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American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler: Breed Differences & Similarities

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Last Updated: May 17, 2023 | 5 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Rottweiler is a very popular dog in America, but they originate from Germany. So what are the differences and similarities between the American and German Rottweiler? They are the same dog breed, so there are more similarities than differences. But a few subtle distinctions between American and German bloodlines might make one the better option for you and your family.

Rottweilers are loyal, loving, and confident guardians. They are also very stubborn and surprisingly intelligent, considering their brute looks and the dopey smile that we love. Rottweilers are huge and powerful dogs that require an experienced and tough dog owner to get the best out of them. But with the right home and upbringing, they make brilliant family pets and working breeds.

Here in this Rottweiler breed comparison, we look at their history, appearance, personality, health, nutritional needs, and more. Their looks, temperament, and puppy price is where you’ll see most of the differences between the two bloodlines. So, let’s look at the American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler.

Breed Comparison

American Rottweiler

  • Height 22-27 inches
  • Weight 80-135 pounds
  • Temperament Loyal, loving, confident
  • Energy Average to High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 8-10 years
  • Puppy Prices $850+

German Rottweiler

  • Height 22-27 inches
  • Weight 80-135 pounds
  • Temperament Loyal, hardworking, confident
  • Energy Average to High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 8-10 years
  • Puppy Prices $850+

Breed History

Black and Tan Dog Standing on a Road
Rottweilers are among some of the most popular dog breeds in the States.

The Rottweiler descends from giant herding dogs used by the Romans as their legions seized Europe. Using these Asian mastiff-type breeds, they bred them with local breeds on their travels. And the ancestors of the Rottweiler we know today hail from the town of Rottweil in Germany. They were initially bred to guard and move herds from pasture to market, protecting them from bandits.

In their native land, they are called Rottweiler Metzgerhunf, which translates to the Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil. But in America, they are called Rottweilers. Their career as livestock protectors ended with the industrial revolution in the 1800s. They found new careers as personal protectors and police dogs. To this day, they are still utilized for this task, and they are one of the best at it.

The Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler­-Klub (ADRK) is the primary breed club in Germany, and the original breed standard was drawn up in 1901. The Rottweiler became popular in America shortly after this, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) admitted them into the stud book in 1931. The AKC adopted the ADRK’s breed standard in the main but is more forgiving. But overall, if your Rottie is from Germany, they are a German Rottweiler. And if they are born in America, they are American Rottweilers.

Appearance

This is where the main differences between the two Rottweiler bloodlines can be found. The ADRK’s breed standard is slightly stricter than the AKC’s breed standard. The ADRK does not consider any Rottweilers with a docked tail, which is the intentional removal of the dog’s tail. The AKC does recognize docked dogs, and it is pretty common among American Rotties. So, if your Rottweiler has a docked tail, the likelihood is that they are an American Rottweiler rather than a German Rottie.

All Rottweilers typically weigh between 80 and 135 pounds and measure between 22 and 27 inches tall. Although they are equal in average size, German Rottweilers tend to be a bit larger than their American counterparts. They appear stockier, with a broader body shape, well-defined muscles, and a more prominent nose. Compared to American Rotties, who seem more athletic and streamlined.

All Rottweilers have a dark base coat with traditional tan markings on their face, chest, and legs. The ADRK only accepts black and tan colored pups into their ranks. Whereas the AKC also accepts black and mahogany and black and rust-colored dogs. All Rottweilers should have a short and thick double coat. Although longer-haired Rotties exist, they are not common. Long-haired Rotties are commonly mistaken for Rottweiler Golden Retriever mixes.

Temperament

Large Rottie Dog
The Rottweiler can keep almost any intruder away.

All Rottweilers are reliable, devoted, and protective dogs. And those that know the breed well also know they are silly and playful pups with clumsy personalities. Rottweilers are surprisingly intelligent and rank in the ten most intelligent dog breeds. However, their protective and sometimes stubborn nature means they both need an experienced and equally strong owner to get the best out of them.

Some Rottweiler fanciers claim that the only difference between German and American bloodlines is that German Rottweilers are carefully bred and raised to be the perfect companion dog. The ADRK has a high bar when it comes to temperament. They must be calm and reliable, show utmost loyalty, and be protective but obedient. Although American Rotties should be the same, the AKC is less strict in the show ring.

Exercise

Rottweilers are a hardworking breed with lots of protective energy. This means they need at least one hour of exercise daily to keep their body healthy and minds stimulated. They are likely to become destructive and problematic without the right amount of exercise. Rotties are naturally heavyset dogs and can quickly become overweight if they do not receive enough exercise. Every dog is different and prefers different activity levels, but American and German Rotties have the exact exercise needs.

Training

Like all dogs, their temperament is dependent on their upbringing and training. Unless reliably trained, neither Rottie bloodline will be any of these wonderful traits. And instead become an unruly, problematic, and dangerous pet. Their training must begin as soon as you bring them home and should continue throughout the rest of their life to maintain their manners and to remind them who the real boss is (that’s you!)

Socialization is crucial for protective dogs like the Rottweiler to ensure they feel confident and behave as you expect them to around others. Some say that the American bloodline displays fear-aggression behaviors more than the German bloodline. But research shows that there is no evidence to back this up. If there is any truth to this claim, it is likely that German breeders and owners, along with strict German dog laws, provide a more rounded upbringing and better training/socialization.

Health

Veterinarian treats a rottweiler dog in a veterinary clinic. A veterinary specimen treats a wound on a dog's paw and rebent
The most common health concerns found in the breed are cardiac problems, eye conditions, and joint troubles.

The Rottweiler is a generally healthy dog with a life expectancy of 8 to 10 years. Like all dog breeds, they are prone to several health problems. Rotties are predisposed to more health concerns than the average breed, so Rottie parents should consider pet insurance. There is no difference between American and German Rottweilers regarding common health concerns.

Nutrition

American and German Rottweilers have the exact nutritional needs. What and how much they eat depends on many factors, such as size, activity levels, age, sex, and more. If your German Rottie is typically larger or a working dog breed, you might expect them to eat more than a smaller or less active one. Either way, they both need a high-quality diet suitable for your Rottie. Watch out for bloat because Rotties like to gobble their food fast.

Grooming

German and American Rottweilers have the same coat and grooming needs. There might be a few shade differences, but they should have a short, thick, double coat that is sleek and easy to care for. They shed moderately throughout the year and slightly heavier during the shedding season. All Rottweilers need brushing several times a week to look and feel their best.

Puppy Prices

How much your Rottweiler puppy costs depends on a wide range of factors. Generally speaking, an American Rottweiler is less expensive than a German Rottweiler if you live in America. If you live in America but want a German Rottweiler, you need to consider the cost of shipping your pup from Germany. This will be expensive and bump the puppy cost up considerably. An average Rottweiler puppy can cost between $850 and $4,000, sometimes more.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is very little difference between American and German Rottweilers. When looking at American and German Rotties side by side, German Rotties tend to be slightly larger and broader. Some say that the German Rottie’s temperament is more well-rounded, but this is more likely down to the training and upbringing they receive. The Rottweiler is a favorite breed in both America and Germany. They make brilliant family pets and working dogs as long as you meet their needs.

Rottweiler put head in suitcase with money

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