Rottweilers, or “Rotties” as owners often nickname this breed, are both an ancient dog breed and a very popular modern pet dog choice today.
Learning more about the Rottweiler breed is a great way to make sure you are taking the best care of your precious Rottie!
About the Rottweiler History
The Rottweiler today can trace their ancestry back to the ancient might of the Roman Empire. These drover, herder, and guard dogs were true canine warriors – a job description they still carry out today.
Learn About the Friendly and Fierce Rottweiler Dog Breed
This great YouTube video shows you exactly why the Rottweiler is so enduringly popular – and also why the Rottweiler is not always the right choice of dog breed for every family.
As the video points out, Rottweilers are actually not permitted in all areas. Some homeowners’ insurance providers will increase premiums or refuse coverage to homeowners who keep Rottweiler dogs.
It is very important to research your local laws and insurance guidelines before choosing to bring a Rottweiler into your life for this exact reason. Doing your research can prevent a painful relinquishment and rehome for your dog and you.
Rottweiler Dog Breed Overview
Rottweilers are considered a large to giant dog breed. The male Rottie can easily weigh 135+ pounds!
Here is a brief overview of the Rottweiler dog breed as per the official American Kennel Club (AKC) dog breed standard:
Rottweiler breed popularity
The American Kennel Club (AKC) publishes an annual list of the most popular purebred dog breeds in the United States.
Out of 195 registered purebred dog breeds, the Rottweiler currently ranks eighth!
Rottweiler weight, height, and size
Rottweilers are sexually dimorphic, which means that it is often possible to tell males apart from females in adulthood simply by looking at them.
Rottweiler males are typically taller and heavier than adult females.
The adult male Rottweiler averages between 95 and 135 pounds and typically stand 24 to 27 inches tall from paw pads to shoulder girdle.
The adult female Rottweiler, in contrast, typically weighs between 80 and 100 pounds and stands from 22 to 25 inches tall, again from paw pads to shoulder girdle.
So here, you can see that there can be some small amount of genetic overlap, but a well-bred Rottweiler will usually fall into these general gender-based weight and height/size categories.
Rottweiler shedding and coat care
The Rottweiler is a true working dog breed. This dog has always been bred to work hard inactive job duties like herding, guarding, protecting and service, military, police dog and search and rescue work.
Because of this, the Rottweiler has a thick double layer coat characteristic of working dog breeds.
The outer layer is more coarse and has weather-resistant properties. The under-layer is soft and very thick and serves to provide the dog with insulation against water and the elements.
Because the Rottweiler’s coat is so vital to protect the dog while “on the job,” Rotties do shed a lot year-round. Twice per year, they go through an event owners call the “coat blow.”
Blowing coat is as it sounds – an explosion of shed dog hair. The inner layer will shed out and replenish and the outer layer will as well.
Brushing your Rottweiler daily can help to control the amount of shed hair, but you will also want to have a dustpan and broom, vacuum, and de-lint brush handy.
Rottweiler activity level and exercise needs
Despite the fact that the Rottweiler is a true working dog breed, these dogs only have medium energy levels.
Rottie puppies will be very energetic and this will continue on into young adulthood, but after the first year or so your dog will settle down into the medium energy levels the breed is known for.
Rottweilers do need to exercise and play for at least an hour or two daily, however, or they tend to put on weight. Rotties are amazing canine athletes and tend to excel in canine agility, herding, carting/droving, nose work, obedience, and show competitions.
It is important not to give your dog too-intense exercise too early in life, however, because Rottweilers are so big that they take longer to grow up.
Your canine veterinarian can tell you when your Rottweiler’s growth plates have closed and hardened and it is safe to enjoy long runs, walks, or hikes together.
Rottweiler training and socialization needs
Rottweilers are not just extremely popular because they are so loving and loyal. They also have very strong territorial instincts and make excellent guarding and protection dogs.
This is why so many people choose the Rottweiler dog breed as a family pet. However, it is vital to give your Rottweiler enough early training and socialization so your dog learns how to tell the difference between a friend and a threat.
Rottweilers need lots of exposure to unknown people and animals, new situations and interactions so they can temper their territorial tendencies for life in a family and community.
Rottweilers – good with kids and other pets?
A well-bred and properly trained and socialized Rottweiler can make an amazing family companion for family members of all ages.
However, it is important to remember that Rottweilers can grow extremely large. Just having an enormous dog in the family around babies or very young children can come with some risks – for example, if your dog were to fall over on your child.
As Vetstreet points out, this means that overall, Rottweilers are less well-suited for a life with small kids and babies than other dogs may be.
This is particularly the case when it comes to small vulnerable prey-type family pets. If you have adult cats, they may be okay taking care of themselves around a Rottweiler dog.
