Strong and fearless, the purebred Rottweiler, also known as Rotties or Rotts, is one of the oldest working breeds in existence.
Commonly portrayed as the ultimate guard dog, the Rottie usually isn’t the first choice for a loving family dog due to a ferocious reputation and intimidating appearance.
So, what’s the deal with this breed? Is she inherently violent or is this an exaggeration? In our guide, I’ll tell you all that you need to know about the Rottweiler and you can decide if it’s the dog for you.
Table of Contents
1. What is a Rottweiler exactly?
This breed is descended from the molossus, a mastiff type dog. The name Rottweiler comes from the German phrase Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which translates to ‘Rottweil butcher’s dog’.
What does this breed have to do with a butcher? Let’s go back in time for a brief history lesson.
The earliest mention of the Rottie dates back to ancient Roman times, as legions moved throughout Europe, conquering villages and establishing colonies.
Refrigeration didn’t exist back then, so armies brought herds of cattle with them for fresh meat. The Rott’s ancestors were used to drive livestock, contributing to the breed’s evolution as a working dog.
It’s in this manner that these strong canines were brought to what is now the country of Germany. When the Romans set up colonies in Germanic lands, they built villas adorned with red tile roofs.
Centuries later, excavations of these villa ruins would be the inspiration for the founding name of a new village: das Rote Wil (the red tile).
This German village thrived as a cattle town, and the breed became an essential part of the village’s beef production.
Due to their strength, trainability and stamina, Rotties were used primarily to pull meat carts and drive cattle. This lifestyle and breeding molded the perfect farm and guard dog, giving birth to the modern Rottweiler purebred standard as we know it today.
Survival of the Rottweiler
In the mid 1800s, industrialization and the introduction of the railroad took over this dog’s job of transporting livestock.
They weren’t needed for work anymore, and this nearly drove the breed to extinction.
It wasn’t until 1882 that a Rottweiler appeared by chance at a dog show in Heilbronn, Germany.
The large, muscular dog with bright eyes and a shining, ebony coat caught the eyes of German dog lovers and interest in the breed was piqued once more.
Soon after, the Rottweiler and Leonberger Club was formed and the breed standard was established.
Momentum began to pick up for the Rottie, as it was admired for its working dog abilities. In 1921 the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK) was formed, a club that survived WWII and continued to promote proper breeding of the Rottweiler throughout Germany.
It was pertinent to the ADRK that the breed’s working talents were preserved, and instead of traditional farm work, the Rottie moved on to become an exemplary choice for police and military work.
It wasn’t until the 1920s that the first Rott was brought to the United States via a German immigrant. The breed began to flourish, used primarily as an obedience dog. In 1931 the first Rottie was registered with the American Kennel Club.
6 Rottweiler fun facts
- These canines have always had the instinct to protect. When they were used by butchers to pull meat carts until the 19th century, it was common to hang the money pouch by a string around the Rottie’s neck for safekeeping. Only a fool would try to steal from this dog!
- The Rottweiler ranks in the top 10 for most popular dogs registered with the AKC.
- After the horrifying 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, rescue dogs were deployed to the scene. Rotts were among the brave canines that searched through rubble and debris to find survivors.
- The famous children’s book series by Alexandra Day called Good Dog Carl features a Rott named Carl as the main character.
- This breed is the favorite of Hollywood mega star Will Smith. He has 5 Rotties, who are regularly seen by his side in photographs.
- These dogs snore like crazy, so if you need peace and quiet to sleep- beware!
2. What does a Rottweiler look like?
We’ve already touched a little bit on the mighty strength of this breed. As a molosser dog, you can expect the Rottie to be muscular, with a wide head and powerful jaws.
This dog is large in size, reaching up to 27 in (69 cm) in height and weighing up to 132 lbs (60 kg).
Soft ears fold over the sides of the head, with large brown eyes that are soft and inquisitive. Though bulky and broad-chested, this breed is athletic, with a lean body and proportional legs.
Typically this breed exhibits one distinctive coat color: black with golden-brown markings on the face, throat, chest and legs.
The coat is short and stiff. The AKC considers long-haired coats to be a flaw. Shedding is not a problem for the Rottweiler, so you can consider it to be a low-maintenance dog.
Those who suffer from pet allergies should keep in mind that this breed is NOT hypoallergenic.
What’s up with the Rottweiler tail?
The Rottie tail is a hot topic of discussion among dog lovers, as the tradition was to dock the tail.
Nowadays dog tail cutting is banned in many countries. In 2018 the FCI declared that a docked tail is a “flaw” and not accepted as the Rottweiler breed standard.
