There are different opinions on the variations between American and German Rottweilers and if there really are two separate breeds evolving. Most breeders agree that both the American and German dogs are more similar than they are different, however the German dogs tend to be stockier and more muscled in appearance than the slightly leggier and taller American Rottweilers. Both have the same calm, even disposition and incredible loyalty and intelligence, making this breed ideal as a family pet and working dog.
The following breed standards are from the American Kennel Club and are designed to be a general guideline as to a show quality Rottweiler. Keep in mind that not everyone is necessarily looking for show quality, and that dogs that don't meet these very demanding standards can still make wonderful pets, guardians and companions. Many police and military Rottweiler are not registered purebreds, only proving that talent and ability is often more important than registration and documentation.
The Rottweiler is one bred of dog that has a slightly different appearance within males and females. Both will have the very distinctive black with rust markings, however the males tend to be larger, heavier and blockier in appearance than the females. This differentiation extends to both the face and the body, however the females still should give the appearance of power and strength, never looking weak or lacking in bone structure and muscle.
The head of the Rottweiler is very distinctive and has a close resemblance to the other descendents of the Molosser and Mastiff types of breeds. They have a wide skull that is moderately arched when viewed in profile, as well as a ratio of three to two when comparing the back skull to the length of the muzzle. The head should appear to be balanced with the neck and the rest of the body. Although when the dog is fully alert there may be some slight wrinkling across the forehead, wrinkles are not acceptable in the breed when the dog is relaxed. The eyes are almond shaped without drooping lids and should be uniformly medium to dark brown. Yellow eyes or parti-colored eyes are a serious fault and any signs of entropion or ectropion (turning in or outward of the eyelids) will result in a disqualification. The ears are pendant and moderate is size, wide at the base and triangular in shape. The ears should be flat against the sides of the head and should come to about the mid-cheek level. The muzzle is broad and well proportioned, ending in a broad, flat nose that must be black in color. The bite is a strong scissor bite and no under or overshot jaws are considered disqualifications. All teeth must be present with two or more missing teeth also a disqualification.
The neck is strong and muscular and carried slightly arched. There should be no loose skin around the neck area. The neck flows into a deep, wide and roomy chest and to well positioned withers. The topline of the back is always flat and carried horizontal to the floor, even when the dog is in motion or is standing. The overall impression should be of power and strength, with well sprung ribs and a long, muscular loin area. The croup is broad and broad and muscled as well, slightly sloping to provide a natural stance. The tail of the Rottweiler is always docked for show, extending one or two vertebrae only. The tail is carried level with the back, increasing the appearance of length.
The front legs of the Rottweiler are well spaced and straight with the elbows positioned squarely under the body. The legs are solid but not bulky, ending in rounded, compact feet that have well arched toes. The pads of the feet are thick and heavy and the nails are always pure black and kept short. The front feet should not turn in or out when the dog is standing or moving.
The hindquarters are square with the front quarters and the body. The pasterns should be almost perpendicular to the ground, giving that very solid stance that is typical of the breed. The back feet are longer than the front feet, less rounded in overall appearance. Like the front toes they should neither turn in or out and should be very balanced with the bone of the leg.
The coat is always double and shorter over the face, feet, ears and legs, with some breeching. The double coat should be thickest on the neck and thighs, however this will vary based on the season. The coat is always shown natural and cannot be trimmed. The coarse, shiny and dense outer coat should completely cover the softer inner coat. Any curling or long coats are disqualifications and wavy coats are faulted.
The color of the Rottweiler is always predominantly black over the body with rust to mahogany markings. The markings can only occur on the cheeks, a small spot over each eye, stripes on each side of the muzzle but not crossing the bridge of the muzzle, two triangular markings on the chest over the prosternum, on the lower part of the front legs and the high to lower inside parts of the hind legs. The rust to mahogany markings can extend around the hind legs from the hock to the toes, but cannot completely encircle the legs. The underside of the tail is also the rust to mahogany color that matches the rest of the markings. Light markings, known as straw markings as well as any sooty colors or blending of the rust and black areas is a serious fault. Any body colors other than black or a black body with no markings at all are disqualifications.
In the show ring the Rottweiler has to have a specific type of temperament. They should be willing to have their teeth and body examined without any signs of aggression or timidity towards the judge. A dog that is rather aloof or distant or that is somewhat belligerent but controllable is not excused from the ring during a show competition, unless he or she becomes a danger to the judge or other dogs.