Skip to main content

American, German, or Roman? The Different Types of Rottweilers

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Are the American, German, and Roman Rottweiler varieties a real thing?

Are the American, German, and Roman Rottweiler varieties a real thing?

Rottweiler Breeds: German, American, or Roman?

If you are a Rottweiler owner, you may be a bit frustrated when somebody with a know-it-all attitude stops you on the road to ask you if your Rottweiler is German or American. After being asked this so many times, and with a five-minute chat ending up lasting "hours," I now cut it short and simply tell them my Rottweilers are "Tucsonians" since they were both born in Tucson, Arizona. This often leaves them surprised enough to have them thinking for a split second; just enough time for me to graciously leave and continue my walk.

So what is the whole story about German, American, and Roman Rottweilers? You can perhaps get a hint by listening to your Rottweiler's accent and personal taste. If your Rottie has a German accent and loves bratwurst and beer, you have no doubt he is German. If he has picked up a bit of an American accent with a touch of slang like "whatzz up?!" when he sees you and loves to eat pancakes in the morning, you know he is definitely American. And what about those Rotties who love spaghetti and lasagna? You can bet they are Roman Rottweilers.

Jokes aside, what is it about Rotties being given all these different nationalities? Let's shed some light on this topic once and for all, shall we?

Sprechen zie Deutsche? Does your Rottweiler have a German accent? Petra and Kaiser are Tucsonians!

Sprechen zie Deutsche? Does your Rottweiler have a German accent? Petra and Kaiser are Tucsonians!

Different Types of Rottweilers

Let's take a look at all these types of Rottweilers so you can shed some light on the type you own. Don't get too excited, though, as you will be deluded as it's not like real Rottweilers come in all these different sizes, shapes and colors.

American Rottweilers

So your Rottweiler has developed a liking for ice cream and apple pie, huh? Is he also a big fan of Bruce Springsteen? If so, the song "Born in the USA" is the perfect tune for him. You may have heard some people say that American Rottweilers are leggy, tall creatures lacking the large, blocky head that is the hallmark of the Rottweiler breed. The truth is an American Rottweiler is simply a Rottweiler born in the United States.

So, what's the story about these American specimens being so tall, leggy and small-headed? There is an explanation for this. Unfortunately, as with many other breeds, the Rottweiler breed has suffered from indiscriminate breeding by breeders who care less about adhering to the breed standard and more about making quick money.

They just breed anything that is large, black and tan and looks slightly like a Rottweiler. These specimens may look like a far cry from that beautiful Rottweiler you in your dog breed book or on the AKC website. However, it is also true that many American code-of-ethics breeders still produce wonderful specimens that compete in the show ring and are proud ambassadors of the breed.

German Rottweilers

There is no doubt hearing those German commands: "Platz!" "Sitz!" "Komm!" is music to your German Rottweiler's ears. If sauerkraut is your Rott's favorite condiment on his bratwurst, and he craves kartoffelsalat and a slice of Schwarzwälder kirschtorte every now and then, then yes, with no shadow of doubt, you have a German Rottie. The truth is that your German Rottweiler is simply a Rottweiler born in Germany, just as an American Rottweiler is a Rottweiler born on U.S. soil.

So why do many German Rottweilers look much better than the average American Rottweiler? Why are so many Rottweilers imported from Germany? Why do German Rottweilers have thick bones, an impressive body and blocky heads? The answer is simple: they are bred better.

In Germany, the ADRK, which is the Rottweiler club of Germany, has very strict rules and guidelines when it comes to breeding Rotties. Only the best are allowed to breed, and these are those that adhere to the standard, are healthy, obtain good hips scores, are equipped with good nerves and pass several breed-qualification tests. Pretty impressive, huh? It's no wonder these Rotts are so stunning and so often blessed with impressive temperaments!

Note: The ADRK standard puts an emphasis on the fact this breed must be good-natured, placid and fond of children; a far cry from the vicious Rottweiler portrayed by the media that eats children for lunch!

Roman Rottweilers

So, your Rottweiler loves pizza, lasagna and spaghetti, plays soccer and listens to Pavarotti music when he has a chance? Is he proud of having accompanied Roman soldiers along with their herds of cows in his past? If your ears prick up upon hearing "Roman Rottweiler," don't get too excited. Unless your Rottweiler was born in Rome, you have most likely been a victim of a scam.