3. How strong is the Rottweiler bite force?
Just one look at the Rottie’s huge jaws will have you wondering what kind of strength (and terror) they possess.
As a dog typically bred for work and to guarding, the Rott does indeed have a set of jaws that clamp down. Add in the natural determination exhibited by this breed, and her bite won’t be pried loose anytime soon!
The official bite force of a Rottweiler is 328 PSI.
How does this compare to other dog bites? Let’s look at some of the top dog breeds with bites that are feared worldwide.
Which is stronger: Rottweiler or German Shepherd?
The German Shepherd (GSD) is the Rottie’s fellow countryman, hailing from Germany and used as a working dog.
They share similar traits, such as intelligence, fearlessness and a penchant for being highly protective. But, which dog has the stronger bite?
The German Shepherd PSI is 238, which is lower than the Rott’s.
Despite a more average bite force, the German Shepherd tends to share a dangerous reputation with the Rottweiler.
This is because of the protective streak that can make the GSD aloof towards strangers.
The Rottie may have more physical strength than the GSD, but the latter is one the most intelligent dog breeds, making it quick-thinking and creative when it comes to emotional reactions.
Which is stronger: Rottweiler or Doberman?
Next up, we have the Doberman – another fearless protector with an intimidating reputation.
In fact, a large misconception is that this dog’s bite force is a whopping 600 PSI. This is not proven, though, as the official recorded bite force is actually 305 PSI.
Both breeds are extremely similar all around. They share the same German origins with a background for work.
They share a temperament that is protective and loyal as well.
They even look alike, with black and rust coat markings. The Doberman is slightly different in build of course, with a longer body, legs and snout.
Both can be fierce if not trained correctly, and are often used as guard dogs.
Which is stronger: Rottweiler or Pit Bull?
The American Pit Bull Terrier is highly regarded as one of the most dangerous dogs.
It was bred for fighting, and has battled stereotypes and discrimination throughout history.
The Pit Bull bite force is 235 PSI, which is considerably lower than that of the Rottweiler.
Is it stronger though? Honestly, both breeds are powerful with fearless dispositions.
It’s discrimination that has really played up the aggression of both breeds.
Without the proper training and passion displayed by the dog owner, any dog breed can be dangerous, especially in the case of the Pit Bull.
Rottweiler vs Wolf
We’re going back to the original descendant of ALL canines on earth: the wolf. Can the Rott hold its own against the father of the wild?
A wolf bite force is anywhere between 400 and 600 PSI. That’s high up there for a dog bite. The simple fact that a wolf is wild lends to its physical and mental dominance over the domesticated dog.
The wolf doesn’t have to rely on any human for survival. She is highly intelligent, hardy and an apex predator with a natural instinct to hunt. In my opinion, the wolf towers over any dog when it comes to strength.
Check out this bite force comparison between a Rottweiler, German Shepherd and Pit Bull.
4. Does a Rottweiler make a good family dog?
Strong, protective, brave and dominant, he has a hard look with all those muscles, but when you look into those big eyes, all you see is a gentle giant that wants to please.
A well-bred Rottie is a wonderful family dog. The breed portrays a calm, confident air with the intelligence to wait and watch before making the next move.
As a working dog, the Rottie excels as a protector. This dog is widely used for police and military work. The name “guard dog” might immediately bring fear into the equation, but this isn’t necessarily true.
This breed isn’t used as a guard dog because of ferocity. She is trusted because of loyalty, easy trainability and a dominant nature.
5. Are Rottweilers dangerous?
Here’s the million-dollar question! Many people are hesitant to choose a Rottie because of the aggressive stereotype.
The truth is that yes, this dog is prone to aggression and will go into attack mode- IF NOT TRAINED PROPERLY.
I had to put those words in capital letters because this can apply to any dog breed. The Rottweiler needs an owner that is not afraid to take the alpha role and administer consistent training throughout the dog’s life.
With that being said, this is not a recommended dog for a first-time owner.
Rotties’ behavior around children
Granted that your Rottie is well-bred and properly trained, this breed is mellow around children. Never leave her alone with kids, though.
This dog tends to exhibit herding behavior around small children, “bumping” them to go in a certain direction or getting overly excited to chase after a running child. If you have a toddler, these actions can accidentally knock them over and cause injury.
Rotts with other pets
If you have other dogs, you’ll want to take care when introducing your Rottie. This breed is naturally aggressive towards strange dogs and need plenty of socialization to get comfortable.
As long as you – the owner – take charge and show leadership, the Rott will take cues from you as to how to act.
6. What kind of training does a Rottie need?
Training is an absolute must for a Rottweiler, as it is the key to fostering confidence, obedience and acceptance towards unfamiliar dogs and people.
