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Are Rottweilers Dangerous, or Do They Make Good Pets?

Donna partners with Dr. Cathy Alinovi, a retired veterinarian, to create informative pet health articles.

This article will break down whether rottweilers are inherently dangerous or if they are merely victims of bad owners and bad publicity.

This article will break down whether rottweilers are inherently dangerous or if they are merely victims of bad owners and bad publicity.

Are Rottweiler's Dangerous?

Rottweilers date back to the days of the Romans, when they traveled with the army to protect the cattle, which were used to feed the troops. Their natural guarding instinct, herding behavior, and high intelligence made them well suited for this work.

Many are left wondering, however, are Rottweilers dangerous, or have they been unfairly labeled as overly aggressive by negative media? Let's examine their history and other Rottweiler facts before we jump to conclusions.

The breed gained the nickname “butcher dogs” from their work in the town of Rottweil, Germany, where they guarded the butcher shops and the butchers. In addition, they were also called Rottweil dogs, with the moniker derived from the town's name.

The animals were highly trusted and used to transport money, and “it was said that the neck of a Rottweiler was safer than any bank vault.” Like several other working breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, boxers, or Great Danes, they are descended from the Molosser dogs.

Properly trained and socialized Rottweilers are trustworthy friends.

Properly trained and socialized Rottweilers are trustworthy friends.

Facts About Rottweilers

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the breed:

  • Origin: Germany
  • Nickname/alternative names: Rottweil dog, Rottie
  • Group: Working
  • First AKC registration: 1931 – Stina V. Felsenmeer, dog number 805867
  • Use: Herding, guard, police, military, and butcher dogs
  • Lifespan: 10 to 13 years
  • Height/weight: 24 to 27 inches; 75 to 130 pounds
  • Color/coat: Black with rust markings; double-coated dogs (under and overcoat)
  • Personality: Protective, loyal, obedient, and affectionate
  • Grooming: Brush and comb weekly. Trim nails and clean ears as needed
  • Need for attention: High
  • Known health problems/heritable diseases: eye problems, osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), hip/elbow dysplasia, and neurological canine hemophilia
  • Intelligence: Highly intelligent but a slow learner
  • Social Skills: Good with family and other pets but standoffish with others

Now, let's take a look at the characteristics of a Rottweiler.

C'mon... I'm just a lovable puppy at heart!

C'mon... I'm just a lovable puppy at heart!

Characteristics of Rottweilers

The overall appearance of the Rottweiler is one of balance. The head and muzzle are broad but proportional. Powerful jaws, a coal-black nose, and a faintly wrinkled forehead combine with dark alert eyes to complete the face.

The triangular ears are wide-set and can be cropped or natural. These are imposing, formidable dogs that project an aura of power and strength. There should be a perceptible difference between males and females of the breed, with male Rottweilers exhibiting the massiveness that bears evidence of their mastiff ancestry.

Rottweilers are even-tempered dogs with a calm, dignified demeanor, not given to aggressiveness or excitement. They are eager to please and easy to train. Because of their need to work, your Rottie will be happier if he has a job to do, such as fetching the paper. Boredom can be deadly for this breed and can lead to inappropriate behavior.

In spite of their good nature, Rottweilers are powerful dogs and require early socialization and lifelong obedience training to establish that the owner, not the dog, is the pack leader. These huge dogs could easily, but unintentionally, knock over a toddler with a paw or their tail.

In addition, they can be aggressive with other dogs or cats if they were not raised with them. Proper socialization and obedience training are as much for the protection of the dog as they are for others.

Rottweilers are majestic examples of the molosser type appearance and regalness.

Rottweilers are majestic examples of the molosser type appearance and regalness.

Is a Rottweiler the Breed for You?

Adding a large dog to any family requires one to make some lifestyle adjustments. For instance:

  1. If you do not have a fenced yard, where will your Rottie exercise and play?
  2. Will you be able to give him the human interaction he needs?
  3. There may be problems buying insurance if you own a Rottie.

Additional Considerations for Potential Rottweiler Owners

  • You must be willing to invest the time and money into training him; this training needs to be a lifelong commitment, not a one-time event.
  • Rottweilers are not good pets for apartment dwellers or those who do not have the physical strength to handle them.
  • They should not be left unsupervised with small children who may annoy or hurt them.
  • If your Rottweiler gets sick and you have to transport him to the vet, you will need a large vehicle.

These are just some of the Rottweiler facts you need to consider before deciding if this is the best breed for you.

Who's to blame for dangerous Rottweilers?

So, are Rottweilers dangerous, or should the finger of blame really be pointed at irresponsible owners? Any dog (or animal) has the potential to become aggressive if not properly trained, socialized, or treated appropriately.

Here's an analogy. The meanest toy breed dog can only do so much damage. The jaws are tiny and exert little force. The chances of it hurting you fatally are slim. Conversely, the gentlest, best-trained large animal equipped with powerful jaws can hurt someone seriously by virtue of their tremendous size and power. The real key is proper training and socialization combined with responsible ownership.


The Complete Dog Book, Official Publication of the American Kennel Club, 18th edition.
The Original Dog Bible, edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Dog, Viv Foster.

When I get bigger, I'll snatch that turkey off this table!

When I get bigger, I'll snatch that turkey off this table!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Donna Cosmato

Are Rottweilers Dangerous or Not? Share Your Opinion

Philip Paul on July 13, 2020:

My dog is friendly and playful

Mark jones on July 01, 2020:

I have a beautiful rottie and brilliant with gran child. Best dogs out.

