Mrs. JC has owned Rottweilers for more than 10 years. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for these amazing dogs and her experience with them.
So you think you want a Rottweiler? One cannot blame you, for such a desire is not unfounded. I have had the pleasure of owning these amazing dogs for the past 10 years. The Rottweiler is a majestic breed, not only because of his impressive stature and commanding presence, but also his loyalty to those under his watchful eye.
Affectionately known by enthusiasts as a “Rottie,” this breed truly has a soft side, despite the rough image and bad reputation given by many in the media. Many have attempted to exploit the Rottweiler’s protective nature and muscular build, resulting in a cascade of negative press and a stigma which is not easily erased.
However, those who have come to truly know the breed cannot help but to love them, and that love is returned ten-fold. Yet there are certain things one should consider before acquiring such a dog; after all, introducing this breed into your household will truly be a life-changing experience!
Why Do You Want a Rottweiler?
First, consider the reason you’ve decided that a Rottweiler is the breed for you:
- Will he be a companion?
- Do you feel the need for protection?
- Have you owned a Rottie before?
- Do you feel that owning this dog will improve your social status or make you appear “tough?”
If the latter is true, please consider not getting involved with this breed. Rotties are NOT fighting dogs, and they should never fall into the hands of anyone interested in using them as such. They are also NOT for the inexperienced, as a walk through an animal shelter will prove. Many end up there because their owners were not prepared for the demands of owning such an intelligent but stubborn breed.
It should also be noted that owning a Rottie purely for looks is likely to end in disaster; without the proper research and understanding of the breed, they can become quite unmanageable. With that said, if you are someone who truly appreciates this beautiful animal and are ready to take on its challenges, read on!
Should You Get a Puppy or an Adult Dog?
I've had both, and there are several factors that play into this decision. A puppy will give you the advantage of starting all training from scratch, on a clean slate if you will. This is helpful because training a Rottie can be tricky, so the earlier the better! An adult dog may come with some excess baggage, such as a history of abuse (like my female, "Roxy") or neglect, lack of training, etc.
However, these are not impossible to overcome for an experienced dog owner. In fact, not enough can be said for how wonderful it can be to rescue an adult Rottie from a shelter! Giving one a second chance may be the best for you both; it’s just important to be patient and allow extra time for the dog to adjust. So many animals are killed every year in shelters because there aren’t enough homes for them all, so adoption could be a great option!
Also keep in mind that a puppy will need potty training, while many adult shelter dogs already have that experience. If you do decide on a puppy, never purchase one from a pet store; those usually come from puppy mills, which are kept in deplorable condition and usually result in pets with many health problems! Stick with an experienced breeder, and ask for references!
What Is a Rottweiler's Personality Like?
As noted before, the Rottweiler is an incredibly loyal dog. They form a strongly cemented bond with their owner and enjoy being with them; my big furry babies follow me around the house, insisting on being close enough to nudge me with a paw or a wet nose if at all possible. They are naturally protective, but this should not be confused with aggressiveness.
When properly trained, Rotties have a keen ability to sense the difference between friend and foe. Therefore they do not have to be taught to guard or protect; rather, if they are socialized well and learn who to trust, they can automatically determine when there is a threat.
They have big personalities and are very affectionate with those they feel safe with. They do well with children and are generally very tolerant, though caution should always be taken never to leave a child alone with any animal. Rotties retained some herding instincts from their ancestors, so they may feel inclined to herd small or excitable children.
Breeders vs. Shelters
If you decide to purchase a puppy from a breeder, it is important to see and handle the parents of the litter, so that you can evaluate their temperament. Some breeders intentionally use selective breeding to bring out aggressive qualities in their dogs, not at all what you want in your Rottweiler!
If you choose to adopt from a shelter, ask as many questions as possible to get background information on the dog’s behavior history. Spend as much time as you can getting to know the dog before you adopt, maybe even fostering him first.
How Should I Train My Dog?
Whether you acquire you Rottie from a breeder or a shelter, beginning positive reinforcement training ASAP will be one of the best things you can do. They can be a very stubborn and tenacious by nature, which—left unchecked—can leave you with a big problem on your hands, so they need a firm, dominant owner. NEVER hit your Rottie as punishment!
In-home training should be immediate and ongoing, but also consider professional training classes. The real-world experience and socialization with other dogs and people is invaluable! It cannot be stressed enough to socialize, socialize, socialize! (Your puppy should be fully vaccinated before coming in contact with animals or places where animals frequent.)
Exposing him to as many new people, animals, noises and places as early as possible is crucial to his development. This will help him become a calm, well-behaved member of society. Even before his puppy immunizations are complete, you can invite people to your home to get him started.