You may choose to hire a professional dog trainer to get the job done or if you’re experienced you can do it yourself. Just remember that, when training commences, it is important to be patient and consistent.
To get the best results, start training your puppy between 6 weeks and 6 months. If your Rottie is an older dog – don’t get discouraged. This breed is a working dog, so she lives to please her owner. Just stay with it and you’ll see the impact no matter what age your dog is.
3 best Rottweiler training methods
What type of training works best for this strong-willed canine?
1. Crate Training
There are some that question the ethics of crate training, mainly because it doesn’t sound very nice to keep a dog locked up in a cage for hours.
But the truth is, when administered correctly, crate training is a helpful tool for housebreaking puppies and helping them to build confidence.
Crate training is especially beneficial for this breed, because it gives this dog space of her own. Surrounded by a familiar scent and a favorite toy or blanket, the Rottie always has her “den” where she can veg out and relax without stress.
2. Behavior Training
This type of training is beneficial because it helps the owner to assert dominance and teach commands.
A Rott has a natural instinct to herd, leading to dominant behavior. When you as the owner take charge, this intelligent dog learns quickly that she needs to listen.
Remember with this training that you need to remain vigilant. Keep a firm hand, but never yell or display frustration.
Reward your Rottie for good behavior, even when she isn’t in training. Praise is the best reward. Keep a tight leash on those treats, because too many can lead to weight problems.
This breed needs socialization if you want her to stay calm around other dogs and people. Start young and expose her as much as possible.
Begin by taking your Rottie to the park on a leash. KEEP her on a leash. Let her sidle up to other dogs if they are willing and let them sniff each other. By controlling the situation, you allow your Rottie to explore others while feeling safe under your care.
As she grows, the weekly trip to the dog park will become second nature, and she’ll most likely have some regular comrades to ruff around with.
Want some more training ideas? Check out these useful dog training books.
5. Do Rottweilers have any health issues?
The short answer is yes, this breed does have some common genetic disorders to worry about, but then again so does any dog breed!
Overall, the Rottie is a hardy dog, as Molosser types usually are. You can thank their evolved physical inclination towards time spent outdoors herding and guarding livestock.
These dogs are muscular and agile, enjoying long lifespans from regular exercise.
The Rottweiler lifespan is 8 to 11 years long.
As a purebred, and an ancient one at that, dog enthusiasts have already roped together the most common ailments faced by Rotts and how to avoid them.
Since the disposition of a well-bred Rottie is already known, it makes it easier to to purchase puppies from disease-free bloodlines.
These are the health issues that most commonly affect this breed:
- Hip Dysplasia: This disease is passed on from the parents and is often not caught until a puppy is a few months to 1-year-old. Abnormal growth causes a deformed hip joint that is excruciating, resulting in a lack of mobility or lameness. There is no cure for hip dysplasia.
- Elbow Dysplasia: This is the same as above, except affecting the elbow joints.
- Aortic Stenosis/Sub-aortic Stenosis (AS/SAS): A rare congenital heart defect that results in an obstruction of blood flow due to narrowing of the area beneath the aortic valve. You’ll notice symptoms such as fainting, difficulty breathing, and weakness.
- Osteosarcoma: This is a malignant tumor of the bone, most commonly found on the leg and arm bones. It can be extremely painful for your dog and cause lameness.
- Gastric Dilatation-volvulus (GDV): Also called torsion or bloat, this occurs when a build up of gas in the stomach contorts and twists. It is a very serious condition that can be life threatening without immediate medical care.
- Panosteitis (Pano): Often affecting younger dogs, this is an inflammation of the bones caused by rapid growth. Think of it as “growing pains”. This condition will have your dog limping or changing weight from one leg to another.
- Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid that can cause weight gain, inactivity and excessive shedding.
- Allergies: These dogs are often plagued with skin allergies that cause dry, itchy skin. Food is usually the main culprit. We’ll talk more about how you can banish allergies next!
Feeding these big, strong canines
Nom, nom, nom! Rottweilers love to eat! But this breed has a tendency to indulge too much, making obesity a common problem.
You’ll want to monitor your Rotts diet properly to avoid excessive weight gain. As well, we mentioned skin allergies are often triggered by certain foods, so this is something to keep in mind when choosing dog food.
To combat health issues, stick to a high quality dog food that is rich in whole proteins, such as chicken, turkey, herring or lamb.
Keep carbohydrates low, skipping out on fillers like corn, spices and soy altogether. These types of empty calories only serve to aggravate allergies. They also cause gas, bloat and irritable bowel syndrome– which we know can be dangerous for this dog.
