Over the years, breeders and pet fanciers have seen some significant development with Rottweilers which puts to question how kennel clubs preserve their quality.
To make things worse, this ancient breed has been further categorized as German and American by several profit-hungry breeders to improve their sales.
But is it really appropriate to address varieties of these dogs through geographical indicators? Did the Americans alter the appearance and temperament of the breed to the point that it had to be called differently?
The answers to these questions, including some other information about the two classifications of Rottweilers, can all be found in this extensive guide. Bookmark this page or share it with other Rottweiler enthusiasts if you find this helpful.
- Head: Wide and more menacing.
- Eyes: Almond-shaped, dark brown in color.
- Ears: Set high and triangular.
- Nose: Broad, black in color.
- Neck: Moderately long and well-muscled.
- Body: Broader and more muscular.
- Tail: Natural, not docked.
- Coat: Dense and straight, colors are black and mahogany, black and rust, and black and tan.
- Eager to work
- Head: Smaller than German Rotties.
- Eyes: Almond-shaped, dark brown in color.
- Ears: Triangular and alert.
- Nose: Broad, black in color.
- Neck: Moderately long and well-muscled.
- Body: Broad and leaner.
- Tail: Usually docked.
- Coat: Dense and straight, colors are black and mahogany, black and rust, black and tan, blue, red, and all black.
- Confident guardian
- Gentle playmate
What Is an American Rottweiler and German Rottweiler? Are They the Same?
An American Rottweiler is a variation of the Rottweiler breed which has been around since Roman times. They were labeled as American because they have deviated from the original standards set by ADRK. On the other hand, German Rottweilers are believed to be the preserved version of the old herding and driving canines.
If we are to go technical about it, the current generation of Rottweilers whether born in America, Asia, or anywhere else, are all Germans because that’s the breed’s origin.
However, from another perspective, the option to call a Rottweiler American or German is also permissible in the context that they were bred and produced in a particular country and they are observed to display some characteristics far from the original.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there are no hard and fast rules for categorizing dogs geographically because kennel clubs don’t control this. In fact, these organizations simply call Rottweilers as Rottweilers. No adjectives or any location markers are attached.
Breed Origin and History of American and German Rottweilers
Rottweilers have been around for such a long time that they may have even witnessed many historical events written in our history books.
They used to accompany Roman Legions as they marched over the Alps, and their primary responsibility was to drive cattle and protect humans by guarding outposts.
When they reached the region of Rottweil in Southern Germany, they naturally mixed with native dogs and they became the pups we know today. Their name was then referenced to the city of Rottweil, and many Germans started calling them “Rottweil butcher’s dog.”
Since the beginning, Rotties have been excellent working dogs. They used to drive cattle to the market, pull carts, guard homestead, and carry money in belts that were tied around their necks to and from the market.
Their service was also requested by the police in 1910 because they were thought suitable for the job.
Despite the seemingly excellent status of Rottweilers among canine circles, they almost faced extinction near the turn of the century.
Smaller dogs came to rise, and they took over the roles of Rotties. Pet owners and breeders set the Rottweilers aside for tiny dogs who they thought are easier to maintain.
Fortunately, a bunch of dedicated breeders was able to save the breed, and they have since been developed in America and other parts of the world. This was also the beginning of their classification, which many are not in favor of.
Who Is Responsible for the Distinction Between the American and German Rottweilers?
The Rottweilers and some other breeds which are being geographically categorized are all victims of a failed attempt in preservation. We can trace the changes done to Rotties by identifying the people and organizations who should be looking after them. Here they are:
- Kennel Clubs: Various kennel clubs have published their own version of the Rottweiler breed standard. In doing so, some of them have tailored it to match what they think is acceptable. This is the primary reason why Rotties were developed and born in Germany following the standard of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub (ADRK) are different from the American Rottweilers promoted by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
- Breeders: Rottweiler breeders are also among the entities who have contributed to the distinction between the German and American lines. They purposefully bred the dog to achieve their personal goal, which is not acceptable in any aspect, especially if they are prioritizing specific characteristics over the dog’s health and temperament.
