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Rottweilers: Your Complete Guide of Everything You Didn’t Know - PawSafe

Rottweilers: Your Complete Guide of Everything You Didn’t Know

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Rottweiler dog breed

Welcome to the ultimate guide on the Rottweiler dog breed, the robust and noble mastiff breed renowned for their loyalty and protective instincts. Whether you’re a current owner or considering adding a Rottweiler to your family, this comprehensive article will equip you with everything you need to know. We delve into their fascinating history, from their origins as Roman drover dogs to becoming one of the most respected modern guard dogs.

For insights on health, training, and diet, we turn to expert sources like Dr. Ross Clark, DVM, whose extensive work on the breed provides invaluable guidance. Dr. Clark, a distinguished fellow from Kansas State University, offers a wealth of knowledge that is particularly accessible through his detailed publications on the breed Dr. Ross Clark’s Profile. His book on Rottweilers offers a deep dive into their history and characteristics, making it a must-read for any enthusiast Dr. Ross Clark’s Book on Rottweilers.

Join us as we explore the world of Rottweilers, from selecting a puppy to mastering the essentials of care and training. Prepare to deepen your understanding and strengthen your bond with one of the most powerful and devoted breeds in the canine world.

Contents show

Most Rottweilers today are not bred from working lines but rather from pet or show lines. This shift means they are typically more suited to family life than the rigorous demands of police or military roles. More agile breeds like Belgian Malinois or German Shepherds are often preferred in these fields due to their size and high energy, making Rottweilers more commonly found as household pets.

The Temperament of Pet and Show Line Rottweilers

Rottweilers from pet or show lines are generally wonderful companions. Females in particular are known for being affectionate and gentle. Males can also be very loving, but those from the occasional working lines might display stronger, more assertive “A type” personalities. These males can be dominant and may not be the best choice for first-time dog owners. They might show wariness around strangers, a strong response to challenges, and reluctance to socialize with other dogs due to pronounced prey and defense drives.

Recognizing the “Rottie Rumble”

A unique and endearing trait among Rottweilers is what’s affectionately known as the “Rottie Rumble”—a low, rumbling growl they emit when particularly content and enjoying affection. However, it’s crucial to differentiate this sound of contentment from a real growl signaling discomfort or aggression. Signs that a Rottweiler is genuinely growling include visible whites of their eyes, ears pinned back, and visible teeth or gums. Recognizing these signs is vital as they indicate a Rottweiler feeling threatened or stressed, which could potentially escalate to more severe behaviors.

Importance of Understanding Rottweiler Behavior

While Rottweilers can make excellent, loyal family pets, understanding and respecting their natural instincts and methods of communication is key to creating a harmonious living environment. Proper socialization, training, and attentiveness to their body language are crucial in raising a well-adjusted and happy Rottweiler.

History and Origins of the Rottweiler

Rottweilers are one of the oldest of herding breeds, with a history that likely dates back to the Roman Empire. In those times, they were used primarily to herd livestock and pull carts laden with butchered meat to market. This historical utility is the origin of their name, derived from the German town of Rottweil, where these dogs were known as the “Rottweil butchers’ dogs.”

The breed was recognized formally in the late 19th century in Germany. Their intelligence, strength, and loyalty quickly made them suitable for police work, military roles, and as guardian dogs. Today, the Rottweiler is both a versatile working dog and a faithful companion, known for its strong protective instincts and its calm, confident demeanor.

Exercise Needs for Rottweilers?

Running Rottweiler in park getting exercise

Rottweilers need a moderate amount of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Typically, they should get at least one to two hours of physical activity every day. This can be broken down into several shorter sessions to suit the dog’s health needs and to prevent overheating, especially during warmer weather. 

Activities should include a mix of walking, playtime, and training exercises that engage both their body and mind. Adequate daily exercise will help keep a Rottweiler physically fit, mentally stimulated, and less likely to develop behavior problems.

Tailoring Exercise to Rottweiler Health Needs

Rottweilers are strong and active, but their exercise routines must consider their physical limitations. Due to their susceptibility to cruciate ligament and joint issues, high-impact activities like long-distance running should be avoided to prevent exacerbating these conditions. Additionally, their shorter muzzles can lead to overheating, so it’s crucial to monitor their temperature during exercise.

Recommended Low-Impact Activities

For daily exercise, opt for low-impact activities that maintain fitness without stressing the joints. Hiking and extended walks are ideal as they also offer mental stimulation, which is vital for this intelligent breed. Swimming is particularly beneficial — it’s excellent for cardiovascular health and gentle on the joints, plus it helps keep Rottweilers cool during physical exertion.

