Rottweiler Facts

Many times Rottweiler ‘facts’ are learned from newspapers, TV shows, and the next-door neighbor – not the best way to get accurate information!

Rottweilers are one of those breeds that have a ‘reputation’, and the perception many people have of them isn’t even close to the reality.

Years spent owning, training, and loving these amazing dogs have taught me a lot about them. I hope these Rottweiler facts will help you to get a feel for the real Rottweiler because he/she is definitely worth getting to know!

Rottweiler Facts – History & Origins

Although the Rottweiler breed we recognize today originated in Germany in the early part of the 20th century, it has a history that goes much further back and crosses Europe.

There is no documented history for the very early beginnings of the Rottweiler, but it’s believed to have been descended from the dogs that traveled across Europe with the Roman army.

These early dogs are usually described as being of ‘mastiff type’ and probably bear only a passing resemblance to today’s Rottie.

The name ‘Rottweiler’ comes from the name of a town in Germany, Rottweil, which was built on the site of Roman baths. The red tiles that were excavated there gave the town its name – ‘das Rot Wil’ which translates as the red tile’.

These early ancestors of today’s dogs were working dogs and were usually used for droving cattle or protecting people and property.

The first official Breed Standard for the Rottweiler was compiled in 1901.

Rottweilers - a German breed

The first Rottweiler Breed Clubs were formed in 1907, in Heidelberg, Germany. This town is now often referred to as the ‘true birthplace of the Rottweiler’.

The first Rottweiler was imported from Germany into the USA in 1928, and into the UK in 1936.

The breed had a surge in popularity during the 1980s and ’90s and reached Number 4 on the AKC List of Popular Breeds in 1998. Then (as so often happens when a breed becomes a ‘fad’) there was a slump.

ln 2008 the Rottie placed at Number 14, but since then its’ star has been on the rise again. In 2011 the Rottweiler was at #10, and 2012 figures show it at #9.


Rottweiler Facts – Breed Standard & Character

Although a very early breed standard was written by Albert Kull in 1883, the official Rottweiler Breed Standard was established in 1921 and has remained largely unchanged since then.

Today many people think of the Rottweiler breed as a ‘giant breed’ and some breeders strive (unwisely in my opinion) to breed extra-large dogs.

However, the Rottweiler Breed Standard usually describes them as being a ‘medium to large-sized dog’.

Rottweiler physical traits

A male Rottie should measure between 24 and 27 inches (at the shoulder), and a female between 22 and 23 inches. Weight should fall somewhere between 75 and 130 lbs. Females being toward the lower end of the range.

Of course, these figures are not always the same for every Rottweiler since all dogs are individuals. It is possible to find females that weigh more and are taller than males, even within the same litter, although most males will be taller and weigh more than females.

Rottweiler Coat Color

The coat should be black, with tan, rust, or mahogany ‘points’. It’s a double coat, strong coarse topcoat which is black, often with a grey or red undercoat. Black lips, gums, and paw pads, and nails. Dark brown eyes.

Occasionally a purebred ‘Red Rottweiler’ can be produced but they’re rare. Click here to find out more about why this happens and what it means.

Rottweiler Temperament

The Rottweiler temperament isn’t that of an aggressive, vicious dog (as so many people mistakenly believe).

The breed standard calls for a ‘calm, confident and courageous dog’, and some of the words I would use to describe my Rotties are….. brave, strong, intelligent, reserved, hardworking, devoted, loyal, goofy (need I say more?)

To get a good idea of what a well-bred Rottweiler looks like, check out my Rottweiler Breed Standard page.

It compares excerpts from both the AKC (USA) and ADRK (German) Breed Standards, and really helps to paint a picture of the perfect Rottweiler!

