Rottweiler
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Chewy EditorialBehavior / Breed Lists

Rottweiler Dog Breed: Facts, Temperament and Care Info

With a powerful build, sharp guarding instincts and a strong sense of loyalty, the Rottweiler has gained a reputation as a tough and burly breed. But with proper socialization and care, these dogs make loving family members, and have grown in popularity. They’ve also found new roles as guide and therapy dogs, further demonstrating that the Rottweiler is indeed a gentle giant.

Rottweiler Facts

The Rottweiler has become a popular pet, known for their formidable size. For reference, the average Rottweiler weight can reach 135 pounds!

  • Breed Group: Working
  • Height: Males, 24-27 inches; females, 22-25 inches
  • Weight: Males, 95-135 pounds; females, 80-100 pounds
  • Life Span: 9-10 years
  • Coat: Medium-length coarse coat
  • Colors: Black with rust-, mahogany- or tan-colored markings

Rottweiler Characteristics

Rottweiler Characteristics

Illustration: Chewy

Rottweiler History: Ancient Rome Beginnings

Rottweiler history began during the expansion of the Roman Empire with a Mastiff-type dog breed. The Roman military used these dogs to accompany their legions as they marched through Europe, the Middle East and North Africa with their livestock. The dogs guarded the herds—the soldiers’ food source—and ensured that they moved efficiently.

Centuries after the Roman Empire’s collapse, the dogs were put to work in Rottweil, a southwestern town in Germany that had become an important trade center. The dogs, who drove cattle and protected them as they traveled from pasture to market, earned the name “Rottweiler Metzgerhund” or “Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil.”

When the Industrial Revolution ushered in the railroad, the dogs were no longer needed to serve as transporters. They eventually found work during both world wars as police dogs and messengers for the military. The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the Rottweiler dog in 1931, which currently reigns as the eighth most popular of 195 breeds.

Despite the Rottweiler’s reputation as a so-called aggressive breed, these pups can be quite gentle, as evidenced through their roles as guide dogs for the blind and therapy dogs for veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues. Rottweilers also have distinguished themselves as capable search and rescue dogs, working at disaster sites like those at Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center.

With about 320 Rottweiler breeders registered with the AKC, the average Rottweiler price typically runs $1,500-$2,500, with some Rottweiler puppies priced higher. Potential pet parents can also adopt from Rottweiler rescues, or keep an eye out for the breed at their local animal shelter.

What Does a Rottweiler Look Like?

The Rottweiler was bred for hard work, and everything—from the dog’s size to their strong features—speaks to this. They are considered medium- to large-sized pups, as Rottweiler weight averages 80-135 pounds, and Rottweiler height usually is in the 22-27 inches range. Males typically are more massive, larger framed and taller than females.

The Rottweiler has a distinctive broad, squarish head and thick neck. When the dog is alert, you might notice a slight wrinkling on the forehead. The bridge of the muzzle is straight and broad at the base, as is the nose. They also boast a well-developed chin and powerful jaws.

The Rottweiler’s brown, almond-shaped eyes hold an expression that breed lovers describe as noble, alert and confident. The medium-sized, triangle-shaped ears hang but become level with the skull when the dog is attentive.

Rottweilers trot with a balanced, effortless gait propelled by angular, muscular hind legs. The front legs are straight and heavy-boned. The chest is broad and deep, the forechest (located at the front of the legs and viewable from the profile) is well-developed, the ribs are rounded and the back is straight and strong. The naturally strong tail is carried upward in a slight curve when the dog is alert.

Another quick way to distinguish a Rottweiler dog is by the coat. Its base color is black with rust- to mahogany-colored markings located over each eye, the cheeks, around each side of the muzzle, on the throat, the chest and the front legs, inside of the rear legs, under the tail and on the large toes. The Rottweiler’s medium-length outer coat is coarse and dense, with a softer undercoat that can be gray, tan or black.

Rottweiler

Illustration: Chewy

Rottweiler Temperament

A well-bred Rottweiler is a calm, courageous and confident dog, with an aloof attitude that may be off-putting to strangers. To their trusted human family members, this pup may be a silly clown, eager to play while ready to protect from any perceived danger. Despite their size, your Rottweiler may yearn to be a lap dog and squeeze as much of themselves onto your lap as possible. In fact, some Rotties become so attached to their people that separation anxiety develops.

This intelligent and extremely protective dog needs a strong, firm hand. The breed has retained their guardian roots and can be very protective of family and property, but properly socialized Rottweilers can be good family dogs.

Most Rotties are heavier today and no longer have the stamina or inclination for nonstop exercise. When properly introduced, they get along well with other dogs and cats. However, some Rottweiler dogs especially are aggressive toward dogs of the same sex and smaller animals.  And don’t let their grunt-grumble “talking” be mistaken for growling; many Rotties express themselves with these happy sounds.

Keeping Rottweiler Dogs Healthy: 5 Issues to Watch Out For

The average Rottweiler life span is 9-10 years, depending on the dog’s health, and Rotties are prone to certain diseases that pet parents should be aware of. Your best chance at avoiding Rottweiler health issues is to purchase a puppy from an ethical, professional breeder who has papers to show that the dogs they breed are free of genetic disease. If you choose to adopt, be sure to get as much medical history as the rescue organization is able to provide.

