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Doberman Pinscher vs. Rottweiler: Breed Differences & Similarities

Are you thinking about a Doberman Pinscher or a Rottweiler as a homestead guardian or family protector? Both breeds are excellent choices, but there are some differences that may sway your decision. Read on as we compare both breeds!

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: May 17, 2021 | 10 min read

Doberman Pinscher vs Rottwelier

There are many differences and many similarities between the Doberman vs. the Rottweiler. Both breeds make great family pets, although each breed has distinct differences in what they were bred for as well as how they function.

Both breeds are fearless and obedient as well as steady and aloof of strangers. But they were both bred for different reasons and as a result, one needs more exercise, and the other is better suited for working dog activities.

When you welcome either breed into your home, you are making a 7 to 10-year commitment with a dog, so it’s important to know what you can expect from the new addition to your family. In this article, we are going to explore in more depth the differences and similarities between these two formidable breeds.

Breed Comparison

Doberman Pinscher

  • Height 24-28 Inches
  • Weight 60-100 Pounds
  • Temperament Alert, Fearless, Loyal
  • Energy Very High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Rottweiler

  • Height 22-27 Inches
  • Weight 80-135 Pounds
  • Temperament Loving, Confident, Loyal
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 9-10 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Breed History

Whilst these two dogs are clearly different in appearance from one another, the Doberman was bred from the Rottweiler and therefore they share the same D.N.A. Their history differs from one another, but they are both working dogs who are equally impressive in their protection and guarding abilities.

Looking at their histories and how they began their journey in the canine world is important to gain a better understanding of them both.

Doberman Pinscher

Black and Rust Dog in Stacked Position
Doberman Pinschers are extremely popular working dogs.

The Doberman Pinscher was bred by Tax Collector, Louis Dobermann, in Germany around 1890. During the 19th Century, certain areas were unsafe in Germany due to civil war, and the residents of those areas were particularly hostile towards the Tax Man. Louis Dobermann, who also had previous experience in dog breeding, sought to breed an imposing dog that would accompany and protect him whilst working in these antagonistic precincts.

To create such a dog he took the Rottweiler, the Black and Tan Terrier, Old Shorthaired Shepherd, and Smooth-Haired German Pinscher, and cleverly engineered the Doberman that we know and love today. The Doberman was officially recognized as a breed in his own right in 1900. Because it’s a working-class dog, it’s also often compared to the German shepherd.

This ‘Tax Collectors Dog’ is a popular family dog today, ranking 17 out of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but he is also one of the most popular working dogs used in military and protection services. Not only has he excelled in this field, but more surprisingly he has shone as a therapy and assistance dog due to his loyal and caring canine traits. There are also many popular Doberman mixes.

Rottweiler

Black and Rust Dog Standing Alert on a Beach
It is easy to see why Rottweilers are one of the more famous guardian dog breeds.

The Rottweiler is one of the oldest recorded breeds, descending from Mastiffs dating back to the Roman Empire. During the Roman Invasion of Europe, the lack of refrigeration meant that the soldiers had to take live animals with them on their quest, and the Rottweiler was used to herd the cattle and ensure their protection from robbers and wild animals alike.

So impressed by his herding and guarding abilities, the Rottweiler was then entrusted by traveling butchers in the town of Rottweil, to protect the Butcher’s hard-earned cash by guarding money purses around the Rottweiler’s neck, hence Rottweiler, “from Rottweil.”

Rottweil is where he earned his nickname, Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which in English translates to “Rottweil Butcher Dog.” Note that this is because he assisted the local butchers, as opposed to being a ferocious killing machine who butchered towns. A somewhat important difference!

When the need to protect cattle ended due to the use of cattle cars, he found new employment as a police dog, and other protection services, as well as being used for his sheer power in shifting large heavy objects on farms and power stations.

Despite his abundance of roles, his traits and personality have changed little. He is now considered to be a great family pet and currently ranked by the AKC as the  8th most popular dog in America, out of 193 recognized breeds.

Appearance

Black and Rust Dogs Standing Alert Outdoors
Despite their differing looks both the Doberman and the Rottweiler are equally as striking and intimidating in appearance.

The differences in appearance between the two breeds are probably the most significant. The Doberman is slightly taller and more slender in appearance, being up to 28 inches, compared to the Rottweiler who is up to 27 inches and stockier.

The biggest difference between the two breeds is their weight. The Doberman is much lighter weighing up to 100 pounds, whereas the Rottweiler is the heaviest at 135 pounds. To put that in perspective, 35 pounds is the equivalent of your average microwave, so that is a significant amount of extra weight compared to the Doberman.

In terms of their coloring, the two most popular colors in both breeds are black with rust colors in several places across their bodies. Black is the only recognized main color for the Rottweiler, whereas the Doberman can also come in Blue, Fawn, and Red.