- Dog Shows and Judges: Many Rottweiler breeders rely on the conformation standards used in conformation shows in producing their litter. However, there are times where the judges are leaning on a certain characteristic which is not typical for the breed. News about this particular trait will circulate, and you will see breeders working intensively to transform the dogs they produce just to please the judges.
- Dog Owners: Don’t think dog owners don’t have a role in this. In fact, they are of equal impact as the breeder. Some owners prefer Rottweilers to be a certain way because they simply think it’s cool. Since breeders also need to earn, they know they have to create dogs following the whims of a few.
- Government: Why is the government involved, you ask. Newsflash: the government is involved in everything. In terms of dog breeding, there are specific administrative departments that should be regulating appearance, temperament, and health. If they fail to set rules or they aren’t that strict on implementing it, subtle changes will happen until the breed has strayed too far from the original.
The first difference between the German and American Rottweilers that we are going to explore is their appearance. I have consulted the breed standards written by the ADRK and AKC, as well as some anecdotal records to compare them substantially.
According to the standards of the AKC approved and implemented in 1990, American Rottweilers are generally robust and powerful canines that are medium-large in size.
Their build exudes strength, endurance, and power; that’s why they are classified as working dogs. When you look at them at a glance, you’ll notice that they are a bit taller and leggier than the Germans.
Here’s a more comprehensive description of how they look:
- Head: Their head is medium length, and it appears broad between their ears. Some breeders say that they have a relatively smaller head than the German Rotties and this is true most of the time.
- Eyes: Their eyes are almond-shaped, and it is not receding or protruding. The acceptable color is dark brown.
- Ears: Their ears are triangular, and when they are alert, it is the same level as their skull.
- Nose: Their nose is not broad but round. It is usually black in color.
- Neck: Their neck is moderately long, well-muscled, slightly arched, and doesn’t have any loose skin.
- Body: They have a roomy chest that is both deep and broad. Their forechest is well-pronounced, and their ribs are well-sprung and oval.
- Tail: Perhaps the biggest difference between the American and German Rottie is their tail. Those from the American bloodline have a docked tail because that’s what most conformation show requires.
- Coat: Their outer coat is dense and straight, and most of them have an undercoat found on their neck and thighs. The three standard colors are black and mahogany, black and rust, and black and tan. However, other variations, like red and blue also exist. Below are some samples of their coat colors.
Black and Mahogany American Rottweiler
Black and Mahogany American Rottweilers have a deep black coat with markings that are described by the AKC as dull, reddish-brown. In some Rotties, the mahogany coloring is medium-saturated, while there are also cases where they are richer.
Black and Rust American Rottweiler
Black and Rust American Rottweilers have the typical black coat and reddish-brown markings that are described by the AKC as medium-brilliant.
Black and Tan American Rottweiler
Black and tan American Rottweilers almost appear the same as the black and rust. But if you look at them closely, you’ll notice that their marks are paler and a bit yellowish in color.
Red American Rottweiler
The AKC does not recognize red American Rottweilers, but they do exist. They have a black coat and reddish marking that looks almost tan in sunlight.
Blue American Rottweiler
Blue American Rottweilers are quite rare. They possess a silvery grey coat instead of black, and they also have markings that range from mahogany to tan.
Black American Rottweiler
Solid black Rottweilers are hard to come across. They don’t have any markings on their body, but their tan or lighter color undertone is noticeable in daylight.
If you are interested, you can watch this video from AKC which shows how American Rottweilers look like:
German Rottweilers look way more impressive than most American Rotties with their thick bones, blocky heads, and broader bodies. Why? The answer is quite simple. They are bred strictly following the standard of the ancient Rottweilers. Here’s how the ADRK describes them:
- Head: If the American Rottweiler’s head is noticeably smaller, the German Rottie has a broad head between their ears. Their forehead line is also moderately arched when viewed from the side.
- Eyes: The eyes of the German Rottweilers are similar to their American cousin. It is almond-shaped and dark brown in color.
- Ears: Their ears are set on high and triangular, which resembles that of the American.