Engaging Play and Training

Incorporating play into the exercise regimen is essential for a Rottweiler’s physical and mental health. Games like fetch or tug-of-war allow them to use their strength and have fun simultaneously. 

Given their smart and task-oriented nature, Rottweilers excel when they have a job to do. Engaging them in herding or protection training channels their natural instincts into positive outlets, providing both mental and physical exercise. These activities not only keep them active but also deepen the bond between dog and owner.

Rottweiler Physical Traits?

Side view of a Rottweiler standing on a leash showing strong physical traits

Rottweilers are powerful and sturdy dogs, making them standout pets and working companions. Here’s a closer look at what makes a Rottie look like a Rottie, from size to coat and everything in between.

How Big Do Rottweilers Get?

On the larger side of medium, male Rottweilers typically stand about 61-69 cm (24-27 inches) tall, while females are a tad smaller at about 56-63 cm (22-25 inches). Weight-wise, males usually tip the scales between 43-59 kg (95-130 pounds), with females ranging from 36-48 kg (80-105 pounds). This makes them pretty hefty, but they’re also surprisingly nimble.

General Appearance

Imagine a dog that’s all muscle and power, compact and agile — that’s your Rottweiler. They’re built to be strong and sturdy without being bulky, ready to take on tasks with vigor. Their physique reflects their roots as durable working dogs. Check out the full scoop on their build and standards here in their Breed Standard.

Coat and Color

Rottweilers rock a medium-length coat that’s coarse and lies flat, which is perfect for their originally intended rough working conditions. They’re always dressed in black with distinct rust or mahogany markings that pop up in specific areas like their cheeks, paws, and above their eyes. The contrast is quite striking and is a big part of their signature look (Black Rottweiler).

Shedding

Rotties shed a moderate amount, with a seasonal uptick in the spring and fall when they really let loose. Regular brushing a couple of times a week helps keep their shedding under control and their coat nice and healthy.

Are They Hypoallergenic?

Nope, Rottweilers aren’t hypoallergenic. Their moderate shedding means they’re not the best match for allergy sufferers. Their dander, which is common in most non-hypoallergenic breeds, can trigger allergies. So, if you’re sensitive, you might need to consider this before getting a Rottie.

Understanding these aspects of Rottweilers helps appreciate not only their beauty but also what it takes to properly care for such a robust breed. They’re impressive dogs, with a look that’s as strong as their personality.

Training Requirements for Rottweilers?

Because of their strong personalities and powerful build, it’s really important to work with a trainer who knows their stuff. Starting training early and keeping it consistent is key to managing their bossy tendencies. You’ll want someone who is firm but fair and who avoids harsh methods.

Tips for Training Your Rottie

  1. Keep It Consistent 

    Rotties need to know what’s expected of them, so sticking to a regular training schedule is a must.

  2. Positive Vibes 

    They respond really well to positive reinforcement. Treats, praises, and playtime can work wonders in getting them to follow commands and learn new tricks.

  3. Short and Sweet

    Their attention span isn’t the longest, so it’s a good idea to keep training sessions brief. Multiple short sessions throughout the day are better than one long one.

  4. Mix It Up

    Rottweilers are versatile, so try different types of training. They’re naturals at everything from herding cattle to protection work, thanks to their history as drover dogs. Switching things up keeps them engaged and taps into their diverse skills.

  5. Play to Their Strengths

    Activities that align with their natural instincts, like herding, are especially engaging for Rottweilers. These activities challenge them both physically and mentally and make use of their natural talents. It’s a great way to keep training interesting for them and can lead to some impressive skills.

Understanding your Rottweiler’s intelligence and strengths can make training a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. Remember, a well-trained Rottie is a happy and loyal companion!

How Smart Are Rottweilers?

Rottweilers are pretty smart — actually, they’re ranked as the 9th most intelligent breed when it comes to working and obedience, according to dog intelligence expert Dr. Stanley Coren. They learn quickly and are super trainable, but they also have a bit of a stubborn streak. Sometimes they might try to use their strength to push boundaries, especially if they think they can take charge.

Are Rottweilers Good with Kids and Pets?

Rottweiler meeting a Husky in a dog park; are Rottweilers good with other dogs and kids

Rottweilers have a reputation that can make some families hesitant, but with the right upbringing, they can be wonderful companions for children and can get along well with other pets. Here’s what you need to know:

Family Dynamics

Rottweilers are naturally protective and can be incredibly gentle and affectionate with family members, including kids. However, because of their size and strength, it’s crucial to supervise interactions with younger children to ensure play remains safe and gentle. Teaching children how to interact respectfully and safely with the dog is just as important as training the dog itself.