You may have also seen photos or descriptions of a ‘white’ Doberman; however, this is actually an Albino dog, or a genetic mutation, rather than a color itself. The rust coloring on both breeds is usually placed above the eyebrows, the snout, chest, and legs. Both the breeds have a short coat, but the Doberman’s coat is smoother.

The other difference in their appearance is that typically the Doberman has thinner and pointier ears that stand up due to ear cropping practices. Typically, the Rottweiler isn’t subject to this procedure and therefore he has drop ears that are larger. The practice of ear cropping is subject to much controversy.

Temperament

Happy and Calm Dogs Looking at Camera
Dobermans and Rottweilers possess the same intimidating appearances, but they are both loyal and often loveable.

Both breeds are of similar working backgrounds, particularly known for their protection and guarding abilities. They will patrol their yard, protect their family, and they can even anticipate threats and danger before they have happened. Due to their guarding nature, both breeds must be properly socialized as young pups to ensure that this does not turn into over-protectiveness or over-aggressiveness.

Another similarity is that they both have an unfair reputation. During a study of the public’s perception of canines, both the Doberman and the Rottweiler topped the chart when it came to the public perceiving them as aggressive.

An example of this misrepresentation of the Doberman can be clearly seen in the Award-Winning Film ‘Up,’ the ringleader of the bad dogs is a Doberman, and his character is inherently mean and stupid, whereas in reality he is the complete opposite; they are loving and intelligent.

An example of the Rottweiler being misrepresented was in the original film ‘The Omen,’ whereby the Rottweiler dog is used to personify the Devil. Both breeds are actually very loving towards their family. With better education and knowledge perceptions of these dogs have improved, but clearly, according to the above study, there is a long way to go.

One of the biggest personality differences between the two breeds is that while the Doberman is affectionate with his family, the Rottweiler is said to be more aloof and independent. This is a trait that the German Shepherd carries, which is why the Rottie is also often compared to the German shepherd as well.

The Doberman is quite affectionate with his family and will happily jump on the sofa for a cuddle after a long day on patrol. Although the Rottweiler is still affectionate with his family, the Doberman needs companionship more so than the Rottweiler does.

As a result of this need for companionship, the Doberman is also known to suffer from separation anxiety, although relatively moderate compared to other dogs who suffer from it. There is a chance you won’t be able to leave him on his own for more than a few hours, so you need to take this into consideration.

Exercise

Running Happy Dogs Outdoors
Exercise requirements are similar for both breeds, about 60 minutes a day.

Again, as they are both working dogs, they both require a significant amount of exercise to keep them healthy and entertained. Around 60 minutes a day is what you should expect to give them both at a minimum.

The Doberman is the more energetic and intelligent dog, and therefore he needs more mental stimulation than the Rottweiler. This can be achieved through more intense activities, such as tug-of-war, agility courses, or the use of puzzle toys filled with treats.

Both breeds tend to be highly destructive if they are left to their own devices. Due to their size and power, they can cause a significant amount of damage, so if you can’t commit to exercising them daily, then these dogs aren’t for you. Unless, of course, you like weekly repair bills! With that being said, if you can give these guys the exercise that they need, they will reward you for it with entertainment, protection, and love.

Training

Patiently Sitting Dogs
Though both breeds are very smart, they still need positive reinforcement and early socialization.

Both the breeds are similar regarding their training; they both like to be put to work and use their intelligence. They will thoroughly enjoy being trained by their master and they seek to please, so this makes training relatively easy. They will both enjoy obedience training, just be sure to be the dominant pack leader; otherwise, these guys will assume that position and dismiss you entirely.

Due to their protective nature, it is key to socialize these guys at a very early age, to make sure that they are comfortable and confident in many different environments, both inside and outside of the home. They should be comfortable with humans of all ages and other animals of all sizes.

Positive reinforcement training is the best type of training for any dog, but it is particularly important with guarding dogs such as these. All training should be positive, and never negative; otherwise, there is a chance that the dog will react negatively and become aggressive.

Health

Sad Dogs on Vet Tables
Both breeds have common genetic concerns to be aware of.

Both the Doberman and the Rottweiler are generally healthy dogs considering their size, but as with any large dog they can suffer from Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, which is an abnormal formation in the elbow and hip sockets which, over time, can cause painful arthritis of the joints.

They are also both at risk of suffering Gastric Torsion, which is where the dog eats one very large meal a day, or he eats immediately before or just after exercising, and the stomach twists. This can be a very serious life-threatening condition.

Additionally, the Doberman is more at risk of suffering from Von Willebrand’s disease, which is caused by a deficiency in the number of particular platelets in his blood, which means that his blood is unable to clot. This is a serious condition, if he were to suffer an injury and his body has no capacity for clotting he is at risk of losing a significant amount of blood.

Rottweilers are also frequently known to suffer from Dilated Cardiomyopathy, this is a disease whereby the heart walls are thin and dilated, and therefore the heart does not function as it should, and can result in heart failure.

Generally, the Doberman tends to outlive the Rottweiler by a few years. But it must be noted that both dogs have a life expectancy that is below that of the average pooch.