Rottweiler Facts – Health

Although Rotties are big strong dogs, like any other breed they have their weaknesses and a predisposition to certain problems. Here are some of the more common rottweiler facts in terms of health conditions ……

  • Hip Dysplasia & Elbow Dysplasia – improperly formed joints that can cause lameness in varying degrees.
  • Heart Disease – Sub Aortic stenosis is the most common form of heart problem seen in Rottweilers and can lead to canine congestive heart failure.
  • Rupture Of The Cruciate Ligament – Tearing of the ligaments in the rear legs. Causes instability and lameness.
  • Canine Bloat (also known as Torsion or Gastric Dilation & Volvulation or GDV) – When the stomach fills with gas and distends rapidly then twists abnormally.
  • Entropion – The eyelid turns inwards irritating the surface of the eye.
  • Skin Irritations & Canine Allergies.
  • Cancer – Particularly Bone Cancer
  • Demodectic Mange – Parasitic disease, causing skin irritation and hair loss.
  • Highly predisposed to Canine Parvovirus – A very virulent and serious viral illness which usually (but not always) affects puppies and can kill within 24 hours.

Rottweiler life span is on the shorter end of the scale, partly because of their size and partly because of the health problems this breed is predisposed to.

The average life expectancy of a Rottweiler is currently only 9 (human) years.


Did You Know?

Here are some interesting facts about Rottweilers that you might not have heard before…

  • The very earliest Rottweiler standard allowed various coat colors including red, blue, grey, and ‘tiger striped’. White markings were also common. (Learn about these coat colors today on my Rare Rottweilers page)
  • Rottweilers are slow to mature and aren’t usually considered adults until around 2 years of age. (I have a male who didn’t reach his full adult size until he was almost 3!).
  • The average life expectancy for a Rottweiler is somewhere between 7 and 10 years.
  • Many Rotties ‘talk’. It’s a low, grumbling sort of sound – not to be confused with growling. I love it when mine do this, and it seems to me that it’s a bit like a cat purring!
  • Rottweilers shed – A LOT! They may have a short coat that looks like it’s wash-n-wear, but don’t let that fool you. You’ll need to groom your Rottie regularly and loose dog hair will become a part of your life.
  • The Rottweiler tendency to lean against people is a throw-back to the days when they were cattle drovers. They used to lean against the cattle to get them to move in a particular direction.
  • Between the 12th and 29th Centuries, the Rottweiler was also known as the ‘Metzgerhund’ or ‘Butchers Dog’ as he was used to protect the Butchers’ money on trips to and from markets.
  • Rotties are working dogs, and they’re happiest when they have a job to do. Some activities that your dog can excel at include obedience, tracking, carting, and Schutzhund (a mixture of advanced obedience, protection, and tracking.
  • Rottweilers make great service dogs and many of them work as Police, Search & Rescue, Customs, Guides, or Therapy dogs.


Note: The word ‘Rottweiler’ is a tricky one, and it is often spelled wrongly! Some common mis-spellings are ‘Rottweiller, Rottweiler, Rottwiler or Rotweiler’.

When you’re looking for information on this breed, take extra care when typing in the search terms. The correct spelling will help a lot!

Fun Facts About Rottweilers

  • In the past, Rottweilers were known as Butcher’s dogs. Rottweilers originated from Germany and were used as guard dogs for Butcher’s and their money on their way to and from the market. Rottweilers were also used as cattle herders, and this hardworking nature is still in their traits.
  • Rottweilers are very intelligent and smart dogs that are also goofy and will keep you entertained with their silly antics.
  • Rotties enjoy being lapdogs despite their big sizes. These dogs enjoy spending time with their owners a lot and will gladly cuddle or sit on their owners’ laps.
  • They almost went extinct. In the past, farmers used Rotties to transport their goods from place to place, but as civilization came, people stopped using them and used other means of transportation like trains instead. They stopped breeding Rotties, but after a while, kennel clubs brought about breeding the dogs again.
  • These animals are classified based on the countries in which they are born, and so we have German, American, Serbian, European, and other Rottweilers.

Final Thoughts

Often misunderstood and misrepresented, Rottweilers have a proud history that stretches back to the Romans. The modern recognizable breed has its roots in being a herding and working dog, and the fine qualities of the Rottweiler still make it a breed of choice for service dogs. While their large size might make them intimidating, their good-natured temperament makes them excellent family dogs. I think you’ll agree after reading this article that Rotties are fascinating and beautiful dogs, and their traits are in stark contrast to the way they are painted in popular culture, so lets start getting the right information out there so people really understand these dogs for what they are.



About The Rotty lover 2159 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone