Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Rotterman
Jan Marlyn Reesman /

With their piercing brown eyes and handsome face, the Rotterman – a cross between a Rottweiler and a Doberman – is a dog that is easy to love. Well-muscled and sturdily built, this dog exudes power and walks with a real air of confidence. They are best known for their attractive black and tan coat, which is short and sleek and very easy to maintain.

The Rotterman is by no means an ‘easy’ dog and is one that takes a lot of hard work and training to develop into a well-adjusted and balanced family member. They would not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner, as they benefit from being trained by someone with a good degree of experience.

About & History

Two German black and tan breeds with reputations for being loyal and brave guard dogs, the Rottweiler and Doberman have a lot in common. Thus, it is little wonder that they have been bred together in order to create the Rotterman, a hybrid that is thought to have originated in the United States within the last 30 years. With hardly any history under their belts, we need to take a closer look at their ancestors to get a better understanding of this new breed barely in its infancy.

The Rottweiler

Rottweilers (or Rotties) are known for being gentle giants with their families though certainly have the ability to defend them ferociously if called to do so. They can be trained to a very high standard and will dedicate themselves to their job. Originally from a town called ‘Rottweil’ in West Germany, these strong dogs would have been used to pull carts and drive cattle to the market. As dogs became utilised less and less throughout the ages, breed numbers became perilously low.

Luckily for the Rottweiler, they made superb army dogs and there was a huge demand for them at the time of the World Wars. This ensured the breed never died out and they are well-known internationally to this day. It cannot be ignored that Rottweilers have a reputation for being aggressive in some countries, a consequence which has more to do with them being taken on by ill-prepared owners who failed to train them adequately.

The Doberman

The Doberman was only developed in 1890 so is a far more recent breed than the Rottie. They were developed by a German man named Karl Dobermann in a town called Apolda, Central Germany. Mr. Dobermann’s aim was to create a powerful and impressive breed that had the ability to protect him and was easy to train. As he ran the local dog pound, he had access to a wide number of different breeds and it is though that he mixed together the likes of the Rottweiler, Beauceron, Weimaraner and the German Pinscher, though the exact combination of breeds used is debated. Interestingly, America classed the Doberman as its official war dog during the Second World War.


Rotterman Large Photo
Jan Marlyn Reesman /

The Rotterman already has a quite uniform appearance as the Rottweiler and Doberman are not so dissimilar to start with. Indeed, many say that the Rotterman looks like a lanky Doberman! Their head is solidly built though slimmer and more defined than that of the Rottweiler. Their muzzle is long and their upper lips hang slightly, giving them a somewhat comical appearance.

They have almond shaped eyes that may be amber or brown and shine with intelligence and curiosity. They have a compact and well-proportioned body, which is nearly square in shape and is supported by long and lean limbs. They have a well-developed chest and a slight abdominal tuck-up. They stand proudly and have an undeniably elegant gait that is a pleasure to observe.

The coat of the Rotterman is the characteristic black and tan of both parents and is short and straight. It is often shiny and, in a healthy dog, can look really magnificent. Quite a tall dog, an adult Rotterman will measure from 58cm to 63cm. Their strong and powerful bodies are made up of heavy muscle, ensuring they reach impressive weights of between 30kg and 60kg.

Character & Temperament

One of the main attractions of the Rotterman is their loving nature and the unquestioning dedication they have for their family. Their loyalty knows no bounds and they would happily sacrifice themselves to save those that they love. This attitude can be a double-edged sword as, while it makes them affectionate with those close to them, they can be on guard when new people enter the home or they think that they perceive a threat.

The Rotterman has the ability to live side by side with other pets, as well as children, though they should always be supervised as they are a powerful and heavy breed. Ideally, they would be socialised when very young and owners should not try to introduce a new pet to an adult Rotterman who has never learned to accept other dogs.

Some individuals can be stubborn and may need some persuasion to do as they’re told. Owners should not tolerate any misbehaving as behaviours, such as chewing and jumping, that may seem cute when a puppy but can become a real issue in a fully-grown Rotterman.


Good training is crucial in the development of an obedient and well-rounded Rotterman and they certainly have the ability to learn a great deal of commands. They are known for their adaptability and have the ability to perform a variety of tasks to a high standard. Rottermans are happiest when their training is going well and they are given the opportunity to show off what they know.

Ideally, the Rotterman will be trained by someone with a lot of experience who is used to dealing with similar breeds. Dominance can become an issue and trainers must ensure that the Rotterman understands their place in the pack from day one.


As the Rotterman is such a new breed with only a limited number of breed members, it is important that breeders focus on creating a healthy population that will prosper for many years to come.

Hip Dysplasia

Early signs of hip dysplasia can include an unusual gait, bunny-hopping when running and a reluctance to exercise. A vet will perform an orthopaedic exam and will also take X-rays to reach a diagnosis.

As hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease, symptoms will get worse with time and dogs will become progressively more impaired. There are surgical procedures available for young dogs that can improve their prognosis and older dogs may benefit from a Total Hip Replacement.


A low thyroid hormone (T4) can cause a myriad of symptoms ranging from a lacklustre coat to a dog that sleeps all day. Blood tests will detect that the thyroid hormone is lower than it should be and veterinarians will prescribe tablets which replace this hormone and are typically given once a day.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is a genetic disorder that results in inadequate blood clotting which can pose a real risk during surgery or after an acute trauma. There is no cure for this condition and it needs to be managed lifelong. Interestingly, it is thought that those with an underactive thyroid may be predisposed.

Exercise and Activity Levels

An athlete through and through, the Rotterman requires plenty of space and exercise to prevent boredom and frustration. Happy to walk or run, they will easily keep up with the most avid jogger. As well as a few long walks a day, the Rotterman should ideally have access to a securely fenced in garden where they can enjoy themselves off lead and play games, such as fetch and Frisbee, with the family.

Failing to provide a positive outlet for the enthusiasm of the Rotterman will inevitably result in unwanted vices, such as furniture chewing or incessant barking.


The beautiful coat of the Rotterman is very low maintenance and just requires a brush down every week or so to remove any dead skin.

As the ears of the Rotterman tend to hang closely to their face, there is poor airflow making them prone to developing ear infections. Owners may notice a bad smell and might look inside the ear canal to see red skin and excessive discharge. Infections can be prevented by keeping ears clean and dry at all times and dogs with waxy ears will benefit from weekly ear cleans.

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