Do you own a Rottweiler or aspire to get one for your family? Do you want a smaller dog that looks like a Rottie? Maybe you want a Rottie twin without quite the popularity or reputation of the original breed.
How many dog breeds can you think of that look like a Rottweiler?
Dogs that look like Rottweilers are often similar in size, but they do not have to be. The Miniature Pinscher and Manchester Terrier are among the most striking look-alikes to Rotties or Dobes, but they are relatively tiny.
Another way a breed can look similar to a Rottie is in size and the third is body type. The Beauceron and Hovawart are the closest to having all three: color, body type, and size. However, the Rottweiler retains characteristics that make him stand out from any other breed.
The following breeds are a hand selection of the dogs that most closely resemble Rottweilers in appearance and expression.
Most have variable temperaments with the Cane Corso and Doberman being closest in personality traits to the Rottie.
- 1 What unique characteristics make a dog a Rottweiler?
- 2 Which breeds look a lot like a Rottweiler?
- 3 Working dogs can look alike
What unique characteristics make a dog a Rottweiler?
Origins are from Germany
The Rottie is a German-based breed that started as a butcher’s dog in the town of Rottweil. Dogs acted as drovers when their owners needed to get their cattle to market.
Rotties obtained their herding prowess from ancestors who had come with their owners from Rome across the Alps. Rottweilers would also pull carts of butchered meats down the German streets.
The “Butcher dog’s” guarding skills became so legendary that merchants would tie purses of their valuables around their Rottie’s neck for safekeeping.
Rotties are large dogs
A few breeds that look like Rotties do not have the size requirements to qualify. Rottweilers are large dogs with a commanding presence.
A male Rottie has a shoulder height of 24 to 27 inches and a weight of 90 to 130 pounds. Females are usually significantly smaller but still big at 22 to 25 inches tall and weighing 85 to 115 pounds.
The Rottie breed standard calls for impression
Rottweilers are impressive dogs and not just for their size. They can be intimidating, but your first perception of the breed should be one of boldness, power, intelligence, and watchfulness.
Rotties are strong runners. However, like the German Shepherd, their most efficient gait is the trot which should be ground covering and efficient with a powerful drive from the hindquarters.
What are a Rottie’s colors and physical traits?
Rottweilers are universally black and tan. The double coat is medium in length on top with a fairly dense soft gray, black, or brown undercoat.
Many dogs that people imagine resemble a Rottweiler are a variation of black and tan or are tricolor.
Rotties have a specific acceptable pattern that is different from many other black and tan breeds.
The Rottie should be almost entirely black with minor points of rust or tan in designated areas such as above the eyes, on the chest, and the lower legs.
A Rottweiler’s head contributes to his formidable appearance. He should have a broad skull with a slightly shortened muzzle.
Moreover, he has a pronounced stop, medium-sized brown eyes, and roughly triangular-shaped ears that lay close to the head.
Rotties are powerful through the entire body with strong sturdy legs, a relatively long neck, and a broad deep chest. The length to height ratio is 10 to 9.
In countries that permit docking, the tail is often cut very short. Otherwise, a Rottie’s natural tail is similar to a Lab’s, hanging just below the hocks and tapering slightly from base to tip. When a Rottie is excited, she holds her tail over her back in a loose curve.
Which breeds look a lot like a Rottweiler?
Here is your reference point of the standard Rottweiler.
Note, all dogs are black and tan and have a stereotypical pattern of rust or mahogany markings. You can appreciate the natural and docked tails of various individuals.
Finally, you can see the powerful broad chest that is unique to the breed. Each dog has a watchful expression, bounding athleticism, and a pronounced stop between head and snout.
Is there such a thing as a miniature Rottweiler?
With the explosion of designer dogs and the move towards smaller dogs to better fit tight quarters, you may wonder about a miniature version of a Rottweiler. While the smallest Rottie you will see is likely to be well over 50 pounds, some breeds will garner a double-take.
With cropped ears, a Min Pin more closely resembles the Doberman than the Rottweiler. However, the Miniature Pinscher with natural ears is one of the closest breeds you will get to a mini Rottie.
