What Were Rottweilers Bred For? Original History, Jobs, and Role

Written by Alan
Updated: November 11, 2022
Image Credit nicolas.fontana/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:

  • Rottweilers were bred in Rottweil, Germany to be used for herding, guarding livestock and for protection.
  • It is important to introduce Rottweilers to children and other dogs when they are puppies so that they will adapt and become used to them.
  • Rottweilers are naturally energetic and require plenty of exercise. It is not recommended you adopt one of these athletic breeds if you live in an apartment.

Rottweilers originated from Rottweil, Germany, and are one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to the 2nd Century. It is believed that during the peak of the Roman Empire, Rottweilers were used as herding and driving dogs. These dogs were bred purely for the use of humans, especially for herding, guarding livestock, and protecting the cattlemen’s money. 

Later in history, during the first and second World Wars, policemen used Rottweilers as a guard, messenger, draught, and/or rescue dogs. 

Dog Foods For Rottweiler Puppies
Rottweiler puppy holding a bowl in his mouth.

Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

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Today, Rottweilers are less commonly used as hunting dogs, and there are other more favorable breeds. Unless a Rottie is specifically trained to hunt, it will not naturally have the instinct. This is due to the fact their sense of smell is not great, and they are impatient dogs. However, they do make good watch dogs! They are extremely loyal to their owner and because of this, they naturally will protect them.

Fact TypeValue
Preferred TemperatureCold climate
Shedability5 in spring and fall, 4 rest of the year
General health3
Size4
Energy Level5
Exercise needsHigh (>2 hours per day)
Friendly with other dogsModerate
Family and kid friendliness5
Trainability and obedience5
TemperamentObedient, good-natured, serious and alert
Yappiness and barkingLow
Tendency to chew4
Purebred cost to own$1500 +
Dog groupWorking
Used for huntingno
Intelligence5
Hypoallergenic (non shedding)no
Life span3
Female Weight80 lbs 
Female Weight100 lbs
Male Weight95 lbs
Male Weight135 lbs
Separation anxietyHigh – likely to suffer from separation anxiety
Fun factDuring the Roman empire times, Rottweilers guarded herds and the money of the cattlemen.

Rottweiler Introduction

Rottweilers are rather large, playful, and excitable dogs that are not recommended for first-time owners. They are a breed of working dog, which means they are intelligent, easy to train, and very headstrong. Like most working dogs, if a Rottweiler is left untrained, he or she may become vicious or a danger to other dogs. 

Rotties appear quite large and stocky. They shed a large amount of hair in the spring and fall, and then a moderate amount the rest of the year. They have big heads, with small ears and a square muzzle. Expect a lot of drool with these dogs!

rottweiler sitting, drooling
Rottweilers can drool a fair bit, so be prepared for that.

McCann Michelle/Shutterstock.com

The Different Types Of Rottweilers And Rottweiler Mixes.

Types of Rottweilers

  1. German Rottweiler
  2. American Rottweiler
  3. Roman Rottweiler

Rottweiler mixes

  1. Rottsky (Rottweiler x Siberian Husky)
  2. Shepweiler (Rottweiler x German Shepard)
  3. Golden Rottie (Golden Retriever x Rottweiler)
  4. Rottle (Poodle x Rottweiler)
  5. Weiler Dane (Rottweiler x Great Dane)
  6. Rotthound (Rottweiler x Basset Hound)
  7. Borderweiler (Border Collie x Rottweiler)
  8. Labrottie (Labrador x Rottweiler)
  9. Pitweiler (Pitbul x Rottweiler)
  10. Saint Weiler (Saint Bernard x Rottweiler)
  11. Rotterman (Rottweiler x Doberman)
  12. French Bullweiler (French Bulldog x Rottweiler)
  13. Mastweiler (Mastiff x Rottweiler)
  14. Boxweiler (Boxer x Rottweiler)
  15. Reagle (Beagle x Rottweiler)

Rottweiler Fun Fact!

Trains almost made Rottweilers extinct. This is because back before trains were invented, Rottweilers were the main form of transport for good. When the train was invented, people saw no purpose for Rottweilers anymore and stopped breeding them. Thankfully people came to their senses and realized these beautiful animals had more purpose than working on farms.