Joint Dysplasias

Joint dysplasia is a disease that affects growing joints and predisposes Rottweilers to early onset arthritis and joint problems. Rottweilers are known to develop several dysplasias, including Rottweiler hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). Avoid joint dysplasia problems by purchasing dogs from breeders who certify their dogs to be free of any joint dysplasias through either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or PennHIP.

Learn more about canine joint dysplasia here.

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a genetic condition where the aorta, the main artery that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body, is too narrow. Aortic stenosis can cause a heart murmur, weakness and difficulty breathing. Affected dogs should not be bred. Moderate to severe cases of aortic stenosis are treated with medication and surgery.

Ectropion

Ectropion is a condition where the eyelid rolls outward, causing irritation, dryness and damage to the eyeball and conjunctiva (the tissues surrounding the eye). Treatment is surgical.

Entropion

Entropion is a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation to the eyeball from eyelashes rubbing on the surface. In severe cases, entropion can cause a corneal ulcer. Treatment is surgical.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Problems

In Rottweilers, the ACL in the knee is known to tear and cause severe hindlimb lameness. The exact cause is unknown, but genetics, ligament laxity, conformation and obesity are thought to play a role. A torn ACL creates instability in the joint and predisposes the joint to early onset osteoarthritis, pain and loss of mobility. Surgical treatment is available and recommended early to avoid development of osteoarthritis.

Caring for Your Rottweiler Dog

Rottweilers are loyal, loving family dogs who need daily interaction with their people, moderate exercise and good nutrition.

Grooming

Do Rottweilers shed? Rottweilers have a double coat and are moderate year-round shedders, with heavier shedding taking place in the fall and spring. To reduce shedding, brush your Rottie once or twice each week, and daily when they are losing their undercoat. Using a product like the Furminator deShedding Edge Dog Brush can reduce shedding. Bathing a Rottweiler is not recommended more than once a month, and shaving a Rottweiler is not recommended at all.

Nutrition

Nutrition is an important building block of any Rottweiler’s health. Obesity can be a problem in this breed, leading to secondary problems such as osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. So be sure to ask your veterinarian what is a healthy weight for your particular dog.

The best dog food for Rottweiler dogs is a complete and balanced large-breed dog food. Breed-specific dog food, like Royal Canin Rottweiler Adult Dry Dog Food, is formulated to support the nutritional needs of Rottweilers. Otherwise, a large-breed dog food, like Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food, is a good choice.

It is crucial to not overfeed Rottweiler puppies, because obesity can predispose pups to health problems. Feed an appropriate amount of large-breed puppy food, like Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food. Use the feeding chart on the bag as a guide or ask your veterinarian how much to feed your puppy.

If you choose to cook at home or feed raw, consult with a veterinary nutritionist to formulate a complete and balanced diet.

Exercise

Rottweilers are moderately active dogs. At least 30 minutes of exercise, whether brisk walking, running or a game of fetch using a Chuckit! Classic Launcher, is recommended for healthy adult dogs. Some Rottweilers love water, and swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise. Rottweiler puppies are not good jogging partners. They should be fully grown (about 15 months old) before engaging in vigorous exercise to allow their bones and joints to grow normally. Chewing is an important mental exercise that can be supported by giving your Rottweiler chew toys, which promote healthy chewing and mental stimulation.

Training Your Rottweiler

Rottweiler training is relatively easy once you have won your pup’s trust. This cautious breed considers everything carefully before committing to anything—play, friendship or training. Once your Rottweiler figures out that training is fun, they’ll be an eager pupil who excels at a variety of canine activities.

The Rottie respects authority from experienced trainers and offers obedience naturally without throwing “temper tantrums” common in some young dogs. Early obedience training is ideal, with positive reinforcement techniques—like clicker training (try the PetSafe Clik-R Dog Training Tool)—working exceptionally well. Chew-toy rewards are a hit with Rottweilers—just be sure they can stand up to the dog’s powerful jaws! The KONG Extreme Dog Toy is designed to hold up to the toughest of chewers.

Because the Rottweiler is naturally reserved in new situations, early socialization helps better prepare these dogs to feel comfortable around strangers and trips to the veterinarian or the dog park. These smart dogs learn quickly from positive experiences, as well as scary or negative ones.

Poorly socialized or trained dogs are much more at risk for developing aggressive behaviors. High demand for this breed has created poorly bred dogs who tend toward aggression and fear-biting, which leads some insurance companies to ban the breed. But well-trained Rottweilers excel at obedience competitions and enjoy flyball and other dog-play activities. They also do well with scenting discrimination training and are employed as K-9 officers in some police departments.

Rottweilers can make a steadfast companion to potential pet parents who properly train and socialize their pup. Those who look past the Rottweiler’s sometimes negative reputation will find a dog who exudes loyalty, gentleness and warmth.

Read more:

By: Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ; Amy Shojai, CABC; Paula Fitzsimmons

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