Rottweiler vs German Shepherd – 13 Differences You Must Know

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd

A Rottweiler and a German Shepherd seem to be worlds apart, but just how different are these breeds? If you want to adopt one of these dogs for your family, which one would make a better choice? Keep reading to find out what makes them different and whether or not they have traits in common.


Here is a brief overview of the basic characteristics of the German Shepherd and Rottweiler:


Average Height 22 – 27 inches
Average Weight 80 – 135lbs
Life Span 9 – 10 years
Coat Double coat, short and coarse
Kid-Friendly Moderately
Dog Friendly Moderately
Preferred Climate Moderate
Trainability High

German Shepherd

Average Height 22 – 26 inches
Average Weight 50 – 90lbs
Life Span 7 – 10 years
Coat Double coat, medium-length
Kid-Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Potentially, with proper socialization
Preferred Climate Moderate to cool
Trainability High

This title goes to German Shepherds. According to AKC records, they are the second most popular dog breed in existence. The Rottweiler isn’t too far behind, though, and has earned an impressive eighth-place spot.

German Shepherds have been a popular breed for quite a while. This is because they are considered useful pets, often seen as police and military dogs. The fact that they are loyal, intelligent, and courageous certainly embolden them to owners as well.

Rottweilers have gotten a bad rap in the press over the years, which is why they don’t place as high as the German Shepherd. For a while, there was some anti-Rottweiler sentiment as many people believed this dog to be rough and ruthless.

Fortunately, reality has won out, with many Rottweiler owners taking the initiative to show how kind, loving, and playful these pups can be. Such campaigns have appeared to work as the Rottweiler has been consistently climbing the charts for a while.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed is Bigger?


The Rottweiler is undoubtedly the winner here. Even at their heaviest, a German Shepherd can only reach the size of a smaller Rottweiler. In both breeds, the females tend to be smaller, with the males being taller and weighing more.

In terms of physique, the Rottweiler boasts a more muscular frame. Despite being incredibly powerful, a characteristic feature of this breed’s physique is its compact build. The muscles are proportionate, giving them the appearance of having a well-balanced frame.

The German Shepherd may have a leaner frame than the Rottweiler, but it doesn’t make this breed any less muscled. They too are strong, with an athletic frame. A German Shepherd is longer than they are tall, with a deep chest and tucked-in stomach.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed Has More Variation in Their Coat?

The German Shepherd certainly has more variations in coat colors than a Rottweiler. A German Shepherd can present in colors such as:

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Black and cream
  • Black and red
  • Black and silver
  • Blue
  • Gray
  • Liver Sable
  • White
  • Bi-Color

Some shades are a result of genetic mutation. These are rarer and not recognized by major kennels.

By contrast, Rottweilers tend to look more similar. Although they may look alike in terms of coat color, this isn’t always the case. A Rottweiler coat can present as black and tan, black and mahogany, and black and rust.

The shades of brown and reddish-brown are similar as well. As a result, they aren’t always as noticeable as variations in German Shepherd coats.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed is Healthier?

On average, both these breeds are quite healthy. This factor usually depends on the breeder, however. A good breeder will take proper precautions and run the right tests on the parents and grandparents of a litter. This can drastically reduce the risk of these pups being born with any genetic issues.

Some issues that you may have to contend with in Rottweilers are:

As for German Shepherds, the most concerning issues are:

The outlook of diseases such as cancer and even bloat can be greatly reduced by frequent visits to the vet. There is some evidence that adhering to a proper vaccination schedule can decrease the odds of them getting cancer.

As for bloat, a vet will be able to educate you about the symptoms and what you can do if the situation arises. More importantly, you can learn about what to do to prevent this condition in the first place.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed Will Live Longer?

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd

These dogs have similar lifespans – on average, they will only live about a decade or a little over that. German Shepherds may not live as long as Rottweilers, however.

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Choosing a healthy puppy from a good breeder can greatly increase the odds of your dog having a longer lifespan. It is also important to take good care of your dog throughout. This includes providing them with proper nutrition, healthcare, and attention so that they remain physically and mentally healthy.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed is Better with Families?

As mentioned, Rottweilers have been unfairly painted as brutish, unfriendly dogs. When it comes to a family-friendly breed, though, the Rottweiler is just as loving as the German Shepherd. They are also as playful.

The only area that a German Shepherd might score higher in is how child-friendly they are. On average, German Shepherds are better around kids. They are quite patient around little ones and will take on a nurturing role.