There are no such things as Roman Rottweilers, King Rottweilers, and my favorite, "Colossal Rottweilers." Indiscriminate breeders have been breeding such specimens in hopes of making some extra money by scamming those with little knowledge of the breed. Such breeders will tell you that their Rottweilers are much larger and heavier than the average Rottweiler and thus superior.

While such specimens may be bigger, in reality, they do not adhere to the breed standard, and most of all, their size makes them much more susceptible to orthopedic disorders—the same disorders that ethical breeders try their best to wean out.

What About Other Types of Rottweilers?

There are also several other types of Rottweilers. Let's take a critical look at these Rottweilers so we can determine what the real Rottweiler is and how to stay away from unethical breeders trying to make a quick buck.

Tailed Rottweilers

It's common for people to ask "what breed is your dog?" when they see a Rottweiler with a tail. Some people are so accustomed to the docked look that when they see a Rottweiler with a tail, they quickly assume it must be a different breed of dog. Many do not even know that Rottweilers are actually born with a tail (which is—sadly—usually docked when the pup is three days old).

You see more and more Rottweilers with tails lately, as people start realizing how beautiful and stunning this breed looks when they are left as nature intended. A tail is often a sign that a Rottweiler may have come from Germany since there, the practice of tail docking has been banned since 1999. Indeed, the ADRK standard calls for a tail in natural condition—not docked.

Rare Rottweilers

If you hear about a breeder selling "rare Rottweilers," run away! "Rare" often means a far cry from the standard and can often be a sign that the Rottweiler may have even be mixed with other breeds to obtain color and size variances. In this case, you would be spending your money on a mutt! Let's take a looks at some "rare Rottweilers."

  • Red Rottweilers: There is no such thing as a "red Rottweiler." According to the breed standard, a Rottweiler must be "black with clearly defined markings of a rich tan." Any other colors are not admitted; it's as simple as that!
  • Blue or Albino Rottweilers: The same applies here as above, and this goes for other colors as well.
  • Long-Haired Rottweilers: As stunning as these specimens may look, they are not acceptable by standard. Indeed, according to the American Kennel Club, long hair in a Rottie is considered a disqualification. If you come by a breeder selling a long-haired Rottie, they should not be asking a higher price for them. While a long-haired pup may occasionally pop up in a litter of standard Rotts, an ethical breeder should actually ask considerably less for it since it is not "showable" and doesn't adhere to the breed standard.

Real Rottweilers

So, who are the real Rottweilers and how can you avoid "imitations" and rarities? The real Rottweiler is a specimen that adheres to the standard for perfection created by ADRK. It is upon this standard that all other standards, including the American and British standards, are based, explains Richard G. Beauchamp in the book Rottweilers for Dummies. Some slight differences may be the fact that ADRK calls for slightly higher specimens and natural tails.

Code-of-ethics breeders breed so that the Rottweiler adheres to this standard. If you put a Rottweiler obtained by a serious code-of-ethics breeder adhering to the AKC standard in the United States next to a Rottweiler obtained by a German breeder adhering to the ADRK standard, you should hardly be able to tell them apart. Indeed, no matter the country of origin, the best representatives of the Rottweiler breed come from ethical breeders who adhere to the standard.

So, how many types of Rottweiler are ultimately there? The answer is two: the well-bred ones and the badly bred ones. The type you choose is ultimately up to you.

German vs. American Rottweilers

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What's the price of a month-old German Rottweiler, and what about an American?

Answer: Prices for Rottweiler puppies can vary significantly between one breeder and another. Generally, anywhere between $400 to $3,000, I would say. I would not get a month-old puppy, that is far too young. The puppy should be at least eight weeks old (2 months).

© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli


Sankhajit Bhattacharjee on August 11, 2020:

beautiful post...

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 02, 2020:

For sure, I am so sorry for your loss, I have lost both of mine and you are so right, even though we miss them every day, it's such a great honor to have had them in our lives. My male was also long legged and goofy. I still don't have the courage to get another one, so scared to go through the pain of losing another Rottie again.

For sure on April 01, 2020:

You are 100% correct. My sweet beauty was long legged big headed and had the longest tail. What a goof ball he was. He had a massive chest stood 37 inches at 160#. He was lovable, gentle , and smart.

