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Everything you need to know about Rottweilers

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Tamir Spiegel
24th Nov 2023
Loyal, protective and obedient. Rottweilers are known for their strength and dependability. Like German Shepherds, they’re smart, take cues well and are brave which makes them great working dogs in the military and police while show lines can be loving family pets.

Breed history

The Rottweiler’s lineage goes back to ancient Rome. They get their name from the town of Rottweil in southern Germany where 2000 years ago, they were working dogs used to herd cattle in the area. The breed's name "Rottweiler" means "Rottweil's dog" or "dog from Rottweil." Over the centuries, they became known for their strength and versatility, and their name became linked to the town.
In the 20th century, their working dog status grew beyond herding. Rottweilers were excellent guard dogs, police dogs, and even rescue dogs during both World Wars. 
While they share a common ancestry with ancient breeds, like the Roman Molossus dogs, the Rottweiler breed is considered a purebred with its own unique characteristics and breed standard. Rottweilers over the years have honed their protective instincts and can be wary of strangers. Their loyalty makes them great family pets when trained properly and socialised well.


Rottweilers are large dogs with a muscular physique. They have a short, dense coat that lies flat against their body. One of their most distinctive features is their face. They have a strong, square-shaped jaw and dark, almond-shaped eyes which gives them an intense, inquisitive look. A Rottweiler's legs are sturdy and straight, giving them a confident and regal stance. Some may have their tails docked but shouldn’t be happening in the UK as this is illegal under UK law. 

Rottweiler colours

There aren't many Rottweiler colours. Most have a two-toned coat which is striking and gives them their signature look. 
The majority of a Rottweiler's coat is black. They have distinctive rich, brown markings above their eyes, on their cheeks, on their legs, and beneath their tail. For some Rottweilers, this can be a lighter, tan shade.
The breed standard Rottweiler colours are:
  • Black and warm brown (mahogany)
  • Black and reddish-brown (rust)
  • Black and tan


Rottweilers are known for their predictable personalities. They’re loyal and dependable. Their history as herding dogs make them excellent guard dogs, and police or military dogs.
They have strong guarding instincts and can be vigilant and cautious around strangers and new dogs. It’s important to socialise them early and often around people and other dogs so they don’t become overly protective and uncomfortable in new, unfamiliar environments.
Rottweilers love to make their owners happy which makes them highly trainable. They’re intelligent, pick things up quickly and are great at learning cues. Because they’re smart dogs, they need mental stimulation that lets them solve problems and tackle new challenges to keep them busy.

Working lines vs show lines

Rottweilers from working lines can be used as working dogs for the police or military for example. If you’re curious about getting a Rottweiler as a loving pet or family dog, look specifically for ones from a show line. Always check lineage and the traits specific to each dog’s family line with a breeder.

How much exercise does a Rottweiler need? 

Rottweilers are active dogs and need a lot of exercise to stay happy, healthy and stimulated. They’re strong and agile dogs and need 1 to 2 hours of exercise every day. Like German Shepherds, Rottweilers love outdoor adventures but too much exercise too early can lead to joint problems like arthritis. Always ask a vet for advice on what exercise is safe for a Rottweiler for its age and size to avoid over-exercising them and causing joint damage.
Exercise doesn’t just have to be about physically tiring them out. Mental stimulation like agility training, puzzle toys and interactive games can keep your Rottweiler sharp. If you’re active and love being outdoors, a Rottweiler could be the perfect fitness buddy but if you’re looking for a pet that loves to snuggle on the couch instead, you might be better off with one of these breeds.

How to groom a Rottweiler

Rottweilers don't need a lot of grooming because they have a short coat that doesn’t shed too much. You'll only need to brush them once a week. You won't need to trim or clip their fur either.
Rottweilers can be prone to certain skin conditions, so whenever you brush or bath them is the perfect opportunity for you to check their skin. Look for any signs of hot spots, rashes, or other problems.
You should aim to bathe your Rottie every 1 to 3 months. This helps keep shedding down and to keep their skin and coat healthy. Unless they get really muddy, washing them more often can strip their coat of natural oils.
Keep an eye on your Rottweiler's claws and make sure they get trimmed monthly to stop them from growing too long. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, a professional groomer or your vet can help you.
Check their ears for dirt, wax buildup, or signs of infection. Use a damp cloth or ear-cleaning solution to gently clean the ear flaps and outer ear. But don’t ever put anything into their ear canal! You should also brush their teeth a few times a week to keep them clean and healthy.

Common Rottweiler health problems

Responsible breeding practices are important in reducing the number of inherited health problems Rottweilers can have. Look for a reputable breeder who screens for common health issues and focuses on breeding healthy dogs.

Joint problems

Two of the most common Rottweiler health problems are hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Elbow Dysplasia is when the joints don’t develop properly and it can lead to arthritis. Hip dysplasia is a debilitating condition where the hip joints lose proper alignment and become unstable. This can lead to a series of issues over time including pain, swelling, stiffness and even arthritis. If you’re getting a Rottweiler, make sure the breeder has screened the parent dogs for elbow and hip scores and puppies are not over-exercised.


Rottweilers can have Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), otherwise known as bloat. It's where the stomach twists and fills up with gas. This can be life-threatening. The only way to properly treat this is with emergency surgery. If you think your dog has bloat, you need to go to the vet as quickly as possible.

Heart problems

Rottweilers can be more likely to develop a heart condition called subaortic stenosis (SAS). This is where the passage leading out of the heart narrows. Symptoms can be heart murmurs, fainting, and even sudden death. Dogs should be screened before being bred to prevent passing on this potentially life-threatening condition.

Bone cancer and other cancers

Rottweilers have a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. This can spread quickly and is hard to treat. Rottweilers can also be at risk for other cancers like lymphoma, which affects the immune system. It can impact different parts of the immune system present throughout the entire body like lymph nodes, the spleen, bone marrow, and intestines.


Another common Rottweiler health problem is allergies. Symptoms can show up as chronic itchiness and skin irritations, or chronic stomach problems.

Eye problems 

Rotties are more likely to develop certain eye conditions like multi-ocular defects, multifocal retinal dysplasia, and persistent pupillary membrane. They can also develop entropion, a condition where the eyelid rolls inward. This can cause irritation where their eyelashes and fur rub the eye, and can damage the eye if it’s not treated.

Frequently asked questions about Rottweilers

Are Rottweilers dangerous or aggressive?

Rottweilers are not inherently dangerous or aggressive. They have a reputation for protectiveness because of their loyal nature, and it's important to remember they were bred to be guardians. But with proper training and socialisation, they can be well-behaved and loving pets just like any other dog.

Are Rottweilers good family dogs?

Rottweilers can make great family dogs when properly socialised. They’re loyal and protective, which makes them great companions. Kids should be supervised around any dog, but especially big and strong breeds like Rottweilers.

Do Rottweilers shed?

Yes, Rottweilers shed, but not as much as some other breeds. They shed a little throughout the year, but shed more when they change from their summer and winter coats. Regular brushing helps reduce shedding and keep their coat healthy.

How long do Rottweilers live?

The average Rottweiler lifespan is 9 to 10 years. This is sadly because big dogs tend to live shorter lives than small breeds. But if they’re looked after well with a healthy diet, and regular visits to the vet, they can live longer.

Are Rottweilers banned in the UK?

Nope, Rottweilers are not banned in the UK under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA). 

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