What About Grooming?
Grooming for Rottweilers is minimal, including bi-monthly baths, as well as regular nail trims and ear cleaning. Keep in mind, however, that they do shed quite a bit. Their fairly thick undercoat is short, but it will still cause little black tumbleweeds of fur all around your house. Be prepared for weekly if not daily sweeping or vacuuming.
Since they have black nails and you will be unable to see the “quick” (the center of the nail which contains the nerve and blood vessel), it is best to consult a professional groomer if you are not experienced with nail trimming.
How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Rottie?
Considerable cost can be involved in caring for a Rottie:
- First, you will definitely want to consider spaying or neutering your pet, not only to control pet overpopulation, but also to have a cleaner, healthier, more well-mannered dog. This can cost anywhere from $100 for a puppy to $400 or more for an adult. Shelter dogs should already be “fixed” before you adopt them. This procedure is routine and relatively safe, and reduces or even eliminates the risk of certain cancers and other health issues.
- Annual vaccinations can range in cost from $50-150, and monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventative may cost around $30 per month.
- Since the Rottweiler can grow to be well over 100 pounds, they can eat quite a bit so you will need to do your research on pet food costs. Be prepared to spend $30-40 per month or more on dog food.
What Should I Feed My Dog?
A high-quality, meat-based food should be fed, with some type of protein being the first ingredient listed on the bag or can. Look for a formula specifically targets the special needs of large-breed dogs. Obesity can cause major problems for such big dogs, putting unnecessary strain on their joints, heart, and lungs. A licensed veterinarian can help you determine the correct amount to feed your pet.
What About Exercise?
Rotties also need plenty of exercise; while many are content to laze around at home and sleep the day away while you’re at work, they can still have a considerable amount of energy and need an outlet for it. As a part of the Working Class of dog breeds, they need to feel they have a “job” to do, even if that means playing or exercising. Daily walks will help keep them fit and prevent destructive behavior due to boredom from too much confinement.
Space Requirements for Rotties
They require a large, fenced yard to run in, and they should not be crated for extended periods. Rottweilers should never, ever be chained or tied outside. This can evoke territorial aggression, because they feel threatened by the restriction of movement and may feel the need to protect their space.
Their heavy build and dark coat also do not make them well-suited for hot climates; so long periods outside in the heat should be avoided. They are not apartment dogs; in fact, you will be hard-pressed to find an apartment that even allows Rottweilers due to their size and liability issues. Even homeowners may be rejected by some insurance companies or face higher fees, because Rotties are considered to be a “dangerous breed” by some who lack experience with these dogs.
Are Rottweilers Really a Dangerous Breed?
The "dangerous" label is also partly due to biased statistics in the media. Any dog can be dangerous when with the wrong person; Rottweilers as a whole are not, but they can be trained to be by a dangerous owner! Again, please do your research before deciding to own this dog.
How Long Do They Live?
A Rottweiler’s lifespan can be 10–15 years with proper care; I currently have a 13-year-old female. They can suffer from a number of health issues, for which you will need to be prepared financially, physically, and emotionally:
- Because of their size, they are prone to arthritis, which can make walking, standing and lying down very difficult, especially if they are overweight. If your dog needs help getting up from the floor, getting into the car for a vet visit, or using the stairs, are you physically capable of helping him? Also, there are a number of quality joint supplements on the market, which can be used as preventative care and for pain relief as well. These products will not come cheap for such a large breed, as the dosing is based on weight.
- Rotties are predisposed to different forms of bone cancer, and it is not uncommon for that to be the cause of death. There are conventional and holistic treatments available which can prolong and even improve the quality of your dog’s life, but currently there is no cure. Sadly, I lost my 10-year-old male, "Butch" (pictured in this article) to this aggressive disease after 6 months of chemotherapy.
- You may also encounter other less severe health problems, such as allergies, ear infections, or scrapes and cuts (they are a little clumsy!)
One general rule of thumb to remember: The bigger the dog, the bigger the vet bill!
Rottweilers Are Wonderful Dogs for the Right Owners
Overall, the Rottweiler makes a wonderful companion . . . when placed in the right hands. If you have done your research, surveyed your home, analyzed your lifestyle (and bank account), and feel you are ready for the commitment, then congratulations! You will be rewarded with a true friend.
How do you feel about Rottweilers?
Steve fox on June 28, 2020:
Such a beautiful dog I had one for 9 years and miss him so much
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on May 06, 2020:
Excellent. I have a dear friend who has a rotty. I suppose the Rottweiler thanks I'm a truly nice person - she is always coming over to where I sit, begging for attention. Your article is truly informative of the breed.
