rottweiler vs german shepherd

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Choosing the Best Breed for Your Family

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd are considered large breeds of dogs. They are similar in many ways and quite different in others.

Learning about the dogs and their history can help you to decide between the two breeds, which one will be the best to add to your specific family.

Similarities of the Rottweiler and German Shepherd

Both breeds of dogs have protective and territorial instincts that have been bred into them for centuries.

This means both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd will guard and protect all of their family members, whether they are humans or other family pets in your household.

Both of these breeds are a bit aloof when meeting strangers and will act as if they are stand-offish at first. After they realize that the person is okay with the owner’s actions and feelings, then they will warm up to the new person.

Both dogs are relatively healthy and have similar lifespans. However, since the Rottweiler is a large breed and can be considered a giant breed dog if it is very large, he will have a bit shorter lifespan.

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd are considered one of the brightest purebred dogs in the world. They are very intelligent and learn very quickly. They are also both easy to train and they have the priority of pleasing their family.

Each breed can live in an apartment or a condo, but they will need a lot of exercises so they don’t become bored and chew on things in your home. They will also need longer walks than if they have a secure yard to play in.

Both breeds are extremely friendly towards children, cats, and other dogs.

Differences between the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd have shorter lifespans than dogs of small breeds do. The Rottweiler has an average lifespan of 9 to 10 years and the German Shepherd will be with your family a bit longer, with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years of age.

When these two breeds reach maturity, they will be close to the same height, with the Rottweiler reaching 22 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and the German Shephard reaching 22 to about 26 inches tall.

Even though they are relatively the same height, their bodies are quite different from each other, with the Rottweiler being thick and wide and the German Shepherd is much more slender in stature.

The average weight of a full-grown Rottweiler is 80 to 135 pounds and a German Shepherd reaches 50 to 90 pounds when he is mature.

German Shepherds tend to shed very heavily all year round, but Rottweilers only shed in the spring and the fall. This means you have much less upkeep with a Rottweiler in the grooming department.

Some German Shepherds want their families to stick to a daily routine. If there are frequent visitors and a household is noisy, he can be a bit snappy or he will perhaps go to his kennel or a quiet place to get away from guests.

Rottweilers rarely try to escape their yard and runoff, while German Shepherds tend to chase and catch anything that looks interesting and runs by them–even if they launch themselves over your fence.

Breed History Comparison


The Rottweiler is a working dog who loves to be busy and please his family. He is a descendant of the Romans and was used during war times to tend to the herds of cattle and other animals while the army moved around the continent.

He guarded the herd against predators and helped to get animals to the market for sale. After the owner was paid for the animals he sold, the money was put in a leather pouch and it was worn around the neck of the Rottweiler for safekeeping.

Rottweilers are now bred for their protective abilities and their great personalities and appearance. They are often used as police dogs and service dogs for persons with disabilities and they excel in this department.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are herding dogs that were intentionally bred in the 18th century by a military man who was breeding the best herding dogs to each other in Germany in search of the best breed possible.

After German Shepherds arrived here in the United States, their courage and protective abilities were sought after by the police academy.

This is the most popular breed of dog for K9 officers because they are easily trained and want to please their handlers by all means.

Appearance Comparison


The Rottweiler is either a large or a giant breed of dog, depending on its size and weight. He has a very strong and muscular body with a long tail, although many breeders dock the puppy’s tails when they are very young. The tails of ancestors were docked because they were working dogs.

This distinctive breed has a square and boxy head with a medium-length snout and floppy ears that bend forward. His head is in proportion to a thick body and thick legs as well.

Rottweilers are double-coated with a thick undercoat and a smooth and short outer coat. The Rottweiler has distinct markings on him with a black body and rust-colored markings on his legs, chest, muzzle and over each eye for an expression much like a human with eyebrows.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd holds his stature in a regal manner with his rear legs set back from the hips and he appears as if his rear legs are shorter than the front legs because the stance makes him lower in the rear of his back.

German Shepherds are lighter in weight than Rottweilers and they are more slender to make them successful in the world of policing.

German Shepherds have a double coat as well. The topcoat may be short, medium, or long with a thick undercoat. Some German Shepherds will have a long coat without an undercoat.

This breed of dog comes in a wide range of colors, including the most traditional black and tan and solid blue, back, and white coats.

