Rottweiler Breed Information & Temperament

Key takeaway

Rottweilers are great family pets, but they require extensive training and socialization. Therefore, they’re not the best option for first-time pet parents because they need a firm and patient trainer. However, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to ensure your dog is trained, this breed can become one of the smartest, most loving companions.

Rottweilers are known for their size and beautiful black and brown coats. They're large dogs that can grow up to 27 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 80 to 120 pounds or more.1 Originally drover dogs, they have tons of energy and love to play. Many people look at Rottweiler dogs and think they're dangerous because of their size and how they're portrayed in the media. However, Rottweilers are affectionate, loyal dogs who love to romp around in the yard and go on long walks. 

Rottweilers can grow up to 27 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 80 to 120 pounds or more

Unfortunately, this breed isn't recommended for first-time dog owners because they need proper training and socialization. However, if you have a yard for a Rottweiler to play in and can dedicate yourself to training and socialization when they're young, they can be a great pet for families with or without young children. This article will discuss everything you need to know about Rottweilers to determine whether or not they're the right pet for you and your family. Let's get started. 

History of Rottweilers 

Rottweiler dogs descended from ancient Roman mastiffs, which were used to drive cattle.1 Their breed began when the Romans invaded Germany with their dogs, which mated with different local dog breeds to produce the Rottweiler. Like their ancestors, this new breed was used to drive and protect cattle and livestock. 2 However, Rotties did much more than simply drive livestock; they guarded their owner's money around their necks.2 Rottweilers are an ancient working breed, which affects their temperament and personality. 

Eventually, Rottweilers fell out of favor because people no longer needed them to drive cattle or protect money; instead, people chose to breed smaller dogs that were easier to maintain due to their size. However, in the early 1900s, Rottweilers became popular working dogs again. This time, they worked as police dogs.2

Rottweilers were also instrumental in creating the Doberman Pinscher, a hybrid of the Rottweiler, smooth-haired German pinscher, and black and tan terrier.3 While many Rottweilers still work today, they enjoy a more plush lifestyle, being family dogs that lounge around and play in the yard.  

Rottweiler Temperament 

Rottweiler temperament isn't what you may think it is. This breed has a bad reputation because of how they're portrayed in movies and television. However, they're like any other dog; any dog can become aggressive or mean when they're not properly trained and socialized when they're young. However, due to the Rottweiler's size, they may appear more aggressive and frightening than a small chihuahua with the same temperament. Ultimately, the temperament of a dog depends on their upbringing and how they were trained. 

In general, the Rottweiler temperament is calm and obedient. They are happy dogs that can become unhappy depending on certain situations. For example, they may develop separation anxiety like any other dog. Rotties also grunt, which is not a type of growl; instead, it's just their way of communicating with you, even though it can be intimidating if you've never heard the sound before. 

Since they were bred to be guard dogs, they are cautious of others, so they may take time to warm up to strangers, but they are generally calm around new people and dogs on walks. 

Rottweiler Personality Traits 

A Rottweiler's temperament influences their personality. Again, a Rottweiler's traits depend on how they were raised. In general, Rottweilers are confident and courageous; they're playful and even silly at times and love spending time with their family. They're also loyal and one of the most intelligent dog breeds. Rottweilers have high intelligence and are easy to train because they're eager to please.1 

They're energetic but less energetic than other breeds, and they only bark to alert their pet parents of danger. However, because they were bred to be working dogs, they require mental stimulation in the form of a job or activity to be happy and healthy.1

Since Rottweiler dogs need mental and physical stimulation, they can become destructive when they don't have enough engaging activities. Destructive activities they may engage in are digging, barking, or eating the furniture, so it's always best to have an activity for them to do. In addition, since they're eager to please, they can get mental stimulation through training or learning to do a job to prevent boredom. 

In addition, Rottweilers used to be guard dogs, so they may seem mean when they actually may be protective. While they're not as open to strangers as some other breeds, they're full of love and sensitive to their pet parents' emotions, making them great companion dogs. Rottweilers are affectionate with family and do well with young children when introduced to them properly. They also do well with other dogs if they've been properly socialized. However, if a Rottweiler has not been properly socialized, they can become reactive toward other dogs and people. 

Rottweilers love to play and may bring you toys to play with them or ask to play with you more than other breeds of dogs, but that's because they're a working breed that needs something to do to stay happy and healthy. Also, they're naturally protective because they used to be guard dogs, so they might guard the home or their pet parents at certain times. 

List of Rottweiler personality traits

Some Rottweilers are aggressive, but it depends on their upbringing. When training a Rottweiler, you must be firm but patient. Since Rottweiler dogs are large, they can be hard to control on walks if they have leash reactivity that causes them to lunge or pull. Therefore, they're not ideal first-time pets because they require extensive training to prevent these situations and behaviors. 

Anyone who wants to be a Rottweiler pet parent must understand that a Rottweiler can become aggressive, so they must be prepared to train and socialize their dog early on. If you adopt an adult Rottweiler from a shelter, you should be aware of any history of aggression and be prepared to hire a dog trainer who can help curb the behaviors. Most cases of aggression are due to fear. Dogs can become aggressive towards certain people or other animals based on past experiences. For example, if a Rottie from a shelter had a male owner who abused them, they may have aggression towards males. 

