Can A Rottweiler Live With A German Shepherd?


Rottweilers and German Shepherds have a lot in common. But do these shared characteristics mean that the two breeds can live together harmoniously, or will it be a like-repels-like situation?  

A Rottweiler and a German Shepherd can live together harmoniously if they are well-matched in terms of temperament and personality and if they are provided with sufficient space. Most important, however, is good ownership; they need a confident, calm owner with enough time and energy for both dogs.

This is not theory, I’ve experienced it first hand. The German Shepherd and Rottweiler in the pictures are my own. My Rottweiler is about three years older than my German Shepherd – and they adore each other!

When assessing whether or not two dogs can live together peacefully, there are four main factors you have to consider:

  1. breed characteristics
  2. personality and temperament
  3. living environment
  4. ownership

The Influence Of Breed Characteristics

As mentioned, Rottweilers and German Shepherds have a lot in common, and this has to do with the similarities of their breed characteristics.

In this section, we look at the characteristics that they share as well as how they differ.

Loyalty And Protectiveness

Rottweilers and German Shepherds are naturally protective and loyal breeds. These are innate breed characteristics that were selectively bred into the dogs when the breeds were first being established.

But why were these traits viewed as particularly desirable in the early generations of Rottweilers and Germans Shepherds?

Well, this has to do with their original jobs. Both Rottweilers and German Shepherds were originally bred for herding livestock, although Rottweilers—or at least the ancestors of today’s Rottweilers—were doing it long before German Shepherds existed.

In the canine profession of herding livestock, loyalty is imperative because the dog needs to work closely with their human companions, but without the security of a leash.

Related: Are Rottweilers Good Farm Dogs?

A loyal dog is much less likely to wander off on its own, even compared to a less loyal dog with the same amount of training.

Protectiveness is likewise a desirable characteristic in a livestock herder because of the potential dangers that herds of animals face out in the fields.

Related: Are German Shepherds Good Livestock Guardians?

This was especially important back when the animals used to be moved by foot over large distances instead of loaded into trucks.

But what does this mean for the compatibility of Rottweilers and German Shepherds?

Unfortunately, it means that both animals are territorial and tend to be possessive of their people, which can lead to clashes if they are not managed correctly.

Intelligence And Trainability

Both Rottweilers and German Shepherds are intelligent and trainable, although German Shepherds probably have the Rottweiler’s beat in the category of trainability.

Related: German Shepherd Training Guide: All You Need to Know

These common breed characteristics work in favor of these two dogs living together harmoniously because intelligent dogs are easy to train (if you use the correct techniques), and trainable dogs are easier to manage.

Emotional Neediness

While Rottweilers and German Shepherds are both incredibly attached to their owners, a German Shepherd is most likely to be overtly needy.

This means that you can easily end up focusing more of your attention on your German Shepherd.  

For harmonious cohabitation between Rottweiler’s and German Shepherds, both dogs’ emotional needs should be met every day.

Another aspect of this is that Rottweilers and German Shepherds both value companionship.

While human companionship is more desirable for both dogs, having each other can help for when you have to go out.

Related: How to Deal with German Shepherd Separation Anxiety

Physical Needs

Looking at their breed history again, you can imagine the energy levels that were bred into Rottweilers and German Shepherds to allow them to walk and work for hours at a time and for weeks on end.

While these dogs still require their fitness levels to be built up correctly, they are innately energetic—a German Shepherd more so than a Rottweiler.

The fact that they match in size and energy levels means that they will benefit mutually from playing and exercising with each other, encouraging the development of a companionable bond between them.

The Influence Of Personality And Temperament

Personality and temperament are two different but interconnected factors. Often people are unsure about how to differentiate between the two.

You can think of temperament as the innate traits of a dog’s behavior and character, while personality is the expression of self that is influenced by both temperament and environment.

In terms of temperament, if both your Rottweiler and your German Shepherd are quite dominant, then they are more likely to have spats or even full-blown fights.

If one has a dominant temperament and the other has a submissive temperament, a natural pecking order is established, but it can get taken too far and result in bullying of the more submissive dog.

It’s best to combine a high-dominance dog and a mid-dominance dog or a mid-dominance dog and a more submissive dog.

In terms of personality, dogs are just as varied as people, and your one dog can simply not like the other.

Temperament is far more predictable than personality, but it is still not an exact science. Animal behaviorists, veterinarians, and breeders can assist you in matching dogs together based on temperament.   

The Influence Of Living Environment

As mentioned previously, Rottweilers and German Shepherds are both territorial dogs.

This means that to have them squashed together in a small house with a small yard is bound to cause some tension.

It is better for them to be kept in a larger home with a big yard where each dog can have their own space.

The Influence Of Ownership

Good ownership is arguably the most important factor in determining whether or not a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd can live together in harmony.

Owners Are Responsible For Socialization

Socialization helps a dog to learn how to handle all kinds of stimuli and circumstances so that they are not overwhelmed when faced with new situations.

This is important for all dogs, but for some breeds, it is absolutely vital.

Related: How To Socialize Your German Shepherd

Rottweilers and German Shepherds are two intense breeds for which socialization is imperative.

Without it, they are less able to regulate their emotions and reactions, and it can lead to tense situations and blow-ups.

Owners Are Responsible For Training

Another great way to facilitate a peaceful home with Rottweilers and German Shepherds is to train them. This means more than just basic obedience training.

Training provides structure and control, but it also allows you to have some one-on-one time with each dog, which is important to them because you are the most important thing to them.

The better trained your dogs, the happier they will be, and the easier it will be to diffuse any potentially explosive situations.

Owners Are Responsible For Exercise

Making sure that you exercise your Rottweiler and German Shepherd daily and sufficiently will ensure that they have no pent-up energy to direct towards disagreements with each other.

Additionally, dogs who do not get enough exercise can become anxious, which further aggravates the situation.

Owners Must Eliminate Rivalry

As we have already mentioned, Rottweilers and German Shepherds tend to be territorial and possessive.

As the owner, you have to monitor this very carefully and ensure that you do not create situations in which rivalry can develop.

For example, feed your dogs in separate areas and feed them in the same area each day, so that they know whose spot is whose and won’t feel like they need to compete for that meal.

You also need to be careful with high-value toys and treats. If one gets something, the other should also get something.

Based on how much Rottweilers and German Shepherds love their owners, you are likely to be the main potential source of rivalry between the dogs.

This means that you have to make sure to pay them both attention and try to avoid things like letting one sleep right next to the bed and not the other.

However, don’t over-compensate by treating them as if they are the same dog. They are both individuals and need individual and special attention. Just make sure it’s fair.

When the dogs feel that they are being treated equally and fairy, they will happily work together. Just take a look at the video below for a great example of a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd guarding a house together!

Owner Personality Makes A Difference

Did you know that your personality factors into the equation?

Well, it does, and it’s actually quite an important factor.

The owner of a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd has to be able to handle tense moments, diffusing them through calm but authoritative actions.

If your dogs are gearing up for a fight, and this makes you extremely nervous, they will pick up on your anxious energy, and it will only make the situation worse.

Additionally, if you have a less dominant personality, then your protective dogs will steam-roller you for the alpha position. And when the owner is not the alpha, the pack is unstable.

Final Thoughts

Rottweilers and German Shepherds share many common breed characteristics. Some of these similarities will make having both dogs in the same household more difficult, while others make it easier.

Ultimately, it will come down to their personalities and good ownership.

You need to have the time, energy, and confidence to facilitate a harmonious cohabitation between these two intense breeds of dogs.

If you can do this, then a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd can live together happily in your home.

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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