The Red Rottweiler is truly a sight to behold. If you have never before seen a Rottweiler dog with a red coat, you may honestly believe you are looking at a new dog breed.
But the red Rottweiler is a Rottweiler just like any other Rottweiler. This dog just has a much less common coat color.
It is important to be aware that some controversy surrounds the red coat in Rottweilers. In some cases, the dog in question may not actually be a purebred Rottweiler dog at all.
In this article, we will teach you how to do your own research to discover the parentage and background of any red Rottweiler puppy or rescue dog you are interested in adding to your family.
And now, let’s get started so you can meet the red Rottweiler!
The red Rottweiler is simply a Rottweiler dog that has a reddish coat instead of the traditional black and tan, black and rust or black and mahogany bi-color coat that most Rottweiler dogs are sporting.
In fact, in the American Kennel Club (AKC) dog breed standard for the popular Rottweiler dog, only these three coat colors and patterns are considered permissible for show dog standards.
Just because a red-coated Rottweiler is not permitted to compete in AKC-sponsored dog competitions, however, doesn’t mean that these dogs don’t make wonderful canine companions.
See the Rare Red Rottweiler
In this YouTube video made by an expert canine trainer, you can see a Rottweiler with a red coat. This particular dog was looking for a forever home when the video was made.
But the most interesting part about this brief video is that the “red” coat color actually looks a lot more like a russet, brown, or even dark liver color, as Fortified Sand Castle blogs about.
What Is a Red Rottweiler Dog?
The red Rottweiler may sound like it is a “new” or different dog breed than the standard or traditional Rottweiler dog breed.
It isn’t. Whenever you see adjectives like red, German, Serbian, black and tan, etc, in front of a dog’s breed name, this typically refers to specific traits that some dog owners find desirable and others do not find desirable.
But either way, it does not indicate you are looking at a new dog breed. It simply gives you a little more information about a particular Rottweiler puppy.
According to the American Kennel Club, the red coat in a purebred Rottweiler is considered to be a fault – an undesirable trait. In fact, this is exactly what the Rottweiler AKC breed standard says about what the Rottweiler coat should look like:
- The base coat color should always be black.
- The markings can be anywhere on the spectrum from rust to mahogany.
- The markings should be in very specific places on the dog’s face and body.
- The markings should represent 10 percent or less of overall coat color.
- The dog’s undercoat (the inner layer closest to the skin) should be gray, black, or tan.
The AKC Rottweiler breed standard also gives very clear definitions of what the coat should not look like:
- The coat should not have an absence of markings (i.e. should not be single-color).
- The coat should not have long hair.
- The undercoat should not be any other color other than gray, black, or tan.
- The coat should not be straw-colored.
- The coat should not have any white markings.
- The rust-colored markings should not be in any places other than what the breed standard describes as acceptable.
- The coat should not have a base color (on the outer coat layer) that is anything other than black.
So as you can see, the AKC Rottweiler breed standard is very, very specific about exactly what the Rottweiler coat should and should not look like.
The same holds true when you look at the German version of the Rottweiler breed standard.
While this breed standard doesn’t go into quite as much detail as the AKC version, it does specify each of the following required attributes:
- The Rottweiler coat should only be black and tan.
- The Rottweiler coat should have specific tan markings in very specific places.
- The Rottweiler coat should never have any white markings.
- The Rottweiler should have a wiry and coarse, medium-length, double-layer coat.
You will also notice that neither version of the official Rottweiler breed standard makes any mention of the red coat color as being permissible or even possible in the Rottweiler dog breed.
If you are new to canine genetics and/or to Rottweilers as a dog breed, you may be wondering what is meant by a “breed fault.” Is this something you need to worry about when choosing your Rottweiler?
What is a dog breed fault?
At its most simplified, a breed fault is simply something that is not allowed in a dog that will be competing in dog shows under the auspices of any official canine club such as the American Kennel Club.
Breed standards are compiled by groups of dog breeders. Each dog breed that is registered as a recognized purebred dog breed by an official national breed club must file a breed standard.
This breed standard highlights what that group of dog breeders believes to be the best genetic traits of the breed. Traits can be appearance-based or temperament based. Breed standards cover both appearance and temperament trait ideals.
When the group of breeders decides that a trait does not reflect the breed ideal – the best that that dog breed can look or act – it gets classified as a “fault.”
Here, unless you have aspirations to show your Rottweiler or to breed purebred Rottweilers, it is important to take some of this breed standard stuff with a healthy grain of salt.
