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Rottweiler or Rottie

The Rottweiler or Rottie is a “tough guy with a heart of gold”. He’s easy to train, loyal and protective, strong, yet gentle; aloof and dignified with strangers and playful and loving to his family. 


The Rottweiler developed from the Molossus dog of Italy, a Mastiff-type dog bred to fight lions in Roman amphitheatres and also served the army in its campaigns. They travelled with the conquerors, driving and protecting cattle that fed the warriors and dogs often stayed behind as the armies pressed on, breeding with the local canines and producing working dogs suited to particular occupations.

The Romans established the town of Arae Flaviae later renamed Rottweil. Cattlemen used the descendants of the Roman dogs to bring the herds to the butcher for sale and to guard their purses of money on the way home, and the butchers in turn used the dogs to pull the carts carrying the meat. 

Eventually, donkeys replaced Rottweilers as city cart draft animals and since dogs were valued more for the work they did than the companionship they provided, Rottweilers declined in numbers; in 1900, only a single Rottie was recorded in all of Rottweil.

The breed’s resurgence began a few years into the 20th Century when Rotties were recognised as potential police dogs for their intelligence, loyalty, and strength. In more recent years, German-bred dogs have achieved a level of attention as more Rottie owners get involved in Schutzhund or protection work with their dogs.


The Rottweiler is a large dog, slightly longer than it is tall with a large frame balanced by a deep, broad chest and heavy muscling. Rotties are always black with clearly delineated rust or mahogany markings over the eyes, on the side of the muzzle, and on throat, chest, and lower legs. 

Traditionally tail docking was performed when the puppies were newly born within days but this practice has now thankfully been outlawed in Australia.

The Rottie coat is smooth and short with an undercoat present on the neck and thighs. Wavy or curly coats are faulted and long coats are disqualifications for breeding and the show ring.

The Rottweiler in motion is a picture of power and stamina with strong reach in front and forceful drive in the rear. A well-conditioned Rottie is a superb athlete.

  • Height: Males 61-68cm; Females 56-63cm
  • Weight: 42-50 Kg
For the full breed standard, please visit the ANKC website.


It is in breed temperament that the Rottie is often misjudged. A well-bred Rottweiler is calm, confident, and courageous with an inherent aloofness towards strangers and a reserved attitude in new situations. Combined with his fierce devotion to home and family, these characteristics can be subverted from their original purpose by poor breeding practices, lack of socialisation, and failure to teach basic good manners.

Rottweilers are territorial and will not permit strangers onto their property or in their home unless their owner welcomes the person. Some Rottweilers will not even let people they know into the house if the owner isn’t there, which can be a problem if you need to have a pet sitter or some other person come in while you are gone.

If the dog does not accept examination by the owner or by anyone chosen by the owner, such as a veterinarian, without either shrinking away or becoming aggressive, the dog does not exhibit acceptable Rottweiler character.

Rottweiler owners without a strong grasp of the breed’s nature can find themselves in trouble if the dog has been badly bred or assumes leadership of the family.


To be blunt, the Rottweiler is not a dog for everyone. Like all other breeds with strong natures, it has become a target for those who would ban dogs by breed rather than individual temper. Failure to train a dog appropriately can result in individual tragedy and in prohibition of the entire breed in a community.

Like Akitas, Dobermans, Malamutes, and other strong-willed breeds, Rotties must be trained to obey and respect the humans in its family. Training classes, where the puppy can become accustomed to new situations and to other people and dogs, are ideal, but private training is acceptable if accompanied by additional efforts to socialise the animal. 
Daily use of basic commands (sit, stay, down, come, and stand) as well as training to walk on a leash without pulling are essential to building a partnership with the dog.

Rottweilers should never be banished to the backyard, whether confined to a kennel run, allowed free-range of a fenced yard. Like other guardian breeds such as Akitas, Chow Chows, Dobermans, and German Shepherds, Rotties left to their own devices can become very territorial, particularly if they do not get enough human interaction or if they are teased or tormented by neighbourhood children or other dogs. Invisible fences are not suitable for guardian breeds as they do not prevent intruders from entering the property or keep the dog in if he really wants out.

Rotties put on weight easily and need at least a 40-minute walk daily, plus mental stimulation in the form of training and puzzle toys to keep their bodies and minds in shape. Even five minutes of practicing obedience skills in the backyard will give the Rottie a feeling of accomplishment. Rotties thrive when they have work to do, whether it’s obedience training, competitive protection work, agility, therapy dog work, or herding.


Rottweilers are one of the breeds most affected by Hip Dysplasia, a genetic deformity in which the head of the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. This condition can range from mild to severe. Severe cases are extremely painful and often require surgery to correct. Even with the surgery, the dog is likely to develop arthritis as he ages. Elbow Dysplasia and osteochondrosis (OCD) – a bone and cartilage problem – can also occur in this breed.

Rottweilers can develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, eyelid deformities, and other vision and eye problems.

Rottweilers can develop heart problems, including cardiomyopathy and subaortic stenosis (SAS), a narrowing of the aorta that carries blood away from the heart. This usually shows up first as a slight heart murmur, but murmurs can often occur in puppies who have no heart problems as adults. SAS can lead to sudden death, even at a young age, so have your dog’s heart checked regularly.

Rotties are also more susceptible than many breeds to canine bloat, a condition in which the stomach can turn and block, causing a build-up of gas. Unless treated very quickly, bloat can be fatal.

Hip and elbow dysplasia are genetically carried malformations. Retinal problems are inherited, as is the tendency to bloat.

Rottweilers are sensitive to high temperatures. Never leave any dog outdoors on a hot day without access to shade and an unlimited supply of fresh water.


The Rottweiler has what’s called a double coat. The medium-length outer coat is straight, coarse and dense, lying flat on the body. The soft, downy undercoat is present on the neck and thighs, and its thickness depends on whether you live in a cool or warm climate.

The Rottweiler’s coat sheds moderately and requires little grooming. Brush him weekly with a rubber hound mitt or soft bristle brush to keep the hair and skin healthy. In spring and fall, he will have a heavy shed, known as “blowing out” the coat and will need to be brushed more frequently to get rid of all the loose hair.
With the gentle dog shampoos available now, you can bathe your Rottie weekly without harming his coat or only when he gets dirty.

Clean the ears as needed with a solution recommended by your veterinarian. Wipe out the ear with a cotton ball, never going deeper than the first knuckle of your finger.

Trim the nails regularly, usually every couple of weeks. They should never be so long that they click on the floor. And don't forget to brush the teeth frequently with a specific pet toothpaste.


Not recommended for first-time owners, the Rottweiler needs extensive and continuous socialisation to be a good family companion. Rottweilers are often very protective of their children and should be supervised when with a group of children.

For more information on the breed, please visit the following

Rottweiler Club of NSW
Rottweiler Club of QLD

Rottweiler Club of Victoria Inc.
Rottweiler Club of SA

If you’d like to re-home a Rottweiler, you can contact your local Club or Rottweiler Rescue of WA Inc. 


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