- Nose: Their nose is broad and usually black in color. They also have relatively large nostrils.
- Neck: Their neck looks strong because it is well-muscled. They also don’t have any excessive dewlap.
- Body: Their body is a bit broader than the American Rotties. It is formed of a solid forechest and well-sprung ribs.
- Tail: Their tail is always in natural condition. Tail docking is not allowed for German Rottweilers which is one of their most significant distinctions from other varieties.
- Coat: They also have a top coat and an undercoat. The top is medium-length and coarse, while the undercoat is entirely hidden. Below are the only existing colors as per the ADRK:
Black and Mahogany German Rottweiler
A Black and Mahogany German Rottweiler has a black coat with reddish-brown markings that are medium-saturated. They do look the same as the Americans.
Black and Rust German Rottweiler
Black and Rust German Rottweilers have medium-brilliant, brownish-red markings. Their coat is primarily black with some accents of this rust coloration.
Black and Tan German Rottweiler
Black and Tan German Rottweilers have a rich black coat with tan markings that do not exceed ten percent of their coat color.
Watch this video to fully visualize how a German Rottweiler looks like:
Differences in Size
The American and German Rottweilers come in different sizes. Male dogs are often bigger than females, even though there are small, medium, and large versions. Here are their specific sizes.
Unlike the ADRK, AKC did not specifically describe the measurements and weight of small, medium, and large Rottweilers. Instead, they presented their general average size on their breed standard.
Height and Weight of Male American Rottweiler:
- Height: 24 to 27 inches
- Weight: 95 to 135 pounds
Height and Weight of Female American Rottweiler:
- Height: 22 to 25 inches
- Weight: 80 to 100 pounds
AKC strongly condemns the reversal of sex characteristics. For instance, male American Rottweilers with female measurements and female American Rottweilers who are as big as the males.
The way the ADRK described the German Rottweilers in terms of size is pretty impressive. They have taken into consideration the different varieties, so breeders are well-guided in producing their desired litter size.
Height and Weight of Male German Rottweiler:
- Height: Approximately 24 to 27 inches
- Small: 24 inches
- Medium: 25 inches
- Large: 26 inches
- Very Large: 27 inches
- Weight: Approximately 110 pounds
Height and Weight of Female German Rottweiler:
- Height: 22 to 25 inches
- Small: 22 inches
- Medium: 23 inches
- Large: 24 inches
- Very Large: 25 inches
- Weight: Approximately 93 pounds
Differences in Gait/Movement
Canine gait is their quality of movement. Most kennel clubs give a great deal of importance to this because they believe this reflects the dog’s overall skills. Read on to learn about the gait of American and German Rottweilers.
AKC describes the movement of the Rottweiler as balanced, powerful, sure, and harmonious. They are known trotters, and their motion is ground-covering and effortless. Their forereach is strong as well as their rear-drive.
German Rotties are similar in movement to the American pups. They also trot, and their back remains stable and firm in their every move. ADRK further describes their gait as harmonious, unrestricted, and full of energy.
Rottweiler temperament greatly depends on how they were trained and socialized by their owners. However, let us still look at the expected behavior of the AKC and ADRK.
American Rotties are intelligent and highly trainable. They love pleasing their owners, although a good chunk of them are a bit stubborn. The key to raising them well is engaging them in basic training classes and early socialization.
But make sure that you are firm with them without being mean. Roughhousing American Rottweilers only encourages aggressive behavior.
Some people find American Rottweilers aloof because of their wait-and-see attitude. They do not immediately get along with strangers because they still assess if they are a threat or not. When they do approach them, they do it quietly that some owners mistake as being shy.
American Rottweilers have a good relationship with children. That is if they are trained appropriately. They love to play with kids, but an adult should still assist it.
With Other Dogs and Pets
American Rottweilers don’t have any issues with other animals as long as they are raised alongside them. However, they may react violently with strange animals and dogs of the same gender.
As per the standards of the ADRK, German Rottweilers are obedient dogs. They are easy to train like the American bloodline, and they respond well to treats.