Temperament Comparison


The Rottweiler is loyal, loving and a confident guardian of his family as well. He can even be a bit silly when at home with his family. He will not like to be left home alone and could have separation anxiety if he doesn’t have something to keep him busy, such as toys and treats.

Rottweilers do often guard their food against other pets or they don’t like being disturbed by their human family members when they are eating.

This is easy to solve if you get your Rottie as a puppy, you merely sit close to him and pet him as he eats. This will ensure that he doesn’t snap at anyone who is nearby while he’s enjoying his dinner.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are also very loving dogs, but even though they are playful with their family members, they are not as attached to humans as a Rottweiler is. German Shepherds are confident, courageous, and smart family members who try to please their humans.

German Shepherds do have a much higher energy level than Rottweilers and, as such, will want to play more often and for longer periods.

You will need to have time to take this breed of dog for long walks every day or for at least an hour of playtime at home to keep him happy and out of trouble.

Both breeds are not usually recommended for first-time dog owners because they can each be stubborn in training. They must have a definite pack leader to train and socialize them or they will decide they are the pack leader and this can lead to bad behavior.

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd love to snuggle in your lap while being confident and courageous.

These two dogs are fearless in general unless they’ve been mistreated somehow. So again, it’s the best idea to get a puppy so you can train and socialize him to fit in with your household.

Exercise Comparison


Rottweilers have less excess energy, so they don’t need as much exercise as a German Shepherd. Rottweilers love to do anything they possibly can with their family as a pack. Many love the water and like to go for a swim or simply play in the water from a garden hose or sprinkler.

They also like long walks and make a great companion for an active family member who jogs or runs as they have the stamina to go the extra mile.

Rottweilers are very intelligent and can learn many different games to play with their humans. They do well-playing fetch and also catching discs by jumping up high in the air almost as if they have wings.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are high-energy dogs and, as such, they need plenty of exercises to keep them busy. Most German Shepherd owners say that their dogs do well with two hours of walks, jogs, or hard play per day.

You should consider that if you don’t have enough time for exercising your German Shepherd for two hours a day, you may want to decide on the Rottweiler breed that needs less exercise.

Both breeds of dogs do well with interactive games and toys for mental stimulation. Since they are both working and herding dogs, they love to be active and keep moving.

Training Comparison

Both breeds of dogs are quite strong, even though the German Shepherd is smaller in weight than a Rottweiler.

They must both be trained to walk on a leash properly because if either one decides to run after a bird or squirrel on their walk, they can easily pull you along with them.

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd need structured training in which you control their environment and desensitize them to distractions a few at a time, so they learn to take all of their cues from you as their trainer.


Rottweilers are quite greedy with food, which isn’t necessarily a bad trait in training. This means that you can easily get a dog of this breed to learn new things with positive reinforcement and dog treats that he loves. Eventually, your pooch won’t even require treats to mind well and do what you are asking of him.

The Rottweiler can be quite crafty at times and may look for a loophole in your rules to try to get away with things.

For example, if you don’t allow your pets to get on the furniture, a Rottie may just put his head on the couch next to you and he isn’t really on the furniture but is pushing the point.

When this happens, don’t let your dog get away with it, no matter how much those twinkling eyes look at you or he will know he can manipulate you.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is not as food-driven as a Rottweiler is. Instead, he will learn better with praise and petting than he will with treats. His main objective as a family member is to try to please you and when he gets a lot of praise, he knows he’s succeeded.

German Shepherds do very well at playing fetch with family members as it gives them some great exercise.

You might consider going to the dog park or an open field and using a ball launcher to get the ball thrown very far each time for a German Shepherd to get out a lot of his energy on longer running intervals of playing fetch.

Health Comparison

All breeds of dogs have some health issues and concerns that are inherited from their ancestors. The good news is that both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd are pretty healthy dogs in all.


As a large or giant breed dog, the Rottweiler is susceptible to hip dysplasia when its joints don’t align quite right and it causes him pain. Rottweilers can also get bloat pretty easily if they eat too much at one time and they can have allergies as well.

German Shepherd

This breed is the most affected dog breed with hip dysplasia even though he weighs less than a Rottweiler of about the same height. Knowing this in advance will help you to give him supplements for his joints and keeping him active so he doesn’t get overweight helps as well.

A soft and firm dog bed will also go a long way in his comfort. German Shepherds may also have a progressive spinal disease from the sloping back of their stance.