3 Pros And Cons Of Owning Rottweilers.

ProsCons
Excellent guard dogs.
Rottweilers are very protective of their owners and because of this, they make excellent guard dogs with correct training. 
You may experience some breed discrimination.
Rottweilers are generally stereotyped as large, aggressive dogs, however, this is not true. They have a very gentle and loyal temperament, but a lot of the time people do not see this side of them.
They love to exercise.
Rotties are extremely energetic and require up to two hours of exercise daily. If you are someone who lives an active lifestyle, Rottweilers are the perfect breed for you as they can act as a companion while you are out for your run or walk.
They suffer from separation anxiety.
Rottweilers are very clingy and attached to their owner, so if they are alone for long periods of time, they will suffer separation anxiety. They are extremely sensitive and require around-the-clock attention.
They are very intelligent dogs.
Rottweilers are very clever, and because of this, they can be easily trained and disciplined. They are very friendly towards children and other dogs, as they do not see them as a threat.
They are smelly and messy.
If you are considering adding a Rottweiler to your family, prepare yourself for the amount of hair and drool you will find everywhere. They also fart… a lot!

The Best Food For A Rottweiler

Obesity is very common in Rottweilers, so it is important to feed them high-quality food without empty calories. The fewer ingredients listed, the healthier and more nutritious the food. Aim to include 22 – 26% protein in their diet, from whole protein sources such as duck, chicken, or lamb. Active adult Rotties should consume about 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight. An active Rottie puppy should consume 800-1000 calories. If your dog is inactive, feed them ⅔ of these amounts. It is important to keep your dog fit so it can be around for a long time. Since Obesity can be an issue, it can be beneficial to feed your dog a low-fat diet as well, depending on their activity level.

That’s why we say that the best dog food for Rottweilers is Wellness CORE grain-free dry formula.

Best Holistic Food
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original
  • Made with optimal protein levels and calorie content
  • Expertly balanced to produce a complete diet
  • Contains omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, and probiotics
  • Non-GMO ingredients
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It includes omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health. Since it’s grain-free, it can also help if your dog has developed some allergies.

Rottweiler looking at food
Be sure to feed your Rottweiler a high-quality, protein-heavy diet, and minimize the empty calories.

Dmitriev Mikhail/Shutterstock.com

Size And Weight Of A Rottweiler

A Rottweiler is medium to large in size. An adult male will weigh between 90 and 135 lbs and will grow to a height of 24-27 inches. An adult female will weigh between 80 and 100 lbs and will grow to a height of 22-25 inches. Rottweilers are not fully grown until 2 – 3 years.

Height (male)24 – 27 inches
Height (female)22 – 25 inches
Weight (male)90 – 135 lbs
Height (female)80 – 100 lbs

Rottweiler Common Health Issues

Generally, Rottweilers are a healthy breed, however, like most dogs, especially purebred dogs, they have several health issues. These issues include:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Eye issues are very common in Rotties, especially PRA. PRA is when the photoreceptors in the back of the eye begin to fail, and eventually result in complete blindness. First, your Rottie will struggle with their night vision, and then they will struggle to see in the daylight, and eventually be blind. Unfortunately, there is currently no successful preventative or treatment for PRA in dogs.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is very common in large, heavy dogs. It is when the hip joint and thigh bone become separated and do not sit flush with each other. Signs your Rottie is suffering from hip dysplasia include reduced mobility, tenderness, and discomfort when walking. To prevent hip dysplasia, ensure your dog is at a healthy weight and include supplements in their diet such as antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as minerals.

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is when the left ventricle of the heart has difficulty pumping blood through the aorta (which pumps blood all around the body), and this results in the heart having to work twice as hard, exhausting the organ. There are no symptoms of aortic stenosis, which means your dog could have a heart attack and you were completely unaware of their conditions. However, some tests can be carried out such as an EKG and chest x-ray which can help catch the issue in time. It is recommended you get one of these tests performed on your Rottweiler yearly.

Cataracts

Cataracts are another common eye issue in Rottweilers. Cataracts are when a dog’s eyes turn a cloudy color, which prevents light from reaching the retina and results in blindness. Cataracts can be hereditary or caused by diabetes. 

Rottweiler carrying big tree limb in mouth
Rottweilers have a fiercely protective nature.

Mariya Kuzema/Shutterstock.com

Rottweilers Temperament

People misjudge Rottweilers and assume they have a vicious and unfriendly personality. Like every dog, if trained to be dangerous, they of course will be. But in general, they express gentle and kind-natured traits. They are very intelligent dogs, and because of this, they can be easily trained and disciplined. However, if left untrained or unsocialized, Rotties will adopt their own habits and rules, which may lead to aggressive behavior with other dogs. 

