John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Rottweiler was called many names over the years and Rottie, Rott, Rottweil Metzgerhund and the Butcher’s Dog are among its nicknames. It is considered one of the most intelligent and responsive dogs. Also, it is a particularly popular dog breed thanks to the strength that it emanates. However, it is so powerful that it needs permanent supervision because of its strong territorial instinct and the fact that it does not like strangers. Originally used as a guard dog, Rottie evolved as a fighting dog and even as a companion dog.

In order to create this dog breed, locals from the city of Wil and the Romans had bred a type of Mastiff dog with a type of Shepherd dog. The result was a dog of remarkable sharpness that served for many purposes.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessBelow Average
Exercise NeedsHigh
Dog Breed Group:Working Dogs
Height:Generally 22 to 27 inch tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 77 to 132 pounds
Life Span:10 to 12 years

Rottweiler dogs were originally bred and used by cattlemen to guide their herds to the market but after a while, they started to be used by butchers as traction dogs. In addition, they have been successfully used in the police and they are among the dog breeds that have honorably served in the military as well. Most importantly, Rottweiler dogs are loyal family dogs and they make very good friends.

From a distance, these dogs look fierce, strong and fearless, but if one takes a good look in their eyes, he or she can see warmth, love, intelligence, vigilance and courage. A pure breed Rottweiler is calm, confident and usually aloof towards other dogs, but not timid or fearful. Rottweiler dogs have a “wait-and-see” type of attitude when they come in contact with new people and new situations. Thus, it can be said that a Rottie is a good guard dog that can be successfully used for many purposes, including as a loyal companion.

This dog type is full of energy, but if kept in a house or an apartment it becomes inactive. To make sure it does not develop certain behavioral disorders, it is important to ensure its necessary dose of exercise daily. A Rottweiler dog loves to swim and run, even if its owner is on a bike and it has to keep up with him or her. It also loves to run after the ball or play fetch with other objects. Because of its history as herd dog, it enjoys walks in nature. Mature Rottweiler dogs need 2 hours of walking and daily exercise.

Main Highlights
  • The Rottweiler is an ancient dog breed, very special, with many skills and qualities. However, it is not for everyone, but it can become an excellent companion for people who understand its needs and personality.
  • It is claimed that there are two types of Rottweiler dogs, the German and the American Rottweiler. The German Rottweiler seems to be shorter, stocky, with a bigger head. The American Rottie is taller, with longer legs. The first type is recognized by the AKC and the second type is also accepted.
  • Rottweiler dogs are large and strong dogs that require socialization and proper training from an early age.
  • Dogs of this breed have a natural instinct to protect their families at any cost and can become very aggressive and ferocious when it comes to their defense.
  • A Rottie will always try to verify its owner’s authority. It should not be let to explore one’s weaknesses.
  • A young Rottweiler needs at least 10 to 20 minutes walking per day.
  • Some Rottweiler dogs snore while sleeping and occasionally cough. This does not imply a health problem for them. However, if coughing is a common phenomenon, especially while they sleep, it may be an indication of the presence of a heart or lung disease.
  • If its diet is not balanced, it tends to get fat. It is a dog a rich appetite, so it is not recommended to have food at its discretion.
Breed History

In the early twentieth century, the Rottweiler, which was called by Albert Graf, “The Phoenix of the canine species” was reborn. Although it was recognized as a separate dog breed for a long time, the Rottweiler became famous for its appearance and thanks to its imposing attributes that define it as very effective guard and defense dog. The Rottweiler is brave and intelligent, with a very strong character and a formidable desire to work. This dog breed was imposed rapidly all over the world because of its multiple uses in the army and the police, companion dog for the blind and disaster situations.

2000 years ago, when the Roman legions were marching through the St. Gotthard Pass and were trying to establish themselves in the German province, soldiers were joined by some big, robust dogs, which were recognized as a being of mastiff type. These dogs were indispensable for the Roman troops because they were used as fighting dogs, sheepdogs and cattle dogs at the same time. They were also playing an important role in the service of man.

