The noble Rottweiler is a well-recognized breed. The rugged Rottie is dependable and hardworking, with an aloof, yet friendly, manner. They're sturdy, alert dogs that are known to sit and observe before making any decisions on how to proceed. They are loyal, confident, and courageous, but are often depicted negatively. Rottweilers aren't recommended for first-time dog owners as they can be headstrong. The breed may be territorial or protective of family, but proper socialization and training from an early young age provide the foundation for a well-behaved lifelong companion.
Rottweilers are also known as Rotties, Rotts, and American Rottweiler. The Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub has a similar standard for the German Rottweiler, which is considered the same breed.
Rottweiler mixes may be available in shelters and rescues. While Rottweiler mixes may present some of the physical traits and temperament of the Rottie, traits from the other breeds in the mix may also be present. Most shelters do not perform DNA testing on the animals they receive. Breed is often determined based on physical characteristics, as well as information provided at the dog's surrender.
To adopt a Rottweiler or Rottie mix, get in touch with local shelters and rescues as they often maintain waiting lists for specific requests. While a Rottweiler mix adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, its genetic history is often unknown and its temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog's personality through a series of evaluations so even if temperament may not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home.
Common Rottweiler mixes include Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Boxer, and the American Staffordshire Terrier, also known as a Pit Bull.
The Rottweiler has a rich black short coat, with up to 10 percent tan to mahogany markings on the face, chest, and legs. Dogs in cooler climates may have an undercoat present, but it does not show through the overcoat. Rottweilers in warm climates may not have an undercoat.
Average Height: 22-27 inches
Male: 110-130 pounds
Female: 75-110 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The sturdy Rottweiler is a well-proportioned dog of considerable size. A Rottweiler is courageous, yet reserved. The friendly, biddable breed has a guarding instinct. The broad head has tight-fitting skin, with a wrinkle allowed if the dog is concentrating. Pronounced cheekbones are skirted by high-set triangular ears that hang down. The chest should be muscular and roomy, with a deep chest and proportionate legs. The tail, docked, may rise when alert, but is otherwise held horizontally. A Rottweiler moves with a steady, powerful, and purposeful trot. The black fur of a Rottweiler should contain no more than 10 percent of a tan to mahogany color that should be placed over the eyes and at the cheeks, on the sides of and under the muzzle, but not over, as well as on the legs and chest. – AKC Breed Standards
The tireless Rottweiler thrives with a job to do, a trait passed from its drover dog ancestors used to herd livestock for the ancient Romans. Because there was no refrigeration, the Roman armies needed to keep livestock for food while on the march. The Rottweiler's ancestors herded the livestock while the army marched to ensure fresh meat was always available.
Later, this drover dog became known as a Rottweiler Metzgerhund, or butcher's dog, because they were used to drive livestock or pull carts of meat to market. They carried the butcher's money pouch around their neck to protect it from thieves. Eventually, the railway replaced the dog as a means of transport and the breed declined in popularity.
In the 1900s, Rottweilers became a top choice for working dog roles including police, messenger, and guard dogs. Rottweilers remained popular as working dogs from World War I through World War II, and they still excel in roles as police dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, and as herding dogs. The breed retains its herding instincts—some Rottweilers are even known to start herding livestock without any prior training.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Rottweiler as a breed in 1931 and the breed held the number one spot for most registrations in the US in the 1990s.
AKC Breed Category
While they can be domineering, with appropriate training and socialization, the Rottweiler is a loyal, loving dog. They're not only affectionate with people; working Rottweilers have been known to bond with the livestock they herd. The good-natured Rottie is calm, trustworthy, and obedient. They possess a natural instinct to protect and can be stubborn at times—without proper training from an early age, the breed can exhibit behavioral problems or be pushy with owners or strangers. Even experienced dog owners are urged to attend obedience classes from puppyhood in order to properly socialize the breed with both people and other dogs. The heavyweight breed didn't get the memo that they are not lap dogs and they may try to sit or lean on people, which may be a concern for children, the elderly, or people with decreased mobility.
Are Rottweilers Good with Kids? The affectionate Rottweiler can be a wonderful pick for a household with children with early training and supervision. Though they are a kindhearted breed, they are also large and goofy and may be too exuberant during play. As natural herders, they attempt to round up children by bumping them—but may not know their own strength and can inadvertently knock children down.
Are Rottweilers Good with Other Pets? Rottweilers may get along with other dogs in the home if introduced properly, though they may be territorial with dogs of the same sex. They may be less accepting of dogs outside of the home, so socialization is important. Some Rotties can live with dog-experienced cats with supervision, but may chase. They often tend to livestock even without training due to their natural instinct to protect.
