The Rottweiler breed is truly up there as a popular dog breed, coming in at 8th on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular breeds in 2020. With years of history as working dogs dating as far back as ancient Roman times, very few people would not recognize the distinctive stature and markings of a Rottweiler.
Black and tan
Confident and experienced dog owners, outdoor enthusiasts, security
Courageous, protective, territorial, affectionate, loyal, aloof
However, Rottweilers, also affectionately known as “Rotties”, tend to stir mixed feelings among dog owners. Rottie owners will tell you that their big dog is as gentle and loving as they come, but less experienced owners can find them challenging. Their strong personalities and protective instincts can cause poorly trained Rottweilers to have misdirected behavioral issues.
Labeled by some as aggressive, this lovable breed is not innately “bad,” instead, they need plenty of guidance to become well-adjusted and socialized. Rottweilers can make incredible companions who will loyally stick by their family unit with the proper care and leadership.
Rottweiler puppies tend to be quite expensive. Be wary of breeders selling Rottweiler puppies for low prices; they may not meet the same ethical breeder’s standards. If you adopt an older dog from a shelter, you can expect to find a Rottweiler at the lower end of the price spectrum. While we deeply support adopting dogs, be aware in adopting a Rottweiler that their behavior will depend on their history. Many owners put Rottweilers up for adoption because they could not handle them in their own homes. Some may even have a history of abuse. These checkered pasts may make them less predictable, and they will do better as the only pet in childless homes as they adjust to their new life.
You may also find a Rottweiler for a lower price if you pick a crossbreed. Rottweilers can be successfully crossed with other popular breeds to produce lovely dogs with the desirable Rottie traits. Rottweilers tend to be protective and affectionate at the same time. Be ready for an adventure of a lifetime when you have a Rottweiler pup in your home.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Rottweiler
Despite their poor reputation, Rottweilers are exceptionally loyal and affectionate. They bond deeply to their family unit, and when attached, they will come to be known as extremely gentle and loving. In a settled home, they are quiet and relaxed. For such a large breed, they are reasonably low maintenance. They love to spend time with those they adore but may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.
Outside of their “pack”, Rottweilers are more aloof. They can be skeptical of strangers—humans and animals alike! This may make them seem unfriendly, but their intelligent nature causes them to analyze every new person and situation. Rottweilers are not ones to rush into any situation; rather, they prefer to take a step back and check everything out.
This rational nature makes them popular in guard dog positions. They are highly alert and can sense anything out of the ordinary quickly. They are protective of their family and territorial of their home range. They are not afraid to let you know when they are unhappy in a situation.
Their superior intelligence and bravery will need close guidance from the first day you bring them home. Channeled correctly, this nature can be helpful. This behavior can become troubling with improper training as your Rottweiler will act upon all their feelings, however misguided. They require the strong leadership of their owners to follow.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Rottweilers are not innately family dogs. But they fit comfortably in a “pack” situation and will be happy in a family unit. Be careful that they do not bond too closely to just one family member so much so that they dislike others.
As far as children go, Rottweilers that are exceptionally well socialized are known to be gentle and protective of known children. It would be best to get a Rottie at a young age so they can socialize with kids from a very young age. Older Rottweilers may take more adjustment to kids and should always be supervised closely.
Once bonded, Rotties can be very protective of children in their families. So much so that they may view other, unknown children as threats while they play. They should also be supervised around kids if they show this overly protective behavior, so they do not step in to protect their children.
Even the very well-behaved and gentle Rottweilers can be accidentally rough with children. Rotties often “bump” others as a display of playful fun but can easily knock over small kids or even elderly family members with their sheer strength.
Socialization should begin early and be ongoing through your Rottweilers life.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
The same goes for Rottweiler’s relationship with other animals. It is all about socialization! Poorly trained dogs can form negative associations with other pets and dogs, and this can be very hard to break once it is ingrained in them. If adopting a Rottweiler, they would do best if they are the only pet so they can be slowly introduced to other animals.
If bringing an older Rottweiler into the home with established dogs, they may get along better if they are of the opposite sex. They will feel more comfortable if the existing dog is generally submissive and friendly.
