German Rottweilers vs. American Rottweiler: Is there really any difference?

What is the difference between German and American Rottweilers? This is one of the most common questions we get as breeders. Usually, this is followed by another asking which of the two Rottweiler ‘breeds’ is the better one.

These questions stem from a common misconception that American and German Rottweilers are fundamentally different breeds. So, we always clarify that, technically as per official breed standards, there is only one kind of Rottweiler: a correct one.

Now, the confusion may have stemmed from the laxer implementing policies that American breeders are subjected to compared to their German counterparts which results to the prevalence of poorly bred dogs. We will discuss these differing policies in more detail later.

Another reason why people might be under the impression that American and German Rottweilers are different breeds is that they apply the concept of nationality to dog breeds.

If you want to get technical about it, all Rottweilers are German because the breed originated from Germany. Therefore, all Rottweilers you see, whether they were born in the US or South Africa, are of German descent.

You see, Rottweilers (pronounced Rott-vile-er) are descendants of Roman cattle dogs that accompanied the Roman armies in what is now South Germany. The name Rottweiler itself was derived from the word ‘Rottweil’, which is a name of a southwestern German town where the first Rottweilers came from.

The perils of backyard breeding

As we have said earlier, there is a prevalence in poorly bred Rottweilers which then become the cause of people thinking that there are different types of the breed.

Such poorly bred dogs are usually the products of backyard breeders and puppy mills, which unethical practices, should be condemned. These breeders, although some are well-aware of the proper breed standards, consciously choose to breed ‘wrong’ puppies for fast profit.

Thus, Rottweilers with numerous physical and temperamental diversions from the breed standards are still made to breed with each other resulting to more ‘faulty’ dogs. So, you might see some ‘purebred Rottweilers’ which have white markings instead of rust-colored ones or perpetually wrinkled foreheads instead of flat-skinned ones.

These diversions to the breed standard are called faults. Here are some of the most common Rottweiler breed faults to watch out for in your search for a good breeder.

In general appearance: lightness of bone and muscle structure, leggy appearance, docked tail
In foreface: a pale or spotted nose, long or pointed muzzle
In jaw structure: a noticeably narrower lower jaw
In eye structure: too full or rounded eyes, loose eyelids
In chest structure: a flat or barrel shaped rib
In skin appearance: wrinkles on the forehead
In coat appearance: wavy coat or a lack of undercoat, markings of incorrect colors

These faults are identified and codified by the World Canine Organization (Federacion Cynologique Internationale) in their official breed standards for the Rottweiler. The World Canine Organization or FCI is an international organization which aim to ensure the protection of purebred dogs by upholding breed standards across countries.

You can find a more comprehensive list of Rottweiler breed faults in their official website.

So, what does a correct Rottweiler look like?

To help maintain the integrity of the Rottweiler as a breed and to put unethical puppy mills and backyard breeders out of business, you should be aware of what a correct Rottweiler should look like and only buy puppies from reputable breeders.

As per official Rottweiler breed standards followed by organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC), which is the largest dog registry in the world, these are the characteristics of a correct Rottweiler taken from their approved breed standards:

In general appearance: medium large body, pure black coat with clear and defined rust-colored markings
In size and proportion: Male dogs: 24 to 27 inches, Bitches: 22 to 25 inches (those in the mid-range (both sexes) are more preferred), proportions: depth of chest should be about 50% of the height of the dog.
In head appearance: broad between the ears, forehead line appears moderately arched when viewed in profile, strong and broad upper and lower jaws, forehead should only wrinkle when the dog is alerted, expression should be self-assured, noble and alert
In bite and dental appearance: 42 teeth with 20 upper and 22 lower teeth, should have a scissors bite meaning lower incisors should be touching the inside of the upper incisors
In neck appearance: well-muscled, moderate in length, without loose skin and slightly arched
In tail placement and length: should be docked short and close to the body only leaving one to two tail vertebrae
• *In coat hair and colors: outer coat should be straight, dense, medium in length, coarse and flat while undercoat is only present in neck and thighs, and not show through the outer coat. Hair should always be black with some rust colored markings. Some of the markings are located as follows: (a) cheeks, (b) black penciling on toes, (c) under the tail, (d) strip on each side of the muzzle, (e) on throat, (d) inside of rear legs.

*Note that the presence of other hair colors such as white on the chest automatically counts as a fault. Some of the breeds from which the Rottweiler was derived from had white markings on their chest which has been almost eliminated from the Rottweiler breed. These white markings prove the puppy is of true German lines, but are still faults for AKC Show Ring.

In temperament: calm but confident and courageous, self-assured yet aloof, has a wait-and-see attitude when faced with stimuli, has inherent desire to protect owner or family, adaptable and intelligent, has a strong willingness for work, should not be aggressive towards other dogs

So, if a dog meets all of these standards, then it won’t matter if it was born in China or Poland, that dog would be a Rottweiler period.

Why Rottweilers bred in America and Germany look different?

Still, you might ask, “Then why do Rottweilers in Germany look different from Rottweilers bred in America?”.

Well, it’s most probably because of the stricter implementation of breeding standards in Germany.

You see, German breeders are barred from registering their litter of puppies if its parents failed to pass a strict breed suitability test which evaluates a Rottweiler’s compliance to the official breed standards. This prerequisite ensures that only the best dogs of the breed get to reproduce and birth puppies. This also limits the number of Rottweilers with breed faults in Germany and effectively prevents breed faults to reproduce further.

Meanwhile here in the US, the AKC will allow the puppies produced by two faulty Rottweilers to be registered and sold as purebreds. This then gives bad breeders the opportunity and platform to sell their puppies. This results to some very noticeable variations in the Rottweilers found here which then leads to some thinking that Rottweilers bred in Germany are a different and better kind of Rottweiler than those bred here.

Again, there is only one kind of Rottweiler, a correct one which meets breed standards. Though importing a Rottweiler puppy from Germany might seem like a great way to ensure that you’re getting a correct Rottweiler, you can still find good and reputable breeders here in the USA.

The importance of finding a good breeder

Selecting a good breeder is one of the best and easiest way to find a healthy and purebred Rottweiler puppy. It is also a way for you to support responsible dog breeding and put the cruel puppy mill breeders out of business by not giving them your money.

Not to mention, good breeders will not only supply you with a healthy puppy. They will also supply you with some vital information and benefits as well. And this is where we have our edge over other breeders.

What we offer

Here at King Rottweilers, we offer a 2-year free puppy replacement guarantee and a lifetime guarantee (up to 10 years) for hereditary defects in our health contract. You can read the entire contract and benefits here.

We also do extensive DNA testing on our puppies to ensure that you will be receiving healthy puppies. You can check out the entire list of the possible defects we test for here.

Why choose us

With our selective breeding process with World Champion Pedigrees we can guarantee that our Rottweiler Puppies are healthy, proper temperament and confirmation correct.

King Rottweilers produces / imports first and foremost for health and temperament; while maintaining Rottweiler breed standards using World Famous European pedigrees. Thus, we produce some of the highly sought-after Rottweiler puppies in the United States.

We hope this article answered your questions regarding the Rottweiler as a breed. We also hope that we’ve convinced you to only patronize reputable breeders to avoid encouraging puppy mills and maintaining the integrity of the Rottweiler breed in the USA. Hey, Rottweilers might be technically German but we can give them a run for their money by producing equally great Rottweilers!