Why Do Rottweilers Growl: Learn What This Rottie Behavior Really Means

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The Rottweiler is a big, strong, working dog breed. As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, this dog has a lengthy lineage as herding, guarding, and protection dog breed.

It has only been recently that the Rottweiler has been kept as a companion canine rather than as a true working K-9.

This presents a learning curve for first-time Rottweiler owners who have never owned and trained a true working dog breed before now.

This article will help you learn to positively train and socialize your Rottweiler dog. One of the big questions that new Rottie owners often have is why Rottweilers growl.

This is the question we will answer in this article.


Why Do Rottweilers Growl?

Rottweilers growl for all kinds of reasons.

Some reasons are positive, such as a desire to play, a sign of impatience (such as watching you hold the leash for their evening walk), or a warning that a stranger is approaching your home.

Some reasons for growling are negative. These might include because they are afraid, in pain, unsure of their social position, or has an abusive or traumatic past.

In this article, we will take a closer look at all the different reasons why Rottweilers may growl.

Watch a Well Trained Rottweiler Growl on Cue

This fabulous YouTube video showcases just how smart the Rottweiler dog breed truly is – you can watch a Rottweiler that has been trained to growl on command.

It is easy to see from watching this video that the owner has done a tremendous job training their young Rottweiler to vocalize in different ways in response to different commands and situations.

This is a fantastic example of how a well-trained Rottie should behave.

What Does It Mean When Your Rottweiler Growls?

As 4 the Love of Dog charity explains, Rottweilers are known to be a vocal dog breed.

What does this mean? It means these dogs are known to grumble, growl, whine, bark, and vocalize in other ways quite frequently.

If you have only ever lived with a quiet dog breed in the past, getting used to the vocal Rottweiler may take some time.

Similarly, you will learn your Rottweiler growls for various reasons, and after spending more time together, you will begin to pick up on subtle nuances in different kinds of growls.

The more you pay attention, the more your Rottweiler’s growls can serve as two-way communication, so you know what each growl means and how your dog wants or needs you to respond.

Rottweilers Are Vocal Dogs

Some dog breeds are quite quiet in general, barking only rarely and relying more on body language than voice to communicate with their people.

Rottweilers do not belong to this group. Rotties are very vocal dogs. They use their voices often – and sometimes for no discernible reason other than the joy of communicating with their people.

This is another Rottweiler trait that can take some getting used to if you are new to owning a Rottie.

Different Types of Rottweiler Sounds and What They Mean

In this section, we take a closer look at different Rottweiler sounds and what they might mean, from grumbles to growls to yelps and outright barks that mean serious business.

The famous Rottweiler “grumble”

As the Rottweiler Club of America points out, the Rottweiler breed is known to “grumble.”

This grumble is so common that it is an inside joke among experienced Rottweiler owners and breeders. For first-time Rottweiler owners, however, that first puppy grumble can be scary. You may not know whether your dog is aggressive or not.

In most cases, grumbling is a sign of happiness or pleasure. Some Rottie owners equate it to the canine equivalent of a cat’s purr. Owners report hearing Rottweiler grumbles during pet, play, feeding, and getting attention and praise.

Rottweiler growling

One thing that new Rottweiler owners have a particularly difficult time doing is distinguishing a grumble from a growl.

Here, the main difference comes not from how the vocalization sounds but from the body language your Rottweiler is displaying.

When a grumble turns into a snarl or a bark, or when a grumble is accompanied by a curled lip or bared teeth, it has turned into a growl.

Unlike grumbling, which is kind of like casual chattering for Rottweilers, growling is always a sign to pay very close attention to your dog.

Rottweiler barking

Rottweiler barking is a big part of this herding and working dog’s vocabulary.

A Rottie may bark out of excitement, to sound an alarm, because they got startled, to repel a threat, because they are bored or lonely, or even just as a form of greeting.

Rottweiler yelping

A bark and a yelp are quite different, although they are both sharp, staccato sounds. A yelp is a sound of distress. It is usually high in pitch and maybe a single sound or repeated just two or three times.

A yelp is always a call to drop whatever you are doing and come immediately to help.


Reasons Why Rottweilers Growl

There are many different reasons why your Rottweiler might start growling, as we mentioned earlier.

Some reasons are positive, and some reasons are negative. As you and your dog spend more time together and you respond to different incidents of growling, you will start to put two and two together about how your dog uses growling to communicate with you.

This helpful primer can give you some pointers about what to look for to figure out what caused your Rottweiler to growl.

1. To say hello

Rottweilers may also growl because they are simply saying hello. Some types of growls indicate excitement or a desire to play, go for a walk or run or go outside to do their business. The key to decoding the growl is pitch, length, and duration.

2. To issue a warning

One of the most common reasons that Rottweilers bark is a precursor to other, more aggressive, behavior.

Rottweilers who are well-trained and socialized will first let out a growl or bark to warn off a potential threat.

If the warning is ignored, this is when you may see full-out aggressive barking, lunging, chasing, or biting.

3. To let you know they are scared

Rottweilers may look big and fierce, but this doesn’t mean they don’t still have the capacity to feel fear.

It is just that Rottweilers tend to respond to fear with a show of strength and might rather than by whimpering or cowering.

A growling Rottweiler may be ready to lay down its life for you, but it may also be genuinely scared of the opposition.

4. To guard their food or toys

Rottweilers, like all dogs, can become territorial or aggressive around food or favorite possessions like toys, beds, or blankets.

Rottweilers do love to eat, and Rottweiler obesity is common issue pet owners face.

In some cases, multi-dog families may end up dealing with a food-aggressive or toy-aggressive Rottweiler if another dog in the family gets into the habit of trying to steal Rottie’s food.

5. To indicate pain

While dogs have been domesticated companions to humans for millennia, this doesn’t mean all their wild instincts are dead.

A Rottweiler that is feeling ill or in pain is still genetically programmed to try to hide it. So if your Rottweiler is growling and you cannot detect any other possible explanation for it, you may want to schedule a visit to your canine veterinarian.

6. To express uncertainty

In herding, guarding, and protecting dog breeds like the Rottweiler, a good motto could be “when in doubt, growl.”

Whereas the always-friendly Golden Retriever might opt to lick or whine, the Rottweiler is more likely to bark or growl when they are unsure how to interpret a situation.

Training a Rottweiler Not to Growl

As Whole Dog Journal points out, training a Rottweiler not to growl begins with decoding why that dog is growling in the first place.

Start by noticing when your Rottweiler growls. If it only happens when your Rottie is leashed, or is meeting other dogs, or is getting fed, then that is the trigger issue you need to work with.

With a large, powerful dog breed like the Rottweiler, you always want to use only positive training and socialization methods. Here, “positive” means reward-based rather than punishment-based.

Rewards can include treats, pats, gifts of a favorite toy and playtime, and praise.

By rewarding desired behavior and not reacting to unwanted behavior, your smart Rottweiler will quickly learn that growling will not get your attention or a response.

Taking K-9 classes can also help refine your dog’s understanding of when to growl.