Rottweiler Dog Breed

Rottweiler Walking through a Field
  • Other names:
  • Rottie
  • Rott
  • Rottweil Metzgerhund
  • Butchers Dog
  • View all 4...

Rottweilers are a large dog breed which were originally bred to help drive cattle and pull carts. The breed's physical strength and fearless attitude makes them ideal guard dogs and watch dogs for the military, businesses, and families.

Rotties have a very strong protective instinct which can make the breed tricky for those not accustomed to this behavior. It is important to fully train and socialize rottweilers at a young age so their overly protective instinct doesn't lead to aggression issues in adulthood. With this in mind, rottweilers are not an overly aggressive bully breed by nature. Well bred and properly socialized rotties are generally playful, friendly, and loving dogs.

Rottweiler Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred8-11 yrs.22-27 in.85-130 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are the details and characteristics of the rottweiler dog breed.

Rottweiler Breed Description

Rottweilers are considered a large to giant dog breed with males weighing as much as 130 pounds and being as tall as 27 inches from ground to shoulder. They are heavily muscled and strong which makes them ideal for pulling carts and intimidating potential intruders.

The breed is confident and calm. They are suspicious of new people and unexpected situations and likes to observe people before deciding to make friends. Rotties are smart and have a very strong protective instinct, although they should never become aggressive without probable cause. The breed can be stubborn, but are easy to train using the right methods including positive reinforcement. Rottweilers are good with children, especially those who they were raised with, but need to be supervised since the dog's size can easily knock over a small child. The breed gets along with pets they were raised with, but can be wary towards stranger dogs.

Rottweiler's coats are fairly easy to maintain. Their coat requires a weekly brushing and will need to be bathed as needed to keep their coat clean and odor free. They are people dogs and need to live with their owners (not away from them alone). Not all rotts have the same energy level. Some rotties are lazy couch potatoes, while other are very energetic. Mid energy rottweilers will need two medium length walks per day to meet their exercise requirements to prevent hyperactivity and destructive behavior.

Rottweiler Breed History

Rottweiler history begins with the Molossus, a huge Mastiff-type dog that was originally utilized as a war dog and cattle driver as far back as the Roman era. The true origin of the Rottweiler is in southern Germany, through which Roman soldiers passed during their travels; some Romans stayed and settled there because of the region's fertile soil, and many raised cattle--so of course the Molosser dogs were of great use.

A lot of those Roman settlers built homes with red tile--and this is where the history of the "Rottweiler" breed name originates. One of the towns in the area eventually became Rottweil (or "red tile"), and it is believed this breed developed in that specific region. As centuries passed and the cattle market flourished in Rottweil, farmers used the Mastiff-type dogs for multiple purposes: the dogs would drive cattle to town to be butchered, then pull carts loaded with meat back to the cattle farms. The dogs would also protect the farmers from thieves along the way. Over time these guardian dogs became known as the Rottweiler Metzgerhund, or "Butcher's Dog of Rottweil." This interesting bit of trivia about Rottweiler origin answers the question, "Where are Rottweilers from?"

With the advent of motorized travel--first trains, then automobiles--the Rottweiler's use as a cattle driver declined almost to the point of extinction. In the early 20th century, though, a few German breed enthusiasts worked to revive the Rottweiler population, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1931. By the late 1900s, the breed was popular worldwide as a guardian and protection dog.

As of 2020, the Rottweiler is still extremely popular, and ranks eighth on the AKC's list of 196 registered breeds.

Rottweiler Appearance

The Rottweiler, as a Mastiff-type breed, is built for power. These large- to giant-sized dogs are muscular and athletic, and at first glance it's easy to understand why the breed is such a great guard dog!

But exactly what does a Rottweiler look like? Its head is block-shaped, with powerful jaws, almond-shaped eyes, a fairly short muzzle, and medium-sized, floppy ears (which are sometimes cropped--see below). The chest is broad and deep, the legs are long and straight, and the body is thick and packed with muscle. The tail is medium-length, thick, and curved (but is often docked--likewise, see the next paragraph).