Rottweilers have extremely loyal personalities, which is important to keep in mind. It is important to introduce them to children and other dogs when they are puppies so that they will adapt and become used to them.

Rottweilers require a lot of time and attention. They cannot be left alone for too long or they will suffer from separation anxiety. They are also ‘leaners’, which means when they greet you, they will most likely lean their body against you hoping for some attention.

How To Take Care Of A Rottweiler

Rottweilers are not a breed for first-time dog owners. They require a lot of maintenance and training.

Maintenance and Grooming.

Rotties have a short, shiny coat that requires some attention to maintain that shiny, healthy look. It is recommended to brush your Rottweiler once a day with a rubber curry brush, as this type of brush gently removes and collects any loose hairs that are shedding. You should bathe your Rottie 4-6 times a year (depending on how muddy your dog is) with a specific dog shampoo. And finally, you should brush their teeth once a week to prevent any dental issues.

Training

Rottweilers require extensive training from a young age to ensure they will be safe and trustworthy around other animals and people. Due to their extreme intelligence, it isn’t too difficult to train them, however, it still requires time and dedication. Rotties do have a slight stubbornness to them, so it is important to nip this in the bud as a puppy!

Exercise

Rotties are full of energy, and to expel some of this energy, they must be given up to two hours of exercise daily. All forms of exercise are great for rottweilers, but especially when playing fetch, as they can be continuously running, and you get to relax while they do so! If you have a large backyard, this is perfect for a Rottie, as they are free to run and tire themself out. It is not recommended you adopt one of these energetic breeds if you live in an apartment.

Rottweiler Puppies

On average, a Rottweiler litter can have between 6 and 12 puppies. These puppies will have bursts of energy, and then need some rest to reboot their batteries! Two or three 20-minute walks each day is enough for a Rottweiler puppy.

It is important to begin training these puppies from a young age. Encourage good behavior with rewards.

rottweiler puppy
Rottweiler puppies should be walked 2-3 times a day, for 20 minutes each time.

otsphoto/Shutterstock.com

Rottweilers And Children

Rottweilers are excellent family pets, especially with children. They are very protective, and also gentle which makes them ideal for a household with kids. They are very patient animals, which is an important trait for a dog to have around young children.

Dog Breeds Similar To Rottweilers

Some breeds that are similar to Rottweilers include the Doberman Pinscher, Cane Corsi, and Bullmastiff.

Doberman Pinscher 

The Doberman Pinscher is similar to a Rottweiler in looks and personality. They are the same height and color, but a lot leaner than a Rottie. They are also full of beans and are a great family dog.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is an extremely loyal guard dog. He will protect his family at any cost! They have the same size and frame as a Rottie and are just as intelligent as one.

Bullmastiff

A Bullmastiff is an excellent alternative to a Rottweiler if you do not have as much free time to exercise them. Bullmastiffs are an extremely lazy breed, however, they are also very protective of their family.

Popular Names For Rottweilers

  • Bear
  • Rocky
  • Thor
  • Millie
  • Titan
  • Freya
  • Riley
  • Teddy
  • Roxy
  • Duke

Famous Rottweilers

Rotties are a very popular breed in the US due to their gentle nature and protective traits. Here are some famous Rottweilers that appeared on TV or are owned by celebrities:

  1. An unnamed Rottweiler appears in the movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, towards the end of the movie when Ferris’ principal attempts to break into his house, but is greeted by an overprotective Rottie.
  2. The movie ‘The Omen’ which was released in 1976, is a horror movie that features many Rottweilers. In this movie, the devil gives a young boy a Rottweiler for protection.
  3. Geronimo – owned by Bruno Mars
  4. Indo, Tyson, Zhaki, and Gracie – four Rotties owned by Will Smith

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does a purebred Rottweiler cost?

A purebred can cost anywhere between $800 and $4000, depending on the dog’s family tree.

What is the life expectancy of a Rottweiler?

8 – 10 years.

Are they good with other animals?

If a Rottweiler is raised as a puppy with other pets, then it should be fine. However, if you are bringing a new animal into the life of an adult Rottie, then make sure to introduce it very slowly and never leave them alone together.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rottweiler
  2. AKC, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rottweiler/