Min Pins are lively and smart dogs with a characteristic hackney-like gait. They are refined without appearing delicate in their sturdy and compact frames. In the US, their ears are cropped so they stand up and they have docked tails.
- Country of Origin: Germany
- History: Likely bred from German Pinschers to hunt rats and other vermin; Infusions of Dachshund and Italian Greyhound
- Size: 10 to 12.5 inches tall, weigh 8 to 11 pounds
- Colors: Solid red or stag red (Some interspersed black hairs), black and tan (marked like a Rottie), or chocolate and tan (Liver is the result of a recessive gene that suppresses black)
You can see how the Min Pin is more similar to the Dobie than to the Rottie.
However, even though both dogs have cropped ears, notice how different their faces are, revealing their family trees separated immediately from the German Pinscher and each other.
Markings are very like those of the Rottweiler.
Very similar in looks to the Min Pin, the Manchester Terrier is not closely related to either the Rottie or the Miniature Pinscher.
The Manchester is a spirited companion with a dominant and persistent personality. Like the Min Pin, this terrier’s ears stand upright only if you crop them. The tail is natural.
- Country of Origin: England
- History: Outcross of the Whippet and Black and Tan Terrier
- Size: 15 or 16 inches tall; Weigh 12 to 22 pounds
- Colors: Black and Mahogany; markings similar pattern to Rottie
Some herding breeds mimic the Rottie in appearance and abilities
Beaucerons approach the size and strength of Rotties and share their heritage of herding. Of all dog breeds, it resembles the Rottweiler most, although many think it still looks more like a Dobie. However, the Beauceron can definitely pass as a Rottie mix.
The Beauceron’s claim to fame is its ability to herd sheep from a distance and its uncanny skill of mingling with livestock without scaring them. It is a powerful and dominant dog that is loyal and friendly but protective.
- Country of Origin: France
- History: Berger de Beauce developed in the 1500s near Briard to hunt boar and then found use as a protector and herders; Separated from Briard breed in 1911
- Size: 26 or 27 inches tall; Weighs 66 to 85 pounds
- Colors: Black and tan, harlequin, or tri-color
Working dogs can look alike
Although you would probably never confuse a Dobie with a Rottie, you cannot ignore the striking similarities. Marked almost identically, the Doberman has a taller and more refined build with the same springy and efficient gait.
The two breeds are very similar in intelligence and share the qualities of courage, loyalty, guarding instinct, and working versatility.
A Dobie in the United States often has cropped ears that stand upright and docked tails. Natural ears and tails on the Doberman are, again, very similar to the Rottweiler.
- Country of Origin: Germany
- History: In 1890 a tax collector Dobermann crossed many breeds, including the Rottweiler and Weimeraner, to create a protection dog with great stamina
- Size: 24 to 28 inches tall; Weighs 70 to 90 pounds
- Colors: Stereotypical pattern of rust or tan markings on a background of black, blue, fawn, or liver: White Dobermans exist
You have probably never heard of the Hovawart, but if there was such a thing as a long-haired Rottweiler, it would look like this dog. With relatively short hanging ears, a bushy tail, and mahogany points, the Hovawart looks a bit like a cross between a GSD and a Rottie.
Hovawarts are watchful, affectionate with family, and even-tempered. They have remained popular in Germany.
- Country of Origin: Germany
- History: A breed that has been around as early as the 1100s, these dogs were bred as livestock guardians; Restored several times with waning populations; Infusions with the Leonberger, Newfoundland, and Kuvasz
- Size: 23 to 29 inches tall; Weighs 55 to 115 pounds
- Colors: Solid black, black, and gold (Marked pattern similar to Rottie), or honey
A Cane Corso should first strike you as bold, vibrant, and athletic. They often have the same intimidating intensity as Rottweilers. Though sporting colors other than black and tan, the Cane Corso resembles the Rottie in structure and mannerisms.
Cane Corsos are nimble members of the Mastiff family. Ears are hanging or cropped very short, the head is relatively large, and the muzzle is slightly shortened. The breed is compact and powerfully built with an efficient gait.