On the other hand, puppies can be brought into any household, and with guidance, they can have good relationships with other animals. It’s highly suggested that your Rottweiler puppy goes to something along the lines of “puppy school” when young to socialize. At any other age, visits to dog parks, dog daycares, and boarding kennels can also offer essential socialization opportunities for Rotties.
Things to Know When Owning a Rottweiler
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
As a large breed dog, Rottweilers need a large amount of food to function. Choosing a high-quality complete diet dog food should provide Rottweilers with all the vitamins and minerals they need. Follow the instructions on the back of the food to provide the correct amount of food for the size and weight of your Rottie.
The amount of food needed will vary based on size, metabolism, and activity level. Rottweilers can be prone to obesity if they are overeating and under-exercising. Adjust the diet accordingly to keep your Rottweiler at optimum health.
Puppies will need specially formulated puppy diets to ensure that they get enough calories to promote growth and support development. This puppy development is vital to ensure that Rottweilers are healthy throughout their adulthood.
Rottweilers are known for drooling due to their large lip flaps. This can make eating and drinking a messy activity, so a designated feeding area that is easy to clean is necessary! Rottweilers are also prone to bloat, and gobbling large portions quickly can contribute to this. Feeding should be split into 2–3 feeds a day to keep portion sizes lower or a slow-feeder utilized for those who scoff their food.
Surprisingly so, this large breed dog needs less exercise than you think. Their energy levels are relatively moderate, so 40 minutes of walking a day are enough to satisfy them. This can be one long walk or two shorter ones. The latter will provide more stimulation for your Rottie during the day.
Rottweilers love outdoor activities. Hiking, jogging, swimming are all things they will love to do with you. The adventure and time spent with you will be well appreciated. Be wary of overexercising Rottweiler puppies. They need exercise to keep them lean and stimulated, but excess activity can stress their rapidly growing bones and joints and cause lasting damage.
Exercise can come in many other forms. With their work and service history, Rotties love to perform “work” tasks and excel at sports such as agility and obedience. This feeling of work and performance gives them a sense of accomplishment and keeps them active.
Due to their eagerness to please, Rottweilers are easy to train if you know what you are doing! Confidence and firmness are critical, their intelligent nature will pick up on your weaknesses, and they will quickly take advantage of you.
Establishing your dominance as a leader will allow you to have control over Rottweilers, despite their size. This needs to be done with firmness and positive reinforcement. Punishment should not be utilized as instilling fear into this breed can lead to aggression.
Training should start at a young age. Once they mature their size and strength can be problematic with lack of control. Invest in a good leash and harness immediately. You may find that investing in puppy school will do wonders for both your puppy and for you. These training sessions can help you both bond and train together.
Rottweilers have a straight, medium-length coat past their distinctive black and tan markings. Their coat is double layered and is especially thick around the neck and thighs. This is a pretty standard coat and is easy to care for. Weekly brushing will suffice, and baths as needed.
Rottie coats will shed lightly throughout the year but will shed much heavier twice a year as the seasons change. During this time, you may want to brush them much more often.
Other than that, grooming is simple. Nails should be clipped as needed, and teeth cared for via brushing for dental care treats every week.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Rottweilers are generally healthy dogs. However, all dogs have the potential to develop a whole range of health issues. Some breeds are more prone to some diseases and illnesses due to their genetic lines. Specific genetic lines, especially those overbred, often have more instances of disease. When purchasing a Rottweiler, keep their purebred status in mind.
You should look for breeders that offer a full health guarantee on their puppies. Puppies and parents should have been officially screened for common genetic issues, and all come with the appropriate paperwork.
If you buy from a breeder that does not have these certifications, then you are taking a very real gamble and may be facing dealing with a Rottweiler in poor health in the future. Look for breeders that are transparent about all of their practices and ensure to view the puppies’ parents. Ask loads of questions to ensure that the breeder is ethical and knowledgeable.