Because at that time there were no means of refrigeration or preservation, the Romans moved their herds over long distances to feed on them. The task of these dogs was to guide and guard the cattle and protect them from the wild animals that were trying to attack them. As soon as the Romans got through the St. Gotthard Pass, they conquered the city of Wil, known as a large shopping center and major cattle fair. Because the houses from this city were built with red stone, the city’s name changed to Rottwil and then to Rottweil.

That is where the Roman’s dogs had bred with the local dogs, which were herd dogs and fierce guards, also known as the Butcher’s dogs. The crossbreeding resulted in a very similar breed with the Rottweiler that we know these days. The new breed had spread rapidly in the city and in its surroundings. For obvious reasons, the way these dogs looked like was less important than their utility qualities. Back then, people didn’t care much about the aspect of these dogs.

They were more interested in their size, weight and strength. Cattle traders who were also butchers were very fond of the Rottweiler and used it on numerous occasions. It is said that when they went drinking at night, they used to leave their money outside with their dogs for safety reasons. Some people owned 3 or 4 Rottweiler dogs, which were called Buvier of Rottweil, or Rottweiler.

In the nineteenth century, the Rottweiler breed was almost extinct, but thanks to some breeders from Stuttgart they were rescued. The breeders worked hard in order to keep the Rottweiler from going extinct and during the two world wars, the Rottweiler stood by with courage and spirit of sacrifice. It has proven its qualities in military missions that they have successfully fulfilled.

In recent decades, the Rottweiler has become one of the most popular dogs in Europe and mainly in America thanks to the American Kennel Club. It is a strong dog with a protective innate instinct, but also sensitive and affectionate.


According to the FCI standard, the Rottweiler is a medium large sized dog. A male Rottweiler is 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, while a female Rottweiler is 22 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder. As for the Rottweiler’s weight, it should be between 110 and 132 pounds in case of males and between 77 and 105 pounds in case of females.

Personality and Character

The Rottweiler is a dog with a strong personality. It is calm, trainable and educated, courageous and devoted to its owner and to his or her family. This dog is very protective, fiercely defending its family. It is a strong fighter that seems immune to pain.

Sober, moderate, loyal and confident, the Rottweiler requires an owner who can dominate and manipulate it. Firm and meticulous training is essential for this dog, otherwise one can end up with an extremely strong, independent and overly aggressive dog. It is a native watchdog with a gentle nature and easily chiseled. Also, it is highly intelligent and has proven its skills in the police and military throughout the centuries.

This dog requires a lot of time for socializing and needs company in order to develop harmoniously. Friends and relatives are generally greeted with enthusiasm by the Rottweiler, but foreigners cannot get near it. Barking is often reserved for unwanted intruders. As with any breed, potentially dangerous behavior is usually the result of an irresponsible owner, education, treatment full of abuse, neglect or lack of socialization.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Rottweiler loves people from its entourage and may behave in a comic way in order to delight family and friends. In addition, it needs attention, lots of socializing and an occupation. A Rottweiler should not be left alone for a long time because it is a working dog that requires an occupation.

According to the FCI standard, the Rottweiler is gentle, calm, lover of children, very devoted, obedient and eager to learn new things and work. Its appearance is natural and rustic, their behavior confident, balanced and fearless. Moreover, the American Kennel Club says this dog is basically calm, confident and courageous, but who cannot befriend strangers easily. It is also characterized by an extreme hardness and adaptability and a strong willingness to work, fact which makes it particularly suitable as a companion, guard and working dog.

The Rottweiler is a powerful dog breed with good genetic development and guarding instincts. It is a dog suitable for people who are looking for a loyal friend and a faithful guard dog. Owners share a strong bond with their dogs, however this breed is not known for its ability to achieve fast friendships with strangers. The Rottweiler sees strangers as threats, so it might meet them with an aggressive reaction.

Health and Potential Problems

The Rottweiler is generally a healthy dog, but just like all the other dog breeds, it is prone to certain diseases. Not every Rottweiler dog will be affected by these diseases, but it is important for one to know what to expect. Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, aortic stenosis, osteosarcoma, gastric dilatation, hypothyroidism, allergies, entropion and parvovirus are among the most common ones. Other medical implications of the Rottweiler dog breed may include kidney failure, nerve and muscle disorders.