We were honored to love him for nine years. We miss him and laugh at his antics every day.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 31, 2019:

Louisdcooper, apparently you haven't read the article or you missed the whole point. Rottweilers are just Rottweilers, as you explain, but we can't deny the fact that ADRK has set a standard that isn't always followed in other countries (namely USA), hence why we see more and more specimens with small nostrils, wrinkles on head, short heads and leggy appearances (not to mention weak temperaments) which are all considered ADRK faults. Of course, hats off to all those dedicated code of ethics American breeders who breed to ADRK standard preserving the breed's character and considering health and temperament.

Louisdcooper on August 31, 2019:

What a load of complete crap american rottweilers is just americans doing what they do and putting american in front of a pre existing thing and trying to take credit for it. There is no such thjng as different types orf rottweilers there are just rottweilers .

Kimberly Samuel on June 18, 2019:

I have so enjoyed this breed of loyal, gentle, intelligent, strong and adaptive dogs. I met one awesome fellow, a very large Rottweiler, just had a large head and stood 36" at the shoulder. What made him so much identical but larger than the Rotties I've been acquainted with for so long?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 28, 2019:

Andrea, Well, let's put it this way to say it bluntly, the AKC registers anything as long as people pay. The organization doesn't verify that each registered dog is registered correctly. Just because a dog is registered doesn't mean that it is what it is. If you look at how to register a Rottweiler, you will the Rottweiler breed must be registered using any of these three selections under coat color: Black & Mahogany, Black & Rust and Black & Tan. If your Rottie is red and lacks black markings, then the breeders had to lie in order to get it registered as purebred. Regardless, who cares about color and papers, all dogs are beautiful regardless and I am sure your Rottweiler is stunning.

Andrea on May 25, 2019:

I disagree with your rare rott comments. We had a red rott who was akc certified as were his parents. He was mainly a rust color. He was a rott.

Robert on May 07, 2019:

This is for the high price dog sellers. I have both a European championship bloodline breed rottweiler, and I also have a German breed rottweiler. Both we're gotten from the USA. Yes, some people charge outrageous prices for the breed. Heck everyone tries to sell u a damn dog for a high price. 3,000 is not a great price!! Get a life.. I got both pup's different times one was from a Amish..The other was willing to pay those prices until I became educated on who to buy my pup's from. If a person is trying to sell you a dog for more then 1500.. Leave the building it's not worth it. Stop buying over price dogs from people who don't have nothing to do but charge high prices.. What happens those same dog sellers has to keep the dog because there prices are to high. You better buy life insurance first Oh yea both of my female are 75lb Ipo trained. They bring daddy your leg..

Will Bugg on February 10, 2019:

Rottweilers are beautiful dogs period !! The better they are bred the more you for your money . I have 5 imported dogs from Europe , Germany and Serbia and all have tails in tact . ADRK lines in the pedigree are top of lines always!!! The best lines are from overseas direct !!! Backyard breeders just want a quick buck and are ususlly cheap bringing 400- 800 dollars . You want the real specimen of a beautiful Rottie ? You have to spend an average of 3 - 6 grand getting it to the US soil . To be honest the they are head and shoulders above anything available in the United States . Healthier , more well developed and definately are better producers . My females are stockier and have better heads than most males i come across .If you do your homework and learn about the history , temp and linage instead of just purchasing what your pocket says at the time you will see huge difference all around better dog if you are serious. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR !!!!!!! I am a ambassordor for the breed to keep it beautiful . Thanks for reading . Forever Rotts hint , hint

Debbie weaver on December 13, 2018:

Hi I have a large 70kg male rottie who is a soft loveable dog and mummies boy .... however within days I am going to become a grandma and I am worried because my dog always reacts when he hears a baby cry on the TV ... and also I’m not sure how he will react when I’m cuddling a baby instead of him ....

James Anagnos on March 24, 2018:

your facts are mixed up buddy, the American bread rotty is a much bigger stronger dog, its the old line of rottweiler that was called the butchers dog, these modern day german rotties are short fat and very ugly dogs ,my males started at 130 lbs and went up to 165 lbs, with huge heads and crushing bite, i see nothing like that today, shame on the germans

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 17, 2018:

Greg, Rottweiler puppies generally may cost anywhere between $300 to $1,000 or more depending on where you get him/her from.