A person on June 15, 2020:

I think rottweilers have a bad rep. Not all of them are aggressive. It depends on how they were raised

Someone on October 31, 2019:

No Rottweilers are kind and brave .I have 2 Rottweilers

rebbecca on July 24, 2015:

I never had problem my dog just friendly bear.. when we bring him a walk we dont him he walk us along.. the reason why rottwiler dangerous is because wat way people training them be..

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on January 08, 2013:

Thanks so much for sharing this with your FB friends, Sinea!

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on January 06, 2013:

Just shared this post on my new FB page called "Puppies-Puppies".

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on January 06, 2013:

Hi mypetfinderph, and thanks for reading and commenting on this article about Rottweilers. I agree with you - the way a dog is socialized and trained (from puppyhood) determines much of its future behaviors. Thanks for sharing about your wonderful pets!

Jef from Philippines on January 05, 2013:

I have 3 rottweilers and all of them seem are really good dogs! Maybe it really depends on the way they are trained and treated.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 07, 2012:

Hi Ricky (aka thelyricwriter) and thanks for sharing your experiences with Rottweilers. I have almost zero experience with them personally but have heard way more good things about the breed than negative things. Thanks for commenting and by the way, my Pinterest friends love your tattoo hubs so please keep them coming:)

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on February 07, 2012:

My wife had a Rot when we first started dating and it was a great loyal dog. We never had any issues with him. However, I remember being a kid and being chased by a few of them in my days. Just all depends on how you raise them. Love all the facts and info Donna. Voted up, awesome, and useful.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 08, 2011:

Hi CraftyBegonia...and thanks for the vote up! I'm actually a little skittish around the larger dogs so I'm sure the experience you had would have scared me to death. I'm glad it worked okay but it does underscore the need to keep dogs on the leash.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 07, 2011:

Thanks for the nice compliment, Cindy! I always value your feedback on my hubs, and I'm especially pleased that you liked the video. My hubby helped me choose it:)

Training and socialization are two keys to producing a good dog every time, in my humble opinion. Good luck with your goals...hope to see you at 150 hubs any day now:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 06, 2011:

Hi Little two two! Thanking you for weighing on the question of whether or not Rottweilers are dangerous. I agree with you and others who have commented that the answer really hinges on the type of training the dogs have received and the responsibility level of the owners.

Is it not a shame how negative publicity can taint an animal breed or a person? Thank you for taking time to share your opinions; I value your input.

craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on December 06, 2011:

I voted up your Hub. It is good to enlighten people about different breeds. We have two neighbors with Rots. One morning, my mom and I were taking a walk and one of our neighbors was walking his rot. He let him off the leash and they were leisureli walking along. The dog spotted us coming a great way off and took off like lightning to come and attack us! We stood very still, but shouted for the owner to help us. He came running. We were not bitten but the experience was truly frightening. We have always had sheep herding dogs and they have never been like that, so I respect Rots. Still, I'm an animal lover and do not hate the breed because of that incident.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 06, 2011:

These dogs are big, but my brother-in-law and his wife have had one for many years and it truly is a sweetie. I had never been around them prior to this, so it was a pleasant surprise for me. I believe all dogs can be trained poorly or well.

Great hub! The video was delightful.

LyttleTwoTwo from Canada on December 06, 2011:

I am a firm believer that any dog is a good pet. Its the pets owner that makes or breaks the breed. Rotties, dobs and pitbulls all have bad publicity. Period. Pitbulls are so dangerous in Ontario Canada, we banned the whole breed!!!

It wasn't the pitbull or any other dog breed that makes it aggressive or violent, its the owners and what they teach and how they train and treat their pet.

Great hub by the way!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 06, 2011:

Thank you, Moon Lightened, for taking time to read and to comment on this hub about Rottweilers! I'm so glad you found it informative and useful.

Moon Lightened from Delhi, India on December 06, 2011:

Very informative hub, and I loved reading about the breed. You covered a lot of ground and kept it interesting.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 06, 2011:

Aww...thanks, Sinea! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. My hubby and I had lots of fun choosing the images and video for this as we truly wanted to dispel the rumor about "are Rottweilers dangerous"!

Thanks for the vote of confidence and for sharing this with your friend. I truly appreciate your help and support of my writing.

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on December 06, 2011:

Donna, I think I'm in love! I've always loved big dogs. I have English labs and had boxers in my childhood. Rotties are just big babies and anyone who trains them to be anything but the doll-babies that they are should be disciplined!

The puppy video is the best. Puppy-lovers should pour themselves a cup of coffee and take a little break to truly enjoy them. Voted up and beautiful.

Sending the link to one of my friends who owns a big ole Rottie named Garth!

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 06, 2011:

Hi Sunnie! Thanks for reading this hub and leaving such a nice comment. I really appreciate it and hope it will give these awesome dogs some positive press to balance the sometimes negative media stories focusing on the theme of "are Rottweilers dangerous?"

I'm sorry for the loss of your precious fur babies but it sounds like they lived wonderful lives and gave you much companionship. I suspect all of us dog lovers have sad stories about our beloved pets making the journey over the Rainbow Bridge...

Tonka6078 on December 06, 2011:

What a great article, We have owned two rotties and both were gentle giants. One had to be put down because of hip dysplasia and was in so much pain. The other died of old age..Both wonderful dogs our family loved so much.