Rottweiler vs. Great Dane: 8 Key Differences

Written by Ashley Day
Updated: October 8, 2023
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The Rottweiler and the Great Dane are two distinct breeds with many differentiating factors. This article delves into the key differences between the Rottweiler and the Great Dane. All of this encompasses what sets these exceptional dogs apart, from their appearance to their temperaments, origins, social needs, and health factors.

Amazing cute blue great dane

Great Danes are a regal breed originating from Germany around the 16th century. They were originally bred as catch dogs for hunting purposes in addition to serving as luxury dogs for royalty.


8 Key Differences Between the Rottweiler and Great Dane

FactorRottweilerGreat Dane
Height22 to 27 inches28 to 32 inches
Weight80 to 135 pounds110 to 175 pounds
Coat TypeRottweilers have short, dense, and straight coats. Their coat sheds a moderate amount and is relatively easy to groom.Great Danes have a short coat, but it is smooth and sleek in texture. Their coat is low-maintenance and easy to care for.
ColorsThey have a distinctive coat color pattern. Their primary coat color is black, with clearly defined rust, tan, or mahogany-colored markings on the cheeks, legs, chest, and eyebrows.They come in a variety of coat colors, including black, white, fawn, blue, harlequin, and mantle, to name a handful.
TemperamentRottweilers are known for their loyalty, confidence, and protective nature. They are generally friendly with strangers and are affectionate and devoted to their families.Great Danes have a warm and gentle temperament. They are affectionate in nature and are generally good with children and other pets.
Social NeedsRottweilers are social dogs that have moderate energy levels and a need for mental stimulation. They benefit from regular interaction with other people and animals, in addition to love and affection from their owners.Great Danes are also exceptionally social. They have high energy levels and a need for mental stimulation. They also thrive on companionship and enjoy being around people. This breed may suffer from separation anxiety.
Life ExpectancyRottweilers live between 9 to 10 years.Great Danes typically live around 7 to 10 years.
Health ProblemsRottweilers are prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, heart problems, and certain types of cancers.Great Danes are susceptible to bloat (GVD), heart issues, hip dysplasia, and certain genetic conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy.
Stunning proud Adult pedigree male Rottweiler sitting and laying grass posing for a photograph, taken at eye level with studio lights on the lawn looking inquisitive, ready to protect

Rottweilers are incredibly loyal and protective of their families, yet they are also playful and friendly.

©Phillip van Zyl/

Comparing the Rottweiler and Great Dane

In the world of canine companions, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane stand large and tall, each with unique qualities.

Origins of the Rottweiler

The rottweiler, known for its strength and steadfast loyalty, hails from an ancient lineage with roots that date back to Roman times. Tracing its origins to the region of Rottweil, Germany, the breed’s ancestors were companions and protectors of cattle herds and defenders of their owners and property. These courageous canines, known as “drover dogs” or “Butcher’s dogs,” played a crucial role in driving and guarding cattle.

Over the years, these skilled canines continued to serve their human counterparts as indispensable working dogs. Over time, their prowess extended beyond herding and guarding to other tasks such as cart-pulling and protecting their masters’ assets. The Rottweiler’s adaptability, intelligence, and tenacity solidified their place as a versatile and dependable breed.

Origins of the Great Dane

In stark contrast to the Rottweiler’s humble origins, the Great Dane’s history is shrouded in aristocracy and grandeur. The breed’s roots are also in Germany and began to develop in the 16th century. Great Danes were bred as regal hunting dogs hunting bear, boar, and deer at princely courts. They served as the catch dog in hunting pursuits. As the catch dog, they would seize the wild game after the initial hunting dogs brought it down and hold it in place until the huntsman could kill it. With the evolution of firearms, these dogs began to dwindle on the hunting field. After that, they were mainly kept as a dog of hobby and luxury.

It was in the 19th century that the Great Dane, as we know it today, began to take definable shape. During this time, these large and noble dogs were given the name “Deutsche Dogge,” which translates to “German Mastiff.”

