Long snout vs. short Snout? Does your Rottweiler have the “correct” nose length?

Three pictures of a Rottweiler with normal snout, a Rottweiler with a Short snout and a rottweiler with a long snout

Increasingly, we find a lot of confusion about the matter of long or short-nosed Rottweilers. The nose length, shape and size of the head, and even the correct ears are common hot topics among Rottweiler lovers. 

Now, there’s always room for some differences within a breed. Not all Rottweilers are bred for the show ring, so if your pet Rottie’s nose isn’t perfect according to the breed profile, it’s really no big deal.  And some people prefer a shorter nose or a great big head to a more modest, traditional Rottweiler. 

Even so, the fact that there are short-nosed (or “snub-nosed”) Rottweilers and long-nosed Rottweilers raises a bigger issue facing the breed. Breeding dogs to distorted proportions raise ethical questions about Rottweiler’s health and perhaps even the breed’s future. So let’s take a closer look at what Rottweiler lovers need to know about Rottweiler nose length.

What are the correct Rottweiler head and nose shapes?

The correct Rottweiler nose is neither long nor short. If you measure the length of a Rottweiler head from the back of the skull to the tip of the nose, the nose should be 40% of the length, and the skull should be 60%. This makes them a breed with a medium-length muzzle (mesocephalic). They are not brachycephalic (like Bulldogs), nor have long noses like Greyhounds (dolichocephalic).

Here is an example of how a correct Rottweiler nose might be measured:

A diagram of the correct facial proportions and snout length for a Rottweiler

We can see from this that the Rottweiler face is actually very balanced, everything is in proportion, and nothing should be too extreme, like a nose that is too short. In our article on the Rottweiler Breed Standard, we go more in-depth, looking at the specifications of the different dog clubs.

The snub-nosed Rottweiler and distorted Rottweiler heads

Despite the breed standards, more and more Rottweilers are being bred to exaggerated proportions and most breeders will agree that this is a problem facing the breed. Some Rotties are being bred to sizes far bigger than the breed standard recommends, but in this article, we need to focus on the trend of breeding Rotties to have short or “snub” noses.

Now, if your Rottweiler’s nose is a bit shorter or longer than it should be, well, honestly, who cares? The breed standard is mainly for the show ring and for ethical breeders who need to factor in a dog’s conformation (their body shape and build) when they decide to breed. 

Good conformation is also a bonus for a working Rottweiler, as it should help them with the physical demands of their work, and a dog with the correct build will hopefully be less prone to injury. But most of us will agree that a healthy dog, with a good temperament, is more important than perfect conformation (or perfect nose length) in a pet dog

After all, having a pretty dog is nice, but having a healthy dog that can do a job well (even if that job is only being a pet and companion) is better, in our opinion.

Of course, it is great that we have dedicated breeders committed to keeping the Rottweiler breed going according to the original breed standard. Without these breeders, the Rottweiler we know today would no longer exist. And we owe them an appreciation for that. 

But the key word here is health. Because at a point, some breeders began to breed dogs to exaggerated proportions in such a way that negatively affected their health. And this is where we need to warn against the “snub-nosed” Rottweiler or Rottweilers that are bred with increasingly short noses.

Dogs like the dog in this picture:

Plenty of people like the look of a dog with a giant head and short nose. We call the short-nosed breeds “brachycephalic,” Sadly, they are famous for a host of related health problems because their skull shape is so distorted. 

Health issues in short-nosed Rottweilers

When breeders start to breed dogs with skulls and noses similar to a Bulldog, many health problems crop up (an example is the Rottweiler mixed breed, the Bullweiler). These include

  • Respiratory issues that make it difficult for the dog to breathe. Dogs with very short noses can develop something called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, or BOAS. Structures in the dog’s throat start becoming airway obstructions. This can cause sleep apnea or just make breathing, on the whole, a constant struggle.
  • Dogs with short noses cannot cool down as effectively as those with long noses. This makes them very prone to overheating and heatstroke. This is worse in the Rottweiler, which is a mostly black dog that absorbs heat as is.
  • The larger the skull, the less likely it is that females can birth naturally. This makes it likely that puppies can only be born via c-section, putting the lives of both puppies and the mother at risk.
  • The short nose creates excessive skin folds around the face, leaving the Rottweiler prone to skin fold infections. Since Rotties already struggle with skin problems, this is another complication.
  • Sometimes, the skull shape becomes so distorted that the eyes bulge and protrude, making them vulnerable to injuries and corneal ulcers. Excess skin can also lead to eyelid deformities like entropion, where the lashes constantly irritate the dog’s eyes.
  • Pushed-in noses also create a deformed mouth shape, leading to more teeth-related issues like periodontitis. This, in turn, can lead to other health issues like diabetes or even organ failure.

This is far from a comprehensive list of health problems in short-nosed breeds. So, why would we try to make the Rottweiler brachycephalic? After all, the Rottweiler is still classified as a working dog. A working dog needs to be physically functional, able to breathe easily, cool down, and not suffer from deformities that cause suffering. 

Myths about Rottweilers with short or long snouts

Finally, we have come across some myths about Rottweilers and the lengths of their nose that we should dispel. Let’s have a look.

Myth no. 1. Rottweilers with long noses are not purebred

Sometimes, when Rotties have very long noses, it’s a sign that they are not purebred dogs. However, this is not always true. Genetics are fickle, and a breeder who has long-nosed dogs in their bloodline may sometimes have puppies that have noses that are a little too long to fit the breed standard. 

The same can happen with noses that are too short. It can be tricky always to get a dog with a completely correct snout length. However, if the nose is as long as a hound’s, a shepherd’s, or as short as a Bulldog, there is a strong likelihood the Rottweiler was mixed with another breed. 

Myth No. 2: Rottweilers with shorter snouts are more aggressive and make better guard dogs

The idea that Rottweilers with shorter snouts are more aggressive is simply untrue. This idea seems to be based on a study that shows that short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds are 79% more likely to be aggressive toward their owners. The problem is that most short-nosed breeds (Bullmastiffs, Bulldogs, etc.) trace their heritage back to fighting dogs, which likely has some role in their (sometimes) more aggressive demeanors. Others are small-breed dogs that are often more aggressive than larger breeds

A Rottweiler is neither a small breed nor do they have a fighting dog lineage. There is no reason that a Rottie bred to have a shorter snout should be any more aggressive than a normal Rottweiler unless the bloodline has an unstable temperament or the dog was crossed with a more aggressive breed.

There is also no reason they should make a better guard dog than a working Rottweiler that better fits the breed standard.

Final Thoughts

We love Rottweilers of all shapes and sizes, and every Rottie is beautiful, regardless of the length of their snout. That said, we always put the dog’s health first and must warn against breeding practices that could hurt the dog’s health, such as breeding dogs with extremely short snouts. Rottweilers are not meant to be brachycephalic dogs; we certainly don’t want them to suffer because of unethical breeding practices like exaggerated features. 

About Tamsin de la Harpe 17 Articles
Tamsin has worked extensively in dog behavior problems and is passionate about canine nutrition. She has worked with trainers who specialize in Shutzhund and protection training, and worked with many Rottweilers. Her passion for dogs shows in her writing and she loves sharing her knowledge with Rottie lovers!