Also, since they came from the German bloodline, they can be enrolled in Schutzhund classes. This is a kind of dog sport that will teach them obedience, tracking, and protection.
Just like the American Rottie, Germans also have a placid disposition. They do not immediately get along with strangers, but they aren’t too aggressive with them.
Some pet owners observe that they show commendable alertness in front of others, and this is understandable because it is in their nature to guard and protect.
German Rottweilers are no more dangerous to kids than other dog breeds. Once they are well-trained, they’ll be excellent protectors and playmates of your little ones.
With Other Dogs and Pets
Several German Rottweilers have sharp personalities. If this is precisely the behavior manifested by your dog, do not expect them to interact calmly with other canines, especially if they are of the same gender.
German Rotties are observed to be dominant, so they have an instinct to prove that they are the alpha.
Which Is a Better Family Companion?
My guess is that you are on this page because you want to know whether Rottweilers are great family companions. You are in luck because that is exactly what I am going to share in this section.
American Rottweilers are preferable if you want a casual family dog. However, I do not encourage you to buy one if you are a novice pet owner. They need intense training and socialization for them to be perfect gentle companions which means you need to spend a lot of time with them.
Another tiny fact I want to add is that they develop separation anxiety once they get closely attached to humans. If you don’t want this kind of responsibility, opt for smaller, low-maintenance pups.
German Rottweilers are hardy and robust dogs. If they are trained appropriately, they can become family companions.
I should mention, though, that because they are stockier than the American line, they need exercise and mental stimulation. If you are a couch person and not a fan of outdoor play, I don’t think they are the right dog for you.
Differences in Kennel Club Breeding Regulation
American Rottweilers are registered on the American Kennel Club (AKC), a pedigree registry that also promotes breeding for function and type.
On the other hand, German Rottweilers are registered on the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub (ADRK), a Rottweiler governing body in Germany who sticks to the core goal of breeding Rotties who are excellent working dogs.
The AKC attempts to regulate the breeding of Rottweilers, but there are pieces of evidence that they are falling short of their job. An obvious manifestation of this is the breed’s appearance.
When Rottweilers should have thick bones and broad bodies, American Rottweilers are leaner, leggier, and a bit taller. This transformation can be traced to the implementation of AKC’s breed standard.
Also, they allow tail docking or the removal of a portion of a Rottweiler’s tail. The ADRK does not permit this for German Rottweilers.
The ADRK does not only “attempt” to regulate Rottweiler breeding, but they “ensure” that each breeder follows the standard they implement. How do they do this?
First off, they have strict breeding protocols that require dogs to pass the ZTP Breed Suitability Test.
This test assesses whether the Rottweilers who are about to be mated conform to the ideal physical appearance of the breed. They also ask for health certifications to ensure that the Rottweilers are free from genetic diseases.
Aside from these, they make sure that despite a large number of applications, each Rottweiler goes through the following:
Breeders also have to attend workshops with expertise tests and their breeding station is assessed by the Rottweiler breed warden.
Differences in Working Skills
Rottweilers are primarily bred to be herder or drovers. That is why looking at their working skills is also necessary if we are to make this German vs. American Rottweiler guide more substantial.
The AKC claims that American Rottweilers are still excellent working dogs. Still, an observation of the breed would make one conclude that they have indeed deviated from the original power and agility of the Rottweilers.
They are still great protectors, though. That’s worth giving credit.
German Rottweilers are bred in order to work. In other words, the primary goal of the ADRK in monitoring the production of these dogs is to produce litters which are great herders, protectors, and drovers.
Through the intensive implementation of the standards for the breed which is based on their ancient original traits, German Rottweilers are still very eager workers and excellent all-around pets.
Lifespan and Health Issues
Rottweilers, whether from American or German bloodlines, have a lifespan of 9 to 10 years. However, some pet owners report that their Rottie has lived beyond those ages.
If you want to make sure that your American and German Rottweilers live for a long time, monitor and bring them to the vet once they showcased symptoms of the following diseases which often afflicts their breed:
- Hip Dysplasia: This is a common problem of heavier set canines, not only the Rottweilers. Symptoms of this condition include abnormal gait, pain while walking, lameness, fragility, extreme tenderness, and in worst cases, immobility.
