Rottweiler (Rottie)

rottweiler dog breed
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The Rottweiler, or "Rottie," is a large, muscular and rugged dog with a hard-working and confident demeanor. The breed is intelligent and very loyal to its family. The Rottie can be an excellent working dog, watch dog, or guard dog. 

Breed Overview

  • Group: Working
  • Size: Weight of 80 to 130 pounds; height of 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder
  • Coat and Color: Short double coat in black with tan, rust, or mahogany
  • Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years

Characteristics of the Rottweiler

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkHigh
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of the Rottweiler

Though the exact origins of the Rottweiler are not known, it is believed that the breed derived from the mastiff and that its ancestors can be traced back to ancient Rome. They were drover dogs who herded livestock for the army. Later development of the breed occurred in the German town of Rottweil, where it worked as a cattle dog and sometimes a police dog before its popularity diminished. At one time, the breed was referred to as the Rottweil metzgerhund (butcher dog).

In the early 20th century, the breed was once again used as a police dog and began gaining popularity in the U.S. The hard-working nature of the Rottweiler has made its popularity grow over the years and it is now the eighth most popular breed, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1931.

Rottweilers and Breed Specific Legislation

Unfortunately, the Rottie has a reputation as a “dangerous breed” and may even be subject to breed-specific legislation. However, this is an unfair generalization. The truth is that any dog can be aggressive, regardless of breed.

Most Rotties are calm and affectionate. The key is training and socialization.

No matter the breed, if you adopt a dog, discuss temperament testing (rescue groups and shelters usually do this before placing pets up for adoption). If you are buying from a breeder, ask about the line's temperament history and meet the puppy's mother (and father if possible). Behavior traits to be inherited, but good breeders breed for good temperament. Sadly, some irresponsible breeders will purposely breed dogs for aggression.

You must check the laws of your jurisdiction if you want to adopt a Rottweiler. You will also need to check local laws when you travel with your pet. Your home or renters insurance carrier may require extra liability coverage if you own a Rottweiler.

Rottweiler Care

The Rottie has a short, somewhat coarse, but shiny hair coat. This breed has a moderate shedding rate and requires little more than basic grooming care. Use a curry brush or similar tool to brush your Rottie periodically and keep the coat healthy. Expect heavier shedding in the spring and fall.

Some Rotties will naturally wear down their nails, but it is important that you inspect them regularly and trim the nails as needed.

This will keep your dog's feet healthy and comfortable.

Good oral hygiene will benefit your pet. Brush your dog's teeth daily or at least two to three times per week.

The Rottweiler has a drive to work, high endurance, a commanding presence and a potential for territorial behavior. Ideally, a Rottie should get vigorous exercise on a daily basis. They are not ideal for apartment living as they do best with a yard to play in. As they may be aggressive towards new dogs, your Rottweiler may not be welcome at the dog park. Many Rotties will benefit from some type of "job," such as guarding the home, obedience competition, or tracking.

Few Rotties have an aggressive nature, despite what some people think. They are usually very calm, loyal and loving companions to those they trust. However, they may be suspicious of strangers due to their protective nature.

It is essential that all Rotties should be put on a strict training program to best utilize their intelligence and energy, thus keeping them happy, healthy and safe. In addition, proper socialization is essential and will help your Rottie feel comfortable in many situations.

The Rottweiler is intensely loyal and protective of trusted family members. This breed also has a playful and affectionate side that it reveals when at ease. Rottie can be excellent companions for all kinds of families, including those with children (provided you train your dog to behave around kids and also teach your kids how to act properly around dogs). They have a tendency to herd children, giving them a nudge, which might knock over a small child. A Rottweiler may also be over-defensive of the kids in his family and intervene when they are rough-housing with other kids. His prey drive may kick in and lead him to chase running children.

Rottweilers may not be a good choice for multi-pet households. Their prey drive may make them aggressive with cats and other small pets. They also may be intolerant of dogs of the same sex in their households.

Common Health Problems

Responsible dog breeders work hard to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health problems. However, there are some hereditary health issues that may occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Diet and Nutrition

You should feed your Rottweiler two meals of 2 to 5 cups of dry food per day. The amount depends on your dog's size, activity level, age, and other factors. Free-feeding isn't recommended because Rottweilers are not good at self-moderation and will tend to put on weight if allowed to eat whenever they want. Obesity will shorten your dog's lifespan, so discuss this with your veterinarian to get a recommended feeding schedule, amount, type of food, and exercise plan.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think you are ready to have a Rottweiler of your own, it's important to do more research first. Get opinions from veterinarians and pet professionals. Ask Rottie owners, responsible breeders, and rescue groups for more information.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

Explore the range of dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.