The Rottweiler vs. the Doberman: Which One Is Right for You?

Pet Type


October 16, 2020

Have you been contemplating getting a pet that doubles up as an excellent guard dog as well? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we look at two renowned guard dogs – the Rottweiler and the Doberman. Are they different from each other? And if so, which of the two is superior? These are some of the questions that we’ll answer in this article.    

Overview of the Rottweiler and the Doberman

Just hearing the names of these two canines is sure to scare someone off. Some countries have even gone to the extent of banning these two infamous breeds. However, at the same time, a significant population loves the two furballs and wouldn’t switch them for any other breed. 

These two pups have very similar traits, and the fact that they almost look identical in appearance makes them even more fascinating. Some even say that the Doberman has some Rottweiler blood in them.

Despite all the similarities, the two canines are very different. We’ll look at all their stark differences and how similar they are in terms of appearance, temperaments, grooming, training, and more!   

Depending on how you bring them up, they could either be your best friend or your worst nightmare. If both dogs are neglected and fail to get proper training early enough, they live up to the misconceptions that people fear about them: aggressiveness and dominance. However, if they are appropriately taken care of, they are the most incredible pets!

History of the Rottweiler aka the Butcher’s Dog

Before we get into their differences, let’s look at their origin to understand them better.

Did you know that the Rottweiler was very popular during World War I and World War II? And not just as a guard dog – the Rottweiler could almost be termed as a dynamic dog. They were used as messengers to pass coded messages from their owners to their colleagues. Rottweilers were also used to ferry heavy loads for their owners. 

Before the World War, the Romans kept Rottweilers as herding dogs. The breed got the name after a small town in South Germany called Rottweil, which the Roman army had previously traveled to. Afterward, they were used by butchers to watch over their money pouches hence earning the name butchers’ dog.     

History of the Doberman Pinscher

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The first Doberman was introduced and bred in the 19th century by a German tax collector named Louis Dobermann. It seems like if you needed to keep your money safe, these were the best guard dogs to go for! 

There is no consensus on what exact breeds make up the Doberman today, but many agree that they may have some Terrier, Greyhound, Rottweiler, and German Pinscher blood in them. Similar to the Rottweiler, Dobermans have also served in the military.   

Appearance: Which One Is More Fierce? 

One clear way to differentiate between these two is that the Rottie is mostly black with some tan. Although the Dobie also has a black coat, they come in other blue, brown, or tan variations. There are also cases of white Dobies, who are essentially albino Dobermans. They have a short, smooth, and shiny single coat while Rotties have a short, shiny, double coat. 

The Rottie is much heavier and weighs up to 135 pounds, while the Dobie is lighter and weighs about 100 pounds. This probably explains why the Rottie participated in the World War. However, Dobies are slightly taller at 28 inches and slender, while the Rottie has a height of 27 inches and a sturdier physique.  

Dobermans are also known for having cropped ears as a result of ear cropping procedures. Other breeders go as far as docking their tails. That said, Dobie owners should observe caution as these procedures are illegal in some countries. So, if you’re wondering which of the two looks fiercer, the answer is both. These two breeds exude a very captivating aura of power and undeniable fierceness.   

Temperament: Which One Is More Aggressive? 

Since both dogs were originally bred as guard dogs, they are very protective of their owners and strive to ensure that no trespassers get into your compound. Like other dog breeds, training and socialization are critical when the dogs are young to prevent anxiety and aggressiveness. You best believe that you wouldn’t want to be on a Rottie’s or Dobie’s wrong side! 

On the other hand, both breeds are highly intelligent and respond well to training. They are very obedient and are always eager to please their owner. The Doberman is more affectionate and people-orientated compared to the Rottweiler. The fiercely loyal Dobie is known to get highly attached to their owner and can easily suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long periods. 

Rottweilers are calm and also exude dominance due to their independent nature. They are very warm and loving. They can be the best companion one could ever ask for with the right training and attention. 

Overall Health and Lifespan 

Larger dogs are more prone to diseases, meaning that you’ll need to take extra care of your Dobie or Rottie to ensure they live long, fulfilling lives. The Rottweiler has a lifespan of 8-10 years. On the other hand, Dobies have a slightly longer lifespan of 10-13 years. Despite their lifespans being considerably lower than that of smaller dogs, you’ll still enjoy a decade with these fantastic canines on average. 

Rotties may suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia occurs when your dog’s hip socket fails to form correctly. Similarly, elbow dysplasia is a defect of the elbow joint. Hip and elbow dysplasia are usually hereditary. Rotties may also suffer from osteosarcoma (bone cancer), torsion, and allergies.  

Dobies are more prone to cardiomyopathy and Wobbler syndrome. They are also susceptible to CVI (Cervical Vertebral Instability). Hip dysplasia and osteosarcoma may also occur, but they rarely happen in Dobies as compared to Rotties.  

Food and Nutrition

Rotties require a mostly raw diet that is high in protein, with fewer amounts of carbohydrates. As mentioned, these pups are very sensitive and may suffer from food allergies if you don’t give them a properly balanced diet. It is also essential to watch the portions! 

Obesity in Rotties can worsen pre-existing health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Two to three meals per day should suffice to keep your Rottie in good shape. Similarly, Dobies require a protein-rich diet. Their diet needs to be balanced and contain uncooked fruits, veggies, seeds, and nuts to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.   

Keeping Fit  

Rotties and Dobies are highly energetic and thoroughly enjoy working out. Whether it entails running, jumping, swimming, or even something as simple as playing fetch, staying active will keep your canine companion happy. 

Lack of exercise leads to other disruptive habits as they attempt to eliminate all the stored-up energy. A bored Dobie or Rottie may end up destroying your favorite things, barking annoyingly and excessively, among other bad habits. That said, Dobies and Rotties are a better fit for an active household. 

A risk that comes with active dogs is over-exercising. This commonly happens to Rotties and Dobies since most owners cannot tell when their pups are tired. The right amount of exercise depends on their age, size, and weight. For example, a puppy will require less vigorous activities than an adult dog. Nonetheless, the most crucial thing is to ensure that your canine friend gets their daily exercise dose. 

Grooming and Maintenance

Two main reasons why people tend to confuse the Rottie and the Dobie is because of their strikingly similar coats and intimidating reputations. The Doberman’s short, super smooth, and shiny coat is low maintenance. A brush once a week will suffice, and they can even go up to 2 weeks without requiring much grooming. They also experience minimal shedding compared to other dog breeds. 

The Rottweiler has a short and smooth double coat, meaning they require a little more grooming than Dobermans. Sometimes you may be forced to groom them daily, depending on the season. During spring and fall, Rotties are heavy shedders. However, they are moderate shedders outside these seasons.   

Final Thoughts 

The Rottweiler and the Doberman, aka the German dogs, are stunning, powerful, and protective canines. For centuries, they have been among the best guard dogs. Moreover, they provide unwavering protection and companionship to their owners, fostering a healthy and long-lasting relationship. 

Their intelligence and obedience make them very easy to train. Despite the misconceptions about their aggression, they are very affectionate with the right training, so much so that they enjoy cuddles and will jump with excitement when they see you. 

So, on the battle of the Rottweiler vs. Doberman, who wins? Both dogs are so similar in terms of temperaments and maintenance. The only thing that can make you choose one over the other is a matter of individual preference, perhaps due to appearance. Besides that, whichever dog you choose, you are sure to enjoy the same perks: protection, companionship, and loyalty, all in one!