why do rottweilers have eyebrows

Why Do Rottweilers Have Eyebrows?

There are many theories about why certain dogs such as the Rottweiler, German shepherds, Basset Hound, and Boston terrier have eyebrow marking or dots and even hairy eyebrows.

It is important to note that dogs have more of what is considered a ridge above their eyes. There may be a hair pattern to the ridge, which gives the appearance of a phantom eyebrow.

So Why Do Rottweilers Have Eyebrows?

To Protect Their Eyes

The main reason most furry animals have eyebrows is to protect their eyes. These ridges usually protrude on the dog’s face and protect its eyes from sweat, dirt, and dust.

Genetic Composition

As stated earlier, the Rottweiler is among a short list of dogs with a functional brow, generally referred to as a phantom brow.

The hairs on this ridge typically have a more distinct color that differs from the fur on the dog, meaning they can appear browner if the dog has black fur. The hairs also tend to follow a specific direction, such as seen in human beings’ eyebrows.

The differentiation in color between the body fur and ridge hair can be tied to the Agouti gene. The Agouti gene is one of the oldest and most dominant genes to be traced in the dog family.

Genes are responsible for the different fur colors on a Rottweiler’s body, namely a black back and a brown base, and determine where they are placed. There is a fifty percent chance that these blackback genes will be transferred to their offspring.

However, this does not mean that all dog breeds are predisposed to having these two dominant colors. Other than the agouti locus, seven other loci contribute to a Rottweiler’s fur color;

Brown Locus

The dominant brown and recessive brown alleles can change dogs’ foot and nose color in the red pigment family. The brow ridge hair will be brown in this case.

Extension Locus

The alleles in this locus are black, red, grizzle, and melanistic, which can create either a black facial mask and a red or yellow undercoat and eyebrow.

Spotting Locus

As the name suggests, the dog can have different shades or spots of colors ranging from particolor, piebald, or even a pure white coat.

Dilute Locus

This locus contains the melanophilin gene that dilutes black color to gray or red color to cream. Two of these recessive genes are used to dilute the specific color.

Harlequin Locus

The alleles for this locus are more potent in creating dark spots for white-colored breeds.

Dominant Black Locus

This is a mutation of the agouti gene that controls black, fawn, and brindle.

Merle Locus

This gene predominantly dilutes the black color, which means it does not affect yellow or red pigments. The offspring of dogs pigmented with red or yellow can become merle attributed to mutation.

The phantom ridge will, in most cases, differ from the general back fur color of the dog and thus create a few colors such as pale brown and even grey. The different combinations of these eight genes will determine the color of the eyebrow.


Rottweilers have been used as guard dogs for a very long time going as far as being Roman war dogs and German military dogs.

Their services in the military are highly attributed to the color of their fur, stature, and facial features, which include the eyebrow ridge.

Their uniformity when a pack of dogs is walked together helps to create the illusion of many dogs, which was required during the war.

The critical factor and attribute of any guard or police dog are to look both confident and intimidating, which Rottweilers are known for. The slight protrusion of the eyebrow helps to create a stern look.

Rottweilers are also a breed that herders commonly use. This is because the dogs have been quite intelligent, meaning they would not turn on the subject being herded, cattle or sheep.

Their dark faces, combined with the ever so slightly raised brown brow, create a stern look when they frown, which wards off predators keeping the livestock safe.

Most Rottweilers have a huge stature and are quite imposing on the livestock. This means they can physically steer the animals in the direction they have been trained to take them.

Another factor that makes Rottweilers unique in herding animals is that they are sensitive and create better bonds with the herd than other dog breeds.

Their sensitive sides help them bond with livestock and thus making the herd quickly ready for facial expressions, especially those made through the eyebrows and teeth.

In terms of guarding, most dogs will result in biting as the first response to an intruder. Biting is Rottweiler’s last resort because they will generally scrunch their brow to warn a potential intruder.

This tactic makes them more preferred by homeowners because of the fewer biting cases making them safer to leave near kids and guests.


Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a friendly conversation with a man’s best friend? Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and as such, humans rely on certain behaviors to decipher what their dog is trying to communicate. The eyebrow makes it easier to notice and understand what your Rottweiler is putting across.

Rottweilers use their eyebrow to communicate with other dogs as well. So how can you tell what your dog is trying to say to you by how they move their eyebrows? Here are some of the most common interpretations of eyebrow movement and shapes;


These are most common on each side of the Rottweiler face. When the arcs are in the middle of your dog’s face, they are relaxed and happy. Other accompanying gestures include an open mouth and ears.

Squished in

The dog may communicate concern or fear when the brows are closer to the middle of the face. This should not be mistaken as a fixed attention gaze because squished eyebrows are also characterized by ears dropping at the sides without lolling the tongue.

Triangles Towards the Middle

First, it is cool that Rottweiler can do this by moving the brows to the middle of the face and further from outside their face.

The expression is usually observed when the dog is following commands because they are focused on you and attentive to what they are being told to do. Most Rottweilers will have this Triangle-brow expression when in the presence of other dogs.

Raised Up

Like with most other expressions listed above, the eyebrow works in conjunction with the tongue, mouth, and ears to effectively convey a message.

A raised eyebrow with a slightly opened mouth and raised ears indicates a confused or surprised dog. This is a look that your dog will generally give when they are looking at themselves in the mirror or when you suddenly take away an object they were focused on.

Scrunched Up

With this expression, you will have to consider other circumstances in your environment. The scrunched-up look can indicate fear, aggression, and even super focus. The Rottweiler will have its eyebrow stiff and scrunched up, and its body will be stiff and pricked ears.

It is advisable to ensure that the dog is on a leash because they are on high alert for a possible threat and are more prone to attack at this stage. With time and as you learn how your dog reacts to different situations, you will be able to decipher what the scrunched-up look means to them quickly.

This look is also more common when the Rottweiler is young or when they are introduced to a new environment in which they have not yet adequately learned what a threat is and is not.

Misconceptions About the Rottweilers Eyebrows

More often than not, people will associate the presence of a defined brow in dogs as a sign of aggression. This means that people will probably react aggressively toward a Rottweiler with a scrunched-up eyebrow because they perceive it as a threat.

There is also the fact that Rottweilers have been guard dogs since time immemorial. This fact, combined with their black fur and solid brown eyebrows, makes people wary and scared of them even when there is no cause for concern.

It also does not favor Rottweilers because they look similar to wolves, especially in the dark or for those with grey fur.

These assumptions are false because the eyebrow ridge is used as an indicator and is a genetic marker that is unrelated to any form of aggression from the dog.

Therefore, it is essential to do your research before misjudging a Rottweiler and being defensive without cause.

The eyebrows are a distinctive feature of Rottweilers, and their uses are pretty amazing once you learn about them. Be sure to keep the brows groomed to keep them neat and clean.

Similar Posts