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Labrador Retriever vs. Rottweiler: Breed Differences & Similarities

Ready to adopt a new dog, but can't decide between the Rottweiler vs. the Labrador Retriever? While both of these breeds are incredibly popular as family companion dogs, they have many distinct differences. Find out what you can expect before adopting either dog breed.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: May 24, 2021 | 10 min read

Labrador vs Rottweiler

The Labrador and the Rottweiler are two very different-looking dogs, and it’s super easy to tell them apart. The Lab is the iconic family-favorite Andrex puppy. And Rotties are better known for their formidable appearance and human-defending qualities. But it might surprise you to learn that they are more alike in personality than you might think!

In this dog breed comparison, we compare these two breeds in all aspects. From their history, why each breed was bred, and how that impacts their personalities. As well as their training, grooming, and exercise needs, and much more.

So, whether you’re just here for the doggy education, or you are trying to choose which pooch will make your next family addition. This guide has everything you need to make your decision. So, let’s get started!

Breed Comparison

Labrador

  • Height 21.5-24.5 Inches
  • Weight 55-80 Pounds
  • Temperament Friendly, Active, Outgoing
  • Energy High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 Years
  • Price $800 and Up

Rottweiler

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

Breed History

Learning about a dog’s history is an important part of the breed research process. It isn’t just interesting, but it will give you an insight into the dog as a whole. You’ll see from the Lab and the Rottie’s history why they are the way they are, act how they do, and love certain things. Let’s take a quick canine history lesson…

Labrador

Three Different Colored Dogs in the Water
Labradors were bred as water dogs in Newfoundland, Canada.

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most recognized dog breeds on the planet. He has ranked as the top dog out of 197 breeds for 30 years. And the American Kennel Club (AKC) states that his popularity as a family pet doesn’t look to be dwindling anytime soon. His friendliness combined with his intelligence and obedience means that he is a prime dog breed in the world of assistance, therapy, and search and rescue canine professions.

The Labrador is a purebred pooch that dates back to around the 1700s, and he descends from the extinct St John’s water dog. He is the traditional waterdog of Newfoundland (no, not Labrador, as many people assume!). The fishermen and bird hunters chose Labradors to help collect their quarry (mainly ducks) and round up fishnets.

Rottweiler

Two Black and Rust Dogs in Spring Flowers
Rotties make great guard dogs, but they also have a soft side to them.

The Rottweiler is another purebred pup who is instantly recognizable. Although he is not as popular as the Labrador Retriever, he consistently finds himself in the top 10 dog breeds in the AKC popularity contest. He is one of the most popular guard dogs of all time. He is regularly chosen as estate protectors, people guard, as well as police and military services across the world.

Rottweilers descend from huge Roman war dogs. His role back then was to protect the army’s herds from predators and thieves. These dogs settled in Germany, and the town of Rottweil was where the Rottweiler breed as we know it today was developed.

Still protecting farmers’ herds, his role earned him the nickname, the ‘Butchers Dog.’ Like the Lab, Rotties were one of the first guide dogs, and he has also proven himself successful as a search and rescuer.

Appearance

Dogs Standing in Sunshine
One of the biggest differences between these two breeds is the way they look.

Both breeds are very different in their appearance. This is often a huge deciding factor when choosing between the two breeds. Seeking a medium-sized classic dog with a friendly appearance? The Labrador might be your chosen canine. Or if you are looking for a gorgeous formidable large to giant dog breed to make people think twice, the Rottie might be your best pick.

Labradors are a medium to large-sized dog. He measures between 21.5 and 24.5 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. And he weighs between 55 and 80 pounds. The Rottweiler measures between 22 and 27 inches tall. He weighs much more, anywhere between 80 and 135 pounds. The difference in their weight alone often means the smaller Lab is the only option for many family homes.

They are both proportionate but stocky dogs, with Rottweilers being the stockier pooch. The Lab sports his unique thick otter tail. Their coats are similar in length and texture. They both have a straight, double coat that is short to medium in length. Both dog breeds have a thick, dense coat that is not too coarse but not silky smooth. They both shed heavily during the shedding seasons and moderately throughout the year.

Their coat colors, however, are very different. Labs have the option of three solid coat colors; black, brown, and yellow. The Rottweiler sports the iconic black and tan/rust coat. The tan markings appear above his eyes, on his muzzle, across his chest, and the bottom of his legs. Both breeds can have an all-black or mostly black coat. Rotties are often mistaken for the Doberman, who sports a similar coat.