Stick to a 2,100-calorie plan, feeding 4 cups of food a day divided into two meals per day.
It’s important not to let your Rottie get obese, because this puts too much pressure on the joints. This is especially dangerous where hip and elbow dysplasia is concerned.
Foods or supplements with Omega 3 fatty acids can be helpful to alleviate allergies. This is something you can ask your vet about. In fact, always consult your vet with any questions concerning a special diet for your Rottie.
The Rottweiler and its exercise needs
Staying active is a big love for the Rottweiler. This is a highly energetic pooch, as her background as a working dog might suggest.
To maintain that muscular body and combat obesity, staying active is definitely recommended for peak health.
You must make time everyday to exercise your Rott and satisfy its energy levels. One to two hours of daily activity will suffice in keeping your dog happy and healthy.
Are walks getting boring? Here are some ideas to spice up play time!
- Go for a trail run– nature always does the body good!
- If you’re game, let your Rott pull you on a skateboard or bicycle.
- Swimming is a great exercise that’s easy on the joints if you have a pool.
- Invest in a number of high-quality chew toys to play tug-o-war when it’s rainy outside.
- If you have a big backyard, why not set up an agility course? Agility training is a great way to hone your Rott’s obedience of commands and give your working dog a killer workout.
- Go to the dog park – mix play with socialization to mellow out your Rottie’s temperament.
Grooming a Rott’s coat
Lucky for you, the Rottweiler is a relatively low shedder with a short, coarse coat. Naturally odorless, she doesn’t baths very often. Get her into the tub every 2 to 8 weeks.
Brush your Rottie once a week to collect loose fur and distribute natural oils for a shiny, healthy coat.
This breed tends to shed heavily twice a year around spring and fall, so be prepared to ramp up the brushing routine to 2 or 3 times a week.
7. How much does a Rottweiler cost?
This breed has become one of the most popular dogs to own over the past few decades, which unfortunately gives rise to puppy mills.
The price of your Rottweiler puppy will heavily depend upon where you choose to purchase.
A puppy mill Rottweiler will go for around $850 while a puppy bought from an ethical breeder will cost around $1500.
First of all, we definitely do not recommend going for puppy mills, even if they are the cheapest. We’ll get more into the whys and whats of puppy mills later.
After the initial purchase, the cost of your Rottweiler doesn’t stop there. You’ll want to work out an annual budget that incorporates everything you’ll spend on for proper care.
Don’t know where to start with a budget plan? Here is a broad outline of large dog costs to consider.
- Supplies (toys, leash, collar, brush, crate): $148
- Dog food: $120
- Pet insurance: $225
- Vet visits: $235
- Dog trainer: $110 per session
- Spay/neuter: $200
Remember that these are just rough estimates. The needs for each dog differs. Perhaps you won’t need to pay for a trainer or you won’t crate train. It all depends on you as the owner!
Owning a pet is more than just cuddles and good times. It’s dedicating time to ensuring the wellbeing of a living creature.
8. How can I find Rottweiler breeders?
Are you still with us? If you’ve made it to this part of the guide, you might be convinced that a Rott is the dog for you.
Finding a breeder is much more complex task than just searching Google and clicking on the first cute puppy picture you come across.
We mentioned puppy mills already, and for good reason. They are the enemies of all who love dogs and vouch for the humane treatment of them.
Puppy mills are like factories, churning out puppies with little regard for their health and happiness. These unethical breeders have no passion for the dogs they produce. They simply want to get them out the cage and pocket money as quickly as possible.
If you were a fly on the wall of a puppy mill breeding center (I would say visit, but these breeders don’t let anyone near to see what really goes on), you would witness horrifying conditions.
Picture exhausted female dogs bred over and over again, just to have their puppies taken and sold as quickly as possible. Diseases and death are not uncommon.
Bloodlines are not tracked, resulting in tainted breeding that leads to dogs with troublesome behavior and health issues that become apparent as the puppies mature.
For the Rottie, who already suffers from an aggressive reputation and serious concerns such as hip dysplasia, puppy mills significantly hurt the breed.
I hope I’ve scared you enough to avoid puppy mills. Pay extra for quality- that’s the best way to go when purchasing a puppy.
Now, onwards to becoming a puppy shopping pro!
Top tips for finding a Rottweiler breeder
It’s easy to avoid puppy mills if you know the red flags and research multiple breeders. Buying a puppy shouldn’t be a fast transaction. Take your time and be patient. You’re wriggling bundle of joy will be in your arms soon enough!
Use this guide to find the perfect Rottweiler puppy and take a valiant stand against puppy mills.
