Pet Care Blog

Rottweiler Dog Breed Guide: Characteristics, History & Care

Aliyah Diamond
Aliyah Diamond
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Rottweiler puppy laying in field

Massive and muscular, Rottweilers are one of the top ten breeds in the US, and for a good reason. These fantastic guard dogs are highly intelligent, energetic, and easy to train. While very protective and suspicious of strangers, Rottweilers are very affectionate to the members of their family. They’re also often used as therapy and guide dogs.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a Rottweiler into your family but you’re not sure whether it is the right dog for you, read on to find out more about the breed’s characteristics, including personality traits, physical appearance, history, care requirements, and more.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: Rottweiler pet insurance can significantly reduce the cost of pet ownership because this breed is prone to several hereditary conditions, like hip dysplasia. Pet insurance can cover many Rottie expenses, including behavioral training, vaccinations, and more depending on the plan you choose.

Rottweiler characteristics

Physical appearance

On average, the weight of Rottweiler is 80 to 120 pounds with 22 to 27 inches in height. These large dogs have particularly big heads with tightly positioned and slightly hanging ears. Their muzzles are strong and square and their lips are somewhat loose, which can make the members of this breed a bit drooly. Their medium-length coat is shiny and black with rust markings on the legs, chest, and face.

Personality

Well-socialized Rottweilers get along well with people and other dogs, although male members of the breed can be a bit dominant and aggressive. These dogs are capable of inflicting severe damage, so they need a knowledgeable owner to provide consistent training and adequate socialization.

Rotties are very active and smart dogs that can be overly independent. Without guidance, they can become diggers, nuisance barkers, or display undesirable behaviors. Originally bred to work, Rottweilers do best when they have a job to do, even if it’s just as a kid's companion.

Lifespan

Rottweilers have shorter lifespans compared to some dog breeds in the same weight category that can live as long as 15 years. The average lifespan of a pure breed Rottweiler is about 9 years. Female Rotties have an average lifespan of 9.5 years and outlive males by about 10 months on average.

Living with Rottweilers

Considering their large size, Rottweilers are fairly easy to keep. It’s important to remember that they need continuous and extensive socialization to be good family companions. Rotties are often very protective of their children and should be carefully supervised when with a group of children. They love being in the company of their owners and tend not to do well if left alone for long periods of time. Some members of the breed tend to drool, especially large males with loose lips.

Rottweiler dog playing

Rottweiler care tips

Training

Rottweiler dog training should start early in their life. These dogs need puppy socialization, consistent leadership, and basic training classes in order to grow into well-mannered adults. They’re smart, highly trainable, and eager to please, although they can sometimes be stubborn.

Pet owners should be sure to do plenty of research on the Rottweiler temperament and training needs before bringing one home. It is also advised to consult with your veterinarian, a dog trainer who has experience with Rottweilers, and your breeder to ensure your new Rottie puppy is set up for training success.

Rottweilers excel in many canine sports and love walking, jogging, and swimming, especially with their owners. They are quite athletic and require daily exercise. Rotties love when they have a job to do and are excellent workers in tracking, obedience, and herding.

Grooming

Rottweilers have a straight, medium-length coat that lies flat. Their coat requires weekly brushing and they also need regular bathing. Rotties shed very moderately throughout the year, except in the spring and fall when shedding is more profuse. Their nails should be trimmed every week and their teeth should be brushed regularly.

Nutrition

Adult Rottweilers consume several cups of dry dog food twice a day. Exactly how much your dog eats and how often will depend on their age, activity level, and size. Avoid free feeding as these dogs aren’t very good at self-moderation and can easily become overweight if allowed to eat whatever quantity they want whenever they want. Food brand and quantity should always be discussed with your veterinarian as they are the expert on nutrition and health for your Rottie.

Common Rottweiler health issues

As with all breeds, Rottweilers are prone to certain health conditions, including:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury (CCL) - the most common knee injury of dog;
  • Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia;
  • Certain cancers including bone cancer, lymphoma, spleen cancer, and liver cancer;
  • Osteochondrosis - a condition affecting the joints of young, rapidly growing pups;
  • Eye problems such as ectropion (where the eyelids roll outwards) and entropion (where the eyelids roll inwards);
  • Heart disease

Pro Tip: Whether you are getting a Rottweiler puppy or adopting an older dog, pet insurance should be one of the first things on your to-do list. Rottweiler health problems can occur at any age but dog health insurance can reduce your financial risk of expensive vet costs incurred.

Rottweiler dog smiling

Rottweiler breed history

It is believed that the Rottweiler derived from the Mastiff and that the breed’s origin can be traced back to ancient Rome.

Rottweilers were drover dogs that were used to herd livestock and pull carts. They got their name from the German town of Rottweil, where they worked as cattle dogs and police dogs. Due to their strength, Rottweilers were trained for many other jobs; for instance, they helped butchers by carrying meat and were used as guard dogs.

The breed started to gain popularity in the States at the beginning of the 20th century due to its hard-working nature. It was recognized by the American Kennel club in the 1930s and today, it ranks eighth on AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds.

Adopting or buying a Rottweiler

If you want to buy a Rottie puppy, start by checking the American Rottweiler Club for reputable breeders. If you are buying from a breeder, ask about the line's temperament history and request to meet the puppy's parents if possible.

Another option is to adopt a rescue. The Rottweiler Rescue Foundation lists contact information of rescue groups in the US and allows you to research adoptable Rotties by region.

Be sure to check the laws in your area before buying or adopting a Rottweiler. Because of their history of being bred for aggression and protection, Rotties may be subject to breed-specific legislation in your town or state. You should also check local laws when traveling with your Rottweiler. Your renters or home insurance carrier might require extra liability coverage if you own a Rottie.

If you are interested in similar breeds, consider also looking into other popular breeds such as Boxer, Cane Corso, and Bullmastiff.

Key Takeaways

  • Rottweilers originated in Germany as a working breed. Because of this, they have a lot of energy and require daily exercise.
  • Training is a top priority with this breed. Otherwise, your Rottweiler dog will run wild, which is not safe. Rottweilers are intelligent, hard-working pups that can be great family pets with proper training.
  • A typical Rottweiler life expectancy is between 9 and 10 years. As with all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions, including hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, eye problems, and some types of cancer.
  • If you have the energy and experience to keep up with a Rottweiler’s exercise and training needs, this might be the right breed for you.

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Aliyah Diamond

Aliyah Diamond
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Aliyah Diamond has more than ten years of experience in animal hospitals - working with dozens of species from dogs and cats, to elephants and snow leopards. Her lifelong passion for helping animals currently has her earning her doctorate of veterinary medicine at Cornell University and helping Pawlicy Advisor educate pet parents.

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