Some owners have their Rotts undergo cosmetic procedures to enhance the dog's fierce look. Rottweiler ear cropping, while not very common, does happen. The Rottweiler ear crop, whereby part of the ear flap is surgically removed to make the ear stand erect, is actually discouraged by breed enthusiasts because it's painful for the dog and serves no practical purpose. Docking Rottweiler tails, meanwhile, is more common. A Rottweiler with tail docked sees most of the tail surgically removed during puppyhood; originally this was done to prevent injuries, but the practice no longer serves any purpose. According to veterinarians and breed experts, for the Rottweiler a long tail is best.

The Rottweiler coat is short to medium in length and lies flat against the body.

Rottweiler Coloring

Below are the standard coat colors for the Rottweiler dog breed.

Rottweiler Size

Two words come to mind when discussing Rottweiler size: big and powerful! A full-grown Rottweiler can reach 150 pounds or more--and Rottweiler weights include very little body fat.

Just how big do Rottweilers get? As with most breeds, female Rottweiler size differs a bit from that of males. Average Rottweiler weight for bitches is 80-100 pounds, while the typical height of a Rottweiler female is 22-25 inches at the shoulders. Male Rottweiler height is 24-27 inches, and average male Rottweiler weight is 95-135 pounds.

Average Adult Height

22-27 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

85-130 lbs

Rottweiler Variations

A lot of people believe that Rottweiler breeds exist in various sub-types--namely, the American Rottweiler, the German Rottweiler, and the Roman Rottweiler. In truth: while these variations exist, they're not officially recognized as such by major kennel clubs like the ADRK (Allgemeiner Deutcher Rottweiler Klub, the offical German breed organization) or the AKC. For the most part, these names exist to designate where the "breed" of Rottweiler is from (which can determine the breeding stock, and thus the dog's appearance), and they're mostly promoted for marketing purposes. In short, all Rottweiler dog "breeds" are simply Rottweilers.

That said, here's more info on the three Rottweiler types:

  • American: A dog born in the U.S. Because of more diverse breeding methods, American Rotties have wider variations in size, and are often taller and have longer legs and smaller heads.
  • German: Born in Germany, these dogs have better breeding lines, and are more uniform in size and temperament. This is due to the ADRK club's strict regulations on Rottweiler breeding practices.
  • Roman: Regardless of country of origin, Roman Rottie is often the name given to an especially big Rottweiler. Breeders may advertise these as the "King Rottweiler" or "Giant Rottweilers." The "Roman" in the description is a nod to the breed's larger Molosser-type ancestors, which themselves originated during the Roman era.

In regards to its coat, this breed sees little variation. The typical Rottweiler has a short- to medium-length one; any Rottweiler with long hair is almost certainly a crossbreed.

And as to size, purebred Rottweilers are fairly consistent as well, averaging 25 inches in height and 105 pounds in weight. Breeders may offer a type of Rottweiler that's much different in size, like Mini Rottweilers or a Teacup Rottweiler (or even huge Rottweilers--see above). Those dogs, whether a Miniature Rottweiler or the biggest Rottweiler in the world, are either the result of unethical breeding practices or simply crossbred dogs.

Rottweiler Temperament

Confident, intelligent, friendly, hardworking, and possibly dominant, the Rottweiler temperament is one of patience, courage, and loyalty. Because of their history as guardian dogs and cattle herders, Rottweiler temperaments make them naturally bold and assertive--though they're normally not aggressive unless conditioned to be that way. In any case, the Rottweiler personality will need some shaping, starting in puppy-hood if possible; extensive obedience training and socialization, done early and often, is a must for this breed.

If these dogs learn respect as puppies, they'll turn into well-balanced, calm, friendly adults--though their protective instincts will always remain. Regardless of the Rottweiler behavior with family members, extraordinary caution must be taken when the dog is around strange people or animals, as its instinct is to protect its people, which it will often do through confrontation unless taught otherwise.

