Rottweiler Breed Highlights

A large brown and tan Rottweiler with his tongue sticking out sitting in the grass

  • You might hear this breed referred to as “Rotties” or “Rotts” by Rottweiler fanciers.

  • Rottweilers were part of the search and rescue efforts at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks.

  • The Rottweiler name comes from a German town called Rottweil. The town is known for its red tile roofs and commemorates the breed with statues and art displays through the streets.

  • Rotties have one of the strongest bite forces of all dog breeds, recorded at 328 pounds per square inch. That’s more than the German Shepherd and American Pitbull Terrier.

  • This breed is born with a naturally long tail, which many U.S. breeders dock shortly after birth. European Rottweilers, however, have a beautiful natural tail.

  • A Rottweiler’s undercoat is waterproof. Though they aren’t considered water dogs, many Rotts love to swim.

Unique Physical Features

Trupanion Dog Breed Guide - Rottweiler illustration

  • Distinctive brown markings on the face (especially those expressive eyebrows), chest, and legs.

  • Massive square head

  • Muscular build

Unique Personality

Trupanion Dog Breed Guide - Rottweiler illustration

The square-headed, powerful Rottweiler is known for its “cool dog” temperament. Confident, and generally aloof with people they don’t know, they’re the James Dean of dogs. Rotties bond deeply with their family and are courageous protectors and guard dogs — but they have a playful and affectionate side too. Despite their large size, they think themselves the perfect lapdog and will often finagle their way on top of you for a cuddle.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - high (tri-athlete)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

Rottweilers do well with children if introduced to kids as a puppy.

With Other Pets

Icon - cat and dog outline

This breed does well with other animals in the home with socialization and exposure from puppyhood.

Environment

Icon - outline of a house

The Rottweiler is a versatile athlete and was bred to work — this means they require exercise! They’re adaptable to a variety of homes, as long as they have an outlet for their energy. Unfortunately, the breed is banned in many areas, making ownership difficult without owning a home and securing special insurance.

Average Lifespan
(Range)

8 to 10 years

Average Size
(Range)

Large:

  • 80 - 130 pounds

Breed Group

Working

Similar Breeds

History of the Rottweiler

Four small black and tan Rottweiler puppies running through the grass

The Rottweiler is a descendant of ancient Roman mastiff-type dogs, helping to guard and herd the livestock that accompanied the legions marching through Europe. In the 1st century AD, some of these dogs stayed behind, in an area along the Neckar River in Germany, which eventually became the town of Rottweil — from which they got their breed name. The dogs became known as “the butchers’ dogs,” as they herded cattle and carted the butchered livestock to market. Butchers would also use Rotties as guard dogs, having them carry the bags of money collected from sales. A thief would think twice before trying to steal money from a Rottweiler!

Changes Over Time

The Rottweiler breed almost went extinct in the mid-1800s. This was the time of railroad proliferation, making the transport of livestock easier and lessening the need for drover and herding dogs. Luckily the breed was saved when people started training them to work as police dogs instead, a job in which they excel. Rottweilers were used extensively throughout both World Wars as military working dogs and gained popularity around the world.

U.S. History of the Rottweiler Over Time

The Rottweiler made its way to the United States in the early 1930s, with the American Kennel Club officially recognizing the breed in 1935. They ranked in the top 5 most popular breeds in the 1990s. It’s thought, the media stereotyping them as aggressive dogs knocked them out of the top 5 in the 2000s. They are currently the 8th most popular dog breed in the United States according to breed registrations. Rottweilers have served in many different working dog roles. They were one of the first breeds used as guide dogs for the blind and served in search-and-rescue roles for disasters such as the Oklahoma City Bombing and the World Trade Center collapse.

Rottweiler Behavior and Training

A Rottweiler is not a dog breed for everyone. They are powerful, intelligent dogs that were bred to be protective, independent, and courageous. It’s up to the human to manage their Rottie’s environment and set them up for success. Training your Rottweiler should begin when they are a puppy and continue throughout their life.

TRAINING MYTH

Many people describe the breed as needing a firm hand or an owner who asserts dominance. This is 100% false! Punishment or force-based training is not needed. Once a Rottie understands what you want, they are eager to please. Their motivation to work for reward is much higher than any motivation to avoid punishment. Rottweilers need clear, consistent and positive leadership. For this reason, consider carefully if this is something you are prepared and equipped to provide.

Plays Well with Others?

  • Proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy is essential for a Rottweiler’s socialization. Maintain this positive socialization for adult Rottweilers with new people and places. They can be territorial and protective of their family, so it’s essential to maintain positive associations with strangers.

TRAINER TIP

Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet so it doesn’t get overwhelming.


  • Rottweilers do well with children if they have been properly introduced and socialized as a puppy and beyond. They are known to form a deep bond with their family and act as guardians. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • Rottweilers can enjoy living with other animals in the home if socialized from puppyhood. Take care when introducing your well-socialized adult Rottie to other dogs and animals, as their size and energy can be overwhelming.
Graphic - bouncing red ball image

Exercise Requirements

Daily exercise helps keep a Rottweiler entertained and at a healthy weight. Bred to work, they will excel as a family dog as long as they have an outlet for their exercise needs. Rotties do best with at least an hour of exercise every day. Once fully grown, they can make excellent jogging companions and hiking partners.

