Rottweiler headshot

Rottweiler headshot


Origin and brief history

The Rottweiler is widely regarded as one of the oldest breeds of dog with its ancestors first being used for guarding duties as far back as ancient Rome. It is likely that it is a descendant of ancient Roman drover dogs, a mastiff -type dog that was a dependable, rugged yet highly intelligent with guarding instincts. Due to the Rottweiler’s muscly build it was mainly used in herd protection and for guarding the supply stock at night. Around the year 74 A.D. the army crossed the alps into what is now southern Germany. For nearly two centuries the dogs were continually utilized in herding and driving cattle for trade even after the Romans were driven out .

A town in the region was given the name Rottweil. and was an important trade center and the descendants of the Roman dogs proved their worth = by driving the cattle to market as well as protecting them from wild animals and robbers. It is said the butchers would place their money pouches and tie them to the necks of the dogs, when they went to market. The dogs eventually came to be referred to as Rottweiler Metzgerhunds, or butcher dogs.

Although there was a dip in interest in the Rottweiler breed through the 1800’s during the early 20th century there was a resurgence and Rottweiler’s were in great demand as police dogs as well as being  deployed as guard dogs during both world war I and II.

In 1931 The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. In 1936 Rottweilers were exhibited in Britain at Crufts. In 1966 a separate register was opened for the breed. In the mid 90’s the popularity of this breed reached an all time high with it being the most registered dog by the AKC. In 2013 the breed was the 9th most popular breed in the U.S.

Specification of breed

Rottweiler breeders strive for a dog with abundant strength, black coats with defining rich tan markings, Their appearance is a powerful one with nobility. The Rottweiler is a well suited companion, service and working dog. This dog is about balance, endurance, proportionality, intelligence and strength.


Weight Male 50–60 kg (110–130 lb)
Female 35–48 kg (77–106 lb)
Height Male 61–69 cm (24–27 in)
Female 56–63 cm (22–25 in)
Coat Double coated, Short, hard and thick
Color Black and tan or black and mahogany
Litter size average 8 to 12 although larger litters are known
Life span 8–10 years




Skull is medium length, broad between the ears. The forehead line is moderately arched as viewed from the side, with the occipital bone well developed without being conspicuous. The stop is well defined. The Rottweiler nose is well developed, more broad than round, relatively large nostrils and always black. The muzzle should appear neither elongated nor shortened in relation to the cranial region. The nasal bridge is broad at the base and moderately tapered. The lips are black and close fitting with the corner of the mouth not visible. The gums should be as dark as possible. Both the upper and lower jaws are strong and broad. According to the FCI Standard Rottweilers should have strong and complete dentition (42 teeth) with scissor bite, the upper incisors closely overlapping the lower incisors. The zygomatic arches should be pronounced. The eyes should be of medium size, almond-shaped and dark brown in colour. The eyelids are close fitting. The ears are medium-sized, pendant, triangular, wide apart, and set high on the head. With the ears laid forward close to the head, the skull appears to be broadened. The skin on the head is tight fitting overall. When the dog is alert, the forehead may be slightly wrinkled.


The neck is strong, of fair length, well muscled, slightly arched, clean, free from throatiness.


Their back is straight, strong and firm. The loins are short, strong and deep. The croup is broad, of medium length, and slightly rounded, neither flat nor falling away. The chest is roomy, broad and deep (approximately 50% of the shoulder height) with a well-developed fore-chest and well sprung ribs. The flanks are not tucked up.


The tail was traditionally docked at the first or second joint or Natural Bob Tail (“stumpy”). However docking is now banned in many countries and this is reflected in the FCI Standard. It remains legal in others, notably the USA and New Zealand and this is reflected in the AKC and NZKC Standards.


When seen from the front, the front legs are straight and not placed close to each other. The forearm, seen from the side, stands straight and vertical. The slope of the shoulder blade is about 45 degrees. The shoulders are well laid back. The upper arm is close fitting to the body. The forearm is strongly developed and muscular. Pasterns are slightly springy, strong but not steep. The front feet are round, tight and well arched, the pads hard, nails are short, black and strong.