Louis on October 20, 2018:
We lost our dog quickly to a cervical disease. He was an awesome alarm dog. not a fighter, just wake me up when someone came to house (usually just deer in the back yard LOL). My wife is girly-girl and won't take to firearm training. More into shoes and jewelry. She is home a lot because of studying while I work many hours. We looked at many breeds including but not limited to Rots, German Shep, Dobermans, etc. She wanted a short haired dog to decrease shedding. We found a little love hound lap dog, but I like bigger dogs and one who will protect her. While I was talking to breeders, she got close to a short fat 3 year old Rottie and the Rottie has shown no aggression. Obeys commands and already heels. Humane society says they just found her walking the street and no one claimed her. SHe is clumpsy probably from obesity, but tries to climb on her own. Being I am also fat, we can be workout buddies together. I am looking for any and all advice since we are new to Rotties but not to dogs. We are lovers of dogs and keep our pets for the rest of their lives. Still miss and cry over our Barry (90% black lab and 10% German Shepard). We just need someone to love and fill the hole in our hearts.
bev on January 15, 2018:
hi there i just rescued a 6 moth old rotti that was feed raw meat and trained to fight she is small and underfeed.. petrified pee and poops in her crate.. very skiddish .. and wants to bite other dogs.. BUT the most loving thing i have ever met covered me in kisses all day .. Can anyone send me resources to learn more ? I am keeping her and walking her a lot .... looking for help
Rob on September 15, 2017:
Had rotties for 15 years now, always as a pair too. Would not have any other breed in the house. Males can be a challenge at times but they're just making sure we still know what we are doing LOL
Perfect all round family dog.
Cath on August 18, 2017:
I have had my Rottweiler for 3 yrs... i bought him to be one of the family my granddaughter was 1 yrs old when I had Marley,, he was 8wks old.....when I brought him home my granddaughter was here waiting with my daughter and from the moment his paws touched the floor he was by her side an has such a beautiful bond with her ...he loves everyone from cats children older ppl dogs sheep you name it he wants to lick it to death lol...if you bring them up correctly take them to puppy classes walk them where there are all sorts of situations ppl dogs animals cars then you will have one super loving pet they sure do know how to show affection... no other dog ive owned has shown me more love than this breed ...i absolutely love my big guy ..if you have no time to train and spend time with a rottie then you shouldnt even consider owning one as they really do love their humans being around ....best dogs in the world makes me so sad hearing horrible things about them which are not due to being aggressive its the owners that dont do the right things by them to keep them from being over protective and most of the time being scared if their not used to being around certain situations (lack of socialization)...how will they know its ok ....I will always own a rottie now I can't think of any better breed x
kim on March 03, 2017:
I had a resue she was taking from dog fighters she became my best baby and my service pal she had 4 strokes in the last year of her life she was 14 1/2 when I had to let her go she has been gone 4 yrs and I miss her every day ,she (nelly bell) was my first rotti and leaned quickly than when you have such a dog you don't lose just a slipper but maybe even a couch but nothing she did ever made me think she was too much for us jst know that training is not an option when you have a rotti in your life it is a necessity. But the love you get in return is all worth it
Kate. on October 30, 2015:
I've had the experience of owning both a rescue Rottie and one from puppy. And I must say the joy, loyalty and companionship in this breed is second to none. My first girl Millie, an 8 year old arrived completely emaciated and neglected as she was left to die from previous owners, she arrived at a time when I was going through a serious life ordeal. We helped each other, she was my best friend, she became my strength. I unfortunately lost her only 3 years after, she died of severe liver cancer. She was with me for only a short time, but made a huge impact on my soul. She was no saint, she had her emotional scars, but we took time and worked through it. Thanks to Millie, Roxie is now part of my life, and like that, could not ask for a more gentle, kind, loving companion. She is now my shadow my best friend. Yes as long as you are a responsible owner who is prepared to do the work and understand the breed. Then you will understand the joy this sadly stereotyped and misunderstood breed can bring!
Steve Brady on March 24, 2013:
Remember, no one ever owns a rotty, you just come to an understanding.
Chris from Illinois on November 11, 2011:
We have had ditties for25 years with children, babies, cats, other dogs, birds and there has never been any bad behavior. They are such a great breed.
Mrs. JC (author) on June 23, 2011:
Thanks Bukarella! Looking forward to reading your hubs too! :)
Lyudmyla Hoffman from United States on June 20, 2011:
I joined HubPages to write about Rotties. Happy to see likeminded people joining! :)