In order to keep your dog as healthy as possible be sure to take him for regular veterinarian check-ups, as well as keep up to date with his vaccines. If you are going to buy a Doberman or a Rottweiler, then be sure to research the major diseases and their symptoms so you are aware of them.

Nutrition

Eating Black and Rust Dogs
Both breeds consume about four cups of dog food each day, split into two meals.

The Doberman requires around four cups of food per day, and the Rottweiler requires a similar amount. Both will depend on metabolisms and lifestyles. However, the Rottweiler is susceptible to weight gain and obesity more so than the Doberman, so this is something to watch out for.

Grooming

Portrait of Two Handsome Dogs
The Rottie and Doberman have similar grooming requirements.

Both the Doberman and Rottweiler have short coats, and they are described as being moderate shedders, so both require little grooming compared to other dogs. A brush once or twice a week will help to keep your pooch’s skin looking shiny and healthy, as well as removing any dead hair or skin. Dobermans shed less than their Rottweiler cousins.

Puppy Price

Sitting Black and Rust Puppies
Expect to pay $1,500 or more for either breed.

If you buy a Doberman or a Rottweiler from a reputable breeder then they are similar in price at around $1,500. If you buy a puppy Doberman from an unreputable breeder then you can pay around $1,000, and a Rottweiler at around $850. If you want either breed that is of show-quality then you can expect to pay up to $4,000 for your pup.

It is not recommended that you buy a puppy from anywhere other than a recognized breeder, otherwise you risk that your puppy has not been looked after as he should, and you can expect health complications and seriously expensive vet bills.

As mentioned earlier, if someone is trying to sell a ‘white’ Doberman then do not buy him! This ‘white’ is not a color, but albinism, which is a severe genetic mutation, and the canine is likely to suffer serious health complications.

Final Thoughts

The Doberman and the Rottweiler are similar dogs, who both excel in their guarding and protecting skills, and the Doberman is in fact bred from the Rottweiler, amongst a few other dogs. If you want a dog to protect you and your home, then either of these breeds would be perfect.

The main difference between the two is their size, the Doberman is more athletic and slender in appearance, with the Rottweiler being bulkier and up to 35 pounds heavier than the Doberman.

The Doberman is more agile and intelligent, and as a result, he needs more exercise and mental stimulation than the Rottweiler, and the Doberman isn’t a big fan of being kept at home on his own for long periods of time. So, if you like a more active dog then maybe the Doberman would be more suited to you if you don’t have to leave him at home for long periods of time.

Both the Doberman and Rottweiler are similar in health and share certain health risks, but each has specific risks that the other does not. The Doberman, on average, has the higher life expectancy of the two.

Whichever breed you decide to go with, both are fantastic, fun, and loyal breeds, who will protect and love you and your family for years to come!

Leave a Comment

7 Comments

Deloresi Ingram

August 28, 2021 at 5:14 pm

I am looking for one each I want puppies, and am 66 years of age I want them for protection, as well as my family and friend. They will help me to stay exercising. Walking daily. I need that. I will be around most of the time. I am hoping to continue working only a few hours a day or evening at Anmozon. I really want to try both of them. Getting the male Rockwell 1 then in a few months the female German Doberman. What you think.

Reply

Sadat Wakipaki

July 25, 2021 at 1:25 am

Just got 8-week old Rottie puppy, after only one month at home puppy got so attached to our 11 years old son that neither will leave each other alone! We love him very much. Just read all the information on this page. It's very informative.

Reply

Kelly Wilson

July 26, 2021 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for the comments, Sadat! I appreciate your feedback and good luck with your new puppy!

Reply

Wendi

September 24, 2020 at 11:11 pm

I've only owned Rottweilers and having recently lost one I'm trying to decide whether to get another Rott or a Doberman. I like the idea of a Doberman; they have a similar paint job without all the shedding. Rott's are shedders. But, I love the sweet goofiness of a Rott and don't know if a Doberman can fill that void. Is the Doberman as silly and playful as a Rott?

Reply

Kelly Wilson

September 25, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Hi Wendi! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. We had a family friend that owned a Doberman when I was younger, and she was a big 80 pound goofball that frequently got the zoomies. She was also a gigantic lapdog. Her name was Princess and her owner treated her like one. We love Rotties too. You honestly can't go wrong with either breed. Good luck!

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Ron Fitzgerald

June 25, 2020 at 7:57 pm

I have owned 4 Dobermans. Two I got as puppies and two were adopted from a rescue. This article is very accurate when discussing my experience with my Dobermans. Alert, Fearless, Loyal describes each of the Dobermans I've owned.

I would add traits like athletic and outdoorsy. All of the dogs worked well in the woods. Whether it was being a companion on a trail ride via horseback or hiking on foot. All around great dogs with the proper training and exercise. Very velcro!

Reply

Kelly Wilson

June 28, 2020 at 1:38 pm

Agree with your comments here Ron. I appreciate you stopping by and contributing!

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