Say NO to online purchases
You aren’t on Amazon dumping items into your virtual shopping cart and choosing express shipping. A puppy is a living, breathing creature that needs to be chosen with care.
If you see a breeder asking for an online transaction without a meeting, this is most likely a puppy mill.
If you are considering a specific puppy because the picture displayed on the website is just too cute, take note that it probably isn’t the same puppy you’ll receive in the mail. Puppy mill breeders simply upload general photos they find on, say Pinterest, and post them in an attempt to persuade buyers.
Visit the breeder
Puppy mills won’t let you visit them, but an ethical breeder will. Visiting the breeder is one of the most important tips for buying a Rottweiler puppy.
You always want to see where the puppies were born and how they grew up. Did they have space to play indoors and outdoors? Were they kept in cages most of the time or were they able to socialize with other dogs and humans from a young age?
These are all questions you can answer by booking a visit and a good breeder will totally expect it.
Meet the parents
When it comes to purebred dogs, a lot of health and behavior concerns can be squashed by meeting the parent dogs.
You can get an idea about what kind of genetic disposition they’ll pass on to their puppies. A well-bred Rottweiler will have parents with certified bloodlines and health clearances.
As well, they’ll have known characteristics from breeding according to a stringent standard.
Ask for health clearances
This is especially important for Rotties since they are prone to hip dysplasia.
Reputable breeders will have their puppies checked by a vet and cleared for serious genetic diseases. They will provide these documents to you and also be able to show them for the parent dogs.
A lot of good breeders will also have the first round of shots and deworming completed before they are put up for sale. All you have to do is ask!
What have past customers experienced?
There’s no better way to learn about a dog breeder than by looking at customer testimonials.
This helps to paint a very specific picture regarding customer service and the quality of the puppies for sale.
If a breeder doesn’t share testimonials on his website, inquire about them. There shouldn’t be any qualms about this. A breeder should be proud about their work, right?
Monitor the puppies
When you go to visit the puppies, know what to look for when choosing your soul pup.
Observe how the puppy acts with her litter mates. Is she shy or aggressive? Don’t write it off as being young or playful. This can mean nervous or dominant traits that will be difficult to handle as the puppy matures.
Interact with the pups one by one to find a personality that suits you.
Stay to watch the puppy in action- do you notice any limping or behavior that suggests sickness or injury?
Watch for a bowel movement – there should be no runny stool or blood present.
Check out these top-notch Rottweiler breeders in the US
We did the hard part to find a few passionate and ethical breeders that produce healthy Rott puppies.
- Von Ruelmann Rottweilers Inc.: California
- Von Herrshaft Rottweilers: Virginia
- Von der Musikstadt Rottweiler Breeder: Tennessee
- Von Bustos Hause: California
9. Is there a Rottweiler rescue & adoption service?
Rottweiler dogs are a popular breed due to their beauty and talents. Sadly, popularity isn’t always a positive thing when it comes to dogs.
When an inexperienced owner chooses this tough breed without understanding the huge responsibilities, or puppy mills shut down, resulting in numerous abandoned pups, the rescue becomes filled with dogs in need of a forever home.
Adopting a Rottie is a great way to save a dog from a life without love. Here is a list of reputable Rottie rescues in the US.
- American Rottweiler Club
- Rottweiler Rescue Foundation: Indiana
- Southern States Rescued Rottweilers: Arkansas
- Big Sky Rottweiler Rescue: Wyoming
Some Rottweiler Mixes you’ll love
The Rott is a popular parent dog choice for designer dogs due to their appearance, intelligence and working dog qualities.
Some people may not want a Rottie for fear of aggression, but when mixed with another popular breed such as a Husky or Poodle, other genetic factors are added that can result in a more mellow temperament.
Remember: You are not guaranteed what a mixed dog will look or act like.
If you’re interested in a Rottweiler mix puppy, check these out.
Conclusion: Is the Rottie the dog for you?
This definitely isn’t one of the easiest dog breeds out there, but that doesn’t mean it lacks the potential to be an amazing family pet.
This breed needs an experienced owner that is confident and fearless.
Since she is a working dog, she will have a natural instinct to dominate in all that she does. You need to be able to take the reigns and show her who’s boss.
If you live in a house with a fenced in yard, this is a well-suited environment for this breed. The Rottie is a large dog and needs space to roam and burn energy.
This breed requires consistent training from a young age. You need to have time to dedicate to shaping your Rottweiler’s behavior and health.
Overall, this is a highly intelligent breed. The Rottie is a loyal canine companion that thinks on her feet and is confident in her actions.
What do you think about the Rottweiler? Tell us in the comments!