Just because a Rottweiler puppy does not have the perfect blend of traits to be a grand prize winner in dog shows does not mean there is something “wrong” with that puppy. It just means the dog won’t be able to win top honors in a dog show.
Some Rottweiler fans and owners care about this and others do not. Only you can decide whether this is something that matters to you when choosing your Rottweiler puppy or rescue dog.
How do dog breed faults occur?
At this point, you may be wondering – how do breed faults occur? Don’t dog breeders known enough about canine genetics to prevent faults from occurring in purebred puppies?
Actually, the answer here is no. Canine genetics is a very new and still-evolving field of genetic science.
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), canine biologists started trying to decode and map the canine genome in 2003 and filed the first draft of their findings in 2004.
Since then, updates have been filed on at least an annual basis. The latest update was filed in 2019.
The Dog Genome Project continues presently and can make for fascinating reading if you are interested in learning more about canine genetics.
So even the most experienced and scholarly Rottweiler breeders have a lot to learn about how canine genes function in real life, what genes influence what other genes and why certain genes can make a “surprise” appearance in a puppy.
All this to say, for our purposes here, what you need to know is that even very skilled and experienced Rottweiler breeders are always learning something new about canine genetics. In other words, we still don’t always know why breed faults occur.
Some Rottweiler breed faults are also more concerning than others. Just because a Rottweiler dog has a coat color that is deemed to be less desirable for show dog standards does not necessarily mean the red coat color is a problem to avoid.
What Genes Cause the Red Rottweiler Coat to Occur?
The most accurate answer to the question of which canine genes cause the red coat in the Rottweiler dog breed is “it’s complicated.”
The short answer is “phaeomelanin.” As the Dog Coat Colour Genetics website explains, there are two basic genes that code for the color in canines: eumelanin and phaeomelanin.
Eumelanin codes for the black color spectrum, which can range from the lightest grey all the way to midnight black. The reason eumelanin can produce such a diverse range of colors is due to its interactions with other genes.
Eumelanin codes not just for coat color but also for eye, nose, skin, and paw pad colors.
Phaeomelanin is responsible for producing the red color spectrum. Unlike eumelanin, phaeomelanin codes only for coat color. The red color spectrum can range from the very lightest ivory all the way to the richest dark brown.
Here again, the reason phaeomelanin can provide such a wide range of colors on the red spectrum is because of how it interacts with other genes in the dog’s breed genome.
This is why when a dog’s gene pool becomes more limited, which is usually the result of intense inbreeding with a very small group of parent dogs, the health of each puppy and of the breed as a whole can become compromised.
Sometimes, purebred dog breeders will breed so intensely for certain traits (such as those specified as being “winning” traits for that breed’s show standard) that they will limit the gene pool and the breed will suffer as a result.
But the red coat color is not thought to be the result of any deliberate genetic breeding.
There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that the red coat color is not permitted to show dog rings anywhere in the world!
So breeders who care about producing champion show dog lines won’t be trying to breed the red coat color at all – instead, they will be doing their best to not breed Rottweiler puppies that grow up to have that coat color.
The second reason is that it takes two recessive genes to produce a purebred Rottweiler with a red coat. This means a puppy has to get this extremely rare recessive gene from both parent dogs in order to have a chance of having a red coat in adulthood.
This is not the easiest thing to pull off, even for very knowledgeable and experienced Rottweiler dog breeders.
And since any Rottweiler dog breeder that has a deep knowledge of what we know about canine genetics will likely be breeding to the show dog standard, breeders at this level are not likely to be trying to breed red-coated Rottweilers.
How to Choose a Red Rottweiler Puppy
Now you have a much better understanding of why the red Rottweiler is relatively rare – it is hard to breed for this coat color, which is also not eligible for show dog competitions. So the motivation to breed red Rottweilers is relatively low.
When you are choosing a red Rottweiler puppy, this means there are two general cautionary tips you need to keep in mind.
Some breeders may try to profit from your lack of knowledge
There are some less ethical breeders who may like the idea of breeding red Rottweilers and marketing these dogs as “rare” so they can charge high prices to unsuspecting new owners.
Some breeders may simply not know or care about canine genetics
There are also less knowledgeable “backyard” breeders who may intentionally breed a Rottweiler to a different dog breed.
This may then produce a red-coated dog who looks like a Rottweiler. These breeders may or may not know the dog is not a purebred Rottweiler.
In order to verify a red Rottweiler puppy as a purebred dog, you need to see registration papers.
Your breeder should also let you meet both parent dogs and provide you with an initial guarantee of puppy health. This way, you know your red Rottweiler is purebred and healthy.