Luckily, fear-based aggression is manageable and, in some cases, treatable, but it requires a skilled and patient pet parent willing to put in the work. Rottweilers are not naturally aggressive but may react to certain people, animals, or situations with aggression depending on how they were raised and treated by past owners. In most cases, though, with proper training, Rottweilers are aloof and calm around strangers and other dogs. 

Rottweiler Care & Health

Life expectancy of Rottweiler is 9-10 years

Tips For Caring For A Rottweiler 

Rottweilers are not ideal dogs for apartments because of their size and need for mental and physical stimulation, so they won't be happy sitting in a small home all day waiting for you to come home. It's recommended to have a yard for your Rottweiler to ensure they have enough space for play outside. If you don't have a yard, your Rottweiler will need at least one daily walk and activities to prevent boredom. Here's everything you need to know about caring for a Rottweiler: 

Health 

Rottweilers are generally in good health with a life expectancy of 9-10 years. However, like all dogs, they may be prone to certain health conditions. If you're buying your Rottweiler dog, avoid puppy mills and find a good breeder who has the dog tested for certain health conditions. Rottweilers are prone to the following conditions:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is inherited from the parents and occurs when the thigh bone doesn't fit correctly into the hip joint. This condition is fairly common in many dog breeds, but it can cause lameness and discomfort.4 Dogs with hip dysplasia may develop painful arthritis later in life. If you plan to get your dog from a breeder, ask them for clearance from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals to ensure both parents have been cleared.1 Unfortunately, if you adopt your dog from a shelter, they may not have any medical history on the dog, so it's something you should have checked yourself. 
  • Heart Defects: Rottweilers are prone to heart defects that can be fatal. Heart defects are hereditary and can be diagnosed by a veterinary cardiologist.4 
  • Cancer: Rottweilers are sometimes prone to cancer.1 Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that typically affects large dog breeds and can cause symptoms like lameness.4 The treatment for this type of cancer is usually amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, it's aggressive cancer, but the earlier it's diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis. 
  • Bloat: Rottweilers are at risk of bloat, also known as gastric dilation-volvulus(GDV).5 This condition is an emergency as the stomach fills with air and builds pressure in the stomach, hindering the blood from pumping back to the heart and ultimately sending the dog into shock.5 During bloat, the pancreas produces toxic hormones, which can stop the heart, causing death in most dogs without immediate treatment.5 Unfortunately, the cause of bloat is unknown, but it's most common in dogs with narrow chests that are tall rather than wide, especially large dog breeds.5 In addition, bloat has been associated with dogs that eat only one meal a day instead of two, so feeding your Rottweiler dog twice daily may prevent this dangerous health condition. 
  • Eye problems: Rottweilers are prone to eye problems, including entropion and ectropion. Entropion is when the eyelids roll inward, and the lashes rub on the eye, which can damage the cornea and cause painful ulcers. Meanwhile, ectropion occurs when the eyelids roll outwards, which may cause conjunctivitis. Both of these eye conditions are inherited.6
  • Obesity: Rottweilers are at risk of obesity when they don't get enough physical exercise. This breed is known to eat quickly, so it's common for pet parents to think their dogs are still hungry when they're really not. Rottweilers are also prone to hypothyroidism, which increases their risk of obesity and associated health problems. This condition occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of the hormone and can cause obesity and lack of energy.7 

Of course, not all Rottweiler dogs have any or all of these diseases, but they are something to consider to ensure you can adequately care for them. 

Rottweiler health risks

Exercise

Because Rottweilers are prone to hypothyroidism and obesity, they must have enough exercise. Additionally, since they're working dog breeds, they need both mental and physical stimulation to support their overall health and prevent boredom. 

Rotties like to swim, hike, and play with their pet parents. Since they're muscular and athletic, they must exercise daily or have regular jobs, such as herding or obedience training.1 Rottweilers can get easily bored and become destructive, especially after long periods of inactivity indoors. While your dog should live in your home with you, they still need ample time to run and play outside, so you should plan to spend at least an hour exercising them daily. 

Rottweilers can benefit from homes with fenced yards because it allows them to go outside to sniff and play independently. While these dogs are filled with energy, they also love snuggling up on the couch with their pet parents, but they still require adequate daily activity. Luckily, there are many things you can do with your Rottweiler to help them burn off energy, including walking or playing fetch. 

In addition, you should spend adequate time mentally exercising them. There are many ways to train your Rottie's mind, including scent training, obedience training, and obstacle courses. If you want your dog to play independently, you can invest in puzzles and treat dispensing toys. 

Training

Rottweiler dogs should begin training as soon as possible. While experienced pet parents may be able to train a Rottweiler on their own, most people should work with a dog trainer specializing in Rottweilers because they can display aggravated behavior when trained improperly. In addition, since full-grown Rottweilers can be difficult to control on walks, they must be thoroughly trained to obey your every command. 