But Rotties in general need to be only dogs and only pets for the safety of everyone in the family. They have an intensely strong chase and prey drive and may have a hard time resisting the urge to go after other family pets.
Rottweiler health issues
One of the most concerning aspects of choosing a Rottweiler dog is their known genetic health issues. The breed as a whole as a number of serious health issues.
Luckily, there are genetic health tests that responsible dog breeders can have done on breeding pairs to reduce the likelihood of passing on some conditions to puppies.
The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database keeps up-to-date health records on the Rottweiler breed based on known genetic health conditions and required pre-testing.
Currently, the Rottweiler breed is known to be vulnerable to these genetic health issues:
- Hip dysplasia.
- Elbow dysplasia.
- Heart issues.
- Eye issues.
- Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP).
Hip and elbow dysplasia both refer to a malformation of the ball and socket joint. This issue can be correctable via physical therapy or surgery depending on severity.
There is another very serious health issue that is more common in the Rottweiler dog breed for which no health pre-testing exists. This issue is osteosarcoma, cancerous bone tumors.
The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) explains that as many as 12 percent of all Rottweiler dogs may develop osteosarcoma during their lifetime.
The condition is 100 percent fatal in most cases. Only 10 percent of treatment efforts currently lead to success. Osteosarcoma is very painful and debilitating and research thus far has failed to discover an underlying genetic link that can be tested for.
Rottweiler life expectancy
The Rottweiler dog has an average life expectancy of between nine and 10 years.
This is consistent with the inverse relationship between a dog breed’s size and their overall life expectancy.
Do Rottweilers Bark a Lot?
Rottweilers are certainly capable of barking loudly when the need arises.
But, as with so many protection and guard dog breeds, Rottweilers are not known to be “barkers,” per se.
These dogs know when to stay silent and when to make noise.
The exception is when a Rottweiler is left alone or poorly trained and socialized. In these cases, you can expect a Rottweiler to bark more than is normal for this dog breed. There are two main reasons for this.
Rottweilers are “people” dogs
The first reason a Rottweiler may bark a lot more than what is normal for this dog breed is if they are left alone a lot.
Being “left alone” includes being left in the company of other dogs or other family pets. The Rottweiler is a “people” dog and really needs to be included in your daily life as much as possible.
Rottweilers crave human company and want to be with you at all times. This is also in keeping with their long history as guarding, herding, and protection dogs. The Rottweiler dog breed has literally been developed to bond closely with people.
So when you choose a Rottweiler, it is important to know this upfront and make sure you have the time to include your dog in your everyday life.
This is also not a dog breed that can tolerate being “home alone” for hours at a time while you are gone to work.
Destructive behavior including barking, remodeling the furniture, digging up the yard, escape attempts and inappropriate elimination can all occur when a Rottweiler is left alone frequently for long stretches of time.
Rottweilers are very territorial dogs
The second reason why you may find your Rottweiler barks more than most Rotties do is when your dog has not yet learned how to deal with their own territorial and guard dog instincts.
Rottweilers really need to learn actively how to tell the difference between a friend and a threat. Rotties can learn to remain calm around unknown people and other animals, but they will typically always be somewhat aloof and err on the side of caution.
A Rottweiler may also bark a lot if they are being provoked. Other dogs walking by the yard, teasing from neighborhood children, and other factors can cause a Rottweiler to display territorial aggression in the form of barking or worse.
Nearly every experienced Rottweiler owner, breeder, and trainer advises careful consideration before choosing a Rottweiler for this exact reason. You will need to devote a lot of time to training and socialization right from day one.
Did You Know There Are Different Types of Rottweiler Dogs?
This is one of the areas of greatest controversy among Rottweiler keepers and breeders.
Some breeders and owners believe there are many different types of Rottweiler dogs while others believe there is only one Rottweiler dog breed.
But what most people do agree about is that the Rottweiler dog breed has been bred independently in more than one geographic location over the lengthy course of this dog breed’s history.
As Mississippi Rottweilers breeder and kennel explain, there are some differences that can often be easily spotted between American, German and Serbian (sometimes called Russian) Rottweilers.
Depending on who you are talking to, there can be as many as seven different “types” of Rottweiler dog breed, some based on the location of birth and some based on appearance features as follows:
- Roman Rottweiler.
- European Rottweiler.
- Russian Rottweiler.
- Serbian Rottweiler.
- American Rottweiler.
- Tailed Rottweiler.
- Rare Rottweiler.
Some historians believe the German Rottweiler is the original Rottweiler line. This is because the ancient Romans occupied what is now Germany and left behind the Rottweiler dog breed as part of their legacy.
And in fact, there is a lot of basis for this assumption. The Rottweiler dog breed actually takes its breed name from a small town in Germany named Rottweil.
But Rottweilers are popular all around the world today. This has resulted in Rottweilers being bred in Germany, Russia, Serbia, Europe, America, and elsewhere.