  • Hip dysplasia: This condition is hereditary and means that the thigh bone doesn’t perfectly fit in the hip joint. Some dogs have pain and lameness in one or both hind legs, but one may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As a dog ages, arthritis can occur as well. In case you buy a Rottweiler puppy, you should ask for an x-ray of both parents to be sure your dog will not be affected by this hereditary disease. Hip dysplasia can be aggravated by environmental factors, such as rapid growth due to super-caloric diets or injuries occurred due to jumps or falls on stairs and slippery floors.
  • Elbow dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is a hereditary malformation of the elbow’s joint. Its severity can be determined by the vet after asking for a radiograph. The vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.
  • Aortic stenosis: This disorder of the heart is sometimes met in Rottweiler dogs. The aorta narrows below the aortic valve, forcing the heart work harder in order to supply blood to the body. In a situation like this one, a dog might faint or die suddenly. This is also a hereditary condition, but the way it is transmitted is not known yet. Normally, a cardiologist can diagnose this condition by listening to the dog’s heart.
  • Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is an aggressive type of bone cancer that affects large and giant dog breeds. The first sign is lameness, but an X-ray scan is required in order to determine if the cause is cancer. Osteosarcoma is treated aggressively, usually by limb amputation and chemotherapy. With treatment, a dog’s life can be prolonged for 9 months to 2 years. Fortunately, dogs adapt easily to a life on 3 legs and they do not suffer from the same side effects such as hair loss and nausea from chemotherapy.
  • Gastric dilatation — volvulus: This life-threatening condition occurs in large dogs, such as the Rottweiler. When dogs are fed only once per day, eat a lot and fast, drink a lot of water too and then they exercise, they might get gastric dilatation. It is more common in older dogs and it occurs when a dog’s stomach is filled with air or gas and then it twist. The dog cannot vomit in order to get rid of the excess air from its stomach and blood flow to the heart is impaired. Blood pressure decreases, so the dog goes into shock. Without immediate intervention of the doctor, the affected dog can die.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is caused by a deficiency of the thyroid hormones and can lead to infertility, obesity, mental alienation and lack of energy. The coat of a dog can become rough and brittle and it may begin to fall while the skin loses its elasticity and darkens. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a daily thyroid pill. Medication administration must be done throughout its life.
  • Allergies: Allergies are common diseases in dogs. Allergies to certain foods can be identified and treated by eliminating certain foods from a dog’s diet in order to identify the cause. Contact allergies are caused by a reaction when the dog certain chemical solutions or materials. They are treated by identifying and eliminating the allergenic cause. Inhalant allergies are caused by allergens such as pollen, dust and mold. Appropriate medical treatment depends on the severity of the allergy. Ear infections are often a side effect to common inhalant allergies.
  • Entropion: It is a condition in which the eyelid of a dog rolls inward. The lashes irritate the surface of the eyeball, which can lead to more serious problems.
  • Diabetes: It is a condition associated with a shortfall in pancreatic insulin production.
  • Parvovirus: It is a devastating gastrointestinal virus that mainly affects puppies.
  • Obesity: If a Rottweiler is fed excessively or it doesn’t exercise enough, it is prone to obesity. Some of the consequences of obesity for can be quite serious, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart failure, shortness of breath, reproductive problems, skin diseases and overheating.
Care Features

This dog is recommended for people with experience in raising dogs and to those who have the possibility to keep it outdoors in fenced space where it can move freely. Training and socialization is also mandatory.

Rottweiler dogs are intelligent and eager to learn, so their training will not be an impossible task. Because of breeders who used these dogs’ courage and enthusiasm to stimulate their aggressive side, they have gained a negative reputation in recent years. Although the Rottweiler is on the list of dangerous dogs and it is prohibited in some countries, it is actually a very loving family dog.

In case of a Rottweiler, it is important for the training to start early and be led by a firm individual. This type of dog tends to dominate, so it is essential for the trainer to be confident in order to obtain results.

