Rottweiler breed: from butcher’s dog to loyal family member

László Enikő, 2023. July 25 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The Rottweiler is a robust, hard-working dog, who has stolen his way into people's hearts with his extraordinary strength and loyalty. A very energetic, tenacious breed, he is recommended for experienced, confident owners, as he is not for just anyone.


This powerful, confident and active breed needs a determined owner like him. It is important that he knows the limits. He is extremely smart and intelligent, so with the right training he can be taught quickly and easily as a puppy. Once this is done, you will have a reliable, ever loyal and protective companion who will soon become your best friend. The Rottweiler is very friendly and affectionate with his family and is always ready to protect them if necessary. He is always alert, even when he dozes off on the couch.


The ancestors of the Rottweiler are known to have been bred by the ancient Romans, and were used for herding and guarding. During their conquests, the Romans also took their Rottweiler ancestors with them to guard and herd their livestock on the road. As the army marched, their dogs mated with local dogs, establishing new breeds in the areas they passed through. This is how the Rottweiler later developed in the 1900s, in Rottweil, an important centre of the German pet trade, from which it takes its name. The word also refers to one of the town’s distinctive features, its red tiled roofs. In southern Germany, mastiffs were crossed with sheepdogs to produce the so-called butcher dogs. These dogs guarded and herded cattle until they reached the market or slaughterhouse from the pasture.

Rottweiler statue in Rottweil.

During the trip, the Rottweiler also proved to be very effective against thieves. Butchers and merchants often hung their wallets full of money around the dogs’ necks, knowing that no one would try to steal it from there. The method worked very well, and robbers and highwaymen were not likely to challenge the cunning, robust guard dog. These dogs, and their ancestors, have historically travelled great distances while constantly vigilant in guarding the animals and valuables entrusted to them. They not only herded and guarded, but also tenaciously pulled carts loaded with meat for long miles. With the advent of the railways and the spread of vehicles, the original work of the Rottweiler was no longer needed, and the breed’s population suffered greatly at first. So much so that in 1882, only one specimen appeared at a German dog show. But thanks to its enthusiastic fans, the former butcher dog grew into a service dog.

Conscious breeding began in 1901, when they founded their first association, the Rottweiler and Leonberg Club, and their standard. Before that time, the Rottweiler existed in three different sizes, but later the single breed was created by excluding the smaller, weaker individuals. Nowadays, in North America, the Rottweiler is slightly lighter-boned and less robust than, for example, the German Hounds. The first Rottweiler arrived in Hungary in 1974. Nowadays, they are used worldwide as service dogs, for example in customs and finance, and also as police and border guard dogs.

The Rottweiler is also a popular breed among celebrities. Will Smith is also a fan of the breed.

Breed standard

The Rottweiler is a large breed of dog belonging to the Molosser section. It has both a powerful and noble appearance, not heavy and not too light in build. Its proportioned, slightly elongated body indicates great strength and agility. Head of medium length, broad. Lips and nose black. Eyes almond-shaped, medium in size and deep brown. The eyes are intelligent and attentive. Ears preferably small, triangular and splayed. Teeth strong and powerful. Neck well muscled, moderately long. Chest deep, with well developed angles, back straight, strong and firm. Tail horizontal, may be drooping at rest. Movement is firm and confident, the Rottweiler is characterised by a walking gait.

Its coat is composed of guard hair and undercoat, medium long, straight, dense and coarse. Its colour is black, well defined, with rich reddish brown markings on the muzzle, above the eyes, around the masseter muscles, on the underside of the neck, on the chest, on the limbs and under the tail. Height at the withers 55-68 cm, depending on sex, and body weight about 40-50 kg. Life expectancy is 8-10 years.


At first glance, the Rottweiler is a strong, tenacious, hardy dog who knows no fear. That’s true, but when you befriend one, you’ll get to know its softer side. He is extremely loving and protective of his owners, his family. He is reserved or distrustful of strangers. Because of his tendency to be dominant, it is very important that his owner gives him an early and firm training.

Early education and socialisation is important for all breeds.

One of the most intelligent breeds, it learns quickly and easily. Although the Rottweiler can be a really friendly dog, in the wrong hands he can often be the boss. That’s why it’s not for everyone. It’s worth making sure that he has an extremely strong jaw, and because of his bite, you should only get him heavy-duty toys. He likes to exercise, swim and be given tasks to release his excess energy. With the right upbringing, he’ll make a loving, obedient, brave friend who will be a true companion for life. He can always be counted on.

Ideal environment

This active, agile breed requires physical and mental exhaustion. He is tireless and likes a variety of tasks. It is ideal for almost any dog sport, be it agility or tracking, obedience or guarding (possibly combined with IGP). He also adapts quickly to urban environments, but then he needs to be exercised regularly. Friendly with children, with the right training it can become an ideal, protective playmate. Socialisation should start early, making sure that he is exposed to as much stimulation as possible from a very young age.


The coat of a Rottweiler does not need much care. During the shedding period, it is recommended to brush the coat frequently to remove excess hair. It is also worth brushing regularly. Eyes and ears should always be kept clean.

It is recommended to brush the coat once a week.

Common health problems

The pain threshold of this breed is very high, which is often mentioned in connection with it. A healthy and hardy dog, most often with Elbow, Hip or Shoulder Dysplasia. Some individuals may develop Aortic Stenosis and various eye diseases. Over-bred, outbred dogs often have very weak bone structure. It is important to always buy from a responsible and reliable breeder!

(Sources used: János Szinák – István Veress: Dogs of the World II, Klára Király, Dr.: Poems, Legends and Wisdoms for Dog Lovers, David Alderton: Dogs, Dr. Pál Sárkány: International Dog Encyclopedia, Paul McGreevy: Dogs).

Follow us on our social media pages too!
More articles

Search on page