This in turn has led to some appearance differences between Rottweilers bred in different geographic areas. As Mississippi Rottweilers points out, one example is the head shape.
Serbian or German Rottweilers are known to have more of a “block” or apple head shape, while American Rottweilers are often thought to have more of a thin or berry head shape.
However, this is debatable, because sometimes Rottweiler breeders who live in America may have parent Rottweiler dogs that were born or bred in Germany.
Ultimately, the only way to really determine the major geographic influence in your Rottweiler’s bloodline is to talk to the breeder and learn as much as you can about your Rottweiler’s lineage and history.
When it comes to other non-geographic labels such as “rare” or “tailed” Rottweilers, these are simply ways to distinguish between different colors and patterns, including s standard or non-standard coat colors.
If you plan to show your Rottweiler competitively, you will want to make sure your dog comes from a breed lineage of standard show colors and patterns.
According to the American Rottweiler Club (ARC), the breed standard specifies a dog with black and mahogany, black and rust, or black and tan markings only.
A base (dominant) color that is anything other than black is disqualified in the show ring, as is any solid (single) color coat.
Some “rare” Rottweiler colors can only be produced by breeding practices that some breeders find questionable. Here again, working with a responsible and reputable breeder is the best way to choose the healthiest Rottweiler.
Tail docking is a practice that is still commonly done in America. But in many parts of the world, tail docking is now disallowed or non-legal for reasons of animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws.
When you see a designation like “tailed” Rottweiler, it simply means the dog’s natural tail has not been docked (removed).
Working Rottweilers Versus Show Rottweilers
There is a long tradition with many working dog breeds to breed solely for temperament traits rather than for appearance standards.
In contrast, in the world of show dog competitions, the emphasis is largely on breeding to a certain appearance breed standard or conformation.
You can take a look at the current official breed standard for the Rottweiler dog that is filed with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and governs all show dog competitions.
Even a casual glance reveals that the breed standard is extremely detailed in every way. Eyes, ears, tail, body, coat, expression – the dog that wins any show contests will be judged in large part based on appearance.
Breeding for working dog temperament traits and breeding for show dog appearance traits can have very different results, as you might imagine.
Sometimes when a dog breed line is bred too closely for specific appearance traits over all else, this is when genetic health issues can get coded into the breed line. When a dog is bred for temperament over appearance, this is often less likely to happen.
However, you can find a healthy Rottweiler dog by working with any breeder that maintains detailed breeding records, completes all required and recommended health pre-tests, and offers an initial guarantee of health and proof of all required vaccinations.
It is also very smart to meet the parent dogs yourself and interact with them. This will give you a very good insight into what your Rottweiler puppy will be like in both appearance and temperament when they grow up.
Why Are Rottweilers So Expensive?
Earlier here you learned that Rottweiler dogs are not legal to own in all geographic areas. And some insurers will not provide coverage or will increase the price of insurance for homes where a Rottweiler is part of the family.
This in turn drives up the price of Rottweiler dogs. Rottweilers can be more expensive to breed and insure, a cost that is passed along to the owners.
As CBS News reports, it is not uncommon to find breeders charging anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 for a Rottweiler puppy.
And this is just the initial cost to bring your Rottweiler puppy home. There are many more costs waiting once your puppy comes home to stay.
If you decide to purchase pet insurance, which is a smart choice for Rottweiler owners who may end up having to spend thousands on health insurance claims, this will also be more expensive.
And Rottweilers require early and ongoing training and socialization to help ensure your dog will not become a danger to others.
The Rottweiler is not recommended as a dog choice for inexperienced or first-time dog owners, but the popularity of this breed nationwide speaks for itself on how rarely this advice is heeded.
For this reason, it is smart to budget for a high-quality canine training program that starts in puppyhood and also for extra training in canine athletics or service work.
Why Choose a Rottweiler Dog?
After reading through this Rottweiler dog breed information guide, you may be wondering if the Rottweiler is the right dog breed for you.
Rottweilers have been popular since ancient times for their tremendous skills in guarding and protection and service to people.
Rottweilers make amazing guide dogs, service, and therapy dogs. They are a frequent choice for private protection, police, and military dog roles.
Rottweilers are also incredible canine athletes and make great hunting, herding, carting, agility, tracking, search and rescue, and droving dogs.
And Rottweilers are very loving with “their” people and will be intensely loyal to their family.
These are all great reasons to choose the Rottweiler dog breed.
But it is equally important to consider whether you have the time, resources, and finances to accommodate the needs of a large to giant breed dog like the Rottweiler.
From buying bedding, crates, and food to veterinary care to training and socialization expenses to toys and treats, everything tends to be more expensive when the dog is bigger.
For the right owner, there is no better dog than the Rottweiler.