Luckily, one of the best Rottweiler characteristics is that the breed is highly willing to please, so Rottweilers will respond well to training. It's imperative that trainers establish themselves as superior from the very beginning, too. Firm (but never harsh!), consistent, reward-based training methods are best.

And of course, the most fantastic of Rottweiler traits is that their abilities as watch- and guard dogs is unmatched. Though they're not frequent barkers, Rotties are alert and fearless, and will investigate unknown sights and sounds--and will be able to neutralize most potential threats.

Rottweiler and Children

Are Rottweilers good with kids? And in general, are Rottweilers good family dogs? The answer to both questions is yes--with some words of caution: first, it's best if the dog and the kids are raised together so they get to know one another when they're young. It's also important to teach both the Rottie and the kids to treat each other with respect--especially when it comes to playtime. Too-harsh horseplay (by either dog or child) may result in injury for the kids.

And adults must supervise their Rotties around infants and toddlers. A Rottweiler with a baby could have terrible consequences, as the dog may unintentionally hurt the child because of its size and strength.

Rottweiler and Other Pets

In general, Rottweilers and other pets socialize pretty well together. Like with children, ideally they'll be raised together. Are Rottweilers good with cats? A Rottweiler and cats is a decent mix--but these dogs have some prey drive, so the dog may instinctively chase cats, especially ones the dog doesn't know.

And are Rottweilers good with other dogs? This can be trickier. If the Rottweiler and other dogs grow up together, they should be okay--but introducing an adult Rottweiler to other dogs, especially those of the same sex, may make the Rottweiler turn aggressive.

Rottweiler Photos

Below are pictures of the Rottweiler dog breed.

Black & Rust Rottweiler
Black & Rust Rottweiler Head
Black & Tan Rottweiler
Female Rottweiler
Rottweiler Walking through a Field

Living Requirements

Having a Rottweiler as a pet definitely takes some thought. Rottweiler owners will need to provide plenty of socialization and training to help ensure proper behavior, and living with Rottweilers means plenty of daily exercise to keep the dog from getting bored (and thus destructive).

And Rottweiler ownership can happen in a house or apartment as long as the dog gets that exercise--but owners should consider the moral and legal ramifications of having these dogs. Because this breed has a reputation for fierceness, owning a Rottweiler is frowned upon in many social settings, and is actually prohibited by a lot of apartment complexes, neighborhoods, and municipalities. Potential owners should check with their local governing bodies to see if any restrictions exist before bringing a Rottie home.

And are Rottweilers hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, they're not. These dogs' double coats shed seasonally, so Rottweiler hypoallergenic tendencies are near zero. Allergy sufferers will need to consider another breed.

Random Details

Some interesting facts about the breed:

  • "Hero" Rottweiler stories: One of the best Rottweiler uses is as a savior and guardian. Numerous videos, tales, and accounts can be found across the Web concerning these dogs saving kids from burning buildings, thwarting physical assaults, and other courageous acts.
  • Rottweiler lockjaw...or Rottweiler jaw lock? Some people confuse a dog locking its jaws with "lockjaw," a medical condition more commonly called tetanus. In reality, no dog breed can actually lock its jaws--though breeds like the Rottie have such a strong bite that their jaws may seem as if they're locked shut!
  • "Ugly Rottweiler" Christmas apparel: Some retailers sell comically hideous holiday-themed sweaters and T-shirts, complete with an "Ugly Rottweiler" logo and the breed's image on front.
  • Rocky the Rottweiler: More Rottie-themed merchandise features a drawing of Rocky the Rottweiler, complete with mirrored sunglasses. The Rocky Rottweiler image can be found on mugs, T-shirts, and stickers sold at numerous Web stores.

Rottweiler Health

Below are health issues and concerns most common in Rottweilers

  • Allergies
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Bloat
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Panosteitis
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis
  • View all 9...

Rottweiler Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Rottweiler as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • Colonial Rottweiler Club
  • Deutscher Rottweiler Klub
  • International Rottweiler Club
  • View all 17...