Rottweilers: What’s Good and Bad (Behavior, Temperament & More)

The confident, loyal Rottweiler is a member of the working group. These trusty family guardians currently rank at number eight on the American Kennel Club chart. So, would a Rottweiler make a good pet for your family?

Rottweilers are big dogs that aren’t suited to apartment living, and you’ll need a spacious home with a garden if you want to give a home to one of these pups. “Rotties” can stand up to 27 inches at the shoulder. And these dogs are muscular, powerful animals that can look imposing, especially to strangers visiting your home.

However, a thoughtfully raised, well-socialized Rottweiler is confident and even-tempered, and brave but not aggressive. Although sometimes aloof, the Rottweiler is surprisingly playful and has an endearing personality, once you get to know him. That said, if you take on a Rottweiler puppy, you should understand that early socialization is crucial to ensure that your dog grows into an obedient, calm animal.

In this guide, we take a closer look at the Rottweiler and answer many of the most commonly asked questions about the breed, including:

  • Do Rotties make good pets?
  • Are Rottweilers healthy?
  • Would a Rottweiler be the right choice for a home with small children?

So, let’s dive in and find out more about the Rottweiler.

History

The Rottweiler is descended from dogs that were used as herding animals by the Romans, as their legions marched through Europe. The pups bred with local dogs en route, and in the German town of Rottweil, the resulting crossbreeds were used by local butchers to drive their cattle to market.  They are a molosser dog and share genetic traits to many dogs, including the bully breeds, mastiffs, elkhounds Rhodesian ridgebacks and more.

The Rottweiler protected the butcher, guarding his takings from thieves. Robust, strong Rotties were also used to pull delivery carts carrying meat and milk to the butcher’s customers.  In the middle ages, Rottweilers were used to hunt boar, which are wild pigs with tusks.

Unfortunately, the arrival of motorized transport negated the need for the Rottie. Consequently, the breed almost died out altogether, but luckily, German dog lovers kept the Rottweiler alive. People across Europe were impressed by the breed’s loyalty and the dogs’ work ethic, and so the Rottweiler gained in popularity, even when compared to other dogs like the GSD.

Now, the Rottie is a firm favorite in the U.S. and around the world. The versatile modern Rottweiler has worked in a variety of very different fields, including as a police dog, service dog, herding dog, obedience competitor, and even as a therapy dog. The intelligent, powerful Rottie is also successful in agility classes and can turn his paw to flyball too.

Rottweilers also make great family dogs, being surprisingly sensitive and eager to please.

Health

Like many large dogs, Rottweilers are prone to a few health problems that you must be aware of if you’re considering taking on one of these pups.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition where the hip joint has conformational problems, eventually causing the bone to degenerate and leaving the dog with painful arthritis.

There is an expensive surgical treatment option for hip dysplasia, and it can be managed with medication. However, you should always ask your puppy’s breeder for written confirmation that the pup’s parents have both been screened and cleared for hip dysplasia.

Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition that involves abnormalities in the multiple structures of the elbow joint, specifically concerning the cartilage and the structures that surround it. Ultimately, the elbow joint develops osteoarthritis.

Osteochondritis: Osteochondritis is a very common condition that affects the joints of young dogs that are growing rapidly. Joint surfaces (the articular cartilage) fail to form bone in specific areas, resulting in areas of thickened cartilage.

These weakened areas cause the thickened cartilage to come away from the healthy tissue that surrounds it, forming a flap. The flap of cartilage sometimes detaches from the joint surface, leading to the development of secondary osteoarthritis.

Cardiomyopathy: Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition where the heart muscle becomes enlarged. One side of the heart is usually affected more than the other. When the ventricle is affected, it cannot pump blood to the lungs and body efficiently. That causes fluid to accumulate in the lungs, ultimately leading to congestive heart failure.

Subaortic stenosis (SAS): Subaortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aorta that takes blood away from the heart. The condition usually shows up as a minor heart murmur, but it’s a serious condition that can lead to sudden death, even in a young dog.

Von Willebrand’s Disease: Von Willebrand’s disease is a hereditary condition that is caused by a deficiency in the amount of a particular protein that assists in the clotting function of the blood.

Addison’s Disease: Addison’s disease is more correctly known as hypoadrenocorticism. The condition occurs when the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones, including steroids. Steroids help to regulate the dog’s internal organs and body systems. Without the right balance of these essential hormones, the dog’s body deteriorates, leading to severe complications, including death.

Cataracts: A cataract is an imperfection or opacity in the eye’s lens. The lens focuses light, and it should be completely clear. If your dog has a cataract, his vision is obscured. Cataracts can be the size of a pinpoint, which won’t be noticeable. However, some cataracts can grow large enough to cover the whole lens, causing blindness.