Overview of Origin Differences Between the Rottweiler and Great Dane

As the centuries passed, both the Rottweiler and the Great Dane continued to evolve and gain popularity across similar regions. The Rottweiler’s reputation as a capable working dog spread, and by 1931, it was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The breed standard emphasized the Rottweiler’s distinctive black coat, rust-colored markings, and unwavering loyalty.

Similarly, the Great Dane underwent breed standardization by the AKC in 1887. Organizations centered around the breed established guidelines for the breed, aiming to maintain breeding standards, including its unique features, such as its striking appearance, noble bearing, and gentle temperament. The breed standard ensured that the Great Dane’s conformation remained true to its storied past while embracing its modern role as a companion dog.

In the modern era, both the Rottweiler and the Great Dane have garnered international recognition and widespread popularity. They have transcended their origins and become cherished pets, valued working dogs, and devoted family members across the globe.

best big dog - Great Dane

Great Danes require consistent mental stimulation and exercise to remain happy and healthy. However, due to their large size, they are prone to joint issues, so caution should be had around their exercise routine.

©Claire Plumridge/

Appearances of the Rottweiler and Great Dane

The Rottweiler and the Great Dane are two distinct breeds, each with a captivating appearance. They greatly differ in height, weight, and coat colors.


The Rottweiler and the Great Dane stand at opposite ends of the size spectrum. The Rottweiler, renowned for its sturdy build and imposing presence, typically reaches a height of 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder. In contrast, the Great Dane reigns as one of the tallest dog breeds, towering between 28 to 32 inches at the shoulder. Their exceptional height commands attention and admiration wherever they go.


With their substantial frames, both breeds impress with their heft, yet they diverge significantly in weight. The muscular Rottweiler boasts a robust mass, weighing between 80 to 135 pounds. Conversely, the Great Dane’s grandeur takes center stage, weighing 110 to 175 pounds.

Coat Type

Rather than difference, both breeds share a similar coat type. They both flaunt short coats that exude sleekness and ease of care. However, their coat textures are subtly different. The Rottweiler’s coat is dense, straight, and flat against its body, providing protection and resilience against the elements. This low-maintenance coat helps the Rottweiler thrive in various weather conditions, making it an excellent working companion.

On the other hand, the Great Dane showcases an equally short coat but is notably smoother in texture. This silky feel complements the Great Dane’s elegant appearance, and its coat is admired for its velvety touch. Both breeds’ coats require regular grooming to keep them looking their best and to minimize shedding.

Coat Colors

As for coat colors, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane sport strikingly different appearances. The Rottweiler’s signature coat features a consistent pattern with a few color combinations. They include black and rust, black and tan, as well as black and mahogany. The primary coat color is jet black, adorned with distinctive rust-colored markings on the cheeks, legs, chest, and eyebrows. It is a distinct coat pattern that is iconic to the breed.

Conversely, the Great Dane dazzles with a wide array of coat colors that add to its charm. The many coat colors and patterns include black, black and white, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin, mantle, merle, white, blue and white, blue brindle, chocolate, chocolate & white, chocolate brindle, silver, mantle merle, and merlequin. The Great Dane presents an artist’s palette of possibilities. With its striking white base and irregular black patches, the harlequin coat stands out as a particularly unique and eye-catching variant.

Overview of Appearance Differences Between the Rottweiler and Great Dane

When it comes to appearances, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane emerge as distinct subjects of contrast. The Rottweiler’s powerful frame and striking coat pattern are iconic to the breed. Meanwhile, the Great Dane’s regal height, elegant coat textures, and impressive range of coat colors showcase its grand lineage and appeal as a gentle giant.

young rottweiler running on the beach in spring

Rottweilers are one of the oldest breeds of dogs. They originate from Germany during the Roman era and were bred as driving and guarding dogs of cattle, in addition to protecting their owners and owner’s property.


