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10 surprising Rottweiler facts

Rottweiler facts: Rottweiler dog running through the park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Instantly recognizable thanks to its big head and solid black and tan body, the Rottweiler has a reputation as a very powerful guard dog, but as these Rottweiler facts prove, there’s more to this breed than meets the eye. 

While the Rottie, as it is lovingly known, is a strong, athletic breed with protective instincts, this pooch is also a gentle and sensitive soul. If well-trained they can make a wonderful addition to the family. This loyal dog is playful and affectionate, so it’s no surprise that the Rottweiler is ranked the eighth most popular dog in the US. 

1. This ancient breed is of Roman descent

It’s believed that the Rottweiler descended from the Roman drover dog, a strong mastiff-type breed that was used to pull carts, herd cattle and guard homes. They were later brought to Germany by the Roman armies. The Rottweiler gets its name from the town of Rottweil. This was originally a settlement near the Necker River in Germany called das Rot Wil (meaning red tile villa) where the armies settled around 74AD and where these herding dogs developed. 

2. They almost went extinct

During the mid 1800s and with the start of the Industrial Revolution the Rottweiler breed almost became redundant. Railroads meant a change in the way cattle were transported and there was no longer a need for the cattle herding dog. Fortunately, the breed was revived during the 1900s when they started being used as police and military dogs, partly because of their intelligence, but also because they’re fearless and dependable. They have grown in popularity ever since. 

3. They’ve got big appetites

If you own a Rottweiler then you know they love to eat, which is no surprise given their size - they stand at 24-27 inches at shoulder height and have a stocky build. Rottweilers can eat from 5-10 pounds of dog food a week so be prepared. Just make sure you don’t let them get overweight as they do tend to overeat if given the chance and obesity can cause problems for this breed.

4. They’ll go down in fiction

While you don’t see that many Rottweilers on film posters, the breed has been immortalised in fiction as big and loveable. The Good Dog Carl book series is a set of more than 20 children’s picture books by Alexandra Day that tell the story of a Rottweiler called Carl and a little girl called Madeleine who he takes care of. Films often depict the Rottweiler as a villain or aggressive guard dog, but the book highlights the silly side of everyone’s favourite babysitting dog. 

5. They have a powerful bite

While the Rottweiler can be gentle and playful, they do need to be trained properly as they are still powerful dogs. They have a very strong bite, exerting 328 psi (that’s more than a Pitbull, a German Shepherd and half the pressure of a shark bite). That’s one powerful jaw! They may show aggression with strangers or if they feel threatened but, if socialised when they are young, Rottweilers are friendly and affectionate. Just make sure they have one of the best dog chew toys for that bite (try the Kong Extreme).

Kong Extreme Dog Toy
This ultra-tough durable chew toy is perfect for the Rottweilers powerful jaw. Plus, it can be filled with treats to make playtime a bit more fun!

Portrait of two Rottweiler dogs in a field

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. They’re clumsy pups

If you’ve got anything fragile in your home you may want to tidy it away or at least out of reach as your Rottie is likely to run in to it, trip over it or knock it over. They tend to be quite clumsy and bump into things. For this reason it’s also not recommended to have them around younger children and elderly relatives who may get in their way and be unintentionally hurt. 

7. They’ll make eyes at you

Rottweilers love to make eye contact. As guard dogs, they naturally watch everything. When dogs are trained, eye contact is used not only to teach them obedience but to form a bond between human and pet. But while many dogs don’t like direct eye contact because it makes them feel threatened, Rottweilers are happy to stare you right in the eye showing they trust you. 

8. They’re indoor dogs

You may think the Rottweiler is an outdoor dog because of its size and temperament, but surprisingly they are mostly indoor dogs. You can keep them indoors as they won’t bark a lot and as long as they get enough exercise and play time they’ll be relatively well-behaved (just remember the clumsiness). If you leave them alone outdoors they’re more likely to become bored, destructive or even aggressive. This is one dog that wants to spend time with its family. 

9. They’re leaners 

This term is used for Rottweilers because they tend to lean into their humans to show affection. This comes from their ancestry as herding dogs. They’re using to herding so it’s natural for them to gently push themselves against you. They may be big dogs, weighing between 80-135 pounds, but they don’t care. The Rottweiler often thinks it’s a lap dog and will happily sit on you (or squash you) all day for cuddles. 

10. They’re intelligent dogs

Rottweilers are intelligent dogs and are easy to train if they have an experienced handler. According to a study by dog psychologist Dr Stanley Coren, they are the ninth most intelligent dog. A Rottweiler will obey a command the first time 95% of the time. It’s no surprise then that they were used as search and rescue dogs in the days after the 9/11 attacks. They’re not only brave and smart, but they have a great sense of smell. 

A celebrity favorite

While other dogs such as the Golden Retriever, Collie and St Bernard have become Hollywood stars, despite being in a number of films, the Rottweiler hasn’t made it big as an individual star. However, there are a number of celebrities that own Rottweilers including Will Smith, Leonardo Di Caprio and Robbie Williams. They may not be stars of the big screen yet, but these pups have the power to make anyone fall in love with them. Have you?

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.