A healthy Rottweiler has a life expectancy of eight to 10 years.

Health Certifications

When buying a Rottweiler puppy, you must always ask the pup’s breeder to show you his parents’ health screening certificates. As you’ve seen, many of the Rottweiler’s health issues are inherited. That’s why it’s crucial that you know that your puppy’s parents have the necessary screening clearance.

Before a Rottweiler can be added to the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database, the American Rottweiler Club insists that the dog has clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. The dog will also need elbow and hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and an OFA heart examination certificate too.

To see if your puppy’s parents are listed on the database, search the CHIC and OFA websites.

Exercise

Although Rottweilers are naturally heavyset, big dogs, they can quickly become overweight if they don’t get enough exercise. An obese Rottweiler can suffer from joint problems, and excess weight can also cause complications such as heart disease and diabetes.  They run into the same complications that their cousin the Doberman does.

So, make sure your Rottie enjoys a couple of long walks each day and some playtime too. Remember that the Rottweiler was bred to be a working dog, so he will thrive in a family that enjoys outdoor activities and lots of fun walking and hiking.

Training

Rottweilers are very intelligent dogs that adapt very well to a structured training regimen. Although Rotties may look fierce, they are actually placid, loving dogs. Nonetheless, the early socialization and training of Rottie puppies are essential.

Size & Living Conditions

Rottweilers are large dogs! An adult Rottweiler can grow to stand between 22 and 27 inches at the shoulder, weighing from 75 to 110 pounds.

Female Rottweilers are generally smaller and lighter-boned than males.

In theory, a Rottweiler could live outside. However, the breed is susceptible to excess heat, so you must never leave your Rottie outside in hot weather unless he has unlimited fresh water and plenty of shade in which to rest.

Nutrition

When choosing a food for your Rottweiler, always look for high-quality commercial food that has meat as its main ingredient. Avoid food that contains high levels of grain, meat meal, and by-products, as these ingredients won’t give your dog enough of the essential nutrients he needs.

Ideally, young puppies should be fed several times each day.

When your puppy reaches six months of age, and after that, you can reduce the frequency of feeding to twice daily. It’s vital that you don’t overfeed your Rottie, as large, heavy meals could cause your dog to develop a serious digestive condition called “bloat.”

It’s a good idea to ask your puppy’s breeder for recommendations as to what food you should give your new family member. If you’re unsure what food to give your adult Rottweiler, have a chat with your vet for advice.

Coat Type & Colors

The Rottweiler is always black with markings that range from deep mahogany to rust in color. These markings appear on the dog’s cheeks, over his eyes, on either side of his muzzle, underneath his tail, and on his chest and legs. You’ll also notice tan lines on your Rottie’s toes.

Rottweilers have a short double coat that’s coarse and straight. The dog’s outer coat is of medium length with shorter hairs on his ears, legs, and head. The fluffy undercoat is mainly found on the dog’s thighs and neck, and the density and quantity of undercoat will depend on the climate in which he lives.

Because of their double coat, Rottweilers are moderate shedders. Twice a year in spring and fall, your Rottie will “blow” his coat. That means he’ll shed heavily to change his undercoat in line with the seasons.

Grooming

Ordinarily, you should brush your Rottweiler once a week, using a soft bristle brush or a hound mitt. That will help to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.

During heavy shedding periods, you’ll need to brush your dog daily to get rid of all his loose hair.

If you decide to bathe your Rottweiler, only do so when the weather is warm enough for you to be comfortable in short sleeves. Despite their sturdy appearance, Rotties can feel the cold if they get wet!

As Pets

So, now that you know more about the Rottweiler would this majestic, powerful breed make an ideal best friend for your household?

Let’s quickly recap what you’ve learned about the breed:

  • If you live in a small apartment, the Rottweiler is not the dog for you! These are large dogs that need plenty of space and preferably a big backyard to play in too.
  • Although the Rottweiler has a short coat, it’s a double coat, and that means your dog will shed moderately all year round with two heavy shedding periods in the spring and fall. You’ll need to be prepared to spend time grooming your Rottie, especially when he’s blowing his coat.
  • As Rottweilers are continual shedders, one of these pups wouldn’t suit someone who has a pet hair allergy.
  • Rottweilers are usually very gentle placid dogs, despite their rather fierce appearance. Rotties get on fine with other pets and with kids, although a gentle nudge from one of these pups would send a small child sprawling!
  • If you want a dog that’ll be a loyal guardian to your family and your property, a Rottweiler could make a great choice.
  • The Rottweiler is a working breed. For that reason, you’ll need to make sure that he gets plenty of exercise and playtime. If you have an outdoor lifestyle that involves lots of walking and hiking, a Rottie could be your perfect companion.
  • A Rottweiler probably wouldn’t enjoy living outside. Firstly, these are sensitive dogs who become very attached to their human family, and your pup could suffer from separation anxiety if you shut him out. Secondly, the Rottie is very heat sensitive and won’t do well if kept outside during hot weather.