The Rottweiler's guarding instinct is strong. They can be territorial and protective, and may make good guard dogs. While the Rottweiler is friendly and affectionate with family, proper training is essential to ensure the guarding instincts do not cause harm to visitors. While usually quiet, they may bark when someone approaches the home. Their powerful voice may be all the guard dog anyone needs.
Though many Rottweilers enjoy lounging about for a good part of the day, they are working dogs that need to burn off their energy. They are more likely to play in the company of their people rather than exercise when left home during the day. The energetic Rottie can be difficult, pushy, or destructive if not given enough exercise.
- Needs early—and continued—training to prevent territorial, aggressive, or other undesirable behaviors
- Doesn't know his own strength and can accidentally knock people over
- Without regular attention, the breed may be destructive (making a chew-proof dog bed a good idea for even the most well-behaved dog) or have separation anxiety if left alone
- Owners must be assertive to prevent a Rottweiler from taking advantage or misbehaving
- Can be rambunctious and needs plenty of exercise
- Not recommended for first-time dog owners
The affectionate Rottweiler is a sensitive breed that desires plenty of time with its owners, so they prefer to live indoors with people. They are known to follow their owners from room to room while indoors. A Rottweiler can live in an apartment with enough exercise and with plenty of opportunity to go outdoors.
Friendly and people-oriented Rottweilers love to spend time outdoors with their owners. A fenced yard is ideal for play and exercise, and leashed walks are recommended to ensure polite behavior with other dogs and strangers. They can overheat in hot weather, but are often comfortable in cooler temperatures.
The Rottie is a high energy dog that needs at least an hour of exercise per day—running, jogging, or a brisk walk—in addition to regular play. Overeating and obesity can be a concern for this breed; regular exercise will help maintain a proper weight.
Their history as a working dog has given the Rottweiler a high level of endurance. Developing puppies and young dogs seem as if they can run and play forever, but their bones and muscles need rest. Finding a balance will help prevent injury. The breed grows slowly, so strenuous activity is safer after two years of age.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Rottweilers have high endurance and may be able to run a few miles, but they are prone to elbow and hip injuries while running. Until you know your dog's ability, a brisk jog may be preferable to prevent these painful, expensive injuries.
- Hiking Miles: Properly socialized Rottweilers make wonderful hiking partners and can work up to a trek of 10 miles if in good health. The breed can overheat, so make sure to bring plenty of water and take breaks as necessary.
Rottweilers can be prone to overeating. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food (based on average weight and activity level) to feed is two to four cups of food per day. This amount should be split between at least two meals to prevent bloat.
Food guarding behaviors are not more prominent in the Rottweiler than in other breeds, but children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.
Rottweilers are affectionate, family-loving dogs who dislike being left alone. While they may be left alone for a few hours during the day, this loyal breed may require crate training to avoid undesirable or destructive behaviors due to boredom or loneliness. Time with family is important for the Rottie.
Health and Grooming
Rotties have a short double coat that requires occasional brushing. Daily brushing may be necessary during seasonal shedding of the undercoat. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail.
Common Health Issues
Rottweilers can be prone to breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Bone cancer
- Eye disease
- Torn ligaments
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat)
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Rottweiler by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Rottweilers respond well to basic training. Begin socializing and training Rottweiler puppies early to prevent battles over dominance. The breed can be headstrong and stubborn if training is not prioritized from an early age. Rotties respond best to positive reinforcement.
The hardworking, energetic Rottweiler loves spending time with people. Rottweilers want to please, and also appreciate stimulating games and advanced tricks training. Rottweilers love the physical and mental exercise gained from agility training. To prevent injuries to growing bodies, agility training can begin when a Rottie is full-grown—around 18 months old.
Sporting Dog Training
The Rottweiler is a working dog, and historically the breed has been used as a hunting dog. However, they may not be patient enough to point or have a sense of smell keen enough for the job. A Rottweiler may enjoy retrieving, if the time is put into training them for the task.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Rottweilers.
No, a Rottweiler's skull doesn't split or crack. 'Splitting' refers to the maturation of the breed's head and skull. While a Rottie grows, his head widens and muscle develops on either side. This broadening may leave what looks like a line or indent along the dog's head, but it is all muscle—not a cracked skull.
Though they have short coats, Rottweilers were bred in the cold climate of Germany and they tolerate the cold better than heat. Spending time outdoors in the cold may be fun for a Rottweiler, but the social breed prefers to play outdoors with his people rather than alone.
The myth that Rottweilers have 'lockjaw' is false, but it may be attributed to the fact that they do have a powerful jaw. Their muscular jaws have a bite force of over 320 pounds, but the jaw will never fully lock. Though it does mean you're not likely to win a game of tug.