Nutrition Comparison

Rottweiler and German Shepherd

Both of these great breeds of dogs have the same nutritional requirements as each other does. Although a Rottie will eat a bit more than a German Shepherd just to maintain his weight.

Full-grown Rottweilers eat about 4 to about 5 cups of dry kibble per day and German Shepherds, when full-grown, eat about 3 to 3.5 cups of dry kibble per day.

It all depends on your dog’s size, weight, and activity level as to the exact amount of food you need to feed him. You should feed them dry dog food for large breeds as it has more nutrients in it for their sizes.

Your dog should eat its food in at least two meals per day to spread out the calories and nutrients so he has energy throughout the day. This will also keep a Rottweiler from overeating and getting bloat.

It’s fine to feed your dog or either breed some great-tasting treats that are made for dogs. Their treats should only make up a small portion of their food for the day though.

Some pups will look at you with those eyes looking so sad and you may want to share your human food with them, but this isn’t good practice. Many human foods can upset your dog’s stomach and cause great discomfort as well as make him very sick.

Grooming Comparison

Both types of dogs only need a bath every so often or when they get dirty or messy. They each only need a bath every 8 to 12 weeks or so with a doggy shampoo.

Only use dog products for your pets as they are specially formulated to match the PH level in their skin so they don’t irritate.

You should trim your dog’s nails about once every two weeks or once a month, depending on the growth rate.

Dogs that get exercise while walking on concrete will wear their nails down naturally on the rough surface and will not need them clipped as often as dogs that exercise on the grass.


A Rottie has very simple grooming habits even though he is double-coated because he only sheds twice a year.

Brushing him out once or twice a week will suffice except when he’s shedding a lot and you will then need to brush him every day to remove the loose hair.

German Shepherd

The brushing routine will be about the same as for the Rottweiler if you choose a German Shepherd for a new family member.

You only need to brush him a few times a week, unless your particular pup has long hair. If this is the case, you need to brush your dog every day to keep his hair from matting.

You should check any breed of dog’s ears and eyes every time you brush them. If you see any type of redness, watery eyes, or discharge from the eyes, he needs to see the vet for medication for eye infections or issues.

You can also examine the ears and make certain they are cleaned out well with dog-formulated ear cleaner.

You simply tip his head to the side and squeeze in some liquid, massage the ear and then wipe the excess out with a paper towel or soft cotton cloth.

This will help to prevent your dog from having yeast infections in his ears or any other type of ear problem.

Puppy Prices Comparison


Rottweiler puppies start at about $1,200 and can cost up to $2,000 depending on the lineage of the parent dogs. Show quality dogs will be at the top end of the scale and dogs that are companions for families will be at the lower end of the spectrum.

German Shepherd

Registered German Shepherd puppies cost anywhere between $800 and $2,000, again with the price depending on the parent’s lines.

German Shepherd puppies are less expensive than Rottweiler puppies because they are more popular and in demand, so the puppy prices are also based on the supply and demand as well as the parent’s lineage.

Do keep in mind that in overall cost, a Rottie will be a bit more expensive in the long run than a German Shepherd.

The Rottweiler will eat a bit more and he will also need larger supplies that cost more, such as a collar, possibly a larger leash, a doggie bed, and toys for aggressive chewers.

No matter which of the two breeds of dogs you choose, you should ask the breeder to meet the two-parent dogs. This will give you a great insight as to what your puppy will look like and about what size it will get when it’s grown up.

You can also tell if the parent dogs have been socialized properly and determine if the puppies were socialized from a very young age. Dogs that are properly trained and socialized will be happy to let you pet them and will be willing to be around you.

The mother of the litter should also be willing to let you pick up and play with her puppies, meaning she has been trained and socialized.

At times, on a first litter, the mother dog may not be as cooperative, meaning that she hasn’t had her puppies handled much by humans. This can be a sign that your puppy will need more socialization and training.

Final Thoughts

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd make great family dogs and their temperaments and personalities are quite similar.

A German Shepherd is less expensive overall but will require more time to get all of his exercises each day. He will also take more time to brush every day.

A Rottweiler is a bit more expensive but requires less time to exercise and less brushing.

Both dogs do very well in homes with a fenced backyard and a doggie door, so your pretty pooch can go outside to work off some energy at any time. Either of the two makes great family dogs, it’s a matter of preference.

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