In a nutshell, a Rottweiler would be a suitable pet for you if you have plenty of space and live an active lifestyle. A Rottie will happily play with your kids and other pets too, provided you take the time to socialize him properly when he’s a puppy.

Now, let’s talk about how to begin your search for the perfect Rottweiler puppy.

Popular Rottweiler Mixes

Because of their loyalty, Rottweilers have become very popular in the “designer dog” craze that’s taken the United States by storm.  Here are a few of the popular different rottweiler mixed breed pups.

Buying a Rottweiler Puppy

Although you may see Rottweiler puppies advertised for sale in your local classified ads, it’s better to begin your search for a reputable breeder through the American Rottweiler Club or on the American Kennel Club website.

The ARC insists that breeders who advertise on their website abide by a list of mandatory practices, including health screening of all breeding stock for hereditary diseases. Also, ARC registered breeders must provide anyone buying one of their puppies with a written guarantee that they will take the dog back if the owner is unable to keep him.

When checking health screening certification for hip dysplasia, you want to see that clearance has been obtained from either the University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) or the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

Also, dogs should have been cleared for elbow dysplasia, and the dogs’ eyes should be tested annually by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). Finally, the ARC insists that clearance of breeding dogs’ cardiac health is obtained.

Good breeders often have their dogs tested for thyroid problems and Von Willebrand’s disease too. Some breeders also go the extra mile by having their dogs certified by the American Temperament Test Society (ATT).

Purebred Puppy Costs

The price you’ll pay for a Rottweiler puppy depends on a few factors:

  • The region in which you live
  • The puppy’s sex
  • Any show ring titles held by the puppy’s parents
  • Whether the puppy has been bred to show or to be a pet

Generally, a well-bred puppy from a reputable dealer can cost from around $850 up to as much as $4,000.

Puppy Mills

As a general rule, cheap Rottweiler puppies usually come from puppy mills.

You should never purchase a puppy from a puppy mill!

Puppy farms or mills exist purely to produce lots of puppies very cheaply. To keep costs down, breeders don’t bother having their breeding animals health-screened, and the dogs are often kept in deplorable, unsanitary conditions.

Often, sick or diseased puppies are sold to unsuspecting buyers who later regret their purchase when the puppy becomes seriously ill soon after arriving in his new home.

You should also know that many pet stores source their puppies from puppy mills.

Rescues

If you don’t want the hard work of training a puppy, you might want to consider taking an adult Rottweiler from a rescue center or shelter. If you do, check out the link to the Rottweiler Rescue Foundation. Also, Petfinder is a very handy website where you might discover your ideal forever canine companion.

However, do proceed with caution when taking a dog from a shelter, as these pups often come with no history. That means you won’t know if the Rottie you’ve fallen in love with has a reliable temperament or comes with any inherited health conditions.

Some shelters allow would-be adopters to take a dog on a short trial basis. That’s an excellent idea for both the dog and his potential new owners, as there’s always the option of returning the dog if you’re not compatible.

All About Rottweilers From Our Readers

Below are some excerpts of readers that wrote to the founder of LoveYourDog, Janet Wall in the past about their Rottweilers.  We wanted to keep the integrity of this page, since so much heart and soul was put into these thoughts by the kids that provided them!

“If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater…suggest that he wear a tail.” – Fran Lebowitz

“Hi, My Rottweiler’s name is Jessie. She is 5 years old and her birthday is August 30! She is so sweet!
She does whatever I tell her and loves attention especially from kids!” Jill, age 12, Georgia USA

“My dog’s name is Charlotte, he is already 7 years old. I enjoy playing with him because he is so patient, playful and affectionate. Here in our country the dog like him is very rare and unusual, so I’m very lucky to have him.” Kahla, age 16, Manila, Philippines

“My dog’s name is Ceazer, and he is 1 year and a half and he weighs 187 pounds of muscle. This dog is an ox and a raging bull in one compact body. He had a training and is the best dog ever. I love him so much.” Josh, age 17, Pennsylvania USA

“Our new puppy is Bode, he is months old, we rescued him from the humane society. He was a Valentine’s gift from our Dad. He’s a great, loving pet. He loves my mom, dad and brothers, but he does sleep with me in my room at night. We all feel very lucky to have found this new member to our family.” Spencer, age 14, Washington USA

“My dog is a nice female Rottie called Koki who likes playing around. It’s parents are the best dogs in Egypt.” Adham, age 18, Egypt

“My rottweiler is a very trained dog. It can do many tricks. My brother named the dog Killer. Me and my brothers really love it and we take good care.” Tabatha, age 16, USA

