Rottweiler

 Rottweilers are smart, hard-working dogs that can be gentle and devoted when trained well. Learn more about living with Rottweilers.
By Kate Silver
August 24, 2020
Rottweiler
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament
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Rottweiler

height
  • 22 to 27 inches
weight
  • 80 to 135 pounds
life span
  • 9 to 10 years
breed size
  • large (61-100 lbs.)
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • gentle
  • playful
  • aloof
  • aggressive
  • protective
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • seasonal
exercise needs
  • medium
energy level
  • calm
barking level
  • infrequent
drool amount
  • high
breed group
  • working
coat length/texture
  • medium
colors
  • brown / chocolate / liver
  • black
patterns
  • black and tan
other traits
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • good watch dog
  • prone to health issues
  • highly territorial
  • high potential for weight gain
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good hiking companion

The Rottweiler’s name is derived from the German phrase Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which means “Rottweil butchers' dogs.” They were called this because of the breed’s herding talent and guard dog instincts in the German town of Rottweil. This breed is smart, tough, and loves to work, which is why it’s had a number of important jobs throughout history, including police dog, guide dog, and search-and-rescue dog. With proper training and socialization, the Rottweiler can also be a gentle companion that exudes loyalty and love. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Rottweiler is the eighth-most popular dog in the United States. 

Appearance 

Adorable and bouncy Rottweiler puppies grow up to be quite commanding adults. Standing at 22–27 inches at the shoulder and weighing 80–135 pounds, these muscular dogs have massive heads and jaws that can make them look intimidating—especially male dogs, which are larger and brawnier than the shorter and more slender female ones. The Rottweiler’s medium-length, shiny, and low-maintenance coat is black with rust markings.

Temperament

Intelligent and frequently stubborn Rottweilers love to be occupied with tasks and are inherently trainable. Owners should be committed to consistent obedience training to ensure a well-behaved dog. 

People frequently ask breeders and vets, “Are Rottweilers aggressive?” and although there certainly have been documented Rottweiler attacks, proper training and socialization starting at a young age will yield a gentle, loyal, and loving dog. “Historically, they’re guard dogs,” Scott Neabore, DVM, who owns Neabore Veterinary Clinic in Haddonfield, N.J., says. “They tend to be protective of owners. They are very strong and powerful. When I see Rottweiler puppies, I’ll talk to owners more about the importance of training to make sure that they know what they’re getting into. This is a breed that you don’t want to not have control of, because they are big and strong. If they’re not trained well, they can hurt you.” The Rottweiler temperament isn’t for everyone. Neabore doesn’t recommend this breed for first-time pet owners. 

However, they can also make excellent family dogs. One of his Rottweiler-owning clients has four children under the age of 10. “The dog is great with them,” he says. “Get the training early and they can certainly be a good dog.” They also get along well with cats and other dogs. As with all animals, though, a proper, gradual introduction is important for the safety of all animals involved. 

Living Needs 

While a fenced yard can help Rottweilers get the daily exercise they need, it isn’t mandatory. A long walk every day goes a long way. What’s most important, Neabore says, is that the dogs have something to do so they don’t get bored. They love activities such as hiking, jogging, and swimming. As working dogs with a long history of farm duties, they also excel at pulling carts, herding, tracking, and obedience training. 

Although they look tough, Rottweilers are actually quite sensitive and can suffer from separation anxiety. If left alone for long periods of time, Rottweilers may bark, dig, or indulge in other annoying and even destructive behaviors. “It’s when they get bored that you could start having aggression issues,” Neabore says.

Care

These social dogs prefer companionship, be it humans or another dog. Because of the Rottweiler’s eagerness to please, training tends to be fairly easy (although some can certainly be more stubborn than others). Rottweilers respond best to fair, calm, consistent training and discipline. Rough treatment and rough play should be avoided at all times.

When it comes to care and grooming, Rottweilers are a fairly low-maintenance—all they need is a good brushing once a week and a bath every few weeks. They don’t shed much throughout the year with the exception of a twice-a-year shedding season, when the hair will seem to be everywhere. For optimal health, brush your dog’s teeth and trim his nails regularly. 

Health

Rottweilers live to be about 9-10 years old, the American Kennel Club says. They’re prone to a number of health conditions, including bone and joint issues, certain cancers, eye problems, and heart disease. They also can gain weight easily, so exercise is especially important. Rottweiler owners should speak with their veterinarian about common Rottweiler health concerns and get advice on steps they can take to reduce their pet’s risk of getting sick.

History

The Rottweiler’s ancestors were the preferred working dogs of ancient Rome because of their talents for herding, wrangling, pulling carts, and protecting people and livestock. After the fall of Rome, these dogs continued protecting and herding animals in Rottweil, Germany. There, they were called Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which translates to “Butcher’s dog of Rottweil,” because of their reputation for pulling carts filled with meat and protecting livestock, the AKC says.

Due to their hardworking nature, Rottweilers became a popular police dog choice. They were also used as messengers, guards, and rescue dogs during World War I. Decades later, Rottweilers were also one of the breeds of working dogs who provided search and rescue services at the World Trade Center in New York City following the 9/11 attacks, the AKC says.  

There are several types of Rottweilers, including the Roman Rottweiler, the German Rottweiler, and the American Rottweiler. The Roman Rottweiler is bred to be larger in size and mastiff-like. German and American Rottweilers are quite similar to one another, with the primary difference being their country of origin. 

Fun Facts

  • Many celebrities are fans of the Rottweiler, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Bruno Mars, Hayden Panettiere, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robbie Williams.
  • Fans of the reality show The Masked Singer know that there was quite a mystery in Season 2 surrounding the question: “Who is The Rottweiler?” The character, who wore a cartoon-like Rottweiler mask, wowed the audience during the second season. A big reveal later showed that that masked dog was Chris Daughtry.
  • The children’s series, Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day, includes a number of books about a Rottweiler named Carl who babysits a little girl.