Socializing with Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, the key to harmony is proper socialization. Rottweilers can coexist peacefully with other dogs and even cats, especially if they are raised together from a young age. Introducing a Rottweiler to a household with existing pets requires careful management and gradual introductions to build positive relationships.

Training and Socialization

Early socialization and consistent, positive training are essential for helping Rottweilers understand how to behave around kids and other animals. Exposure to a variety of people, environments, and other animals from a young age can help prevent overly protective or aggressive behaviors. Training should focus on reinforcing calm and obedient behaviors, which is especially important given their powerful physique.

Observing Behavior

Always be observant of your Rottweiler’s behavior around children and other pets. Signs of discomfort or anxiety should be addressed promptly to avoid any negative incidents. Regular training and revisiting basic commands can help maintain good behavior and ensure your Rottweiler remains a well-adjusted member of your family.

In summary, Rottweilers can be excellent family pets if they are given the training, socialization, and supervision needed to integrate them into the family safely. Their loyalty and protective nature can make them superb companions for children and can help them get along with other family pets when properly guided.

Common Health Issues in Rottweilers?

Rottweilers are a strong and resilient breed but, like all breeds, they have specific health conditions to watch for. Here’s a straightforward rundown of common health issues in Rottweilers:

Cardiovascular Issues

Rottweilers are prone to specific heart conditions like aortic or cardiac mineralization, especially as they age, and subaortic stenosis (SAS), where they are over-represented in clinical cases. These conditions require careful monitoring and can significantly impact their health.

Dental Health

Rottweilers often face dental issues, including abnormal dentition like retained deciduous teeth and prognathism. Regular dental check-ups are crucial for maintaining their oral health.

Skin Conditions

They are also susceptible to pyotraumatic folliculitis, also known as hot spots, particularly in warmer weather due to their dense undercoats.

Endocrine Issues

Rottweilers can suffer from Addison’s disease, which affects their hormone production, and diabetic ketoacidosis, highlighting the need for regular veterinary check-ups to manage these conditions.

Gastrointestinal and Immune System

They may experience serious gastrointestinal issues like gastroduodenal perforation and inflammatory bowel disease. Moreover, their immune system can be vulnerable, as shown by their increased risk for conditions like Leishmaniasis and Parvovirus enteritis.

Musculoskeletal Health

Rottweilers are especially prone to musculoskeletal issues such as cranial cruciate ligament disease and hip and elbow dysplasia. These conditions can lead to pain and mobility issues, so maintaining a healthy weight and regular vet visits are key.

Cancer Risks

Rottweilers have a higher risk of various cancers, including osteosarcoma and lymphoma. Early detection through regular health screenings can be vital for treatment.

Overall, while Rottweilers are robust and loving companions, they require careful health management and regular veterinary care to address these potential issues. Keeping an eye on their health and ensuring they have a balanced diet and regular exercise will help keep your Rottweiler happy and healthy for years to come.

Lifespan of a Rottweiler?

Rottweilers typically have a median lifespan of about 9 years. This lifespan is relatively common for larger dog breeds, with their size often influencing their overall longevity. Proper care, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary check-ups can help ensure that they live full and healthy lives.

Best Diet for Rottweilers?

Navigating the complex world of dog food can be challenging, especially when it comes to large breeds like Rottweilers. Here’s how to choose the best diet for your Rottweiler at every life stage, ensuring they grow up healthy and strong.

Large Breed Puppy Nutrition (Below 18 Months)

For your large breed puppy, the type of food you choose is crucial. Fresh, raw, or freeze-dried diets are often recommended for their minimal processing and high nutrient content. However, it’s important to ensure that these diets are well-formulated and balanced. While homemade diets offer freshness, they often fall short in balanced nutrition and are not recommended.

Commercial kibbles, particularly premium brands, can also be a good option if they meet AAFCO guidelines for being “complete and balanced.” Avoid canned foods as their high-temperature processing can create pro-inflammatory compounds, raising the risk of food allergies and other health issues.

Key Nutritional Requirements

A large breed puppy requires specific macronutrient profiles to support their rapid growth without causing developmental orthopedic diseases (DODs) like hip dysplasia or osteochondritis. Here are some specifics to look for on the label:

  • Protein: 29-34%
  • Fat: 11-16%
  • Fiber: 2.4-5.6%
  • Calcium: 0.8-1.4%
  • Phosphorus: 0.7-1.2%
  • Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio (Ca:P): 1.1:1 to 1.3:1
  • Magnesium: about 0.09%
  • Vitamin D3: about 700 IU/kg

It’s crucial that your puppy’s food supports slow and steady growth. The ideal caloric range for large breed puppies is 3,200 to 4,100 kcal/kg.

