In a beloved children’s book series, “Good Dog, Carl,” a playful and protective Rottie named Carl capably babysits a young child. But when we step off the page and into reality, are Rottweilers good with kids?
While we certainly wouldn’t recommend hiring a Rottie (or any pooch) as your babysitter, the Rottweiler breed can make a good family dog, as long as they receive proper socialization from a young age.
We’ll take a look at the Rottweiler’s temperament and its reputation with small family members. Plus, we’ll cover the steps you can take to teach your big dog how to behave around small children.
Are Rottweilers Generally More Aggressive?
One question that becomes implicit when you ask “Are Rottweilers good with kids?” is “Are Rottweilers aggressive?” Like many large dog breeds, from German shepherds to English bulldogs, Rottweilers have been subject to vicious rumors that they’re aggressive. No parent would want an aggressive dog near their child, so let us put the rumors to rest: Rottweilers are no more prone to aggression than any other breed of dog.
A review by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that dog breed is not a good predictor of aggression. According to their analysis, higher bite risk for specific breeds was primarily linked to the breed’s prevalence.
For example, in regions of Canada where huskies are the most popular dog breed, there are more bites reported by huskies than by any other dog breed. And in a local news report out of Colorado, labrador retrievers ranked the highest in bite incidents — outranking German shepherds, pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, and Doberman pinschers. Labs also outrank all of those breeds in popularity in the U.S. and in Colorado.
And a report from the National Canine Research Council found that breed was much less important in predicting aggression than other factors like how the owner raised the dog or whether they spayed or neutered the dog.
Any dog can become aggressive if they don’t receive proper training and socialization. But, if a big dog like a Rottweiler bites, it will do significantly more damage than if a small dog like a chihuahua bites. So, it’s extremely important to socialize and supervise your Rottie around children, and it's equally important to teach children how to safely interact with dogs.
Are Rottweilers Good With Kids?
The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists the Rottweiler as extremely affectionate with family, but only moderately good with young children. However, as the eighth most popular dog breed in America, the Rottie is a family pet in a lot of homes with children. And many families praise this dog breed for being gentle and loving with their little ones.
So, why are such loving dogs only listed as moderately good with children? Are Rottweilers good with kids? It often comes down to your Rottie’s energy level and size.
How the Rottweiler Temperament Relates to Children
The truth is that a dog’s breed is a better predictor of its looks than its personality. If you want to ensure that your dog has a gentle, laid-back personality, work with a breeder who will allow you to get to know both of the puppies’ parents and who will provide a personality assessment of the pups.
Most breeds, however, have a few built-in personality traits based on what they were bred to do. Rottweilers were bred to be brave working dogs, often serving as guard dogs and police dogs.
These loyal dogs are extremely devoted to their families, and their protective nature kicks in when they believe a family member is in peril. Once your child becomes a Rottie’s best friend, the dog will do anything to protect the child.
This may sound like a good thing, but at times, Rottweilers can direct their protectiveness toward other children if the Rottie believes they're a threat to your little one.
In order to prevent this, you’ll need to supervise your dog around children and offer a redirection — a game, toy, or natural chew that they can focus on instead — if your Rottie incorrectly identifies something as a threat.
How the Rottweiler Size Relates to Children
Rottweilers are large dogs. While they’re typically considered medium-energy, they are playful, especially when young. So, even if your Rottweiler is sweet with small children, their playfulness combined with their large size and muscular build can make them a risky playmate for very little ones.
If your Rottie gets overly excited, they may bounce around and even knock young kids over. This is just one more reason to supervise your dog during playtime. Teach your Rottweiler to play gently by initiating a time out when they start to get too excited. Simply have your child stop playing with the dog for 10-30 seconds. Once the dog calms down, playtime can resume.
How to Choose a Kid-Friendly Adult Rottweiler
An adult Rottweiler can make a good pet for young families because it’s easier to assess their personalities than it is with puppies. Adult dogs are also more likely to be partially trained and housebroken. (When you’re still potty training your children, it can be a relief not to add a puppy to the mix.)
You can often find purebred dogs at your local rescue organizations, and many states have Rottweiler-specific rescue groups. If possible, work with a rescue organization that tests the temperaments of their dogs. These groups will be able to tell you if a specific dog does well with children and help you find a good match. Any rescue organization should also allow you to bring your children to meet the dog before you adopt.
You may also be able to adopt an adult Rottweiler from a breeder. Some breeders will rehome their adult dogs, especially their female dogs, after they’ve had a few litters of puppies. This protects the females from the negative health effects of having too many litters.
If a breeder keeps their dogs in their home as a beloved family pet, the dog will already be trained and may be socialized with children. Ask the breeder about the dog’s socialization and spend time with it before you take it home.
How to Socialize a Rottweiler Puppy
If you adopt your Rottie as a puppy, you can ensure it becomes a good canine citizen by providing plenty of socialization and obedience training. Here’s how to encourage your Rottweiler puppy to behave well with children and beyond:
- Plenty of human interaction: Spend your spare time taking your Rottweiler puppy to parks, cafes, and any other dog-friendly locations where they can meet people of different ages, races, sizes, and abilities.
- Interaction with children: Even if you already have a child, you need to make sure your Rottweiler spends time with children outside the family. Head to a local playground, talk to their parents there, and ask if their kids want to pet your puppy and give it treats.
- Positivity-based training: Positivity training uses toys, treats, and affection to encourage wanted behavior. To discourage unwanted behavior, you don't need to yell, swat, or punish. Instead, you will remove something your dog wants. In the time-out technique we explained above, you removed your attention. Because Rotties are fast learners, you may be able to teach this technique at home, but if you’re having trouble, seek a positivity-based dog trainer.
- Supervision: Even if your Rottie is a well-socialized angel, they should never be left alone with young children. That’s how accidents happen. An adult should always be present to intervene, especially when your Rottweiler shows signs of stress or plays too rough.
A Friend for the Whole Family
So, are Rottweilers good with kids? Yes, Rotties tend to be gentle giants who make an excellent companion for the whole family. With proper socialization, you likely won't often have to worry about this dog being aggressive.
However, Rottweilers can be protective. To keep your family pet from guarding your children against the neighbors' rambunctious children, train your Rottie early and always monitor them around young kids. In addition to their protective nature, Rottweilers are also large dogs that can be boisterous during playtime, especially when they’re young. Train them to play gently.
You can find an adult Rottweiler that’s good with kids by working with local rescue organizations and breeders. And if you adopt a puppy, you’ll be able to socialize them early and ensure they get plenty of interaction with kids.
But, before you bring your Rottie home, learn more about this breed. Explore whether Rottweilers are hypoallergenic and learn how much they shed so you can decide if they fit your lifestyle.
For more information on your favorite dog breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.