full immune protection, the immune system has had to deal with the second vaccination four to six weeks (booster effect). The puppies are already 16 weeks old. "However, since the maternal antibodies often fall below the protective limit (limit titer) after only a few weeks of life, the puppies should be vaccinated for the first time with the new CPV 2b vaccine in the fifth week to minimize the risk of parvovirus To make it possible, "says Dr. Allmeling.


From the 8th / 9th the regular vaccinations can be carried out in the usual way, as recommended on the relevant websites of the VDH (Volltextsuche: Vaccination Recommendation).


The devil does not sleep


Parvovirus infection can occur despite all precautions. Because the virus is excreted in large amounts with the feces of diseased animals, it is very robust and can survive for months in the environment. Thus, it is infectious at temperatures of 4 to -25 ° Celsius after 13 months, at 32 ° Celsius it still retains its pathogenic effect for more than six months. Even 80 ° Celsius is at least 30 minutes - as does chloroform or acid.


Extensive list of measures


Now the whole organization of the breeding company has to adjust itself to the fight against the Parvoviruses. First and foremost, the (still) healthy dogs have to be protected. This is done by means of quarantine areas for each individual animal, which are strictly separated from the "normal stations" and, if possible, by different persons. The sick animals must be supplied as last.




Disinfection measures are of particular importance. Hands must be washed regularly or wear rubber gloves for each animal. Potential carriers include shoes, clothing and feed or transport vehicles. It is advisable to use protective kits (better than overalls), disposable shoes or disinfecting mats at the transition points from the quarantine to the normal stations. The entire dirt wash must first be stored in sealed bags and disinfected before washing.


Only a few agents are suitable for disinfection since the canine parvovirus is very resistant. This includes:


    2% glutaraldehyde solution


More detailed information is provided by hygienic manufacturers, e.g. Interhygiene GmbH in Cuxhaven, HWR Chemistry in Emmering or Noack GmbH in Warendorf.


Before the preparation of the disinfectant or at the time of exposure, it should be checked whether the mixture and thus the concentration is correct. Generally more important than much disinfection are targeted measures, which also "sit". What cannot be disinfected must be radically removed in case of acute illness.


Caution should always be exercised by the breeder on new arrivals: They must have received a basic immunization at least two to four weeks before their "entry" and should be quarantined for two to three weeks. Last certainty about the virus-freeness is gained only by a blood and Kotuntsuchung.


Therapies and immunization measures in the affected herd are indispensable to minimize the excretion of pathogens and to protect all healthy and infected "non-susceptible" dogs. This can now be done via a "booster vaccination" with the above-mentioned new vaccine "Virbagen Puppy 2b". The treatment of diseased dogs during the incubation period, i.e. in the first three to nine days, and in the acute phase, is the same as for prophylaxis by feline interferon.


In order to ensure harmless pregnancy and rearing, the mother beasts must be housed in an anuric-free environment at least three weeks before the birth date. If the mother animal already had a litter with parvovirus symptoms, the puppies should be already deposited and isolated after four to five weeks





Here are a few links for further reading and insight:


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