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Rottweiler vs German Shepherd Differences Explained

Rottweiler vs German Shepherd
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Trying to decide between Rottweiler and a German Shepherd? Now that is a tough decision.

Whether you need a guard dog, or a family dog, both breeds excel at their task. Which is why tough to answer which is the better guard dog, Rottweiler vs German Shepherd.

Welcoming a new canine member into your family is a happy occasion.

However, when you find yourself debating between two breeds, you have to take many factors into consideration. Starting from temperament, grooming, training, and even price.

With that in mind, the Rottweiler vs German Shepherd debate is even harder. Both of these breeds come with their own set of attractive qualities.

They are popular and handsome dogs that have more positives than negatives. So, with that in mind, let’s try and help you make an educated and well-thought decision.

Breed History

First thing we need to look at is breed history. This will help you understand personality traits of your future puppy.

Speaking of the Rottweiler dog breed, it dates back to Roman times. Back in the day, this excellent guard dog was used for herding, drive cattle, and protect butchers. The canine is named after the town of Rottweil in Germany, where they were used extensively.

Here is a fun fact: Once clients of the butcher purchased the meat, the butcher would put the money in purses strapped to the dog’s neck for safekeeping.

After the industrial revolution, the need for Rotties declined due to the industrial revolution. It wasn’t until World War II that they found a purpose again, this time as a police dog and service dog.

German Shepherd dog breed also dates back to Germany, and has a history of military experience. Nowadays, they are among the best guard dog, police dog, and military dog you can find. Their intelligence makes them an amazing versatile dog.

Initially, the GSD was used for herding as well. But its herding instincts made him the perfect candidate for the police academy. Similar to the Rottweiler dog breed, GSD’s popularity suffered from anti-German sentiment following WWII. But its qualities were too good for breeders to ignore.

Rottweiler overall qualities


The Rottie is an affectionate medium-to-large size dog that looks intimidating, but he is quite gentle with his humans. He displays intelligence, but also fear. Thanks to his stamina and impressive physique, he is often a go-to dog for law enforcement.

But Rotties are also great therapy and service dogs. The Rottweiler originated as a herding and working dog. Nowadays, he is more of a guard and a family dog. He has a natural instinct to protect and guard. Since World War II, the breed has been recruited in law enforcement.

A common misconception is that they are aggressive. Quite the opposite is true. With proper training and socialization, they bond perfectly with children and can be ideal family pets.

Rotties also have a goofy and clownish side. They were recognized by the AKC in 1931. Since then, they roared in popularity, getting to No.8 in recent years.

German Shepherd overall qualities

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are known as one of the best herding dogs. They are the second most popular dog in the USA, and enjoy a favored status. Established in 1899 in Germany to herd sheep, the breed quickly moved to other tasks thanks to his intelligence and trainability.

The German Shepherd is among the most intelligent dogs. In the same time, he is loyal, listens to commands, and easy to train. That makes him another ideal candidate for law enforcement and military fields.

Of course, trainability and intelligence also make the GSD great as service and therapy dog. Generally speaking, they share many similar traits with Rotties.

Described as courageous, they will do anything you ask of them. The GSD has a tendency to please, and he is always eager to listen to you. Simply put, if you ask him to attack a bear, he will do without any hesitation.

Full of life and love, the GSD bonds with their pet parents for life.

Size comparison

When it comes to size, the Rottie can be a bigger dog. Typical Rottweiler stands at two feet in height, and males are able to stand a few inches taller. Their weight can reach between 110 and 130 pounds, while females reach between 80 and 100 pounds. Despite their bulky look, the Rottie is quite agile and strong.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are packed with lean muscle. They also stand up to two feet in height, but reach between 65 and 90 pounds for males, while females do not go higher than 70 pounds.


Because of their short coat, Rottweilers are easy to groom. They have predominately black coat, with markings that can range from tan to red. Their dense and stiff fur requires just occasional brushing.

On the other hand, if you own a German Shepherd, you should also invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner. These handsome dogs are frequent shedders. The GSD has a thick and medium length double coat that requires frequent brushing.

Rottweilers, on the other hand, are seasonal shedders. They do not shed a lot during the year. You can say they are average shedders, unlike the GSD, who is a heavy shedder.

Temperament and character

Both of these dogs are working and herding dog breeds. As such, they are happiest when they have a role to play, and a task to finish. You just cannot let them roam without any role. They won’t be happy.

Rottweilers have to be trained firmly and socialized early in order to prevent their aggression. As a strong-willed dog, the Rottweiler requires an owner who understands their behavior, but can still assert his dominance and control over the dog.

Just remember, it is a cooperative relationship, not a strictly dominant one where you hit your dog if he doesn’t finish the task. Because of their over-protective and self-assured character, they can protect territory, people, and even possessions. That is why early socialization is a must. We have to mention that because of their aggressive reputation, they are banned in some areas.

The GSD is very similar to the Rottweiler in character, and requires consistent training to perform. One difference, he is more loyal, and has a higher intelligence.

Intelligence and training

Both of these dogs are at the top of the canine class when it comes to intelligence. Both are valued for their work in the community, especially law enforcement. They can also be used for the detection of drugs.

German Shepherds are known for their K-9 roles. Remember, both dogs have high IQ, but also immense reserves of affection and loyalty. That is why they are perfect candidates for service dogs as well.

There are small differences between these two in terms of character and intelligence. GSD, for example, is a more curious breed. He excels when given a task to execute, for example, catching a stick while playing fetch.

Both dogs are excellent students. They learn and master new commands quickly. And they will understand easily which behavior is acceptable, and which is not. When trained and socialized properly, they are rated high on compatibility with other dogs and children.

However, without proper socialization, the Rottweiler might display his suspicion and unwarranted aggression toward others.

One downside, both of these dogs are easily bored if left alone. Their high intelligence requires constant stimulation. If bored, they can turn to destructive behavior easily.

Exercise needs

Both of these large dog breeds need a lot of exercise. Remember, they were working dogs back in the day. That means they have a lot of energy to burn.

While physical exercise is important, you cannot ignore mental stimulation as well. According to the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd puppy is among the most intelligent. Without mental stimulation, they will quickly become bored and resort to bad behavior.

So, make sure to add a lot of games into your training and exercise.

Which is the better family dog?

The Rottweiler is a big dog in every sense of the word, both physically, and temperamentally. Known for being loyal family dogs, the Rottweiler makes an ideal pet.

He will also guard you, your children, friends, and everyone else close to you. One downside, they can be a bit detached with strangers.

The GSD is also full of love and affection. They thrive in an active environment. German Shepherds require a bit more exercise and training to keep their lean body intact. While Rotties can do with just some quick walk, the GSD requires playtime and exercise.

The big drawback of the GSD is that he can become overly possessive if not socialized, and resort to guarding behavior.

Bite force

When it comes to Rottweiler vs German Shepherd breed comparison, we also have to talk about bite force. At the end of the day, bite force is what makes a canine an excellent guard dog.

And in this case, the Rottweiler has a higher bite force of 328 PSI. GSDs have a bite force of 238 PSI.

Which one to get?

At the end of the day, it comes down to your preferences. Do you want a larger dog? A better companion for hikes? Or anything else?

Both these canines are excellent guard dogs, highly intelligent puppies that will do anything you ask of them.

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, you will end up with an amazing dog in any case.

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