On the other hand, Rottweilers tend to nudge or bump children – keep in mind that this is a natural instinct. It is merely a way of getting the child to move forward. With smaller children who are unsteady on their feet, this movement can cause them to fall.

This is not to say that Rottweilers are a threat to children, however, German Shepherds are the better choice here.

German Shepherds are also known to be highly attached to their humans. As such, these dogs can’t be left alone by themselves for too long. Even spending short periods away from their owner can cause this breed to suffer from separation anxiety.

Rottweilers exude a calmer and more confident personality. They may take more time to warm up to people. Even then, they will pick and choose who to befriend and may not treat each individual the same way. Once a bond is formed, however, it is unbreakable.

Although both these breeds are loving and open with people they know, the same can’t be said for their reaction to strangers. Rottweilers and German Shepherds can be equally aloof and even wary of strangers. It is important to socialize with them at a young age so they can be comfortable around people they don’t know.

Both dogs are also quite protective of their families and earn the title of watchdog. They are intelligent and alert and will make sure that no harm comes to their humans.

The German Shepherd and Rottweiler can be good with other dogs, but early socialization will most often determine this. These breeds are more likely to take to canine companions if they are raised in a household with other pets.

With Rottweilers, be careful when introducing males to other males as there can be some aggression here. Make sure to keep a tight grip on both dogs’ leads and take the process slowly. Once again, the earlier you can get your Rottweiler introduced to other dogs, the better.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed is Better for First-Time Owners?

In theory, German Shepherds are a better choice for first-time owners. They are affectionate and obedient which makes them easier to handle. Despite this, you should be aware that this breed requires a great deal of care.

German Shepherds have been bred to be working dogs. As such, they need a certain amount of physical activity and must be mentally stimulated as well. If these needs aren’t met, the dogs will get bored and begin to act out. This may include the destruction of property and household items.

They can’t be left alone for long periods either. If you aren’t at home for most of the day, you may need to hire a dog walker to ensure that your pup gets proper attention throughout the day. Not to mention, you need to meet their exercise needs as well.

There are a few reasons why a Rottweiler isn’t great for a first-time owner. This has to do with the size of the dog. It is big and powerful and not easy for some people to handle. Coupled with protective instincts, it can sometimes be tricky to get your dog under control around strangers.

To add to this, the Rottweiler can have a rather dominant personality. As such, you need to establish yourself in a leadership role as soon as the puppy is brought home. If you fail to do this, the Rottweiler may try to take advantage of the situation by bullying you.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed Requires a Special Diet?

The best food to give both these dogs is high-quality dog food that contains high-quality food sources for protein, carbs, and fat. The food should be free of fillers or preservatives.

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Both Rottweilers and German Shepherds are considered to be larger breeds. This puts them at risk of a condition known as panosteitis. German Shepherds are disproportionately diagnosed with this issue.

This happens when the puppies grow too quickly. This can cause joint pain and even lameness. It could also potentially cause other health issues as an adult. Panosteitis is a self-resolving problem and will go away once your puppy is full-grown.

Despite this, it is important to take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of your dog developing this condition. You should speak to your vet to get the best advice on what to do.

They will most likely recommend that you put your dog on high-quality dog food with a well-balanced nutrition profile. It is important to only feed your puppy what is needed, to keep them lean and healthy. This includes limiting treats or snacks.

Dogs that are fed more than the recommended amount may be more likely to develop this condition. With the help of your vet, it is important to only feed your German Shepherd a certain amount of food each day.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed Needs More Exercise?

Which Breed Needs More Exercise?

These are both athletic breeds, but the German Shepherd certainly requires more physical activity. You should aim to give them around two hours of exercise a day. This includes walks as well as playing fetch and Frisbee.

The German Shepherd is a working dog that is used to being on the move all day long. If they don’t get enough exercise, they will feel bored and unfulfilled. You can break up their activity sessions into several smaller ones throughout the day.

These dogs are great at dog sports such as dock diving and herding as well. These activities help to mentally stimulate your dog as well, which can result in a happier and healthier pet.

The Rottweiler may need about an hour of exercise a day. This includes vigorous walks, but these dogs also love to swim. Ensuring that your Rottweiler gets enough exercise guarantees that they burn off their excess energy, making them calmer and more obedient.

With both dogs, allowing them to simply run around in your backyard isn’t a sufficient workout. You need to give them vigorous physical activity for an extended period as well.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed Can Live in an Apartment?

Neither of these breeds is particularly well-suited to living in apartments. This is because they are larger breeds and are quite energetic as well. The confined space can make them feel as if they are cooped up.

