|22 – 27 inches
|80 – 135 pounds
|8 – 12 years
|Black and tan
|Those looking for a lovable guard dog
|Intelligent, loyal, intimidating, obedient, affectionate
The mighty Rottweiler is broad-chested and intimidating, hence why they have long been used by police, military, and private citizens as a guard dog. It would take a brave criminal indeed to decide to take their chances after seeing one of these powerful pups on patrol.
However, the breed has long been unfairly categorized as a killer, when in fact, they often make sweet, cuddly pets. It all comes down to how they’re trained and socialized, but these dogs are often more interested in cuddling you than attacking you.
These dogs are much more complex than you may have been led to believe, so if you’d like to get a better idea of what Rotties are truly like, then the guide below will fill you in on all their secrets.
Some dog breeds are so rare that few people know anything about them, and others are so common that many people think they know more about them than they really do. Rottweilers fall into the latter category.
These dogs have a reputation for bad behavior that isn’t really earned and often causes arguments between people who have owned a Rottie and those who haven’t. The latter group feels like these dogs are weapons on a leash, while the former group doesn’t understand why anyone could be scared of such a cuddly animal.
Regardless of the truth, the fact is that as a Rottweiler owner, you’ll have to deal with ignorance and discrimination. That can come in the form of people avoiding your dog, refusing to let their kids play at your home, or declining to rent you an apartment. In fact, in certain places, you may be banned from owning one at all.
It’s an unfair situation and something you need to consider before you bring one of these adorable pups home.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Rottweiler
1. They Make Fantastic Therapy Dogs
Many institutions — from children’s hospitals to nursing homes — are learning about the therapeutic benefit of loving one of these dogs. This fact may come as a surprise to all the people who think Rotties are vicious and aggressive, but they actually make superior therapy dogs.
There are several reasons that Rotties are so well-suited for this task. Their large build makes them easy to pet, even for those with mobility issues. They thrive on love and affection and can soak up attention from multiple people at a time. They’re also accustomed to being working dogs, so they do well in rigorous training programs.
So, the next time you see a Rottweiler walking down the street, don’t flinch — they may be on their way to brighten up someone’s day.
2. The Breed Is a Relative Newcomer to the United States
While Rottweilers have been around for hundreds of years in some form, they only made their way to the United States in the 1920s.
It’s believed they came over with a German immigrant, which is why many people have the mistaken impression they’re from Germany.
Regardless of how they got here, they soon caught on like wildfire, as they’re now one of the 10 most popular breeds in America.
3. They (Usually) Love the Water
These dogs have a waterproof undercoat, which keeps them warm and dry while in the water. As a result, many Rotties love to swim and splash around at the beach.
Of course, every dog is an individual, so just because many Rotties love the water, that doesn’t mean yours will. Still, you should at least give them the opportunity to find out.
A Brief History of the Rottweiler
Even though many people assume they’re a German dog, Rottweilers actually originated in Rome. This ancient breed was used by the Roman army to herd livestock across the countries it invaded, ensuring that they had sufficient food to continue their conquests.
Their success in protecting livestock from all manner of predators made them popular among farmers, ranchers, and butchers. In fact, traveling butchers would often keep their money in a purse tied around the dog’s neck, as they were supremely confident that no one would mess with such a powerful animal.
The breed almost went extinct in the 19th century, the victim of a most unlikely nemesis: the locomotive. Livestock began to be transported via train rather than herded cross-country, and as a result, the need for Rottweilers diminished greatly.
However, once World War I broke out, the Rottweiler began to experience a resurgence. Militaries on both sides began to use them as guard dogs and messengers, and local police departments started to rely heavily on them too.
While they’re still used as guard dogs today, their primary purpose is to serve as loyal and loving pets — a job they’re more than capable of fulfilling. We still wouldn’t try to take a purse off their necks, however.
Are Rottweilers a Vicious Breed?
Before we can fully dive into this topic, let’s begin by stating the obvious: These dogs are big and extremely powerful, and they can do a great deal of damage if they wanted to. They have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom, with some estimates pegging their bite force at half that of a great white shark.
As for their purported viciousness, that will largely come down to how they’re raised. If not properly trained and socialized, they can be aggressive, but that’s true of any breed. Rotties can just do more damage than most other breeds.
However, a survey of the breed performed by the American Temperament Test Society found that 84% of Rottweilers passed their temperament test, meaning they didn’t show any aggression or predatory behavior during the exam. To put that in perspective, that’s a better number than either Border Collies or Poodles earned.
There’s one area in which Rotties have been shown to be more aggressive, and that’s in their behavior toward strangers. They tend to be completely safe around their families, but you’ll need to work hard to socialize them so you can trust them when new people come over.
Ultimately, these dogs are as vicious as you make them. As long as you love and train them properly, you should have little to worry about.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Rottweiler🧠
Rottweilers are extremely smart and are often ranked as one of the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds. Their long history of being working dogs makes them extremely easy to train, as they relish the opportunity to show off both their brains and their obedience.
When properly raised, they tend to be laidback, good-natured dogs — as long as the coast is clear. Once a threat pops up, however, they quickly shift into guard dog mode. This makes them great for protecting your home, but you will have to train them to properly recognize threats.
They have a knack for keeping a cool head in a crisis, and they’re generally confident and self-assured. This is not an excitable or irritable dog, so you shouldn’t expect much in the way of false alarms.
That temperament is something to keep in mind when selecting a Rottweiler puppy. If the dog seems nervous or skittish, there’s a good chance they’ve been abused — and you should keep looking (and report the breeders).
Are These Dogs Good for Families?🏡
You’ll need to be fanatical about socializing them as puppies, but if you’re successful in that regard, then your Rottweiler will make a fantastic family pet.
