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Rottweiler Breed Photo

Rottweiler

Rottweilers are smart, hard-working dogs that can be gentle and devoted family pets with proper positive reinforcement training. Learn more about living with Rottweilers.
By Kate Silver and Claudia Guthrie
Updated March 27, 2021
Rottweiler
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament

Rottweiler

height
  • 22–27 inches
weight
  • 80–135 pounds
life span
  • 9–10 years
breed size
  • large (61-100 lbs.)
good with
  • children
  • dogs
  • families
temperament
  • gentle
  • playful
  • aloof
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
  • prone to health issues
  • highly territorial
  • high potential for weight gain
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good hiking companion

Muscular and handsome, Rottweilers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and for good reason. These large dogs love having a job to do—their name is derived from the German phrase Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which means "Rottweil butchers' dogs," referencing their past as working dogs in Rottweil, Germany. They've held a number of important jobs throughout history, including police dog, guide dog, and search-and-rescue dog. 

But this large dog breed is so much more than a hard worker. With positive reinforcement training and socialization, the Rottweiler can also be a gentle companion that exudes loyalty and love for his family.

Appearance 

Adorable and bouncy Rottweiler puppies grow up to be striking adults. Standing at 22–27 inches at the shoulder and weighing 80–135 pounds, these muscular dogs have massive heads, large frames and heavy bones. His medium-length coat is shiny, low-maintenance, and black with rust markings on his face, chest, and legs. 

headshot of black-and-tan rottweiler
Rottweilers have been working dogs since the days of ancient Rome. But today they can have a more snuggle-bug personality and make doting family pets.
| Credit: Julian Popov / EyeEm / Getty

Rottweiler puppies are born with long, curled tails, but you'll often see adults with nothing but nubs on their backside. However, this practice of tail docking is controversial. Proponents argue docking a dog's tail protects them from being injured at work; however, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, this lacks substantial scientific support and the procedure is often done purely for cosmetic reasons. Docking can also be painful for your pup!

Temperament

Rottweilers have big brains for those big heads, and their high intelligence means they love to be occupied with tasks and are wonderful partners in learning. Those who bring home a Rottweiler should be experienced dog owners committed to providing daily learning opportunities and mental enrichment to ensure a healthy, happy dog. As with all dog breeds, Rottweilers respond well to consistent positive reinforcement training.

Photo of adult rottweiler sitting in grass with treat on his nose
Adult Rottweiler happily runs through grass on a cloudy day
Left: Rottweilers respond well to consistent positive reinforcement training. Using treats helps them learn all kinds of tricks! | Credit: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty
Right: As highly intelligent working dogs, Rottweilers love to keep their minds (and paws!) moving. If they don't get enough exercise and mental stimulation, they can become bored—and just might dig up your entire backyard. | Credit: Petra Tnzer / EyeEm / Getty

"Rotties, like any dogs with a long history of being a working companion, prefer to have something to do," says Haylee Bergeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, RBT, editor of Pet Health and Behavior for Daily Paws. "These are not dogs that will be happy to be left alone all day. They want to get out and explore the world with you, but because they can grow to be big, heavy dogs, make sure you invest in a proper-fitting harness and leash and spend ample time focusing on loose-leash walking from puppyhood into adulthood and beyond."

Clashing with their working dog history is their snuggle bug nature—Rottweilers make excellent family dogs, and when they are properly socialized to the movements and loud noises of kiddos, they can be gentle and loving around children. They also get along well with cats and other dogs if introduced in puppyhood

Profile shot of adult rottweiler
Credit: Kurt Pas / Getty

Living Needs 

While a fenced-in yard can help Rottweilers get the daily exercise they need, a yard isn't a deal-breaker. A long walk every day goes a long way to making sure your Rottweiler is happy, healthy and getting proper exercise. What's most important, says Scott Neabore, DVM, who owns Neabore Veterinary Clinic in Haddonfield, N.J., is that the dogs have something to do so they don't become bored. 

Along with walkies, Rotties love activities such as hiking, jogging, and swimming. And as working dogs with a long history of farm duties, they also excel at pulling carts, herding, tracking, and learning new tasks and skills.

rottweiler puppy sitting in leaves
Socializing a Rottweiler puppy is important so he can grow to have good manners and be comfortable in new situations. Rotties can even live happily with cats, if introduced in puppyhood.
| Credit: Ben-Schonewille / Getty

They might look tough, but Rottweilers are actually quite sensitive and can suffer from separation anxiety just like any dog. If left alone for long periods of time, Rottweilers may bark, dig, or indulge in other undesirable behaviors to keep themselves busy. To save your yard from holes or your pillows from being shredded, make sure you aren't away from your pup for extended periods of time.

Care

These social dogs prefer companionship, be it humans or other pups. Because of the Rottweiler's eagerness to learn, training tends to be fairly easy—especially when you utilize the power of positive reinforcement.

When it comes to grooming, Rottweilers are a fairly low-maintenance breed: 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 that black and tan hair will seem to be everywhere. Aside from staying on top of their seasonal shedding, brush your dog's teeth and trim his nails regularly to keep him healthy. 

Rottweiler dog lays in grass
everydoghasastory / Adobe Stock | Credit: everydoghasastory / Adobe Stock

Health

A typical Rottweiler lifespan is about 9–10 years. As with all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions, including elbow and hip dysplasia; certain cancers including lymphoma, bone cancer, liver cancer, and spleen cancer; eye problems such as entropion (where the eyelids roll inwards) and ectropion (where the eyelids roll outwards); and heart disease, according to The Rottweiler Club. They also can gain weight easily, so exercise and proper nutrition are especially important. 

rottweiler puppy asleep on floor
To save your yard from holes or your pillows from being shredded, make sure you aren't away from your Rottweiler for extended periods of time.
| Credit: anitapeeples / Getty

Owners should speak with their veterinarian about common Rottweiler health concerns and get advice on what steps they can take to reduce their pet's risk of getting sick. Rottweiler breeders should also complete all health tests recommended by the OFA

History

The Rottweiler's ancestors were the preferred working dogs of ancient Rome because of their talents for herding, wrangling, pulling carts, and protecting citizens 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.

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

Rottweiler guard dog
Rotties are fairly low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. As long as it's not shedding season, a weekly brush and occasional baths are all he needs.
| Credit: Jana Richter / Getty

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, on the other hand, are quite similar to one another, with the primary difference simply 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.