Speak with your veterinarian about appropriate exercise for a Rottweiler puppy. Until they are full-grown (bone growth plates typically all close by around 18 months of age), minimize excessive strenuous or repetitive activities like jogging or running — as this can increase the risk of damage to the growing bone and cartilage, causing pain and future joint issues.


VETERINARIAN TIP

While a tired dog might be a good dog, puppy exercise shouldn’t be forced or “pushed” in any way. Follow your Rottie puppy’s lead in the amount of activity they are able to do. If they stop and sit down, it’s time for some rest and recovery. In some cases, they might try to “keep up” with an adult dog, so make sure not to let them push too far and over-exercise themselves.


The Rottweiler breed is at higher than average risk for hip dysplasia. Though many factors play into a particular dog’s risk level (including genetics, nutrition, and exercise), it’s important to discuss the prevalence of hip dysplasia in the line, with the breeder(s) you’re considering. You should also talk to your vet about having your puppy’s hips checked early. This is done with both a physical exam and radiographs (X-rays). The pain, mobility issues, and other negative symptoms of the condition can be minimized with proper diagnosis and surgical and/or medical management.

Mental Enrichment Needs

Mental enrichment is essential for a Rottweiler, as they are an intelligent breed and love to solve problems. Feeding regular meals with puzzle-bowls, providing interactive toys, and keeping their brain engaged with regular positive reinforcement training will go a long way in preventing unwanted behaviors. Giving your Rottweiler puppy lots of enrichment will prevent boredom and provide them with an outlet for chewing and other normal puppy behaviors.


Common Behavioral Issues

The Rottweiler breed is known to be incredibly smart and often described as “stubborn.” However, a Rottweiler is simply looking for their human to provide the “why” for performing a behavior.

They do best with a consistent and positive approach, as punishment-based training methods often result in fear, aggression, and increased stubbornness. Give them a good reason to do as you ask, with the right positive motivation and by building a strong bond, and they’ll be incredibly obedient and eager-to-please!

Fun Activities the Rottweiler Enjoys

Trupanion Dog Breed Guide - Rottweiler illustration

Rottweilers do well in many different activities:

  • Herding

  • Cart Pulling

  • Rally Obedience

  • Schutzhund

  • Therapy Work

  • Agility

  • Search and Rescue

  • Dock Diving

Rottweiler Coat Type

A Rottweiler has a thick double coat, with a shiny topcoat and waterproof undercoat. They have only one coat pattern, with black over most of the body and brown on the face (especially those expressive eyebrows), chest, and legs.

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 4 of 5 piles of fur

4 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Weekly Brushing
  • Seasonal

Rottweilers need a minimum of weekly brushing and occasional baths. While they do shed all year long, there is an increase in shedding twice a year, usually in the spring and fall, as their coat changes to prepare for warmer or colder weather.

Regular nail trimming is needed to keep nails at the proper length. Rottweilers have black nails, which can make it difficult to determine how much to clip without causing pain or bleeding. Nail grinding is a preferred trimming method for black nails.

Best Brush for a Rottweiler: Undercoat rake, pin brush

Famous Owners of the Rottweiler

  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor)

  • Bruno Mars (Singer)

  • Will Smith (Actor)

  • Hayden Panettiere (Actress)

  • Robbie Williams (Singer)

  • David Backes (Hockey Player)

  • Lonzo Ball (Basketball Player)

  • LaMelo Ball (Basketball Player)

  • Jahil Okafor (Basketball Player)

Rottweilers in Books, Movies and TV

  • Black Beauty Breed is a documentary all about Rotties


  • Ferris Bueller’s family dog who attacks Mr. Rooney

  • Uncle Eddie’s dog Snots in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

  • The unnamed “Hellhounds” from The Omen

  • Man’s Best Friend

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the Rottweiler Breed

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for Rottweilers. Every Rottweiler is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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dog-loving members say about Trupanion

Trupanion member Kelly

Kelly

Groton, CT

Condition: Sarcoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $18,522.39

"My golden Kelly was young when I found a softball-sized lump on Kelly’s left hind leg. Four weeks straight of radiation, six rounds of chemo and checkups every three months, including x-rays and full blood panel were needed. Because of Trupanion, I didn’t have to address the biggest deciding factor that most people face—can I afford this? I can honestly say Kelly is alive today because of the financial support Trupanion provided."

- Lori

Trupanion member Axl

Axl

Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

The Trupanion policy paid: $2,084.01

"At two, our German shepherd Axl was diagnosed with pneumonia. Trupanion took care of all our financial concerns. At four, his hip issues led to pain medications, rehabilitation and rest, which all resulted in improved pain-free movement. I’m so grateful that we chose a plan that not only covers the cost of his treatment but also any physical therapy or rehabilitation he may need."

- Nanette K.

Trupanion member Bella

Bella

Ellijay, GA

Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

The Trupanion policy paid: $15,283.83

"Bella was treated for Cushing’s disease and a pituitary tumor with radiation therapy. Had we not had insurance for her, the decision for her medical care would have been more difficult, as each treatment was expensive. However, because we have Trupanion, these decisions were easier. Rather, we could focus our attention on her treatment and recovery instead of the financial impact these procedures would have on our family."

- Jason P.

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