- Elbow Dysplasia: This ailment occurs in the elbow joint and is characterized by extreme pain, lameness, difficulty in straightening their arm, abnormal gait, and immobility.
- Aortic Stenosis: This happens when there is an obstruction in the blood flow to the dog’s heart. If not identified early, this may lead to a heart attack.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This eye problem occurs when the dog’s photoreceptors found in the back of their eye begin to fail. This may affect day and night vision and lead to total blindness.
- Cataracts: When there is an opacity in your Rottweiler’s eyes, he may have cataracts. This condition has different grades, including incipient, immature, and hypermature.
- Cancer: Lymphoma is the most common cancer that leads Rotties to their deathbed. It is still unknown what is the exact cause of cancer for this breed.
- Osteochondritis Dessicans: Since Rottweilers have big bones, they are more prone to this condition. Their bones grow fast and sometimes do not align properly, leading to a problem similar to hip dysplasia but even worse.
- Allergies: Rotties have thick undercoats where bacterias and fleas may accumulate. This may cause allergies and often eczema.
Differences in Puppy Price
This guide about American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler would not be complete without mentioning the difference in their pricing. I have consulted several breeders, and here is the report of my little survey.
Eight-week-old American Rottweilers cost around $1,500 to $2,500. But this is just the initial price of purchasing the dog. Expect to spend more bucks on training needs, insurance, and other primary needs when you bring one home.
German Rottweilers are a bit more expensive than those from the American lines because their breeding is more rigorous. They are usually around $2,700 to $3,000. But if you are going to have them shipped, you need to spend $400 more.
Which Rottweiler Is Right for You?
We’ve come this far and yet you are still torn between the two Rottweiler varieties, aren’t you? Don’t worry. I know this was coming so I saved up a part of this article to help you with your dilemma.
American Rottweilers are suitable for you if:
- You like your dog leaner and leggier.
- You are after a family protector and companion.
- You want Rotties with blue, red, and all-black coat color.
- You want your Rottweiler to have a docked tail.
- Your budget is between $1,500 to $2,500.
German Rottweilers are suitable for you if:
- You like your dog stockier and more powerful.
- You are after an excellent working dog.
- You want to ensure that your Rottweiler came from ancient bloodlines.
- You desire dogs who don’t have any congenital diseases because the breeding stock underwent careful selection and testing.
- You don’t mind owning a pup with limited color options.
- You are ready to spend $2,700 to $3,000 exclusive of the shipping cost.
American and German Rottweiler Breeders: Places to Get Your Rottweiler Puppy
Below are some breeder directories and kennel facilities where you can buy your American and German Rottweiler.
- American Kennel Club (AKC) Marketplace – This is the safest place to look for American Rottweilers because the AKC monitors breeders who post on this site. You’ll also come across litters from Rottweilers who won in conformation shows.
- American Rottweiler Club (ARC) – This is primarily an organization that looks after Rottweiler ownership, but they also help pet owners find a Rottie by providing them with a list of ARC members who offer American Rottweiler pups.
- Von Warterr Rottweilers – This kennel facility follows the ADRK standards in breeding their dogs. Most of their Rottweiler pedigrees are world-class.
- Von Ruelmann Rottweilers – This facility was established in 1980 and is famous for using German breeding techniques. They also have world champion studs, so you get the best quality for your money.
- Von Evman Rottweilers – The breeding parents of this kennel facility were certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. They are awarded by the AKC the Silver Breeder Merit award.
Final Thoughts: American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler
Rottweilers are famous among ancient pet fanciers because they are great drovers, herders, and protectors. But as years passed, we have seen a new variety of Rotties which are far more suited for companionship. Breeders call them the American Rottweilers.
While they may differ from the true German Rottweilers, we cannot say that one is better than the other because it still boils down to pet owner preference. A casual pet owner may prefer the American over the German Rottie.
On the other hand, those who are in police service and other professions that require a working dog will still seek Rottweilers from the German lineage.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.