Social Characteristics of the Rottweiler

The Rottweiler, renowned for its loyalty and confidence, exudes an air of self-assurance and determination. These sturdy and courageous dogs are known for their protective instincts, making them natural guardians of their families and properties. With a watchful eye and an innate sense of responsibility, Rottweilers are ever-vigilant, making them exceptional watchdogs. These dogs are friendly, playful, and lovable characters. They are respectfully reserved with strangers yet also cordial. Their devotion to their family runs deep. Early socialization and positive training are crucial in nurturing a well-rounded and obedient Rottweiler.

Their natural protectiveness makes early socialization vital to expose the Rottweiler to various people, animals, places, and experiences. By doing so, owners can help instill a well-mannered and confident demeanor, minimizing potential behavioral issues and encouraging friendliness.

Given their distinct sizes and temperaments, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane differ in their exercise needs and energy levels. Rottweilers are active and agile dogs requiring regular physical activity to maintain health. They also require plentiful mental stimulation. Engaging in daily walks, play sessions, and interactive training exercises or toys can help channel their energy positively and prevent boredom-related behaviors.

Social Characteristics of the Great Dane

On the other end of the spectrum lies the Great Dane, a gentle giant with a heart of gold. Despite their imposing size, these regal canines are known for their affectionate and friendly nature. Great Danes are amiable and patient, making them ideal companions for children and other pets. Their calm and laid-back demeanor makes them great additions to families seeking a large, gentle, and loving four-legged member. Proper training is essential to ensure excellent manners and self-control balance their enormous size.

The Great Dane is naturally a social butterfly, relishing interactions with people and other animals. Their friendly disposition makes them naturally inclined to seek out companionship and affection. Great Danes often form deep bonds with their human families. They may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. Regular social interaction and spending quality time with their owners are essential for their emotional well-being.

While the Great Dane enjoys moderate exercise, their massive size makes them more prone to joint issues and fatigue. Owners should be mindful not to overexert these gentle giants, especially during their growth stages. Moderate exercise and ample rest with comfortable lounging options ensure that the Great Dane remains happy and healthy. Mental stimulation is another factor to consider with this breed, as they need plenty of it, similar to the Rottweiler.

Overview of Social Characteristic Differences Between the Rottweiler and Great Dane

The Rottweiler and the Great Dane differ on many accounts. But they also share endearing social characteristics such as friendliness and loving nature. While both breeds thrive on companionship, and their social needs can manifest in different ways. Overall, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane stand apart with their distinct personalities, each offering a particular set of characteristics that endear them to their human families.

The Rottweiler’s loyalty, protectiveness, and self-assuredness make it a powerful guardian and beloved companion. Early socialization plays a crucial role in shaping a well-mannered and confident Rottweiler. Meanwhile, the Great Dane captivates with its gentle and friendly nature, winning hearts with its amiable disposition. Their social needs emphasize the importance of companionship and regular interaction with their families, other people, and animals to maintain their emotional well-being.

Great Dane black dog on the beach at sunset

Great Danes are a large breed of dog, averaging 28 to 32 inches high, though they have been known to grow taller. In addition, they weigh 110 to 175 pounds on average.

©Jose Arcos Aguilar/

Health Factors of the Rottweiler

The Rottweiler, with its robust and sturdy constitution, has a lifespan of 9 to 10 years on average. This life expectancy places it within the range of many medium to large-sized breeds.

For Rottweilers, some of the prevalent health concerns include the following.

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket, leading to pain and mobility issues.

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a condition that affects the elbow joint and can cause lameness and discomfort. Rottweilers may be prone to certain heart conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. Furthermore, Rottweilers are at higher risk for certain types of cancers, such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and lymphoma.

