If you want to know exactly how a Rottweiler should look, the German Rottweiler Breed Standard, produced by the ADRK (Allegmeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub), is the ‘blueprint’ for the breed.
Today, Rottweilers are popular in many countries, each having its’ own breed standard, and although these are not identical to the ADRK document, or to each other, they all describe a dog that is clearly a Rottweiler!
The photo above shows an adult male Rottie with the correct size, structure and color – a good looking specimen of the breed.
Of course, you can’t see his temperament or movement, but these are described in detail in each Rottweiler breed standard, so that you can get an accurate picture of the whole dog.
Both the German and US breed standards for the Rottweiler are given below, and to help you compare the two and (hopefully) avoid too much confusion:
Excerpts from the ADRK (German) are printed first, on a pale green background.
The AKC (US) standard excerpts follow, and are printed on a pale cream/yellow background.
This video features some stunning Rottweilers going through their ‘show paces’, it will give you a good idea of how a Rottweiler should look and move. Enjoy…..
In This Article You Will Read About
General Appearance & Character
The Rottweiler is a medium to large size, stalwart dog, neither heavy nor light and neither leggy nor weedy.
His correctly proportioned, compact and powerful build leads to the conclusion of great strength, agility and endurance. (ADRK)
The ideal Rottweiler is a medium large, robust and powerful dog, black with clearly defined rust markings. His compact and substantial build denotes great strength, agility and endurance.
Dogs are characteristically more massive throughout with larger frame and heavier bone than bitches.
Bitches are distinctly feminine, but without weakness of substance or structure (AKC)
Size – Proportion – Substance
The length of the body, measured from sternum (breast-bone) to the ischiatic tuberosity, should not exceed the height at the withers by, at most, 15%.
Height at withers:
For males is 61 – 68 cm. 61 – 62 cm is small / 63 – 64 cm is medium height / 65 – 66 cm is large – correct height / 67 – 68 cm is very large. Weight: approximately 50 kg
For bitches is 56 – 63 cm. 56 – 57 cm is small / 58 – 59 cm is medium height / 60 – 61 cm is large – correct height / 62 – 63 cm is very large. Weight: approximately 42 kg (ADRK)
Dogs: 24 inches to 27 inches.
Bitches: 22 inches to 25 inches, with preferred size being mid-range of each sex.
Correct proportion is of primary importance, as long as size is within the standard’s range.
The length of body, from sternum to the rearmost projection of the rump, is slightly longer than the height of the dog at the withers, the most desirable proportion of the height to length being 9 to 10.
The Rottweiler is neither coarse nor shelly. Depth of chest is approximately fifty percent (50%) of the height of the dog. His bone and muscle mass must be sufficient to balance his frame, giving a compact and very powerful appearance (AKC)
Head – Neck – Topline
Skull: Of medium length, broad between the ears. Forehead line moderately arched as seen from the side.
Stop: Well defined.
Nose: Nose well developed, more broad than round with relatively large nostrils, always black.
Muzzle: The foreface should appear neither elongated nor shortened in relation to the cranial region.
Lips: Black, close fitting, corner of the mouth not visible, gum as dark as possible.
Jaws / Teeth: Upper and lower jaw strong and broad. Strong complete dentition (42 teeth) with scissor bite (upper incisors closely overlapping the lower incisors).
Cheeks: Zygomatic arches pronounced.
Eyes: Of medium size, almond shaped, dark brown in colour. Eyelids close fitting.
Ears: Medium-sized, pendant, triangular, wide apart, set on high.
Neck: Strong, of fair length, well muscled, slightly arched, free from throatiness, without dewlap. (ADRK)
Head: Of medium length, broad between the ears; forehead line seen in profile is moderately arched; zygomatic arch and stop well developed. The desired ratio of backskull to muzzle is 3 to 2. Forehead is preferred dry, however some wrinkling may occur when dog is alert.
Expression: is noble, alert, and self-assured.
Eyes: of medium size, almond shaped with well fitting lids, moderately deep-set. The desired color is a uniform dark brown.
Ears: Of medium size, pendant, triangular in shape; when carried alertly the ears are level with the top of the skull and appear to broaden it.
Muzzle: Bridge is straight, broad at base with slight tapering towards tip. The end of the muzzle is broad with well developed chin.
Nose: is broad rather than round and always black.
Bite and Dentition: Teeth 42 in number (20 upper, 22 lower), strong, correctly placed, meeting in a scissors bite.
Neck: Powerful, well muscled, moderately long, slightly arched and without loose skin.
Topline: The back is firm and level, extending in a straight line from behind the withers to the croup. The back remains horizontal to the ground while the dog is moving or standing (AKC).
Forequarters – Trunk – Hindquarters
Forequarters: Seen from the front, the front legs are straight and not placed too closely to each other. The forearm, seen from the side, stands straight. The slope of the shoulder blade is about 45 degrees to the horizontal. Shoulders: Well laid back. Pasterns: Slightly springy, strong, not steep. Front feet: Round, tight and well arched; pads hard; nails short, black and strong.
Hindquarters: Seen from behind, legs straight and not too close together. Upper thigh: Moderately long, broad and strongly muscled. Lower thigh: Long, strongly and broadly muscled at top, sinewy. Hocks: Sturdy well angulated hocks; not steep. Hindfeet: Slightly longer than the front feet. Toes strong, arched, as tight as front feet.