- Country of Origin: Italy
- History: Ancestors were probably Roman war dogs; After 1453, the breed further developed to hunt boars and guard livestock, property, and people
- Size: 23 to 28 inches tall; 85 to 110 pounds
- Colors: Solid black or black brindle, red, fawn, gray
Other than color, the Cane Corso probably most closely resembles the Rottweiler in form.
Note the pronounced stop in the profile and the large but compact build in each dog. You can also see the athleticism and fluid movements of the dogs, similar to Rottweilers.
Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier is among the most popular pets in the US despite widespread bans and a formidable reputation. Easily trained and eager to please, the Pit Bull’s adaptability is one of its greatest qualities.
The Pit Bull’s athletic and cat-like slinking gait distinguishes it from the Rottie, and most dogs are not black and tan.
However, of the bully breeds, they are most similar to the Rottweiler in their head structure, the ratio of muzzle to back skull, and ear position. The Pit Bull’s impression is one of power, friendliness, and stead nerves.
- Country of Origin: United Kingdom
- History: Animal cruelty ban of the 1830s led to the development of fighting dogs from Old English Bulldogs and Bull and Terriers; Pit Bulls were used in the “pits” against rats and eventually, other dogs
- Size: 17 to 21 inches tall; 30 to 60 pounds; Some are bred much larger
- Colors: solid black, blue, or grey; fawn, red; Any colors can have white
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog looks much like the Rottie, the notable difference being that the former is tricolor. However, the Swissie has a head shape and expression that is very reminiscent of the Rottweiler.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are large working dogs closely related to the Bernese Mountain Dog and St Bernard. Historians have learned that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is an old breed that has contributed to developing many other dogs, including the Rottweiler. Its personality is confident, gentle, calm, and playful.
- Country of Origin: Switzerland
- History: Used to pull heavy carts in the 1500s and herd dairy cows; Also guarded livestock and people
- Size: 26 to 28 inches tall; weigh 100 to 150 pounds
- Color: Black and tan with white in a specific pattern
Dog owners commonly feel that many Mastiffs look like the Rottweiler. Any resemblance makes sense because the Rottie’s ancestors belonged to the Molossoid group which included war Mastiffs and some livestock guardians.
A few herding breeds, including ancient Rottweilers, emerged from the livestock working Molossoids.
Rotties are smaller than most of the mastiffs, have smaller heads, and fewer folds around the face.
While Mastiffs were great for guarding and hunting, the Rottie’s smaller physique and greater athleticism made it more versatile for herding and police and military work. Mastiffs are commonly dark but usually brindle as opposed to black and tan.
- Cane Corso – Italian breed already described
- Boxer – German working dog from the 1800s; Usually fawn or brindle, although some are all white; Boxers illustrate one of the major differences between many Mastiff-types and Rotties, brachycephalic exaggeration; The Boxer muzzle to head length ratio is 1:3
- Bullmastiff – Bred in England in 1800s; Temperament approaches that of the Rottie, combining Old English Bulldogs with less aggressive Mastiffs for hunting and guarding
- Boerboel – Developed in South Africa in the 1650s from European mastiff types as a guard and hunting dogs; They are not quick to attack without provocation and have evolved as livestock guardians against African predators; Usually shades of brown
- Great Dane – Only slightly resembles the Rottweiler but scientists have determined it is the Rottie’s closest living relative; Developed in the 1600s in Germany for hunting boars and guarding estates.
If you have any experience with a mixed-breed dog from the shelter, you know that many of them resemble purebred dogs, including Rottweilers.
A good number of them are likely Rottweiler mixes which will resemble Rotties because of genetics. However, mixes of unrelated dogs can also produce a puppy that looks like a Rottweiler.
- German Shepherd x Cane Corso
- Pit Bull x Black and Tan Coonhound
- Bernese Mountain Dog x GSD
Rottie mixes that often resemble purebreds are crosses with German Shepherds, Dobermans, Beaucerons, and Labrador Retrievers.
The dog in the middle of this video could pass as a Rottie with thick fur. The nose is slightly long for a Rottie and the tail bushy.
However, the curl and carriage of the tail are true to the Rottweiler breed. You can also see a subtle pattern variation of the black and tan across the shoulders that suggests a GSD lineage.