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Difference between German and American Rottweilers

  • Post last modified:March 19, 2023
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  • Post category:Animals
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Brief history of Rottweilers

Rottweilers are a breed of dog that originated in Germany, with a history dating back to the Roman Empire. They were initially used as working dogs to herd and protect livestock and pull carts of meat and other goods to market.

The breed’s name comes from the town of Rottweil, located in the southwestern part of Germany, where the breed was first bred and trained for these tasks. Rottweilers were highly prized for their strength, intelligence, and protective instincts, and were often used as police and military dogs.

In the early 1900s, Rottweilers were introduced to the United States, and quickly gained popularity as a family pet and guard dog. Over time, American breeders began to selectively breed Rottweilers for different traits, leading to subtle differences in appearance, temperament, and health between German and American Rottweilers. Today, Rottweilers are a beloved and recognized breed worldwide, known for their loyalty, intelligence, and courage.

Importance of distinguishing between German and American Rottweilers

It is important to distinguish between German and American Rottweilers for several reasons.

First, while both breeds share a common ancestry, they have developed distinct characteristics due to differences in breeding practices and regulations. German Rottweilers are bred according to strict standards set by the German Rottweiler Club (ADRK), which prioritizes traits such as temperament, working ability, and overall health. American Rottweilers, on the other hand, may be bred for different purposes, such as conformation shows or as family pets.

Second, the differences in appearance, temperament, and health between German and American Rottweilers can have practical implications for owners and breeders. For example, if an owner is looking for a dog with a certain temperament or working ability, they may be better off choosing a German Rottweiler over an American one. Additionally, understanding the potential health risks associated with each breed can help owners make informed decisions about their dog’s care and treatment.

Difference between German and American Rottweilers

Distinguishing between German and American Rottweilers can help promote responsible breeding and ownership practices. By recognizing the unique qualities of each breed and adhering to established breeding standards and regulations, breeders, and owners can help ensure the long-term health and well-being of Rottweilers worldwide.

Appearance and Physical Characteristics

German and American Rottweilers share many physical characteristics, but there are also some notable differences in their appearance.

  1. Size and Weight: German Rottweilers tend to be larger and heavier than American Rottweilers. Male German Rottweilers can weigh up to 135 pounds, while American males usually weigh between 95-135 pounds. Female German Rottweilers can weigh up to 100 pounds, while American females usually weigh between 75-110 pounds.
  2. Head Shape and Ear Positioning: German Rottweilers typically have a more square-shaped head with a broader forehead and a wider, shorter muzzle than American Rottweilers. Their ears are usually set higher and closer together than those of American Rottweilers.
  3. Coat Texture and Color: Both German and American Rottweilers have short, dense, and glossy coats. However, German Rottweilers tend to have a thicker undercoat and their coat color is usually darker with more defined markings, while American Rottweilers may have a lighter coat color with less pronounced markings.
  4. Body Proportion: German Rottweilers have a more muscular and robust body with a wider chest and a straighter back. American Rottweilers have a leaner and more athletic bodies with sloping back.

It is important to note that these differences are generalizations and individual dogs may vary in their appearance. However, understanding these physical differences can help owners and breeders make informed decisions about the type of Rottweiler they prefer or are looking for.

Temperament and Personality

While both German and American Rottweilers are loyal, affectionate, and protective, there are some differences in their temperament and personality.

  1. Energy levels and activity needs: American Rottweilers tend to have higher energy levels and require more physical exercise than German Rottweilers. German Rottweilers are bred primarily as working dogs and have a calmer and more stable temperament.
  2. Trainability and Intelligence: German Rottweilers are generally considered to be more intelligent and easier to train than American Rottweilers. This is due in part to the fact that German Rottweilers are bred and trained for specific working purposes, such as police and military work, and must demonstrate high levels of obedience and trainability.
  3. Protective instincts and aggression tendencies: Both German and American Rottweilers are naturally protective of their families and can be aggressive towards strangers if not socialized properly. However, American Rottweilers may be more prone to aggression and may require more socialization and training to control their protective instincts.
  4. Affection and Playfulness: German Rottweilers tend to be more reserved and less playful than American Rottweilers. American Rottweilers are known for their affectionate and playful nature, making them popular as family pets.

It is important to note that temperament and personality can vary greatly between individual dogs, regardless of breed. Proper socialization, training, and care are key factors in shaping a Rottweiler’s temperament and personality, regardless of whether it is a German or American Rottweiler.

Health and Lifespan

Both German and American Rottweilers are prone to certain health issues, some of which may be more common in one breed than the other.

  1. Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a common health issue in Rottweilers, where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. Both German and American Rottweilers are prone to this condition.
  2. Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is also more prevalent in Rottweilers than in some other breeds. It tends to be more common in American Rottweilers than in German Rottweilers.
  3. Heart Disease: Rottweilers are also at risk for various types of heart disease, including cardiomyopathy and aortic stenosis. These conditions can cause heart failure and may be more common in American Rottweilers.
  4. Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Rottweiler is 8-10 years. German Rottweilers tend to live slightly longer than American Rottweilers, with an average lifespan of 9-10 years.

It is important for owners and breeders of Rottweilers to be aware of these potential health issues and to take steps to prevent or manage them. This includes proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care, as well as genetic testing and responsible breeding practices. Regular check-ups and early intervention can help extend a Rottweiler’s lifespan and improve their quality of life.

Breeding Standards and Regulations

Both German and American Rottweilers are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other major kennel clubs around the world. However, there are some differences in breeding standards and regulations between the two breeds.

  1. German Rottweiler Breeding Standards: In Germany, Rottweilers must pass a breed-specific temperament test and meet specific conformation standards in order to be bred. Breeding dogs must be certified free of hip dysplasia, have no disqualifying faults in their conformation, and have a working title, such as a Schutzhund title, which demonstrates their working ability. German Rottweilers are also subject to strict health testing requirements, including cardiac testing, eye exams, and DNA testing for certain genetic conditions.
  2. American Rottweiler Breeding Standards: In the United States, the AKC sets breeding standards for Rottweilers, which focus primarily on conformation and physical appearance. Breeding dogs must meet specific conformation standards and pass certain health tests, such as hip and elbow evaluations, but there are no specific working or temperament requirements for breeding Rottweilers.
  3. Responsible Breeding Practices: Regardless of breeding standards and regulations, responsible breeders of both German and American Rottweilers prioritize the health and welfare of their dogs. This includes genetic testing, health screening, and socialization and training for puppies. They also strive to place their puppies in loving and responsible homes and provide ongoing support and education for their puppy buyers.

It is important for potential Rottweiler owners to research and choose a reputable breeder who follows responsible breeding practices and adheres to applicable breeding standards and regulations, whether they are looking for a German or American Rottweiler.


While German and American Rottweilers are both descendants of the ancient Roman drover dogs and share many similar physical traits and characteristics, there are some key differences between the two breeds in terms of temperament, energy levels, trainability, and breeding standards.

German Rottweilers are bred primarily for working purposes and have a calmer, more stable temperament, while American Rottweilers are bred more for companionship and may have higher energy levels and be more playful and affectionate. Additionally, breeding standards and regulations for German Rottweilers prioritize working ability, temperament, and health testing, while American Rottweilers are primarily evaluated based on their physical appearance and general health.

Regardless of the differences between the two breeds, responsible ownership and breeding practices are crucial for the health and well-being of all Rottweilers. Regular veterinary care, proper nutrition and exercise, socialization, and training can help ensure that both German and American Rottweilers are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted companions.