Greg on March 15, 2018:

I'm pitbull fan but been I been looking to own one of these type of dogs I think these breed is more loyal then the pitbull how much do a puppy cost

Tramsden on August 23, 2017:

I just had to say I really enjoyed reading this, I am a rottie owner and she is a great, loyal, beautiful member of our family. I personally think anyone wanting to breed a Rottweiler should read this and take note, I am going to breed my lovely female who is 2 1/2 and due to unforeseen circumstances she came to live with us at the age of 2, I have however known her as a puppy but I don't know anything about her parents. Before I breed her I have to take the time for her to settle in with us and it's like she has always been here but being realistic and responsible is priority. She has a great temperament with the kids and myself but has only been given basic commands which means she has some bad manners and I am working on and she is responding very well as the rotties are working breads she is thriving being trained. I love her so much and can't wait until she becomes a mum in the future and when looking for a baby daddy I will definitely be referring to your article and I intend on doing a lot of researching. Great read.

Jon on May 31, 2017:

We previously had a very large Rottweiler of unknown origin. He was very much the good natured personality and for the most part had the Rottweiler appearance, but at 180 lbs (started to show ribs in the right light around 175 lbs so not overweight) was clearly way outside the box for the Rottweiler standard. He was 44 lbs at 3 months when we got him and 100 lbs at 9 months. He really did just appear to be almost the perfect Rottweiler just a few sizes too big. We always wanted to see his parents to know if he was just a giant or if they were big as well. We had to re-home him for a major medical issue (spider bite that almost cost him his foot) that he had that took more care than we could provide, but at the last update he is doing great and he should be close to 12 years old which is pretty old for a guy his size. He seemed to be a rare exception.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 10, 2015:

Rotty owner, I am sorry you are reading it this way. It's meant to be funny and informative, and an eye-opener against scams. There is no such thing as rare specimens such as red rottweilers, roman rottweilers, colossal Rottweilers.... I do not see any sarcasm as even myself asked these same questions when I first got my dogs. Since you are accusing me of "mocking other people" please let me know if there's a certain phrase you found sarcastic so I can re-word it if it looks that way. Rest assured it wasn't my intent and I am sorry you are perceiving it this way.

Rotty owner on September 10, 2015:

I didn't really like your mocking of people in this post. It is a general question that people ask and theres no need to be sarcastic. Different nationalities of dogs do look different. Same goes for Great Danes.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 25, 2015:

Thanks Kristen, I often have people ask me what types of Rottweilers I own, so figured it was worth to write about it.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 25, 2015:

Great hub. I didn't know they were so many different types of rottweiler breeds. Very informative and interesting. Voted up!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on November 18, 2014:

I've never seen a Rottweiler with the natural tail before, but really love the look. I wish we'd had this information 10 years ago when we bought a "rottweiler". It turned out to be a neurotic mutt, a far cry from the breed standard. My husband is a huge fan of stocky, well bred Rottweilers. Thank you for this interesting and well written article!

Rose on September 07, 2014:

There are natural bobtail Rottweilers.

Anne Gillingham from Los Angeles, CA on August 23, 2014:

Thanks for your reply. When we take her out, I see a lot of "rottermixes" and "dobermixes" and in females, they seem to have one thing in common: they are all skittish. I am not sure what the deal is with that, but if I had a dime for everybody who says "she was a rescue" and then we talk about unfounded fears etc. ....

Not sure what it is about this breed but it seems to cross out to make a skittish female.

I could do the wisdom panel but that is like 70 bucks and chances are, it will come back "rottweiler" and "doberman" and something even as random as "beagle" --- who knows.

But I am fairly certain that everybody who reads this post will be happy to know that she was fixed before her first heat cycle, so we are not perpetuating "rottsadness" ... she was found as a puppy dumped so we were totally "over it" long before the game started.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 22, 2014:

The eyes and colors look "Rottweilerish", but the facial structures do not, nor does the size match up, and the tail is too thin, whereas in Rotties it's much wider. I don't think she's a poorly bred Rottie, more likely an interesting mix. As I look at pictures of Rottermans, some seem to resemble your dog, but the weight is somewhat on the lower side on your dog (in Rotterman seems like it should be 75 - 110 lbs), but then again, in mixes there is no standard set in stone. There are some DNA tests they sell over the internet, they are not 100 percent accurate, but they are interesting to have fun with and try.

Anne Gillingham from Los Angeles, CA on August 22, 2014:

Awesome article on rotties. I believe that we have one. She was a foundling.

I have her picture here:

and here:

She weighs no more than 65 lbs. When she walks she hangs her head and moves it with a slight swing, rottweiler style.