Avoid Overfeeding

Overnutrition and excess weight can stress a puppy’s developing bones and joints. Keep your puppy lean and follow feeding guidelines closely to avoid rapid growth.

Supplement Considerations

Do not add calcium or other mineral supplements unless directed by a vet. Excesses can be just as harmful as deficiencies. Ensure all mineral needs are met through their diet.

Transitioning to Adult Food (18 Months to 11 Years)

Typically, large breed dogs should move to adult food once their growth plates have closed, which usually happens between 12 to 18 months. This process can be delayed in neutered dogs, so it’s best to consult with your vet to determine the right timing.

Adult Dog Nutritional Needs

As your Rottweiler matures, their diet should support their size and energy levels without contributing to obesity or other health issues. Adult Rottweilers thrive on a balanced diet that includes:

  • Protein: 25-30%
  • Fat: 10-15%
  • Carbohydrates: 40-50%
  • Fiber: About 4-5%

Monitoring Caloric Intake

It’s essential to monitor the calorie intake of large breed dogs to prevent overfeeding, which can lead to obesity and associated health problems. Adult dogs need fewer calories per pound than puppies, so adjust portions as your dog ages and their metabolism changes.

Senior Large Breed Nutrition (Over 8 Years)

Adjusting for Age

As your Rottweiler enters their senior years, their dietary needs will change again. Older dogs often require fewer calories due to decreased activity levels but may need more protein to maintain muscle mass. Senior dog diets should focus on:

  • Protein: 30-40% (watch for renal health)
  • Fat: 10-20% (adjust based on weight management needs)
  • Carbohydrates: 30-50%
  • Fiber: About 4-5%

Considerations for Aging Dogs

Ensure that the food is low in sodium and phosphorus, especially if your dog has heart or kidney issues. Look for diets that are easy to digest and include joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin.

Importance of Veterinary Visits

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for monitoring the health of your aging Rottweiler. These visits can help catch and manage emerging health issues early.

General Tips for All Life Stages

  • Always choose diets that are AAFCO compliant.
  • Avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
  • Incorporate a variety of protein sources to prevent allergies and ensure balanced nutrition.
  • Consider the inclusion of functional ingredients like probiotics and joint supplements.

By understanding the specific dietary needs of your Rottweiler throughout their life, you can ensure they remain healthy, active, and vibrant at every age.

Grooming Needs for Rottweilers?

Proper grooming is essential for keeping your Rottweiler healthy and happy. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about grooming your Rottie, from coat care to ear cleaning.

Coat Care

Rottweilers have a double coat with a coarse outer layer and a soft undercoat. They require regular brushing to minimize shedding and keep their coat shiny and healthy. Brushing a couple of times a week with a firm bristle brush will help remove dead hair and distribute natural skin oils.

Bathing

Rottweilers don’t need frequent baths, but a monthly bath can help keep their coat clean and reduce any doggy odor. Use a dog-specific shampoo that won’t strip their skin of essential oils.

Shedding

Rottweilers are moderate shedders. They typically shed more heavily during the spring and fall, so you may need to brush them more frequently during these seasons to manage the extra hair.

Dental Care

Good dental hygiene is crucial for preventing gum disease and tooth loss. Brush your Rottweiler’s teeth several times a week with a toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs. Regular dental check-ups with your vet will also help maintain your dog’s mouth health.

Nails

Keeping your Rottweiler’s nails trimmed is vital for their comfort and mobility. Long nails can cause discomfort and even lead to structural issues over time. Trim their nails once or twice a month, or as needed, to ensure they don’t touch the ground when your dog walks.

Ears

Rottweilers’ ears should be checked weekly for signs of dirt, redness, or bad odor, which can indicate an infection. Clean their ears with a gentle, dog-approved ear cleaner to prevent build-up and keep infections at bay.

Regular grooming not only keeps your Rottweiler looking great but also provides an opportunity to check for any unusual signs or potential health issues, making it a crucial aspect of their overall care.

Are Rottweilers Good for First-Time Owners?

Rottweilers can be a challenging choice for first-time dog owners due to their strong will, size, and power. However, with the right approach, they can also be a rewarding companion. Here’s what you need to consider if you’re a first-time owner thinking about a Rottweiler.

Understanding Rottweiler Temperament

Rottweilers are known for their loyalty, protectiveness, and confidence. They are intelligent and often eager to please, but they also have a dominant personality that requires firm, consistent training and clear boundaries. Without this, they may assume the role of pack leader, which can lead to behavioral issues.

