Many people still make the mistake of thinking that certain dog breeds are more aggressive or dangerous than others. And while every dog has its own unique characteristics and personality, the rumors are usually just that: misconceptions and stereotypes.
Along with breeds like the pit bull, German shepherd, and Doberman, the Rottweiler is sometimes thought of as a dangerous dog. There are plenty of reasons for this. Along with dogs like pit bulls, Rottweilers are unfortunately sometimes used in dog fighting. On top of that, countless media portrayals of the breed don’t do it any favors. And while Rottweilers have caused injuries and even fatalities in some instances, so have many other breeds of dog.
So, what’s the answer? Are Rottweilers aggressive, or not?
Let’s take a closer look at the Rottweiler breed to answer this question. We’ll also discuss some signs of aggression to watch out for and what you can do to make sure you avoid any aggressive behavior in your Rottie.
Are Rottweilers Aggressive Dogs?
Are Rottweilers aggressive? Despite the stereotype, no — Rottweilers are not inherently aggressive. These large dogs can be protective, but that does not mean they are any more dangerous than other dog breeds. The truth is that any dog, from the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Cane Corso or Great Dane, may exhibit aggressive behavior depending on certain circumstances.
The data backs this up. According to the New York Times, research shows that only about 9% of a dog’s behavior is linked to their breed. The fact is, a dog’s breed simply isn’t a good barometer to gauge their potential for aggression. Their behavior has much more to do with the individual dog and their circumstances, including their socialization, training, and environment.
With that being said, any dog can exhibit aggression — Rottweiler dogs included. So, what should you look out for if you own one of these pooches, or if you’re considering adopting one?
Signs of Aggression in Rottweilers
Are Rottweilers aggressive as a general rule? No. But Rottweiler owners should be aware that this breed, like any breed, can exhibit aggression in certain instances. And because the Rottie is a large, powerful dog, it can be wise to keep an eye out for signs of aggression.
Signs of Rottweiler aggression include things like:
- Baring teeth
- Wide eyes
If you have a Rottweiler who demonstrates these aggressive tendencies, you’ll want to talk to a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist before someone gets hurt. But in most cases, you can take steps when your pet is young to ensure your Rottweiler isn’t aggressive toward you or members of your family (more on that below).
Note: If your Rottweiler is suddenly showing aggressive traits for the first time when they never acted this way before, it’s possible that pain or a health issue is the root cause. Rottweilers, like any dog, can act out aggressively when they’re not feeling well. Set up an appointment with your veterinarian if your pet’s aggression has shown up seemingly out of nowhere.
How to Avoid Aggression in Your Rottweiler
How can you make sure your Rottweiler becomes the great family dog you know they can be? It’s all about proper training and socialization. Follow these tips to avoid aggressive behavior in your Rottweiler:
Socialize at an Early Age
Rottweilers are known for being loyal dogs who are protective of their human families. When they’re placed in unfamiliar situations or meet new people or pets, these dogs might be standoffish. That’s why socialization with a variety of people and situations (ideally at an early age) is so important. Try to expose your dog to all sorts of people and situations early on so that they grow up used to a variety of scenarios.
Provide Obedience Training
The best way to go about obedience training is to reward good behavior, not punish bad behavior. Like many dogs, the Rottweiler tends to respond well to positive reinforcement such as praise, pets, and treats.
Make sure your pet knows the basic commands like “Sit,” “Come,” and “Stay,” and train them to walk properly on a leash. If you don’t want to tackle obedience training yourself, seek the help of a dog trainer who can make sure your pet grows into a good dog for the whole family.
Remember that training goes both ways — make sure everyone in your household knows how to interact with your Rottweiler safely and respectfully. This is especially important for children, as it takes time to understand how to treat a companion animal. Teach your kids that it’s never OK to pull on Fido’s ears or tail, try to ride your dog like a horse, or interrupt them when they’re eating or playing with a toy.
Provide Proper Exercise
Did you know that the Rottweiler is a working dog? According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), they’ve long been used for herding and also commonly serve as service dogs, police dogs, guard dogs, and more. This means that the breed enjoys having a “job” to do, and they like to stay active. Make sure you provide your Rottie with plenty of daily exercise as a healthy outlet for their energy.
Maintain Mental Stimulation
A bored Rottweiler is a Rottweiler that is much more likely to act out in ways you don’t want, perhaps aggressively. Keep your Rottweiler’s intelligent mind properly stimulated with toys, play, and attention. Native Pet’s all-natural Yak Chews are a great way to keep your pooch occupied when you’re not available to interact with them.
Adopt From a Responsible Breeder
If you’re adopting a Rottweiler puppy from a breeder, check the breeder’s credentials to make sure they’re responsible. Additionally, a good breeder focuses on improving the health and behavior of the breed, including socializing and training the dogs they care for.
If you’re adopting your Rottie from a rescue organization, ask the staff about your new Rottweiler’s temperament and behavior. You might want to consider working with a dog trainer or behaviorist to ensure your new addition becomes the best dog they can be.
Are Rottweilers Aggressive? What Dog Owners Should Remember
No, Rottweilers are not inherently aggressive. In fact, these big dogs tend to get along well with adults, children, and other pets alike, and they make great household pets for millions of families.
While stereotypes and unfair portrayals of these dogs in the media continue to contribute to their reputation as dangerous dogs, training and socialization play more into behavior than a dog’s breed.
The Rottweiler, like any dog breed, can exhibit aggression under certain circumstances. And this breed is known for being a little wary around strangers or in unfamiliar situations. Watch carefully for the signs of aggression — snarling, bared teeth, snapping, wide eyes, lunging, etc. — to make sure no one is in harm’s way.
Avoid aggressive behavior in your Rottweiler by socializing them early on in life with a variety of people, training them properly, exercising them every day, keeping them mentally stimulated, and adopting them from a responsible breeder. If you’re adopting your Rottweiler from a rescue, try to observe and ask about their personality and temperament so you know what to expect. Following these practices means you’ll enjoy many happy, healthy years with your canine best friend.
For more insight into your dog’s wellness needs and behavior, browse the Native Pet blog.