That being said, there are many instances of both Rottweilers and German Shepherds living in apartments. If you intend on keeping them in such a space, it’s important to make sure that these dogs get an appropriate amount of exercise each day.

You should also bear in mind that some apartment complexes may have rules regarding the size and the breed of the dogs you can keep in your home. In many cities, Rottweilers aren’t allowed due to fear of the dog’s reputation.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd: Which Breed is Easier to Groom?

German Shepherds have earned the nickname German Shedders, which should give you some idea of what having this pup in your home will be like. This breed sheds profusely and sheds all year long as well. Twice a year, they will blow their coat and the shedding will intensify for some time.

Due to this, German Shepherds do require far more grooming than Rottweilers. To keep the shedding under control, you should try to brush your dog several times a week. As they have a double coat, it is helpful to use a slicker brush as well as an undercoat rake.

When your dog enters the shedding season, you will need to increase the frequency of the grooming sessions. It is recommended that you brush your dog every day. Using a de-shedding tool and de-shedding tool can help with the situation.

They may need to be brushed quite a bit, but German Shepherds don’t need to be bathed all that often. The less bathing, the better. You will only have to bathe them when they are very dirty and smelly or around once every few months.

Don’t let the short coat of the Rottweiler fool you – this dog has a double coat as well, it is just not as obvious. As a result, this breed will shed throughout the year. The only difference is that the level of shedding is more moderate.

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Like the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler also has two shedding seasons during spring and fall. During this time, the dogs will shed a great deal more.

In general, Rottweilers only need to be brushed once a week. You may want to increase this to several times a week during the shedding season. Bathe them when they begin to smell or their coat feels dirty.

Rottweiler vs German Shepherd: Which Breed is Simpler to Train?

Both breeds are highly trainable. As they love having a job to do, they take to learning commands and tasks quite well. It is best to start training them from the moment you bring them home. Your dog will adapt to training techniques more readily as well.

The German Shepherd is probably easier to train than Rottweilers, simply due to their nature. These dogs have been bred to be obedient which means that they can be trained with less fuss or preparation.

For this breed, training is also a form of mental stimulation, and the more they are taught, the better they will feel. This allows you to teach your German Shepherd a wider variety of commands, tasks, and more.

As stated, Rottweilers usually have strong personalities. If you want to train them properly, you should first get your Rottweiler used to the idea of you being the alpha in the house. Even then, don’t be surprised if this pup tries to avoid listening to you.

Once you can get your Rottweiler to listen to you, though, it will be smooth sailing. As with German Shepherds, these dogs are eager to please. This is why it is important to only ever use positive reinforcement with your dog.

Avoid punishment or any harsh training techniques. This is especially important with Rottweilers.

You need to teach your dog to access the best parts of their nature and instinct. This means that you should only train them to react calmly and positively. Such a reaction is easier to manage when your Rottweiler doesn’t feel threatened in any way.

With both dogs, consistency is key. It is important to train them every day as puppies. Depending on your dog’s attention span, you can keep the training sessions short or long as you think is required.

When it comes to important commands or tasks, you should go revisit those training techniques every so often as they can help to solidify these in your dog’s memory.

Putting both dogs in puppy classes can make training them a lot easier. These classes also have a built-in concept of socialization, allowing you to tackle two tasks at once.

In case your Rottweiler is proving to be tricky to train or is resistant to certain techniques, hiring a dog trainer can be helpful. They will show you how to train your dog in the most effective manner possible.

Which Breed is Right for You?

When it comes down to it, is a Rottweiler or German Shepherd the better option for you? The answer all depends on what you are looking for in a dog.

If you are looking for a shadow that will keep you company every day, a German Shepherd is a good pick. This dog also works well for anyone who has a naturally active lifestyle and needs a pet who can keep up with them. A German Shepherd is a good option for people who have never owned dogs before and want to experience what it’s like.

At the same time, you should be aware that this breed requires quite a bit of care, attention, and exercise. You must be prepared to give it to them.

The Rottweiler is ideal for an owner who is looking for a confident and independent dog. Yes, the Rottweiler will be a faithful companion but they don’t need quite as much attention as a German Shepherd. This breed is also intelligent and intuitive and can make an excellent watchdog.

The Rottweiler can also be tricky to train and handle as a first-time owner. You will also have to understand that these dogs can sometimes be regarded suspiciously or with fear. Your dog may be excluded in certain social situations as well. This is something that you need to get used to as a Rottweiler owner.

With a clear comparison of these two breeds, you can now get a better idea of how they are different and similar. It is also easier to determine which pup will make the better pet in your particular household.

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