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Great Dane vs Rottweiler: How Do They Compare? (With Pictures)

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

Great Dane vs Rottweiler Featured Image

If you’re looking to adopt a large breed dog, you’ve probably already made a shortlist of all the potential contenders. This list likely contains two of the most popular large dog breeds: Great Danes and Rottweilers.

Both breeds are beautiful, loyal, and protective of their family members. They both can make great pets for households with children and require similar amounts of exercise and training. But that’s where their similarities end. Before settling on one breed, you need to research the history, temperament, exercise needs, training requirements, and health concerns to make an informed decision.

Keep reading to find our guide on how Great Danes and Rottweilers compare so you can determine which breed is best for your family.

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Visual Differences

Great Dane vs Rottweiler
Image Credit: (L) Emma Forsyth 88, Shutterstock | (R) Dolores Preciado, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Great Dane
  • Average height (adult): 26–34 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 100–200 pounds
  • Lifespan: 7–10 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Easy
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Eager to please, intelligent, stubborn streaks
  • Average height (adult): 22–27 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 85–130 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8–11 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Easy
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Highly trainable, eager to please, prone to aggression

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Great Dane Overview

merle great dane dog lying on grass
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Great Danes are a large-sized dog breed hailing from Germany. It descended from hunting dogs in the Middle Ages that were used for hunting wild boar and deer. They were also often seen as guardians for the noblemen and women in Germany.

Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds and are sometimes called the “Apollo of dogs.”


Despite their massive size, Great Danes are gentle giants. They wish (or maybe, more accurately, believe) they are lap dogs, so don’t be surprised if your massive dog climbs into your lap. They are good-natured and playful. They make great family pets as they’re affectionate, great with children, and protective. A Great Dane will do its best to guard its home.

Great Danes want to be where their family is. They are a sociable breed that isn’t typically afraid of strangers unless they sense you need defending.


Adult Great Danes need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Puppies and adolescents may do best with increased exercise, up to 90 minutes daily. A dog this size needs a lot of space to move around and exercise. If you live in the city, you’ll need to take it out for a long walk every day. It’s essential to keep your Great Dane exercised as it allows it to burn off steam and put its energy towards a healthy activity to discourage destroying your home.

Image by: Yuri Nunes, Shutterstock


Although Great Danes are a mostly gentle and friendly breed, they still need to be taught good manners and go to obedience class. We’re sure you can imagine how dangerous an out-of-control behemoth this size can get without proper training. Training is especially important if you have small children or other pets in the home.

They’re an eager-to-please breed, so training them shouldn’t require much effort, especially when using positive reinforcement. Great Danes have average intelligence, which means you’ll need to repeat training sessions several times before they catch on.

Health & Care

Great Danes are generally healthy. Since they’re a giant breed, they have a faster metabolism which requires more energy and food than smaller dogs.

Like most large breeds, they may be at risk of developing gastric dilatation-volvulus (also known as GDV or bloat). GDV is the number one killer of Great Danes, so owners need to educate themselves to recognize the signs and do what they can to avoid it. To prevent GDV, allow your dog to rest for an hour after eating before any exercise.

Also, like other large breeds, Great Danes may be prone to hip dysplasia.

This breed may also be prone to a heart muscle disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM is an inherited disease that occurs most often in big breeds.

great dane ear check by vet
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

Suitable for

Anyone who adopts a Great Dane must be willing to accommodate its giant size. It will need a lot of food which can rack up bills quickly. You’ll need a lot of space for your pup to run, so we wouldn’t recommend a Great Dane for people living in an apartment. This breed is generally not recommended for first-time dog owners.

  • Gentle giants
  • Eager to please
  • Good with older kids
  • Thinks they’re lap dogs
  • Makes a good guard dog
  • May be prone to certain health conditions
  • Eats a lot
  • Short lifespan

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Rottweiler Overview

a rottweiler dog sitting on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: Kevin Seibel, Unsplash

Rottweilers may be one of the oldest surviving dog breeds, with an origin that dates back to Roman times. These dogs were used as herders or driving dogs, marching over the Alps with the Romans, fiercely protecting their humans, and driving cattle.