Body: Back: Straight, strong, firm. Loins: Short, strong and deep. Croup: Broad, of medium length, slightly rounded. Neither flat nor falling away. Chest: Roomy, broad and deep (approximately 50 % of the shoulder height) with well developed forechest and well sprung ribs.
Tail: In natural condition, level in extension of the upper line; at ease may be hanging (ADRK).
Body: The chest is roomy, broad and deep, reaching to elbow, with well pronounced forechest and well sprung, oval ribs. Back is straight and strong. Loin is short, deep and well muscled. Croup is broad, of medium length and only slightly sloping
Forequarters: Shoulder blade is long and well laid back. Upper arm equal in length to shoulder blade, set so elbows are well under body. Distance from withers to elbow and elbow to ground is equal. Pasterns: are strong, springy and almost perpendicular to the ground. Feet: are round, compact with well arched toes, turning neither in nor out. Pads are thick and hard. Nails short, strong and black. Dewclaws may be removed.
Hindquarters: Angulation of hindquarters balances that of forequarters. Rear pasterns: are nearly perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, hind legs are straight, strong and wide enough apart to fit with a properly built body. Feet: are somewhat longer than the front feet, turning neither in nor out, equally compact with well arched toes. Pads are thick and hard. Nails short, strong, and black. Dewclaws must be removed
Tail: Tail docked short, close to body, leaving one or two tail vertebrae. The set of the tail is more important than length. Properly set, it gives an impression of elongation of topline; carried slightly above horizontal when the dog is excited or moving (AKC).
Gait – Movement
The Rottweiler is a trotting dog. In movement the back remains firm and relatively stable.
Movement harmonious, steady, full of energy and unrestricted, with good stride (ADRK).
The Rottweiler is a trotter. His movement should be balanced, harmonious, sure, powerful and unhindered, with strong fore-reach and a powerful rear drive. The motion is effortless, efficient, and ground-covering.
In a trot the forequarters and hindquarters are mutually coordinated while the back remains level, firm and relatively motionless. As speed increases the legs will converge under body towards a center line (AKC).
Coat – Color
Hair: The coat consists of a top coat and an undercoat. The top coat is of medium length, coarse, dense and flat. The undercoat must not show through the top coat. The hair is a little longer on the hind legs.
Colour: Black with clearly defined markings of a rich tan on the cheeks, muzzle, throat, chest and legs, as well as over both eyes and under the base of the tail. (ADRK)
Coat: Outer coat is straight, coarse, dense, of medium length and lying flat. Undercoat should be present on neck and thighs, but the amount is influenced by climatic conditions. Undercoat should not show through outer coat. The coat is shortest on head, ears and legs, longest on breeching.
The Rottweiler is to be exhibited in the natural condition with no trimming
Color: Always black with rust to mahogany markings. The demarcation between black and rust is to be clearly defined.
The markings should be located as follows: a spot over each eye; on cheeks; as a strip around each side of muzzle, but not on the bridge of the nose; on throat; triangular mark on both sides of prosternum; on forelegs from carpus downward to the toes; on inside of rear legs showing down the front of the stifle and broadening out to front of rear legs from hock to toes, but not completely eliminating black from rear of pasterns; un-der tail; black penciling on toes.
The undercoat is gray, tan, or black (AKC)
Behaviour/Temperament: Good natured, placid in basic disposition and fond of children, very devoted, obedient, biddable and eager to work.
His appearance is natural and rustic, his behaviour self assured, steady and fearless. He reacts to his surroundings with great alertness (ADRK)
Temperament: The Rottweiler is basically a calm, confident and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.
A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment. He has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making him especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog.
The behavior of the Rottweiler in the show ring should be controlled, willing and adaptable, trained to submit to examination (AKC)
Disqualifying Faults (Show)
General: Distinct reversal of sexual type, i.e. feminine dogs or masculine bitches. Teeth: Overshot or undershot bite, wry mouth; lack of one incisive tooth, one canine, one premolar and one molar. Eyes: Entropion, ectropion, yellow eyes, different coloured eyes. Tail: Kink tail, ring tail, with strong lateral deviation.Hair: Definitely long or wavy coat. Colour: Dogs which do not show the typical Rottweiler colouring of black with tan markings. White markings. Behaviour: Anxious, shy, cowardly, gun-shy, vicious, excessively suspicious, nervous animals. N.B.: Male animals must have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. (ADRK)
Disqualifications: Entropion, ectropion. Overshot, undershot (when incisors do not touch or mesh); wry mouth; two or more missing teeth. Unilateral cryptorchid or cryptorchid males. Long coat. Any base color other than black; absence of all markings. A dog that in the opinion of the judge attacks any person in the ring (AKC)
Breed Standard For Rottweilers – More Info
The Rottweiler breed standard information above isn’t complete. These are excerpts from the AKC and ADRK Rottweiler Breed Standard documents.
On this page I’ve included what I think are the most important points from each category and ythey should give you a pretty good idea of what a well bred Rottweiler should look like.
Unfortunately today there are many poorly-bred Rottweilers who are far from the ‘ideal picture’ painted by the Rottweiler Breed Standard documents. This is true of both looks and temperament.
If you are going to be adding one of these truly amazing dogs to your home and family, please take the time to learn how to recognize a good representative of the breed. That way you’re sure not to be disappointed in your new best friend.
You can see the entire ADRK and US Rottweiler Breed Standard information by clicking on the links below…..
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa.
I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses.
I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time.
Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone