Breed At A Glance


Calm, courageous and devoted

Life Expectancy
10-12 years

Average Height
Males 24-27 inches; Females 22-25 inches

Average Weight
Males 95-130 lbs; Females 85-115 lbs

Coat Color
Black with brown markings on face, legs and eyebrows

Coat Length/Texture
Short, hard and thick, with a waterproof undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round

Also known as Rottie, Rotty, Rott, Weily

General Temperament

Unfortunately, the Rottweiler has gotten a bad reputation in recent years as an unpredictable and vicious breed; in reality, a well-bred Rottie is calm, intelligent, confident and even-tempered. They have a fierce devotion to their home and families, and can often be aloof or reserved with strangers. These qualities, combined with physical strength and a strong protective instinct, make the Rottweiler an excellent guard dog.

Rottweilers are clever and active creatures that crave the attention of their families. They need mental stimulation, otherwise they will find their own ways to keep busy. They can do well in an apartment as long as they get at least one or two long walks per day. As long as they are raised in a loving environment and aren’t abused or mistreated, they can be great companions for children and other household pets. Close friends and relatives will often be greeted affectionately by a Rottweiler, while strangers will be kept at bay.

Rottweilers are not for the novice or passive owner. They require strong and consistent training, or they will dominate the household. As adults, they are powerfully massive, and good obedience training will make them much more pleasant living companions. They should be kept on leashes in public areas, as they can become aggressive toward unknown dogs. Most Rotties are fierce fighters that seem to be impervious to pain, and poorly-bred, unsocialized or abused individuals can be unnecessarily aggressive, making for a dangerous combination.

Shower a Rottweiler with love, attention and respect (with a dash of authority thrown in) and you will have a calm and devoted protector for many years.

Breed History

The history of the Rottweiler stretches all the way back to the Roman Empire, where the breed was used to herd cattle that accompanied the legions. (Prior to refrigeration, meat used to feed the troops needed to be kept “on the hoof” until ready for meal preparation.) One of the legion’s campaigns conquered the German town of Rottweil, and this area eventually became an important cattle area. The Rottweiler, as it is now called, proved it’s worth in herding as well as protecting the cattle from bandits. But by the end of the 19th century, the breed had fallen out of favor, so much so that there was only one known female remaining in the town of Rottweil.

The buildup to World War I saw an increased demand for police and military dogs, and the Rottie enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. It has since become popular with individual dog owners. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935.

Body Structure and Composition

Adult Rottweilers, both male and female, are large, massive and strong, with a broad rounded forehead and medium-length muzzle. The inside of a Rottie’s mouth is dark in color, as opposed to the light pink of other breeds. The ears are medium-sized and folded against the head. The legs are straight and muscular with heavy bones. The tail is often docked, although this is largely done for vanity in companion pets (docking has been banned in many countries).

Medical Information

Rottweilers are generally a healthy and hearty breed, although they are particularly susceptible to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, where the head of the bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. They can also be prone to cruciate ligament damage. Osteosarcoma, a form of malignant bone cancer, is the most common cancer experienced by Rottweilers; this generally affects the dog later in life. This breed can also suffer from Hypothyroidism, or underactivity of the thyroid gland resulting in lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes. Hypothyroid dogs who receive proper treatment, including a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone, can have a normal life span and are able to maintain good health well into their golden years.

A serious congenital heart disease called Sub-Aortic Stenosis (SAS) is also present in this breed. A narrowing of the outflow tract leading from the left ventricle to the aorta causes the heart muscle to work harder to get more blood through the smaller opening, resulting in an irregular heartbeat and lack of sufficient blood being pumped through the heart. Unfortunately, the most common symptom of SAS is sudden death. The good news is that heart screening is available for adults that are to be bred, and reputable breeders will be able to provide this information on a puppy’s parents prior to purchase.

Like all large bodied dogs, the Rottweiler is also prone to Gastric Dilation Volvulus, or GDV, also know as bloat/torsion. Excess gas trapped in the dog’s stomach causes “bloat,” and twisting of the stomach (volvulus or “torsion”) causes or is caused by excess gas. GDV is an emergency condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment. It has been suggested that feeding the dog two or three smaller meals, perhaps from a bowl on a raised surface, as opposed to one large meal on the floor, may help to prevent this situation.

Rotties can also suffer from eye abnormalities, including juvenile cataracts and Entropion (eyelids that are folded in).

Rottweilers tend to snore. They can also overheat easily, so special care should be taken in extremely warm temperatures.

Anecdotal Information

The Rottweiler’s trainability and calm nature has won them roles in many major Hollywood films, including (but not limited to): Ferris Bueller’s Day OffNational Lampoon’s Christmas VacationIntolerable CrueltyDumb and DumbererLethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4Pet Semetary, and Half Baked. Rotties have appeared in lesser roles in many more films, largely portraying vicious guard dogs.

Rottweilers have also proliferated in television, starring in such shows as EntourageLas Vegas, and Drake and Josh. And like in the cinema, they often have cameo roles in numerous other television shows, often as guard dogs.

The popular character “Triumph the Insult Comic” is a puppet of a Rottweiler.

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