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Rottweiler vs German Shepherd: Can’t choose between these loyal gentle giants? Read this...

Five rottweilers running towards the camera, looking very happy
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re debating what breed of dog to get, Rottweiler vs German Shepherd, our handy guide will help you compare the two. Whether you decide on a Rottweiler or a German Shepherd, you’ll be choosing a loyal family dog and one of the best guard dog breeds as these are both loving, protective pooches. While both breeds have suffered from bad reputations and have been portrayed as violent dogs due to their intimidating stature, this couldn’t be further from the truth. They may both be powerful, fearless dogs with athletic builds, but they are both highly trainable and as long as they have confident owners to lead them and are socialised from a young age in a caring home, the Rottweiler and German Shepherd are easygoing, affectionate pups. It’s also for this reason they both make great service dogs and are good with kids. So, how are they different and which one is the dog for you? Let’s compare them…

A german shepherd standing in a garden

(Image credit: Getty)

German Shepherd 

Bred as a sheep herding dog, the German Shepherd is an intelligent, brave, confident dog eager to please its owner. Often used as police dogs, this working breed is easy to train as it is a fast learner and is motivated by praise and play. They have lots of energy so they will need more exercise – about two hours a day. They love to play, but are not as goofy as the Rottweiler. The breed comes in black and tan, blue, white and black colour variations. They live for around 7-10 years, but are generally healthy dogs.

Two rottweilers standing in a field

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Rottweiler

The Rottweiler was originally used by the Romans to pull carts, herd cattle and guard homes. This breed is a loyal and affectionate protector. Also used as police and service dogs, they love to work, but are more motivated by food than the German Shepherd. While they also have lots of energy, they don’t need as much exercise – about an hour a day. The Rottweiler is a good, loveable pup. Their short to medium double coat is generally always black and tan. They live around 9-10 years and are also quite healthy dogs.

Rottweiler vs German Shepherd: Size

The Rottweiler tends to be slightly taller and heavier than the German Shepherd in size. Rottweilers have a more square and stocky build, with males measuring around 24-27in (61-69cm) at shoulder height and females around 22-25in (56-63.5cm). Males weigh around 95-135lb (43-61.2kg) and females around 80-100lb (36.3-45.3kg). Male German Shepherds measure around 24-26in (61-66cm) at shoulder height and females around 22-24in (56-61cm). Males weigh around 65-90lb (29.5-40.8kg) and females around 50-70lb (22.7-31.7kg). Their bodies are longer and more athletic. 

Is a Rottweiler stronger than a German Shepherd?

Both the Rottweiler and German Shepherd are powerful dogs. The Rottweiler probably has a slight advantage when it comes to strength because it has a more muscular, heavier build and they were built for carrying and pulling weight, whereas the German Shepherd is more agile. 

In terms of the strongest bite, the Rottweiler wins with a bite force of 328psi vs the German Shepherd’s bite force of 238psi. However both breeds were bred to protect and should not show aggression if trained properly. 

Rottweiler vs German Shepherd: Intelligence

These two breeds are both intelligent. However the German Shepherd is considered the third smartest dog breed after the Border Collie and the Poodle in terms of work intelligence and obedience according to a study by canine psychologist Dr Stanley Coren. They can learn a new command after only five repetitions and will respond to a command first time 95% of the time. The Rottweiler ranked ninth on the list, showing that both breeds are smart but the German Shepherd learns more quickly. 

A german shepherd barking and looking aggressive

(Image credit: Getty)

Are German Shepherds more aggressive than Rottweilers?

According to a study on aggressive dogs 15% were German Shepherds and 5% were Rottweilers. However, any dog can become aggressive if not trained properly and this does not necessarily mean that German Shepherds are more aggressive as this breed is more common.

Although both breeds have a reputation for being aggressive, this is an unfair stereotype. While the German Shepherd’s sharp teeth and bark and the Rottweiler’s intimidating stature may look scary, these loveable pooches are not violent if well trained and socialised. 

Why do police use German Shepherds instead of Rottweilers?

German Shepherds make great police dogs. They’re not only intelligent, strong and agile, but they love to work hard and stay calm under pressure. Although Rottweilers are also smart and easy to train (and have also been used by the force), they are not as athletic and do not have the same endurance. They do have a keen sense of smell, but it is not as accurate as the German Shepherd’s sense of smell. Their strength is also a hindrance in police work as often when apprehending felons, more care and less strength is needed to reduce damage. 

Which dog should I get? German Shepherd or Rottweiler?

Whether you choose a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler will very much come down to your personality as well as theirs. They are very similar breeds and both will make loyal, loving protective family dogs. The German Shepherd will be slightly easier to train, but will need more exercise, whereas the Rottweiler will be a goofier companion and will eat more due to its size. Both are healthy dogs with a similar lifespan but look out for common health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia in both breeds and cardiac concerns with the Rottie. Their grooming needs are similar: if they have short coats, they’ll need brushing a few times a week, but long-haired German Shepherds will need more. Both are wonderful guard dogs and family pets so whichever choice you make, you’ll have a loving friend. 

Zara Gaspar
Zara is Editor on bookazines and covers a range of topics from cookery to travel and animals. Her latest first edition, What Your Dog Wants You To Know, is the ultimate guide to understanding your dog’s body language. 
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, she has over 8 years of experience in publishing inspiring children and adults about the wonders of the animal kingdom as well as teaching them about their pets. She also has over 5 years experience working with vets, wildlife experts and animal behaviourists in her comms roles for various animal charities. 
A keen animal lover, Zara can often be found researching her next wildlife destination to travel to. Having just moved into a bigger house she is currently looking at which dog and cats breed would suit her new family so she can fill her house with pets.