Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is a handsome and impressive dog with a rich history as a working and military/ police dog. Today, these calm, kind, and protective dogs make excellent family pets. Rottweilers are friendly, calm, and courageous. They are rarely shy and tend to take most new experiences in stride. They are energetic dogs and are the perfect companion for a person with an active lifestyle. They are always up for new adventures and would love to accompany their people on hikes, walks, and participate in agility and other dog sports. While they have a "tough" appearance, they are calm, kind, and affectionate pets, especially with their own family and they can be watchful protectors of children. Though they are considered to be intelligent dogs, they can be a challenge to train. Their stubbornness requires a firm, experienced hand. But, time and persistence will be rewarded with an excellent pet and companion. Unfortunately, Rottweilers and Rottweiler-type dogs have been unfairly characterized as "aggressive". Aggression in any dog is usually due to poor breeding, training, and socialization. However, when you own this type of breed, it is important to remember that people may judge your dog unfairly and that proper training and socialization are important so that kind, well-behaved dogs can continue to be excellent ambassadors for this wonderful breed.

Rottweiler
Rottweiler. Photo credit: Doug Pieper
All Rottweiler pictures »

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Rottweiler breed is also commonly known by the names Rottie,Rott.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 8 - 10 years

Breed group: Working Dogs (AKC), Working Dogs (KC), Pinschers and Schnauzers, Molossoids and Swiss Mountain Dogs Dogs (FCI)

Size: Medium

Male Female
Height 24 - 27 in 22 - 25 in
Weight 97 - 132 lbs 79 - 119 lbs

Coat: Short

Colors: Black, Black and Tan, Brown

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Heavy shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Yes

Good with other pets: Not really

Intelligence / Trainability: Very high

Exercise needs: High

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: High

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Very sensitive

Good for novice owners: No

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: High

Barking: Frequent

General health: Below average

Cost to keep: High

History

The Rottweiler is one of the world's oldest herding breeds, with a history that is thought to date back all the way to the Roman Empire. It is thought that they are descendants of ancient Roman drover dogs. These mastiff-type dogs were used to push the herds of cattle for food as the Roman legions moved around the continent.

Around A.D. 74, the Roman army traveled across the Alps and into what is now southern Germany, and a town eventually called Rottweil. There, the Roman dogs continued to drive cattle and guard money for the butcher in pouches hung around their necks, and were eventually named Rottweiler Metzgerhunds, or butcher dogs. At one point, the breed nearly became instinct when railroads took over the need for herding dogs.

When World War I began and there was an increase in the need for military and police dogs, Rottweilers made a comeback. They were used for messenger, ambulance, draught, and guard dogs.

The Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub (DRK, German Rottweiler Club) was the first Rottweiler club in Germany, was formed in 1914. A second, and larger club, the Süddeutscher Rottweiler-Klub (SDRK, South German Rottweiler Club) came about in 1915 and later became the IRK (International Rottweiler Club). In 1921, all of the German clubs came together to form the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK, General German Rottweiler Club).

In 1931, the Rottweiler was recognized by the AKC and reached its high point in the min-1990's as the most registered dog by the American Kennel Club.

Appearance

The Rottweiler is a striking dog who makes a strong first impression with his robust, powerful build and a noble expression.
Typical characteristics are:


  • A broad, medium-sized head, well-developed jaw, medium eyes, and ear that fold over at the tips.

  • A sturdy, well-muscled body that slopes only slightly from front to back.

  • The tail is docked close to the body.

  • Double coat that is coarse, dense, medium length, and flat. The amount of undercoat depends on the climate that the dog lives in.

  • Colors: Always black with rust to mahogany markings with clear demarcations between the black and rust/mahogany.

Temperament

Intelligence/Trainability

Rottweilers are very intelligent, and though they are fairly quick to learn, they can be stubborn when training. These dogs require a steady, consistent hand and an assertive trainer. Training a Rottie requires time, patience, and the ability to set proper boundaries. Because of this, a Rottweiler may not be appropriate for a first-time owner.

As with all intelligent breeds, Rottweilers require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks.

Activity

Because they were originally bred as herding/working dogs, Rottweilers are high-energy dogs that require a fair amount of exercise. 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise twice per day is enough to keep your Rottweiler healthy and happy. They also require mental stimulation like games and activities. Despite being high-energy and requiring exercise, they are not generally excitable.

Keep in mind that Rottweiler puppies grow very fast from 4 to 7 months of age. Because of this, they are susceptible to certain bone disorders. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.

Independence

Rottweilers are affectionate dogs who become very attached to their human family members. They are happiest if they can spend all of their time alongside their family. They will not thrive in situations where they must spend long periods of time on their own.

Protective

Rottweilers are strongly bonded to their family members and can be protective. They are calm and watchful but will let you know if there is an intruder and will most likely defend those people they view as part of their "pack".

Living Conditions

Because of their large size and exercise requirements, Rottweilers do not adapt well to apartment living. They do best with a large space to run, play, and explore.

Children and Other Pets

Rottweilers are generally good with children, but because they are large dogs, care should be taken with small kids. They have a history as herding dogs and will lean on and push children, which could result in knocking over a toddler or child. Also, most herding dogs will chase a child if they are running. Finally, because they are protective over their family and "pack" they may protect a child when it is not needed, like when he or she is roughhousing with other kids. Socialization, proper training, and boundaries can help to curb or eliminate these behaviors.


  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

Rottweilers can be good with other pets or dogs of they are raised with them. However, they may have issues with meeting new dogs, both in and outside of the home. Same-sex dogs can be especially problematic. Early socialization is very important. Special care needs to be taken when introducing a new puppy to your other pets. It needs to be done slowly and very careful to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that it is a calm, positive experience for the puppy.

Health

The average life expectancy of a Rottweiler is between 8 - 10 years. Like all breeds, the Rottweiler is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Rottweiler is prone to these diseases:
  • Hypothyroidism (hereditary)
  • Elbow Dysplasia (hereditary)
  • Panosteitis (hereditary)
  • Aortic Stenosis/Sub-aortic Stenosis (AS/SAS) (hereditary)

Grooming

Rottweilers have a short, straight, and coarse double coat, that sheds twice a year. They need to be brushed once a week, to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils; with their short coat, it's very easy.

They don’t really need a bath too often, once a month should suffice. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs.

Some dogs wear their nails down on their own with exercise, but many do not. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.

Feeding

Rottweilers are large, generally high-energy dogs, so they require a large amount to eat. 4-10 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Rottweilers are prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).