Male vs Female
There are some significant differences between a male Rottweiler and a female Rottweiler described by long-time owners and breeders. Keep in mind that there are no certainties regarding this. Traits can be shown by either gender regardless of stereotype. However, if you are looking for a particular fit in your life, your Rottweiler’s gender may play a role in this.
While there is some overlap in the sizes of males and females, generally, males will grow to be larger than female Rottweilers. This size will affect the amount of food you need to feed and manage them physically. Think about crate sizes, the size of the space in your car, and physically restraining them. Size generally makes little difference to Rottie owners as both genders are large!
Generally, male Rottweilers are more territorial of their home range. They are also more inclined to exhibit dominant behaviors, which can be displayed as aggression if not correctly trained. Males are also known to bond more closely to just one family member and suffer from separation anxiety from being apart. They can be stubborn and challenging to train, especially in the teenage years. A male Rottweiler is usually more challenging to own but will serve better in a guard dog position.
Meanwhile, females are more family orientated and bond to all family members equally. This motherly nature makes her less spatially territorial and more protective of individuals. She tends to mature quicker than a male, resulting in a calmer dog that is easier to train. Female Rottweilers are more commonly kept as family pets than males due to their relaxed nature.
Males reach full sexual maturity between 16–25 months but are fertile from as young as 6 months. If intending to breed, it’s best to wait until they are fully mature. If not planning to breed, it’s recommended to have your dog fixed to reduce unwanted breeding behaviors such as aggression and dominance.
Females reach sexual maturity at around 16 months; at which time they will be able to conceive. It’s best to wait until she is at least 2 years old, or even better 2 to 4 years, so that she is well adjusted mentally to tackle motherhood. Again, if there is no intention to breed, desexing should be considered. This allows for more level-headed dogs with a reduced risk of reproductive diseases (mammary cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer).
3 Little-Known Facts About the Rottweiler
1. They almost became extinct.
Rottweilers have a long history with humans. Initially emerging in ancient Roman times from Mastiff heritage. They were utilized to herd and guard livestock. These dogs were the ancestors of the first recognized Rottweilers in Germany (in a town called Rottweil), where they continued their stock and security work, keeping stock safe and secure during movements.
Then, along came industrialization. Farmers began moving their stock via railway, rendering large stock dogs almost obsolete. Their numbers dwindled, but German breed lovers found new ways to keep them around. Using their protective and even-tempered natures, Rottweilers became police, guide, and search-and-rescue dogs. Rottweilers even worked alongside other famous breeds during the aftermath of 9/11.
2. They naturally have long tails.
Many of us immediately imagine a stumpy wee tail when envisioning a Rottweiler. It’s easy to think this is normal if it is all we have ever seen on this breed. But Rottweiler’s genetics actually include a long, curved tail.
Part of many official dog societies (including AKC) breed standards includes short, docked tails. This tail docking is done shortly after birth. Historically, tail docking has been implemented for safety reasons, as tails are often injured on working dogs. Now, it is primarily for cosmetic reasons.
Tail docking is indeed controversial. While it is legal and unrestricted in most parts of the US, it is illegal or restricted for medical reasons only in many other countries.
3. They are banned in some countries.
Unfortunately, the Rottweiler breed finds itself featuring on many lists of “aggressive breeds” and appearing in dog bite statistics more than other common pet breeds. Rotties have strong protective instincts and are often misused and mistreated by bad owners, causing this aggressive response.
As a result, they have been targeted by laws and restrictions in some countries to control “dangerous dogs”. Some insurance companies even refuse policies to people who own a Rottweiler. Don’t panic; this strange dog discrimination is not very widespread, but Rottweiler’s harmful reputations should be considered by prospective owners. Ensure you do your research for your local laws.
Overall, there’s a lot to consider when bringing a Rottweiler into the family. They certainly do not deserve their “bad dog” reputation of aggression and biting. But be very aware that their intelligence, protective nature, and strength can be misguided if you lack confidence and training direction.
If appropriately trained and socialized, Rottweilers make phenomenal pet dogs. They are unbelievably loyal, loving, and fun. You will never feel unsafe or lonely with the company of these devoted dogs!
Featured Image Credit: Edoma, Shutterstock