They are extremely loving and fiercely devoted toward their families, and your children will have a playmate who would gladly die for them, which is no small thing.
However, as noted above, these dogs tend to be more standoffish toward strangers than family members, so you’ll need to nip that in the bud if your kids plan to have friends over.
Also, remember that these dogs were originally bred to be herding animals. That instinct hasn’t completely left them, and they will sometimes bump into people to try to corral them. This is mostly harmless, but just be careful they don’t knock over a toddler or elderly family member.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽
Their dealings with other animals largely mimic their dealings with people; that is to say, they’re accepting of animals that they consider part of the family while being suspicious of outsiders.
As a result, it’s best to bring a Rottweiler into a multi-pet household as a puppy rather than to try to introduce new pets down the line. If you can socialize them to accept cats, dogs, and other pets, they’ll likely get along fine.
This mistrust of strangers makes it a bad idea to take your Rottie to an off-leash dog park. You might think the park is full of potential friends, whereas your dog will see dozens of threats that they must protect you from.
If you do want to bring another dog into a home that already has a mature Rottie in it, it’s best if the other dog is of the opposite sex. Rotties are much less likely to accept a dog of the same gender.
Things to Know When Owning a Rottweiler
Beyond dealing with their outlandish reputations, you should know a few more details before you bring a Rottie puppy home.
Food & Diet Requirements🦴
Rotties are big dogs and have the appetites to match. You’ll need to spend quite a bit to feed them, as they’ll plow through a bag of food or more every month.
Don’t think you can offer them subpar chow either. These dogs need a high-quality kibble, preferably one with a large amount of lean protein in it. Make sure it’s full of antioxidants like omega fatty acids.
Rottweilers often have joint problems later in life, so if the food isn’t full of glucosamine and chondroitin, you’ll likely need to offer your dog a supplement. While this can be an expensive hassle, it’s much cheaper and easier than paying for multiple surgeries down the line.
Obesity is a problem with this breed, so don’t let them free-feed. Instead, offer them two reasonably-sized meals per day, and don’t go overboard with treats.
Rottweilers are a fairly laidback breed, and that often tricks owners into thinking they don’t need much exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
Remember, these dogs were bred to herd livestock all day long. They need a challenge, preferably one that taxes their brain as much as their body. Expect to give them an hour of exercise a day at minimum.
Walks are always good, but try to stimulate their minds as much as possible. This could mean obedience training, puzzle toys, or an obstacle course. Be careful with activities like agility training, though, as too much running and jumping can put undue strain on their bodies.
If you have a Rottie who enjoys spending time in the water, then take them swimming as much as possible. Swimming is a fantastic low-impact exercise that can burn off a great deal of excess energy in a hurry.
Training your Rottweiler starts the day you bring them home, and it lasts as long as you own the dog.
You should constantly be socializing your pooch, introducing them to new situations and environments in a controlled manner. This teaches them to calmly accept strange people and places rather than lash out in fear and anger.
Obedience training is a must too. Fortunately, these pups still have a great deal of guard dog in them, so they’ll take to obedience training like a fish to water. They’ll never tire of learning new commands, but the most important things that you can teach them are orders like sit, stay, and leave it — basically anything that forces them to control themselves.
If you don’t think you’re up to the task of training your Rottie yourself, then by all means, consult a professional. Just know that any trainer worth their salt will tell you that their job is to train you so you can train the dog; this isn’t a situation where you can send the dog away for two months and have the training they receive last forever.
Group classes can be good as well, especially for puppies who need to learn how to act around other dogs. Just be careful taking a poorly-trained, full-grown Rottie to a group class unless you’re absolutely certain that you can handle them.
Given that the Rottweiler has a double coat, you’ll have quite a bit of shedding on your hands, especially during the summer months. As a result, you should brush them every week at a minimum (and you might want to rethink getting one at all if you live someplace extremely warm).
They should be bathed every couple months, and their nails should be trimmed weekly. Brush their teeth every few days or so as well, as these pups can be prone to dental issues.
You should also clean out their ears regularly. Simply take a damp cotton ball, and rub it around inside to remove all the dirt and grime that accumulates there, as this can help prevent infection. You should also rub their ears with a dry cotton ball after they get out of the water.
Health and Conditions❤️
Rottweilers are big, powerful dogs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t vulnerable to a variety of health conditions. Below are just a few of the issues you may encounter if you bring home one of these pups:
Male vs. Female
Once you’ve decided to bring home a Rottie, there’s still one more thing you need to consider: whether to get a boy or a girl.
Males are typically a bit heavier and taller and tend to be more physically powerful. They’re more prone to dominance and aggression issues in general, but females can be extremely aggressive toward other female dogs, especially if neither has been fixed.
It’s a bit easier to train males, as they tend to thrive when they have a job to do. They generally make better guard dogs as well.
Females are often sweeter and more affectionate, as they feel less of a need to be constantly on guard. They often get along better with children. They’re eager to please, although they don’t have the same zeal for training that the menfolk do.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference, as neither gender is “better” than the other. However, if you’re intent on having an excellent guard dog, a male might be better, whereas a female can be a more loving babysitter for your kids.
There are few dogs as powerful and regal as the mighty Rottweiler. These impressive pups are intimidating enough to make excellent guard dogs, but they have a sweet and gentle disposition that helps them get along well with children too.
That’s not to say that they don’t have their issues, however. They need extensive training and socialization to ensure they aren’t aggressive to strangers and other pets. Also, this is an active breed that requires quite a bit of exercise while still being prone to a variety of health problems.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to train one of these beautiful dogs, you’ll have one of the greatest companions a person could ever ask for. If not, we suggest getting a smaller dog instead.