Rottweilers are strong, powerful, intelligent dogs willing to work and known for their high endurance and guarding instincts. The medium-sized dog has a short, black coat with either rust or mahogany markings.
Height averages between 22 and 17 inches, and weight ranges are 85 to 130 pounds, with females weighing less than males. The average lifespan is 8 to 12 years, though some have lived longer.
The Rottweiler is believed to have descended from the drover dogs in ancient Rome. The dogs accompanied armies on long missions and were used to herd and guard livestock and guard supplies. Their livestock duties were especially important since refrigeration did not exist at the time. Some of the earliest evidence of these ancestor dogs traces back to A.D. 74.
The name Rottweiler surfaced after the year 700, when a Christian church was built on a site of former Roman baths. Red tiles were uncovered during the excavation that were used to rename the town to das Rote Wil (the red tile), according to the American Kennel Club. The town name is later described as Rottweil and shows the relationship between the town and the breed name.
The dogs were popular for their working abilities until the mid-1800s, when cattle driving was outlawed. Because the dogs were no longer working, they were deemed unnecessary. The breed declined drastically and almost went extinct. A dog show in Germany in 1882 had only one Rottweiler, which was described as a poor representation of the breed — perhaps the only one that could be found at the time.
A club formed in 1901 to represent the Rottweiler and Leonberger breeds and recorded a breed standard for the Rottweiler. The breed regained favor as a police dog in the early 1900s and greatly improved its numbers. The AKC entered the breed in 1931, and a Rottweiler parent club was formed in 1971. The breed was subjected to breed-specific legislation during the last century, which has since passed on to focus on variations of the Staffordshire bull terrier breeds.
Originally working and herding dogs, Rottweilers today also participate in conformation, agility, carting, rally, obedience, tracking, therapy, and military and police work. Some Rottweilers participate in Schutzhund. They are also beloved companion pets who share homes with dogs, cats and other domestic animals.
Rottweilers are known for being loyal and protective, but they are also intelligent dogs that are easy to train. Their even-tempered disposition displays them as calm dogs, but they are also quite courageous.
Protective and guarding instincts date back to the breed’s ancestors just after A.D. These instincts are still strong today, and Rottweilers are said to defend so fiercely at times that they appear immune to pain.
Training and socialization should start as soon as possible. Properly socialized Rottweilers with a clear understanding of leadership will be fine companions for children, dogs, cats and other household pets. Family and friends are welcomed, but a Rottweiler will keep strangers at a distance.
In this video, Rottweiler Bindi plays with his roommate, Lou the cat, although Lou doesn’t seem too amused:
This breed thrives on exercise; the dogs love to work, and daily walks or jogs are ideal to keep them in shape and expel energy. Swimming and retrieving are fun exercises to do with your Rottweiler. They are relatively inactive indoors but will do well in an apartment as long as their exercise needs are met.
The short, smooth coat of the Rottweiler needs minimal grooming. Brushing and bathing can be done as necessary, but other maintenance should be done on the nails, ears and teeth regularly. The tails of Rottweilers appear docked, although this practice has been made illegal in some countries unless the dog is involved in work in certain areas.
Common Health Problems
There are a few health problems related to Rottweilers, although the list is not long:
Is the Rottweiler the Right Dog for You?
Rottweilers are medium to large dogs that are powerful, loyal dogs that grow devoted to their families. They are intelligent dogs that are easily trained, but they need consistent training and socialization. Making a consistent and devoted commitment to socialization will ensure your dog is well-behaved and will get along with children and other animals.
Exercise is a regular part of life for this breed, so apartment life needs to come with a commitment to taking your dog out for a daily walk or jog to expel energy and stay in shape.
Health concerns are few for this breed, but they may be considered a dangerous breed by insurance companies. Check with your insurer before adopting or buying a Rottweiler to make sure your insurance company will not cancel your coverage. The breed has ancient roots and still maintains the desired qualities of loyalty and protection that make them so desirable. If you can fulfill the breed’s requirements and recommendations as listed above, a Rottweiler may be the perfect dog for you.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
Rottweilers end up in shelters and rescues. Check our search function to find one near you or check with your local resources. If you decide to purchase a dog from a breeder, take care to ensure the breeder is not showing signs of operating a puppy mill.