Temperament

Happy Black Dogs Sitting Outdoors
Contrary to what many people believe, the Lab and Rottie share quite a few temperament traits.

Surprisingly, the personalities of these two breeds are more similar than people first think. Those who have never met a Rottie before (or only when he is on guarding duty!) probably think he is a ferocious dog who wouldn’t fit into family life. But this is a common misconception. Just like the Lab, the Rottie makes a wonderful family pet for the right family.

The Labrador is known for his friendly and loving personality, which is why he is so popular as a family pet. Similarly, the Rottweiler is also a sensitive soul in the home. He loves nothing more than a cuddle on the sofa with his family. Deep down, the Rottie is a big softie who is actually quite sensitive. Just don’t tell his friends down at the local doggy park because he has a reputation to keep up!

Talking of being sensitive, the Rottweiler doesn’t really like to be left alone. Whereas the Labrador is happy to spend a few hours alone in his own company. If you aren’t keen on needy dogs who like to be by your side every second of the day, the Rottweiler might not be the breed for you. For this reason, you will want to think about investing in a crate for your Rottweiler for those times when you do need to leave him alone.

If you are looking for a guard dog, you can probably guess which pooch is your best choice. Rottweilers are a confident companion who will guard you and your family in the face of danger. He will also alert you to any visitors and has a very loud bark. In comparison, the Labrador is not a guard dog by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, he is super friendly with all he meets, and he’ll expect everyone to be his next best buddy.

Exercise

Dogs Running Outdoors
An average of 60 minutes of daily exercise should be plenty for either breed.

Both dog breeds need around 60 minutes of exercise every day to be happy and healthy. They are both from working breed backgrounds, meaning they have working energy that must be burned. However, this is where their exercise similarities stop. The Labrador’s exercise needs to be intense to scratch the surface of his energy. Compared to the Rottie, who is a bit more laidback.

The Labrador’s exercise routine should be varied to stimulate his mind. He is an intelligent and curious dog who needs a challenge. Otherwise, he’ll become bored with the same routine day in day out. Think different activities, swimming, puzzle toys, and agility courses. Whereas Rotties need exercise that will target his strength. Think cart-pulling, tug of war games, and simple exercise.

Labs will need much more interaction throughout the day too. He’ll seek interactive play with his humans, and thanks to his Retriever genes, he’ll love to play fetch. The Rottie will need tougher toys to play with to keep him entertained.

The Rottie will be partial to more afternoon naps than the Lab, and he is definitely more chilled in the home. You might have to convince your Rottie to leave the house because he is sometimes known to become lazy. Whereas Labs will be more than willing to leave the house for an adventure.

Training

Dogs Running Agility Courses
Both breeds are highly trainable, so the Lab is commonly found as a therapy dog and the Rottie is commonly seen on the police force.

Both dogs are both consistently chosen as working dogs, and that’s because they are both willing to please their master. Whether it is in the protection sector or assistance/therapy roles, they are both trainable. Research shows that the Lab is the seventh most intelligent dog breed. And you might be surprised to learn that the Rottie is not that far behind; he is ninth.

But, if you are a first-time dog owner and wondering which pooch would make the best choice, the Labrador is your best pick. Rottweilers are a little stubborn, which can make training difficult for a novice dog owner. Plus, the Rottie can be a little feisty because of his protective instincts. So it’s advised that only practiced dog owners take the Rottie on.

Like all dog breeds, both of these dogs will benefit from early dog training. Always work with a reputable breeder that will start their training young. This is particularly true of the Rottie. If you do not instill good manners into the Rottie from a young age, he can develop into a hard-to-handle dog.

For this reason, puppy obedience classes are a must for the Rottie. Although the Lab still needs early training because he doesn’t have innate guarding instincts, he is easier to shape into a well-mannered dog.

Both breeds respond better to positive reinforcement training than any other type of dog training. Always reward your dog for good behavior. Both dogs will enjoy snacks, so be sure to keep them to hand when puppy training.

Socialization is also an essential training process. This process is a lifelong commitment for the Rottie, who will need to be mixed with other dogs and humans regularly to prevent him from becoming overprotective.

Health

Black Dogs Close Up
Both breeds are relatively healthy, though they are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia as well as eye conditions.