But she doesn't have that "chunkiness" of a rottweiler.

By temperament she has been skittish and reactive but we are rewarding her for acting "normal" (like running around with her tail wagging, open mouth, tongue slightly hanging out) ... when she gets that tight-lipped squatty, subby pose we have been ignoring it.

It is tricky ... I think she is a "rotterman" but she does not have the energy of a doberman, nor the height, etc.

Is it possible that she is just a poorly-bred rottie?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 08, 2012:

Aww thanks! I really enjoy when my articles are appreciated, just added myself as your fan.

Eiddwen from Wales on September 06, 2012:

What a wonderful read and on a beautiful dog also;I now look forward to so many more by you.


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 06, 2012:

China sounds like a handful! But resource guarding can be helped and reduced significantly. I have dealt with many resource guarders and I see a lack of trust at the source of the problem. Perhaps you can give them this link? One of my Rott when a puppy tried to be a resource guarder with bones, but these methods helped and now she looks forward to having me around when she has a goodie.

Lawrence Da-vid on September 06, 2012:

A good friend of mine has a Rottweiler named "China." A possessive pup of those around her. Intelligent to a fault. Loveable beyond belief. Her one fault is her food, toy, or steel tire rim she may be chewing on. Her owners retrieved the little pup from an abusive owner, and have had to overcome myriad problems.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 05, 2012:

I am personally not a fan of the AKC either to tell the truth...

DoItForHer on September 05, 2012:

I'm not a fan of the AKC because of the harm they condone with Rotties and many other breeds. You did not bash them, nor did you seem to support them. Do you have an opinion on this?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 04, 2012:

I agree, I wished more people would do more research before purchasing a "rarity". I saw an article explaining how breeding Rotts to produce red specimens may cause some health issues to surface:( The "teacup" varieties of dog breeds make me sad:(

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 04, 2012:

I wasn't aware of the Roman variety until a few months ago, when I saw an ad on the newspaper and did a bit of research, what a scam!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 04, 2012:

Thank you coffeegginmyrice, I am sure they will love hearing about all the varieties of Rotts out there; they seem to "invent" some new specimen every now and then for some quick money making!

Kristin Kaldahl on September 04, 2012:

A lot of breeds have the same problem with unethical breeders selling them as "rare" or "unique" when they are just over-sized or under-sized specimens of the breed.

For instance, unethical breeders will claim a small sheltie is the rare "miniature sheltie" which of course doesn't exist. It's just a small sheltie.

People need to do thorough research into any breed they wish to purchase. Better yet - rescue a great dog and avoid sneaky, unethical breeders all-together!!

wetnosedogs from Alabama on September 04, 2012:

Interesting hub on the rotties. I didn't realilze all the different nationalities! Picture of your dogs is fabulous.

Marites Mabugat-Simbajon from Toronto, Ontario on September 04, 2012:

I only have a medium size cockapoo and I would surely like to spread this hub of yours about the different types of Rotts. I have friends who do. Thanks for sharing!

Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 04, 2012:

Thanks for the reply. Most of the German Rotts I have worked with are a little easier to handle than the Brazilian Rotts, and maybe that is because of the breeding/selection and ADRK oversight. I enjoyed your comment about the Tusconian Rotts, as I have not seen any of that type down here!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 04, 2012:

Hello, Dr Mark! I had the pleasure to work with some German Rotties and loved the fact that they have more drive than the average Rott because they are bred to be working partners other than pets, but while they did have more drive, they were also great in going from 100 to 0 in little time; something that weaker nerved specimens do not find that easy. When my hubby was stationed in Germany a while back, I was impressed how these dogs were welcomed in restaurants and many places dogs abroad would dream of going. I do not see them bred as more aggressive, actually to the contrary, I think they are even-tempered because they must pass a strict breed suitability test before being allowed to be bred which focuses on temperament and character and as I noted it is part of the ADRK standard for them to be "good natured, placid in basic disposition and fond of children". Of course, well-bred American Rotts share these wonderful temperaments when COE breeders are USRC members who get their stock BST tested; so I think it is all up to the breeder to breed ethically and adhere to the standard so to preserve and improve the breed..

Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 04, 2012:

Did you work with many German Rotties when living in Italy? Do you think there is a difference in personality? Some writers comment that German and South American Rotties are bred more aggressive than Rotties in the US. (I am pretty sure Dr. Coren wrote about this but can not tell you in which book.) What is your opinion?