“My Rottweiler’s name is GiGi. She is 7 years old. She is a well trained dog. If my mom needs help GiGi will do it. I really love, love, love her very, very much.” Rachel, age 14, Ohio USA

“My Rottweiler’s name is Max, he’s about 3 1/2 years old and he weighs 127 pounds He’s a big baby, and loves attention. If he’s not being petted, he’s on alert, and watches for people that come to our house.” Miquela, age 13, Indiana USA

“I have two Rottweilers. One is my mom and dad’s and I have one. My mom and dad’s is my dog’s mom and her name is Sadie and really old!! lol My dog’s name is Dare. He is an 8 year old Rottweiler mixed with Lab. But he has more rot than lab. He is really gentle. But I love dare so much and he loves me so much. He sleeps right next to me every night. And he loves to go outside with me and play. He and Sadie
loves to go boating and go swimming. I love to grab his little tail and he will pull me to shore!!

“I love my dog and I hope he never leaves me. When people he doesn’t know he always barks to let me know that someone is there at my house. Then if he can tell I am scared he will stay right there by the door until they leave while he is still barking. Well, my dog is awesome and I love him so much.” Coty, age 13, Michigan USA

“My Rottweiler’s name is Buddy. He’s 7 yrs old. He is a very big dog, but also gentle. He will even go to the door to tell us when there is something or someone outside and let us know. Once he broke his leg because he got hit by a car, and got a cast. He is a very well-trained dog. When I got on the couch, he got up and he took up the rest of the couch, including my lap. He is a very good dog, too. I love him a lot, and he loves me too, at least I hope.” Mikayla, age 8, Ohio USA

“She loves kids and never would harm them unless they were harming others. She loves to be with me and my family. She loves to play with my other dog.” Alana, age 14

“Bud is 3 years old. He is very nice. He will not hurt anyone. He was born May 28 1999. He is 110 pounds and has a very big head.” Lexi, age 10, North Dakota USA

“Max is a great protector and he loves me very much”. Max, age 13, Maryland USA

“I have a Rottweiler that is now at the age of one! He is about one hundred and two pounds. He loves to play and cuddle. I he has proven to me that a puppy is just like a little child, you have to be gentle and kind all at the same time. He is very protective of the house, also waits at the door for everyone to come home! I think he feels he is the whole reason why we come home to him. I would like to say but even he thinks that the bed is a comfortable place to sleep.” Ilima, age 17, Arkansas USA

“My dogs, Patches, a Beagle and Rocky, my Rottweiler are so playful! They are both 2 years old and their favorite game is Fetch!” Felicia, Age 13 Singapore

“My Momie shares her dog with me. I am still too young (almost 7 months) to care for him. His name is Merlyn (Rottweiler) and we are growing up together. Thank You Momie for helping me share. Well, I got to go take a nap. ByeBye!” Patti, Age 6 months North Carolina USA

“When I saw Toby (Rottweiler), I knew he was the one for me!” Brenda, Age 15 New York USA

“Kacie (Rottweiler cross) is the cutest puppy ever. She does tricks, sleeps on my mom and dad’s bed and is so energetic (at times). She’s been with us since May 1999. She loves the snow and likes the dog next
door. What funny about her is she never sleeps in her kennel anymore. We don’t know what she’s crossed this because she was a stray and the SPCA found her. We didn’t cut off her tail so when she’s happy, you see it and feel it. She never has bitten anybody and this one time she warned us that somebody was in the garage. She stopped a burglar from getting anything and scared him away. She’s a pretty big dog and is as strong as an ox. That’s about everything about her so if you’re looking for a loyal, smart, playful and loving breed of dog, Rottweilers are the one. Even though Rottweilers are portrayed as the bad guys dogs in movies and are mean and vicious, they really aren’t. They will love as long as they live.” Kim, Age 11 Alberta Canada

“My dog, Chief (Rottweiler), is the cutest dog in the world. He’s a pain, but that’s only cause he’s a baby.” Ashley, Age 11

Final Thoughts

If you have a large place with a garden and lots of room for a big dog, you might fancy taking on a Rottweiler.

Although Rotties can look rather fierce, they’re generally big softies at heart, making loyal and affectionate family pets that get along fine with kids and other pets. A Rottweiler would suit you best if your family is active and likes to get out and about, to hike or to walk. Rotties are highly trainable, and they adapt well to many canine sports, including agility, obedience, and even flyball.

Although Rottweilers are short-coated, they have a double coat, and they do shed moderately all year round. That could spell trouble for allergy sufferers in your household.

If you do take on a Rottweiler, be sure to ask the breeder to show you the puppy’s parents’ health certifications, as these dogs can be prone to many congenital diseases.

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