Health Factors of the Great Dane

Conversely, the Great Dane’s colossal size places some strain on its body, impacting its life expectancy. These gentle giants tend to have a shorter lifespan, generally ranging from 7 to 10 years. While some Great Danes may live beyond 10 years with proper care, their size, and specific health challenges may contribute to a slightly shorter life span compared to other breeds.

Great Danes are also more susceptible to large dogs’ specific health challenges. They include the following.

Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists, cutting off the blood supply. Bloat can be fatal and requires immediate veterinary attention. Like Rottweilers, Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia, leading to joint pain and mobility issues. Heart problems, like dilated cardiomyopathy, are also a concern for Great Danes, as it affects their heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently. Given their massive size, Great Danes may experience joint and bone issues when compared to the average dog. Joint and bone issues can include osteochondrosis (a disorder affecting the development of bones and cartilage) and arthritis.

Overview of Health Factor Differences Between the Rottweiler and Great Dane

Finally, as we wrap up health factors, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane have their unique health considerations. Both the Rottweiler and the Great Dane are susceptible to specific health issues. However, they differ in the types of conditions that commonly affect them. They also differ slightly in life expectancy.

The Rottweiler’s breeding and body type grants it a slightly longer life expectancy on average. At the same time, the Great Dane’s towering size impacts its lifespan, leading to a somewhat shorter average. Both breeds require regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and adequate exercise to maintain their well-being.

In terms of health concerns, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane share some common challenges, such as hip dysplasia and heart problems. However, their specific genetic predispositions to certain conditions highlight the importance of breed-specific health care and early detection.

Furthermore, as responsible guardians of these exceptional dogs, understanding their distinct health factors allows us to provide the care and support they need to lead long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

beautiful big dog breed Rottweiler for a walk autumn

Rottweilers live an average of 9 to 10 years, which is more than the Great Dane’s life expectancy but less than the average moderately-sized dog.


What Breed is a Rottweiler Great Dane Mix?

Known as a Weiler Dane, this breed of dog combines the height of a Great Dane and the muscular bulk of the Rottweiler, these mixed-bred dogs at first glance seem intimidating due to their physical size but they are a very sweet breed. They are suitable for all households, due to their mellow and sweet personalities, and their love for children, but they are rather large and require space to move around.

In appearance, the Weiler Dane more closely resembles the Rottweiler, with reddish-brown and black coloring but occasionally it can be found in brown colors. With a broad chest, a long tail, and ears that are long and floppy, this dog may exhibit traits from both parents and in spite of its size, prefers to cuddle with their owners.


In conclusion, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane emerge as powerful yet elegant breeds, each with a distinct set of characteristics that sets them apart.

Considering appearances, the Rottweiler stands as a hardy and muscular dog, showcasing a pattern of a striking black base coat with rust-colored markings. In contrast, the Great Dane reigns as one of the tallest dog breeds, exuding grace with its sleek and smooth coat that comes in various colors.

Delving into their personalities, the Rottweiler epitomizes loyalty and protection, while the Great Dane exudes gentleness and amiability. Both breeds thrive on companionship. As with any breed, both breeds require early socialization for a confident and well-mannered demeanor. Both breeds form deep bonds with their family members and require regular interactions with other animals and humans to maintain proper social upkeep.

When it comes to health factors, the Rottweiler generally enjoys a longer life expectancy. At the same time, the Great Dane’s large size may contribute to a slightly shorter lifespan. Each breed faces its own set of common health and genetic issues, emphasizing the need for breed-specific health care and regular veterinary check-ups.

Differences aside, the Rottweiler and the Great Dane shine as noble companions, bringing love into households with their remarkable traits and endearing personalities.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © verky01/

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About the Author

Ashley is a writer for A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on wildlife, nature conservation, the environment, and pets. As a writer and wildlife photographer, Ashley has been writing, photographing, and researching about animals and the environment for over eight years. Ashley is a resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys being out in nature, hiking, and scouring local bookshops. Insatiably curious and drawn to knowledge, she has a passion for sharing the wonder of the natural world with others.

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