When seen from behind, the rear legs are straight and not too close together. When standing free, obtuse angles are formed between the dog’s upper thigh and the hip bone, the upper thigh and the lower thigh, and the lower thigh and metatarsal. The upper thigh is moderately long, broad and strongly muscled. The lower thigh is long, strongly and broadly muscled, sinewy. The hocks are sturdy, well angulated, not steep. The hind feet are slightly longer than the front feet. Toes are strong, arched, as tight as the front feet.


The traditional gait of a Rottweiler is a trot. This movement comes naturally to the Rottie and should appear as such. While walking, the Rottweiler’s legs, both front and hind, should move in a straight forward and backward manner. As with the straight movement of the legs, the path the Rottweiler moves in should also be straight. The Rottweiler’s gait is all about balance and effectiveness as the breed is still used as a herder today.


The coat consists of an outer coat and an undercoat. The outer coat is of medium length, coarse, dense and flat. The undercoat should be present on the neck and thighs. The undercoat must not show through the outer coat. Rottweilers living in hot climates may have acclimatised and may be missing the undercoat. Rottweiler coats tend to be low maintenance, although they experience heavy shedding before their seasons (females) or seasonally (males). According to American Kennel Club breed standards, a Rottweiler’s coat is short and straight. A coat that is long or wavy is considered a flaw to the AKC.

Color and markings

The color and markings of a Rottweiler are very distinctive. A Rottweiler is always, by any breed club standards, black with well-defined mahogany or rust-colored markings that do not take up more than ten percent of the dog’s body color. All Rottweilers standard to AKC specifications have one mahogany dot above each eye on the inner brow ridge, on the cheeks, one strip on each side of the snout; cheek markings do not cross over the bridge of the nose, the top of the nose should remain black. The markings on the face should move down onto the dog’s throat. On the chest, a Rottweiler will have two downward-facing triangular marks. On each front leg the marks will stretch from the forearm to the toes. On the hind legs, the markings will begin on the inside and move outward onto the stifle, then out onto the hock stretching to the toes as well. AKC standards recognize that the black base color is not completely voided on the rear pasterns. There is a patch of rust or mahogany underneath the tail that resembles a triangle as well. A thin strip of black should be present on each of the Rottweiler’s toes.


Technically a “medium / large” breed, according to the FCI standard the Rottweiler stands 61 to 69 cm (24 to 27 in) at the withers for males, 56 to 63 cm (22 to 25 in) for females, and the weight must be between 50 to 60 kg (110–132 lbs) for males and 35–48 kg (77–105 lbs) for females. Weight must be relative to height.


The Rottweiler is a large and muscly dog with weight topping out at 105 pounds for females and 132 pounds for males and their high reaching up to 27 inches, They have long forelegs with shorter hind legs and stand straight (often being described as standing proud) Their coats are short and made up from 2 layers although dogs living in high temperature have been known to lose the undercoat altogether.


Rottweiler coats need very little in the way of upkeep needing only a short brush every 2-3 days with the main focus being the removal of any old hair as this can cause matting and irritation in the dogs skin. This can be done each day if the owner wishes as a Rottweiler will shed a lot especially in hotter regions. As the breed can easily fall victim to skin infections it Is important to regularly check inside the ears for any sign of rash or redness.


Due to the dogs’ muscly and aggressive stance (as well as its use as a guard dog) there is the common misconception that these dogs are violent and dangerous. This could not be further from the truth as most Rottweiler’s are placid and non-aggressive. Having said this they are a very defensive breed with a want to protect its owners and family members and so can sometimes be more wary and aggressive towards strangers. They are very obedient and will follow commands very easily.

The American Kennel Club says it is:

“a calm, confident and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in its environment. It has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making them especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog.”

Buyer Beware

Rottweiler’s grow very rapidly with the most reaching full adult size by the end of the first year of life and as a larger dog should not be confined to small apartments or houses. Although there are very few medical conditions to worry about they are prone to cancer (which is one of the most common causes of early mortality in them) and Parvovirus although the latter is treatable. Rottweiler’s have a short lifespan of only 9-12 years and must be exercised often as they have been shown to reach obese sizes very quickly.


image credit and some excerpts:

“”Prince” (7369763074)” by Phil Sangwell from United Kingdom – “Prince”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


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