Breed Group:
Working Dogs

Middle Age: 4 years

Geriatric Age: 7 years

Life Span: 8 to 11 years

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Rottweiler Background & History

Often referred to as Rotties or Rotts, the Rottweiler breed descended from a mastiff-type of dog called the Molussus. The Romans brought the Molussus with them as they marched into Germany and used their strength to drive cattle. As they passed from town to town, the Molussus mated with local dogs – laying the foundation for new breeds. Rottweilers played an important role in the development and breeding of the Doberman Pinscher much later on.

One such location was Southern Germany – where Romans set up colonies and built villas with red tile roofs. These bright red roofs inspired the new town name, das Rote Wil (the red tile), which in turn, inspired the name of the Rottweiler dog breed.

Rottweilers have always been working dogs. Throughout the years, Rotties were used by butchers and cattlemen to drive cattle into town for butchering as well as pulling heavy carts full of meat. However, with the advent of rail transport, came the decline in cattle driving – causing the Rottweiler breed to become nearly extinct. In fact, only one Rottweiler was present at a dog show that took place in Germany in 1882.

However, things began to change when the Rottweiler & Leonberger Club was founded in 1901 and the first breed standard was written. The Rottweiler first came to America in the late 1920s and was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1931.

Rottweiler Temperament & Personality

Calmness, confidence, and loyalty are Rottweiler personality traits that make them excellent companions. While most Rotties take a little while to warm up to people, once they have determined that you are worthy of their affection, they shower you with love and devotion. In fact, most Rottweiler owners report that their dog doesn’t fully understand how big they are – constantly wanting to cuddle on the couch or bed.

In general, Rottweilers are not highly excitable dogs. Rottweiler temperament tends to be composed and self-assured. However, there are a few notable differences between male and female Rotties. Male Rottweilers tend to be more quiet and watchful than their female counterparts who oftentimes have a more affectionate personality.

Training a Rottweiler

Despite their sometimes stubborn and self-assured behavior, Rotties are highly trainable dogs that make for dignified companions. However, it is important to note that training must start early and be reinforced often. Therefore, this breed is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t have time to dedicate to consistent training and socialization.

Training your Rottweiler starts with earning their respect. If you react with anger or physical punishment during the process of training Rottweiler behavior, your dog will disregard you as a leader and assume the role himself. Therefore, you must remain confident and firm throughout the training process, setting clear rules and boundaries.

As with any dog, training should begin early. Consider enrolling your Rottie in a puppy class in order to teach them basic commands and start socializing them with other dogs and people. Because Rottweilers are naturally wary of strangers, it is important that you introduce them to a variety of new people, places, and experiences at an early age.

Rottweiler Exercise Requirements

Rotties are large dogs that require a moderate amount of exercise each day to maintain good health and an even temperament. Take your Rottweiler out for a few 10 to 20 minute walks each day as well as allow for an hour of running time.

If your Rottweiler does not have ample time to burn off energy during the day, they will expend their pent up energy chewing up toys and furniture or digging holes in your yard. Rotties enjoy having a job to do. Therefore, they enjoy agility exercises, hiking, and playing with balls and other toys.

Not all Rottweilers are extremely active. In fact, many Rottie owners report that their dog prefers to lounge on the couch all day and has no desire to go outside and exercise. While it may be easy to give in and let your dog nap on the couch all day, it is important that you take them out a few times a day in order to prevent obesity, which can lead to a variety of different health problems.

Rottweiler Life Span & Longevity

A Rottweiler life span typically ranges anywhere from 8 to 11 years.

How popular is the Rottweiler breed?

Despite almost going extinct in the late 1800s, the Rottweiler breed is extremely popular today – ranking 17th most popular among the 155 AKC registered breeds. However, the height of the Rottweiler’s popularity occurred in the mid-1990s when more than 100,000 Rottweiler dogs were registered with the American Kennel Club.

Rottweiler Feeding Recommendations

If you have a puppy Rottweiler, you should be feeding them several times a day. The younger your Rottie, the smaller and more frequent these meals should be. However, as they grow older, you should slowly wean them onto larger, less frequent meals.

It is recommended that you feed your adult Rottie four to ten cups of high-quality food each day. This portion should be divided into two meals that are administered at designated meal times as opposed to allowing the food to sit out all day.

Of course, it is important to take into account that each dog is different. More active Rotties will require more food per day than a Rottie who spends the majority of their day lounging on the couch.

When looking for appropriate dog food for your Rottweiler, look for food that contains meat as the first ingredient and stay away from foods that list grains, by-products, or meat meal as the first ingredient.

Grooming Your Rottweiler

Rottweilers have a short, straight double coat with black and brown markings. Their markings are very distinct and appear on the eyes, cheeks, either side of the muzzle, chest, legs, and beneath the tail.

Because Rottie’s have a coarse coat, it is important that you set up routine care and brush them on a weekly basis using a firm bristle brush. This will help to remove any dead hair as well as distribute your dog’s skin oils. However, it is important to note that Rottweilers shed twice a year, which means that you may need to brush them more frequently during these times in order to keep the loose hair under control.

Bathe your Rottweiler as needed. It is recommended that you bathe your dog once a month in order to keep their coat soft and smelling nice. Brushing your Rottie’s teeth at least two or three times a week is especially important in order to remove tartar buildup and prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Make sure that you start grooming your Rottweiler as a puppy so that they grow accustomed to you handling their paws, looking inside their mouth and ears, and brushing their coat. Grooming should be a positive experience for both of you!

Are Rottweilers good with children?

Rottweilers are typically very well behaved around children, especially when they are raised with them. As mentioned before, Rotties are extremely loyal to their family and are great companions for people of all ages.

However, Rottweilers are big and strong and sometimes don’t realize how large they are. Therefore, it is important to always supervise young children when they are with your Rottie. Rottweilers have a tendency to lean and push, due to their heritage as cattle drivers, and can easily knock down a small toddler on accident. They also like to chase kids who are running.

Because of their size and strength, Rottweilers are most appropriate for homes with older children who understand how to interact with dogs.

Rottweiler Health Issues

Rottweilers are typically healthy dogs. However, just like all dog breeds, they are prone to specific health problems. Some of these health concerns include:

Hip Dysplasia: Rottweiler hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease of the hip that occurs when then the thighbone doesn’t fit tightly into the hip joint, resulting in arthritis from the joint rubbing and grinding rather than sliding smoothly. Hip dysplasia tends to occur most commonly in large dog breeds, so hip dysplasia in Rottweilers is more common. However, it can also be brought on by environmental factors such as rapid growth spurts or injuries incurred from jumping or falling.

Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia is a condition noted by malformation of the elbow joint – causing severe elbow pain and lameness. Elbow dysplasia is a hereditary condition that occurs most frequently in larger dog breeds like Rottweilers. Elbow dysplasia in Rottweilers is typically noticeable by pet owners when they start to see symptoms around four to ten months of age.

Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that typically affects large or giant breeds, such as Rotties. Pet owners typically report signs such as swelling, lameness, bone or joint pain.

Bloat or Torsion: Because Rottweilers are large, deep-chested dogs, they are prone to bloat or torsion, a life-threatening condition that generally occurs in older dogs. Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes distended with gas or air then twists. When this occurs, the dog is unable to rid their stomach of the excess air and the normal blood flow to the heart is impeded. When this happens, the dog’s blood pressure drops and they go into shock. Signs of bloat in Rottweilers include a distended abdomen, excessive drooling, and retching without throwing up.

Panosteitis: Sometimes referred to as growing pains, panosteitis is a condition that generally affects large dog breeds such as Rottweilers. Panosteitis typically presents itself in Rottie puppies when they are four months old.

Aortic Stenosis: This is a condition where the left ventricle has difficulty passing the blood through the aorta. The aorta is crucial in pumping blood throughout the dog’s body, so any blockage of flow causes the heart to work overtime to compensate. This added stress on the heart can sometimes lead to a heart attack. It’s encouraged to watch for this during their puppy as early detection can spot any heart murmurs and reduce the risk of future heart disease. Consult your vet for more information.

Rottweilers like many other dog breeds are prone to different health concerns. With that being said, preventative measures such as pet health insurance are helpful should any medical issues arise. This is especially important if you have an older dog who is more susceptible to health problems. Regardless if your Rottie is a puppy or an old pup, it is important to establish routine care with a veterinarian to keep up with your pet’s health and make sure you don’t miss anything.

Additional Resources