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The Rottweiler is a German breed named after the city of its origin – Rottweil. To this day, Rotties are known as “Butchers’ Dogs” in Germany, due to their natural talent for driving and controlling cattle. At the same time, these bulky working dogs were utilized to protect their owners and their livestock from thieves. The Rottweiler’s ancestors used to fill similar roles: Their job was to drive and guard the cattle brought along by the Roman army in their conquest of today’s Germany. In essence, our modern Rottweiler is a cross between those Roman cattle dogs and local breeds. In the second World War, Rottweilers served as guard dogs for German soldiers, and since then, the breed has gained worldwide recognition for its excellence in police and military service roles. Today, more and more people are interested in the Rottie for personal protection and home protection purposes.

The Labrador Retriever comes from a very different background: During the 1500’s, the fishermen of Newfoundland decided it was time for an upgrade of their working breed of choice: the large Newfoundland dog. To create a faster and more agile breed, they crossed Newfoundlands with smaller water dogs, thereby creating the “Lesser Newfoundland”: Athletic swimmers who would readily jump into the icy waters to pull in fishing nets. Equipped with thick, water repellent coats and webbed paws, they were perfectly suited for the job.

In the early 1800s, these keen working dogs were brought to Poole, England, where they were first named “Labrador Dogs”. In the early 1900s, American hunters and farmers started utilising the Labradors as working dogs and family companions. Since the breed was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1917, the Labrador has become one of the most popular dogs in the world.


Despite the Rottweiler’s long history, the breed has not changed all too much over the last 120 years in terms of basic temperament and appearance: The first official breed standard was established in 1901. According to it, the Rottweiler is a substantial and well-proportioned dog with a rectangular frame. Black-and-tan in colour, its double-coat is short and coarse. Rotties have blocky, almost Mastiff-like heads with a marked stop, but without the excessive jowls typical for Mastiff breeds.

Their height at the shoulder ranges from approximately 24 - 27 inches in male and from 22 - 25 inches in female Rotties. That is about 61 – 69 cm for males and 56 – 64 cm for females. Males tip the scales at 95 - 135 pounds and females at 80-100 pounds, which is approximately 43 – 61 kilos for males and 36 – 45 kilos for females.

Whilst the more sturdy show line Labradors are built almost as stocky as Rottweilers, the high-legged working line Labs are more elegant. All Labradors have long, rather thick tails and pendant-shaped ears that hang down. Their short coat comes in Black, Yellow or Chocolate. Male Labs can measure 22 to 24 inches at the wither and females 22 to 23 inches. Which is 57 to 62 cm for males and 55 to 60 cm for females. Male Labs can weigh between 64 and 80 pounds and females between 55 and 71 pounds, which is 29 to 36 kilos for males and 25 to 32 kilos for females.


Just like Rottweilers, Labradors are extremely keen to work and to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. Both dogs thrive when provided the opportunity to perform – even if that work only consists in fetching toys or in running through obedience drills. Highly intelligent dogs, they love nothing more than flexing their physical and mental muscles. Which is why lots of mental stimulation should be provided for both breeds. One possibility to keep these dogs sharp mentally is working them in the fields of obedience, tracking, guarding or gundog training. But also, regular walks in areas with lots of different smells, sights and sounds are excellent ways to provide both physical and mental stimulation for your Rottie or Lab.

That said, the Rottweiler does have a stubborn streak that makes it considerably more challenging to train than the immensely cooperative Labrador. As Rotties can display aggressive behaviour when corrected, they absolutely need an experienced handler. With proper socialization and firm but fair guidance, Rotties and Labs can be trained to very similar, high levels in the fields of tracking, seach & rescue, and obedience work. In roles involving personal- and home protection, the Rottie is far superior, whilst the Lab trumps the Rottie when it comes to its skills in Retrieving: These dogs will bring back just about anything that you throw into any body of water – even if they have to dive to get to the object.


In their temperament, both of these amazing working breeds are quite similar – active, keen, and alert outside and when working, but calm and composed in the house. That said, the Labrador is the more boisterous of the two and can take some work to teach house manners, especially as puppy and adolescent. Once Labs get reach about one or one and a half years of age, they usually calm down a lot and become more laid-back in the house.

Rotties on the other hand are so calm and settled indoors that they even make good apartment dogs. They are extremely effective natural guard dogs who can and will protect you and your home – whereas the Labrador can be trained to sound an alarm but should not be counted on when it comes to attacking an aggressor. Labradors are very mellow and friendly dogs, ideal for families with children of all ages and other pets. Rottweilers CAN be good family companions as well, but caution is advised due to a certain level of natural aggression that runs in the breed.


Labradors require a huge amount of daily exercise, for example vigorous walks, games of fetch, runs next to a bicycle or swims. And whilst the Rottie does not usually share the Labradors’ love for water, it certainly appreciates similar levels of exercise. Both breeds should be given at least one good long run off leash per day, combined with a few other walks and play sessions throughout the day. As they both have a high prey drive, they absolutely love to play.

Neither breed needs all too much grooming: Rottweilers do fine with one or two brushes a week with a soft bristle brush, but Labradors are quite heavy shedders and should be brushed daily. During shedding season in spring and autumn, they require multiple brushes a day to keep their hairs from getting all over the floor.

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