6 Reasons Why Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation


Even though there are many people fighting against the incorrect stereotype, Rottweilers still have a reputation of being a dangerous and aggressive breed of dogs.

But what lies behind this misconception?

Rottweilers have a bad reputation because:

  1. They are massive dogs
  2. They are capable of causing severe physical injury
  3. They are used as fighting dogs
  4. They have been bred to be aggressive
  5. They have strong protective instincts
  6. They have a strong prey drive

Most of the reasons why Rottweilers have a bad reputation can be attributed to false human perception, negative human interference, and a lack of early socialization.

1. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because of Their Size

If you had never before seen a dog, and the only thing you knew about them was that they were animals that could bite you, would you be more instinctively afraid of a Yorkshire Terrier or a Rottweiler?

You would be more afraid of the Rottweiler.

Our instincts tell us that larger dogs are more dangerous, and few dog breeds can rival Rottweilers when it comes to weight, height, and muscle volume.

This is a natural and normal response, but we have to be evolved enough to move on from this initial response and realize that just because Rottweilers are big dogs does not mean that they are dangerous.

However, some people are not capable of reasoning their way through this, and they are unwaveringly afraid of Rottweilers, giving them the reputation of being a scary breed.

2. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because They Are Capable of Causing Damage

Let’s revisit our pretend scenario of the Rottweiler and the Yorkshire Terrier.

Suppose you were told that the Yorkshire Terrier and the Rottweiler were equally likely to bite you, but the Yorkshire Terrier’s bite force is between 150 and 200 pounds per square inch (PSI) while a Rottweiler’s bite force is approximately 328 PSI.

In this case, which dog would you be more likely to be afraid of? Once again, our instincts say to be more afraid of the Rottweiler.

However, just because a dog is capable of causing harm does not mean that it will.

Unfortunately, many people cannot look past this capability, and this leads to Rottweilers having a reputation as a dangerous breed.

You may also be interest in: What’s the Bite Force of a German Shepherd?

3. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because They Are Protective

One of the excellent qualities of a Rottweiler is its natural protectiveness.

It is what made them excellent cattle dogs when they were first bred, and it is what makes them amazing police dogs and family protectors today.

Your Rottweiler will guard you against intruders and other dogs, laying their lives down just because you are their family.

Yet, this trait has contributed to the idea that Rottweilers are dangerous or aggressive in three main ways.

First, Rottweilers who are trained to work as guard dogs (as opposed to personal protection dogs) are not pets that you can approach freely and touch however you want to. However, when people try to treat them like fluffy family dogs, they are upset when the dog responds in the way that they have been trained to.

Next, Rottweilers that take exception to uninvited neighbors letting themselves into your property are labeled aggressive, even though they were only doing what you want them to: stopping intruders.

Finally, when people are scared, they react in a way that triggers a Rottweiler’s protective instincts, especially if the people react this way around the Rottweiler’s family.

Many people love the idea of a Rottweiler looking after their family. Just take a look at the video below to see Rottweilers being protective of children.

However, please keep in mind that it is very important to never leave any dog unsupervised around a child.

4. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because of Their Prey Drive

Rottweilers have a natural prey drive. It is an instinctive response for them to run after a small and darting creature.

This means that if a Rottweiler has not been socialized with cats and other small animals, then they are likely to instinctively chase them, and because they are so strong, they can hurt them, even without meaning to.  

5. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because People Use Them as Fighting Dogs

Dog fighting is an atrocity. The laws prohibiting this foul practice have helped in some regards, but it has by no means eradicated it completely.

Size and strength are two qualities that dog fighters look for in their victims.

They want a dog who can do massive amounts of damage, and unfortunately, this means that they often use Rottweilers.

The conditions that they keep the dogs in, as well as the way that they train them, create a warped behavior in the Rottweilers, who respond aggressively to most situations.

When these Rottweilers are no longer useful to the dog fighters, they are tossed aside and abandoned in a world that doesn’t understand why they react to help with aggression.

Labels stick easily, and this is another reason why Rottweilers have a bad reputation.

6. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because of Bad Breeding

If you are buying and not rescuing your Rottweiler, it is so important for you to get your puppy from a good breeder.

“Backyard breeders” are not all bad, but there are a lot fewer ways to guarantee that they are not bad compared to a registered breeder.

This has nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do with getting a healthy and balanced Rottweiler to take home to your family.

Occasionally, you will get a Rottweiler who is dangerous and aggressive, and this is just a fluke of nature.

Sometimes their genes predispose them to this behavioral profile, and these dogs should not be bred.

Breeders who are not regulated by the official dog breed associations are more likely to breed indiscriminately with Rottweilers who have such undesirable behavioral traits.

This leads to the birth of more Rottweilers with temperament issues.

Even worse, some people deliberately breed with aggressive Rottweilers to produce more aggressive Rottweilers so that they can sell them to dog fighters or as “guard dogs”.

When these individual Rottweilers cause problems, like they have been bred to do, people attribute the same behavior to the whole breed.

7. Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation Because It Is Hard to Break a Negative Stereotype

Finally, Rottweilers have a bad reputation because they have a bad reputation.

What we mean by this is that bad reputations are easily perpetuated and very difficult to counter.

After all, “Rottweiler Attacks Jogger” is a much better news story than “Thousands of Rottweilers Play Gently With Their Family’s Children”.

Can Rottweilers Be Trusted?

“Can Rottweilers be trusted?” is not the right question to ask. The correct question is: Can humans be trusted?

Not all humans can be trusted. Yet, we don’t lump every human into the same category as serial killers.

In the same way, not all Rottweilers can be trusted, but that does not mean none of them can be trusted.

One or two Rottweilers could hurt someone, but that doesn’t mean we should treat them all like they have or will.

One or two Rottweilers could accidentally harm someone or something, but this does not mean it was done maliciously; they are simply powerful dogs.

The video below illustrates very well that Rottweilers do not deserve the bad reputation that many people choose to place on them:

Final Thoughts

Rottweilers are a wonderful breed of dogs whose bad reputation has grown from the fact that they look intimidating, are capable of causing great physical harm, and have naturally strong protective instincts and prey drives.

This makes people afraid of them.

It is also what makes this breed prime targets for dog fighting rings and bad breeders. These people encourage aggressive behaviors and even abuse the dogs so that they will not trust humans.

While many people will agree that Rottweilers are sweet-natured and gentle protectors and companions, silencing a stereotype is extremely difficult.

With one incident involving an aggressive Rottweiler, the whole breed to subjected to the negative aftermath.

Still, we will keep advocating for our giant and giant-hearted Rottweiler friends!

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and a variety of other large and medium breed dogs for over 20 years now - Labradors, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers - just to name a few. Myself, along with my team of highly experienced canine professionals, strive to bring you the best and most useful information to help you raise your dog the right way. Read my story here.

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