Training and Socialization Needs

Rottweilers require early socialization and obedience training. They need to be taught how to behave around other dogs, animals, and people, especially strangers and children. The training should be structured, consistent, and positive, helping to build a strong bond between the dog and its owner. For first-time owners, attending puppy training classes with a professional can be immensely beneficial.

Time and Commitment

This breed requires a considerable time investment in training, socialization, and exercise. They are not a “set it and forget it” type of pet and will thrive on having a job or regular activities that challenge them both physically and mentally. Neglecting their need for engagement can lead to destructive behavior and unhappiness.

Handling the Size and Strength

Rottweilers are large, powerful dogs capable of pulling strong or becoming unmanageable if not trained properly. First-time owners need to be physically capable of handling a dog of this size and committed to maintaining control through training and physical strength.

Consider Your Living Situation

Rottweilers do best in homes where they have plenty of space to move around but can adapt to various living situations if given enough exercise and attention. They typically are not suited for apartments unless the owner is very active and committed to multiple daily walks and exercise sessions.

Financial Commitment

Owning a Rottweiler can also be financially demanding. Potential owners should consider costs for high-quality food, veterinary care, training classes, and possible pet insurance, as Rottweilers can be prone to certain health issues.

Conclusion

While Rottweilers are not typically recommended for first-time dog owners due to their specific needs, those who are committed to extensive training, socialization, and can offer a structured environment may find a loyal and protective companion in a Rottweiler. It’s crucial for first-time owners to realistically assess their ability to meet these needs before deciding on a Rottweiler.

How Much Does a Rottweiler Cost?

Rottweiler puppy swimming pool in background

Owning a Rottweiler is a significant financial commitment, starting from the initial purchase of the puppy through to the ongoing costs of care. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to spend.

Initial Cost of a Rottweiler Puppy

The price of a Rottweiler puppy can vary dramatically based on the breeder’s reputation, location, pedigree of the parents, and whether the puppy is intended for show or as a pet. Typically, prices range from $1,500 to $2,500, but for puppies from top-quality lines, especially those that are show-quality or from an exceptional lineage, prices can soar up to $10,000.

Factors Influencing the Price

  • Breeder’s Reputation: Well-known and respected breeders who invest in optimal breeding practices and early puppy socialization often charge more. The best place to find a Rottweiler breeder is to contact the American Rottweiler Club.
  • Health Clearances: Puppies from parents tested for common genetic issues (like hip dysplasia) and with good health clearances will be pricier.
  • Location: Prices can also vary depending on the country and even the state within a country.

Ongoing Costs

Owning a Rottweiler means budgeting for more than just the purchase price of the puppy.

  • Food: Rottweilers are large dogs and require a substantial amount of food. High-quality dog food costs can range from $60 to $100 per month.
  • Healthcare: Routine veterinary care includes vaccinations, annual check-ups, and parasite control. Additionally, Rottweilers are prone to certain genetic health problems, so potential costs for emergency health issues or chronic conditions should be considered. Setting aside $500-$1000 annually for general healthcare is prudent, but unexpected illnesses or injuries can increase these costs significantly.
  • Training and Socialization: Especially important in the first year, professional training can help mitigate some of the breed’s protective traits. Group classes might cost around $50-$125 for a series, while private training could be $50-$100 per hour.
  • Grooming: While not as high-maintenance as some breeds, Rottweilers will still benefit from regular grooming. Basic grooming supplies and occasional professional grooming sessions can total up to $200 a year.
  • Insurance: Pet insurance is highly recommended for Rottweilers due to potential health issues. Monthly premiums can range from $30 to $50 but can save thousands in veterinary bills for covered conditions.

Additional Costs

  • Supplies and Accessories: Beds, leashes, collars, toys, and training supplies can also add up, especially as some items will need to be replaced as they wear out or are outgrown.
  • Boarding or Pet-Sitting: If you travel frequently, consider the costs of boarding or pet-sitting, which can range from $25 to $50 per day.

While Rottweilers make excellent companions and family protectors, potential owners should be fully aware of the financial commitment required over the lifetime of the dog. Planning financially for both expected and unexpected costs will ensure that you can provide a caring and stable home for your Rottweiler.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey with a Rottweiler

Adopting a Rottweiler is not just a commitment to a pet, but to a lifelong companion that will require dedication, understanding, and a substantial financial investment. These powerful and protective dogs bring immense joy and loyalty to their families, making the investment in their health, training, and well-being worthwhile. Whether you’re considering a puppy from a high-quality lineage or adopting from a rescue, the key to a rewarding relationship with a Rottweiler lies in understanding and meeting their physical, emotional, and health needs.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.