American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 16, 2024
American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler

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Most of us may know that the Rottweiler breed originates in Germany. Named after the Germany city of Rotweil, they are one of the most recognized German breeds in the world with a long history as both a working dog and companion animal. For this reason, the term American Rottweiler might seem like it is a mistake. However, it is thanks to this long breeding history that new variations of the breed have emerged. Not only is there a type of German Rottweiler, but an American Rottweiler breed has also been developed.

For those of us who think a Rottweiler might be the ideal companion for our family, we will likely want to compare an American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler. AnimalWised makes a comparison between these two versions of the same breed with our article on their differences and characteristics.

You may also be interested in: Doberman Pinscher vs. Rottweiler
  1. General characteristics of the Rottweiler
  2. German Rottweiler characteristics
  3. American Rottweiler characteristics
  4. The difference between American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler

General characteristics of the Rottweiler

The current appearance of the Rottweiler comes from the variety of the breed developed during the 19th century. Their origins lie further back in history and are believed to be one of the oldest surviving dog breeds. However, the dog known in Ancient times would have been quite different. It wasn't until the late-19th/early-20th century that the breed we know today took form.

Early specimens of the Rottweiler were shepherd dogs, although they would likely have also been used in guardian and other roles. In the lead up to World War I, military dogs were needed and the Rottweiler was seen as the ideal breed for the job. They have a solid and muscular body, but are compact and have great agility. They also have great strength and stamina for a lot of physical activity.

The coat of the Rottweiler is short and is only officially recognized when it has a black and tan coloration. In fact, breed standard organizations have strict rules over how much of each color can present on the dog's body.

In terms of personality, this breed has built a negative reputation with some. It is to such an extent that many countries consider the Rottweiler to be a dangerous dog. Much of this is to do with their deployment in many security operations. In truth, they are very intelligent dogs which can be quite independent. They need proper training and education to ensure their wellbeing and avoid problem behaviors. In these cases, the dog is a loving and loyal companion who will be very protective over their adopted family

These are the general characteristics which can be applied to all types of Rottweiler dogs. For a long time there has been a controversy about Rottweilers born and raised outside of Germany. It is these new breeding lines which has led to the distinction of an American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler. This is why we provide the characteristics and differences of these two types of Rottweiler.

German Rottweiler characteristics

For a dog to be considered a German Rottweiler, it needs to meet certain parameters. They need to be developed solely in German territory and meet the strict guidelines of Rottweiler kennel clubs. Since 1921, there has been the ADRK or Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub. This is the German kennel club in charge of preserving the history of this breed.

The ADRK is very strict regarding the reproduction of the German Rottweiler. Within Germany it only allows the mating of parents whose family tree has been carefully studied. This is in order to avoid variations in the characteristics of the breed.

According to the standards established by this association, the male German Rottweiler must measure between 24-27"/61-68 cm with an ideal weight of 110 lb/50 kg. In addition, females should measure between 20-24"/52-62 cm, with an ideal weight of 95 lb/43 kg.

The tail is long and the snout is short. The body is robust, compact and soli. Generally, they are shorter in stature than the American Rottweiler. For a Rottweiler to be considered pure ‘German’ it must not only display these characteristics, but the ADRK is also responsible for carrying out its investigations to grant it or not the pedigree certificate. This certificate accredits it as a Rottweiler specimen without mixing with other breeds.

Find out other common types of German dog breeds in our related guide.

American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler - German Rottweiler characteristics

American Rottweiler characteristics

The American Rottweiler is said to exceed the German in size. Their starting height is 27"/69 cm and they are known to have individuals which can reach up to 176 lb/80 kg in weight.

In addition to overall sezie, the American Rottweiler is characterized by its short tail and elongated muzzle. Although their body is strong and large, it is still stylized in a similarly compact way to the German Rottweiler.

For many experts the difference between the German and the American Rottweiler lies mainly in their place of birth and in the different controls (or the lack thereof) that are implemented at the time of breeding. In the United States there is no club in charge of monitoring the reproduction of these dogs. This leads to crossbreeding with other breeds and the spread of genes from those individuals that do not meet the ‘standard’ characteristics of the ADRK.

In addition, the short tail has to do with the fact that many breeders choose to dock it. This is a procedure that is no longer practiced in Germany. It has been banned in many European countries as unnecessary and cruel. You can learn more about the practices of tail docking and ear cropping in dogs to learn more about why this is the case.

In the same way, the gigantic size and weight of the American Rottweiler likely responds more to the American preference. In most cases, North American breeders prefer to mate the largest puppies in the litters, propagating these measures that move away from normal patterns.

Discover more about another breed with which Rottweilers are often confused by taking a look at our Doberman vs. Rottweiler comparison.

American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler - American Rottweiler characteristics

The difference between American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler

The terms ‘American Rottweiler’ and ‘German Rottweiler’ are often used colloquially to refer to Rottweilers that may have originated from different regions or breeding lines. It is important to state that there is no distinct breed called the American Rottweiler or German Rottweiler. Rottweilers are a recognized breed with a common standard recognized by kennel clubs and breed organizations worldwide.

As stated before the differences between American and German Rottweilers are largely due to decisions made by breeders in different countries. A broad generalization is that German Rottweilers are bred more to be working dogs, whereas American Rottweilers are considered to be show dogs. There are many individual dogs that contradict this idea.

With this context in mind, we can state the following differences between American Rottweilers vs. German Rottweilers:

  • Size: some American Rottweilers may be bred for larger size and heavier bone structure. German Rottweilers are more likely to conform closely to international Rottweiler breed standards in terms of size.

  • Temperament: American Rottweilers can have varying temperaments, but some may be more docile and family-friendly. German Rottweilers may have a stronger work ethic and may excel in working dog activities, but their temperaments can also vary widely.

  • Appearance: American Rottweilers may emphasize physical appearance, including head shape, coat color and markings. German Rottweilers are more likely to have the classic Rottweiler appearance with a blocky head, strong build and traditional markings.

  • Working drive: American show-line Rottweilers may have a reduced focus on working abilities and tasks. German Rottweilers may have a stronger work drive and are often involved in working dog sports or activities like Schutzhund.

  • Canine sports: American Rottweilers may not be as commonly involved in working dog sports or activities. German Rottweilers are more likely to participate in and excel in working titles and activities.

Now we know the differences between these two supposed types of Rottweiler, you may want to see other comparisons of the breed. Take a look at our article on the difference between Rottweilers and Pitbulls to learn more.

If you want to read similar articles to American Rottweiler vs. German Rottweiler, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

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