A good listener, this dog will learn quickly and will enthusiasm especially if the training is combined with running, playing ball and swimming. A Rottweiler loves to swim, bring objects from the water and save people from drowning if it is taught how. Moreover, The Rottweiler is very protective of its home and family, but it might exaggerate its protectiveness proving to be extremely aggressive against people or animals that appear in close proximity to its family.

The Rottweiler is a sensitive, intelligent and loyal dog that normally wants to pleasure its owner. Sometimes it can be stubborn and require more attention. It is imperative for its discipline to be consistent and firm without being harsh with it. A more severe intonation of voice is often sufficient. However, a Rottweiler is not appropriate for shy or busy people or those who are not inclined to get involved in its education and supervision.

Feeding Schedule

The recommended daily dose for a Rottweiler is between 4 to 10 cups of high quality dog food, divided into 2 meals. This type of dog is not a picky eater, so it can be fed with both dry food, canned food or prepared food. It needs a balanced menu, which contains protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. It is therefore recommended to include the following in this dog’s meals: meat (chicken, beef or fish), milk, vegetables and grains.

It is not recommended to be fed with pork or fat. It can get sick easily if it is not on a proper diet, so one should maintain a balanced menu and track which foods it likes and which not. An adult dog does not need more than 2 servings of food a day.

Coat, Color and Grooming

A Rottweiler’s coat is always black with amber-colored spots. The transition zones from black to copper are clearly defined. These spots are located as it follows: a spot over each eye, on the cheeks, a stripe on each side of the snout, on the neck, a triangular mark on both sides of the prosternum, on the front legs, on the inside of the hind legs from ankle to toes, on the area under the tail and black spots on the fingers. The inner layer of a Rottweiler’s coat is gray, beige or black.

The quantity and the area where these spots are located are important and should not exceed 10% of a Rottweiler’s body color. The outer layer of this dog’s coat is straight, hard, dense and medium length, while the inner layer of its coat must be present on its neck and thighs, but the amount is influenced by climatic conditions. The inner layer should not be seen from the outside. The coat of a Rottweiler is short on its head, ears and legs and longer on its hip.

A Rottweiler should be brushed with a brush made of pig hair twice a week. This is a general rule for all breeds of dogs that have short hair. A glove-brush is suitable for conducting a thorough brushing too. Brushing stimulates new hair growth, healthy hair and removes that which is ready to fall. This dog sheds seasonally, but not excessive. It must be washed only when it is absolutely necessary. In addition, special sprays can be used in order to make its coat shine. As for other grooming details, its ears and nails should be kept clean and its nails short.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

If a Rottweiler receives an adequate education and if it benefits of an appropriate amount of socialization then it is good with children. However, tolerance levels vary from one dog to the other. This type of dog has to learn as soon as possible what it is allowed to do and what not, just like children need to know as well. Due to its size, a Rottweiler should never be left alone with a child. A minor collision can cause a serious injury to a child. Also, some Rottweiler dogs have a passion for moving objects, thus, it is not good to be left unsupervised with children who naturally like to run and play.

Rottweiler puppies adapt well in the presence of mature dogs or cats. However, a mature Rottweiler will have difficulties to integrate in a home with other animals around it. Bringing a new dog in the house after a Rottweiler was the master of the house might be a problem.

It is good to know that aggression between dogs is determined by factors such as lack of socialization, genetic traits and gender. Males are less tolerant of other males than females are. Neutering can reduce the aggressive behavior towards other dogs without diminishing the protective spirit of property.

Rottweiler dogs are intelligent dogs that can adapt to any living conditions. They can quickly learn what they need to know and they can prove useful in many situations. Since they can survive in various living conditions, they are present all over the world.

However, they need to exercise daily, so any constrains in this regard have a negative influence on both their bodies and minds. Their aggressive side should not be stimulated, but removed as much as possible since they are puppies. If so, they can handle any situation with calm and determination without inspiring fear or terror. Too many people are afraid of Rottweiler dogs these days and too many owners are not properly training their Rotties.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.