In the years leading up to WWI, there was an increased demand for police dogs. This demand led to a revival of interest in the Rottweiler breed. They acted as messengers, guard dogs, and ambulances during the First and Second World Wars.


Rottweilers are self-assured and aloof at times. They were selected initially for guarding and protection work, so prospective owners should keep this in mind.

A well-socialized Rottweiler is calm, confident, and never acts shy. It gets along well with humans, but males can be aggressive and dominant. While it might be affectionate with its family members, it doesn’t tend to make friends with strangers, instead taking a wait-and-see approach to determine if they’re safe.

Rottweilers are naturally inclined toward dominance and may be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex and predatory toward cats. That doesn’t mean they can’t live peacefully with your other animals, but you’ll need to introduce them slowly and tread carefully to keep everyone safe.

Rottweilers can make an excellent pet for families with children. They have strong pack-loyalty and a sweet nature. The key to living harmoniously with children and Rotties is to socialize your pup and teach your child boundaries.


Rottweilers have a tendency toward obesity if they are not exercised enough. They love swimming and walking, especially if it’s alongside their humans. This muscular and athletic working breed needs opportunities to exercise every day.

Image Credit: Dolores-Preciado, Shutterstock


Rottweilers need firm and consistent training. They do not respond well to harsh discipline. This is not the breed for owners who lack assertiveness or don’t have time to dedicate to socialization or training. Without assertiveness and confidence, a Rottweiler may try to bully or bluff you. You’ll need to earn its respect by setting boundaries and teaching consequences, as poor or non-existent training can cause your pup to become an incessant barker or digger.

Health & Care

Rotties are generally a healthy and disease-free breed. However, as with most large-sized dog breeds, they may be prone to hip dysplasia. They are also predisposed to developing osteosarcoma. Some estimates suggest that anywhere between 5—12% of all Rottweilers will be affected.

The breeder you adopt from should be able to prove your pup’s parents have gone through numerous health clearances before you take your pup home. For example, they should have their parents’ hips and elbows X-rayed to test for hip and elbow dysplasia. The breeder should also have certificates that parents don’t have eye conditions like entropion or ectropion.

man grooms black rottweiler dog, grooming tools, grooming mitten
Image Credit: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Suitable For

Rottweilers are best for families willing to give them the exercise and socialization they need to become good family companions. They thrive in single-pet households.

Rotties are not an ideal breed for first-time dog owners. You must be willing to adopt from a reputable breeder as the Rottweilers’ popularity has led to some temperament and health issues.

  • Great guard dogs
  • Affectionate toward family members
  • Calm and confident
  • Loyal toward family
  • Suspicious around strangers
  • Can be aggressive and dominant
  • Not great for multi-pet households

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Great Danes and Rottweilers are both big dogs, but their personalities are very different.

Great Danes are calmer with a happy-go-lucky attitude. They are an extra-large breed, so they need a home with a lot of space to accommodate their size. These gentle giants generally aren’t aggressive, instead acting more like a lapdog. They are loyal and love to keep their family members in sight at all times.

A well-trained Rottie will be calm and confident. They are suspicious of strangers and take their time getting to know new people. However, they’re always ready to play with and protect their family members. Rottweilers do best in single-pet households as they make their humans their best friends instead of another animal in the home.

So, which breed is right for you? Do you want a family-friendly dog that’s gentle and affectionate? Go for a Great Dane. Do you want a dog that’s both playful and ready to fiercely protect you and your home at the drop of a hat? A Rottweiler might be a good option!

Featured Image Credit: (L) Vera Reva, Shutterstock | (R) BidaOleksandr, Shutterstock

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