Socialization is also essential at an early age to prevent reactivity to other dogs. The more comfortable your Rottweiler is around different types of dogs, the more relaxed they'll be when they see others on walks or at the park. These dogs are natural guard dogs, so they must be exposed to different people, places, and pets as soon as possible so they won't feel like they need to protect you everywhere you go. Socializing Rottweiler puppies, particularly before 6 weeks of age, is easier than full-grown adults because you can easily pick them up and remove them from scary situations when they're stressed.

Obedience training classes may benefit pet parents and their Rottweilers because you'll learn how to train your dog while allowing them to socialize with a variety of other dog breeds. 

Since they require extensive training, Rottweilers are not the right dog for everyone. If you're not prepared to take time out of your day to go to an obedience class or train them at home, they won't be able to get the training and socialization they need to be great family dogs. Also, of course, these dogs aren't naturally vicious, but they are naturally protective, which can lead to aggression when they're not trained properly. 

Nutrition

Dog nutrition directly influences their health. Since Rottweilers are prone to obesity and other weight-related health problems, they should eat high-quality dog food based on their age. Depending on your dog's weight, you may need to count their calories to prevent weight gain.1 You should also pay attention to the amount of treats you give them; Even though treats are a good training aid, giving them too many can lead to weight gain, especially if they're already filling up on their regular dog food. 

Since Rottweiler dogs are large, they should eat anywhere from 4-6 cups of kibble in two meals to prevent bloat. The exact portion size for your dog depends on their weight, so if you're unsure, you can check the back of the food bag or consult your vet for feeding instructions. Your vet may also recommend a special diet if your dog is overweight. 

Grooming

Rottweilers have short, coarse hair.1 However, they should still be groomed weekly and bathed regularly. This breed sheds throughout the year, so brushing them more often will reduce shedding around the house and on your clothes. In addition, they should have their teeth brushed regularly, even though they generally have healthy teeth. 

Rottweilers need their nails trimmed regularly, but how fast your dog's nails grow depends on their daily activities. Dogs that are more active and walk on pavement are more likely to wear their nails down than dogs that play in a yard and lounge around the house. If your dog's nails grow quickly, they may need to be trimmed weekly.1 

FAQs

Are Rottweilers good family dogs?

Rottweilers are generally good around children, especially when they're raised with them. However, they need training and socialization as soon as possible to ensure they're comfortable around children. Whenever Rottweilers meet dogs or children, they should be supervised because they're strong and can accidentally knock a child over by leaning against them. 

In most cases, Rottweilers are ideal for families with older children or no children because small children don't always know how to interact with dogs. Rottweilers are typically gentle but protective, so they may act if they feel like one of their humans is in danger. If you have children, teaching them how to interact with dogs from a young age is recommended to prevent potentially dangerous situations. For example, children should never wake a sleeping dog or pull on their ears or tail. 

Rottweilers typically do well with other pets when they're raised with them, but they may have issues with new pets you bring into the home. You should learn how to introduce dogs to one another properly. With the right training and socialization, any dog, especially a Rottweiler, can be a good family dog. 

Is a Rottweiler a good first dog?

Rottweilers are not recommended for first-time dog owners because they require tons of training and socialization. Since they're big and strong, Rottweilers must learn how to obey commands and follow their pet parents. In addition, training and socialization are necessary to prevent fear-based reactivity that could be potentially dangerous. 

Rottweilers are best for experienced dog parents who have trained dogs in the past and are willing to put in the time and energy to work with their dogs to teach them desirable behavior. 

What is the temperament of a Rottweiler? 

Rottweilers are confident and protective, but their temperament depends on their upbringing. For example, a dog raised by a pet parent who didn't train or socialize them can develop reactivity and undesirable behaviors. Meanwhile, a Rottie raised by a pet parent who ensured proper training and socialization from a young age is a loyal and loving dog. 

Young woman training Rottweiler while on a hike in the mountains

Final Notes

Rottweilers are confident, courageous, energetic, and loving. However, they require extensive training and socialization, so they're not suited for first-time dog owners. Instead, they require a firm but patient hand and a pet parent who is willing to make time to exercise, train, and socialize them. While Rottweilers are low-maintenance apart from their need for training and socialization, they require quality care through good nutrition and mental and physical stimulation. 

Want to learn how to be a better pet parent to your Rottweiler? Try Dutch's online vet care services to learn about nutrition and ensure your dog has access to pet care when they need it most. 

References

  1. Greenberg, Aurora. "Rottweiler Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rottweiler/.

  2. Reisen, Jan. “9 Things to Know about Rottweilers.” American Kennel Club, 22 June 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-rottweiler/.

  3. Kriss, Randa. “Doberman Pinscher Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/doberman-pinscher/.

  4. "Rottweiler." PDSA, https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/large-dogs/rottweiler.

  5. Grognet, Dr. Jeff. "Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs - What It Is and How It's Treated." American Kennel Club, 14 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/bloat-in-dogs/.

  6. "Health." THE ROTTWEILER CLUB, http://www.therottweilerclub.co.uk/health.html.

  7. Burke, Anna. "Thyroid Disease in Dogs." American Kennel Club, 19 Nov. 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/thyroid-disease-in-dogs/.