Both breeds are relatively healthy dog breeds. The Labrador’s life expectancy is 10 to 12 years, whereas the Rottie’s is 9 to 10 years. However, this isn’t because the Lab is the healthier pup out of the two. Instead, the Rottie is a giant-sized dog, and they have lower life spans than smaller breeds.

The main health conditions that affect the Labrador are hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a joint problem caused by gene inheritance and irregular bone growth. The Lab is also predisposed to various eye conditions such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. Exercise-induced collapse is another health concern that should be tested for in Labs, too.

It’s important to work with a reputable breeder who only breeds healthy dogs. So be sure to ask the breeder for all health certificates.

The Rottweiler is also prone to hip and elbow hip dysplasia to the same eye concerns as the Lab, but with an additional common concern, entropion. The Rottie breed is also predisposed to cardiac conditions such as subvalvular aortic stenosis.

The Lab and the Rottie are both at risk of obesity. This is because they both LOVE snacks and fatty food that they shouldn’t. So be sure to keep an eye on both their waistlines.

Nutrition

Dogs Holding Doggy Bowls
Both breeds require a high-quality kibble with proper nutrients to keep them in tip-top shape.

These two breeds are very different in size. As you can expect, the Rottweiler eats more than the Labrador. Labradors will eat between two and three cups of high-quality food.

Compared to the Rottweiler, who will need between three and four cups a day. For working dogs, be that Lab or Rottie, they will need more than this to fuel their days ahead. The Rottie will need food designed for large breeds.

It’s important to feed both breeds a high-quality kibble that offers a well-balanced diet. Always consider your dog’s specific dietary needs, but stick to well-known quality brands. Whatever you feed them, they are both at risk of gastric torsion, especially the Rottie. This is a life-threatening condition you must make yourself aware of.

Grooming

Handsome Dogs Close Up
The Lab’s and the Rottie’s dense coats need brushing 2-3 times a week to stay sleek and shiny.

Both dogs have very similar coats, and so their grooming regime is very similar. They both need brushing two or three times a week to manage their shedding and more frequently during the shedding seasons.

To best manage their thick, double-coat shedding, a deshedding brush is your best bet. If we had to choose one dog, the Lab is the heavier shedder out of the two breeds.

It’s best to bathe the Lab and the Rottie every eight weeks or so. Never wash them more, or only if they get extremely dirty on their adventures. Only use doggy shampoos made from gentle, natural ingredients. They both need their teeth brushed weekly, and be sure to check their large, drop-down ears for signs of infection.

Puppy Price

Cute Puppy Faces
Expect to pay $800+ for a Lab and $1,500+ for a Rottie.

The Labrador’s puppy price is usually lower than the Rottweiler. The puppy price of a Labrador starts from around $800. Compared to the higher average price of a Rottie, which is around $1,500.

The final price depends on your location, supply and demand in your area, and the quality of the breeder you work with. The most important thing to remember is that the better quality of breeder you work with, the more likely you will buy a healthy pup.

Both the Labrador and the Rottweiler are purebred pups, so you can choose to work with an AKC registered breeder. This is an important consideration to make if you want to show your pup or partake in AKC doggy competitions.

Puppy prices are not the only costing factor to consider; remember that they both have ongoing costs. Typically, a Rottie will be more expensive to care for across his lifetime compared to a Lab.

Final Thoughts

The Labrador and the Rottweiler are different dogs in more ways than one. The Labrador is the family-favorite pooch best known for his friendly and lovable ways. And the ability to fit into almost any family environment. The Rottweiler is better known for his protective nature and formidable appearance. But, with the right family, the Rottie also makes a fantastic family pet.

To recap, there are a few main differences between the two breeds. The Labrador is friendly with everyone, both his dear family and strangers alike. The Rottweiler is not as accepting of strangers, and he will protect his family if they find themselves in danger. The Labrador is the most active out of the two, and the Rottie is a big fan of afternoon naps. And if you are a first-time dog owner, you will have an easier time training a Labrador than a Rottie, that’s for sure.

Most people have met a Lab. But if you’ve never met a Rottie before, know that they are not as scary as they make out. They are sensitive souls and much needier than the Labrador. But really, the best breed for you is the one that better suits your lifestyle. Both the Lab and the Rottweiler make awesome canine companions. All you need to do is decide whether you are Team Lab or Team Rottie! If you can’t decide between them, there’s always the option of picking a mix between the two, the Labrottie!

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