Whether you’re looking at the Rottweiler as your potential next dog breed or have just heard about the different types, the labeling can certainly be confusing.
Serbian Rottweiler, German Rottweiler, you will probably also hear about the American or even Russian Rottweiler.
Let’s stick to the two main species and see how this affects breeding in Europe and the US.
I have a Rottweiler myself and I may have found something interesting regarding her bloodline, I’ll get to that below.
What exactly is the difference between the Serbian Rottweiler and the German Rottweiler? That is the question your research will ultimately answer.
Frankly, most articles will simply state that the Serbian Rottweiler was born in Serbia, while the German one was born in Germany.
Technically, this isn’t even the truth.
Bringing two Serbian Rottweilers to the US and then breeding them does not make the resulting puppy any less of a Serbian Rottweiler.
Likewise, the German Rottweiler is highly sought after by American breeders and there had to be a time (and there still is) when true German bloodlines were transported to the US.
But let’s take a step back and look at why dogs look different in different locations in the first place.
Usually it has nothing to do with the environment or location itself, but rather with the appearance that people want.
If a certain look dominates that location, they will continue to breed dogs that exhibit that specific trait.
Over time, that type of dog can make its way across continents.
Even if a particular Rottweiler type settles in a different location, it does not necessarily mean that it is desired by people interested in the dog.
Potential buyers may think this is what the Rottweiler looks like, or if enough breeders decide to accept that new line, there would simply be no other option.
Furthermore, distinguishing the exact Rottie type is not exactly a piece of cake either.
To add to my personal experience, I did some research and found an interesting controversy surrounding the Serbian Rottweiler.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
Serbian Rottweiler – what’s special about it
The Serbian Rottweiler has more of a dunce face with a shorter muzzle, more wrinkles and deep-set eyes, as opposed to the well-formed head of the German Rottweiler.
The Serbian Rottweiler is often heavier, has a body that resembles a tube, and may have a slightly sloping back.
Essentially, this look is what Serbia and Croatia have made their type, to the delight of some and the absolute disgust of others.
According to the ADRK (the German Rottweiler Club), this type of Rottweiler is often a fault.
However, you will still see many Serbian and Croatian Rottweiler lines in German competitions.
Not all Serbian Rottweilers look like the stereotypical rottweilers with extreme blockheads and small faces, there is a spectrum.
But it is not always completely clear which type of Rottie you have.
Serbian Rottweiler Breeders
Breeders of the Serbian Rottweiler often mix their dogs’ bloodlines with the German Rottweiler to achieve the desired look, while other Serbian Rottweiler breeders are committed to breeding controversial dogs.
As mentioned above, some Serbian Rotties can still compete, even in the German show ring.
Why do Serbian Rottweilers differ so much in appearance?
Since some breeders generally like the Serbian Rottie type, but not exactly the idealized version of it, they simply temper that with a softer-looking line that could very well be a German Rottie.
The truth is that you will find many purebred Rottweilers on German marketplaces that are not advertised as being of foreign bloodlines at all, but in fact often trace their roots back to Eastern Europe.
Maybe you buy a Rottweiler in their hometown and that dog turns out not even to be a purebred German line.
In fact, it’s not always easy to tell the difference just from looks.
That’s why the pedigree is so important, so you know what you’re getting (plus all the health testing that’s essential).
What about the other end of the spectrum?
Breeders of extreme bloodlines who appear on Social Media face a lot of criticism.
While these criticisms are not always packaged in a constructive manner, the reality is that many people are concerned about the way these dogs are bred.
Many of these breeds act as if others are “jealous” of their dogs and defend themselves by stating that they are “just trying to advance the breed as a whole.”
But is it really true? What about the health of the Serbian Rottweiler?
Serbian Rottweiler Health
The Serbian Rottweiler is exposed to the same problems as the German Rottweiler, such as HD, ED, JLPP and heart problems, but their appearance may involve breathing problems, gait defects or genetic problems due to inbreeding.
Despite the understandable criticism regarding dogs that appear to have deformed heads, many Serbian lines do undergo health testing.
But do they really do that?
For example, if you look at #Serbianrottweiler on Instagram, you will come across many potential breeders.
Research shows that quite a few of them do health tests.
Essential health tests include x-rays of the hip and elbow, JLPP tests, heart and eye exams, and perhaps much more to rule out hereditary conditions.
These Serbian Rottweiler breeders seem to be doing this so well.
Even the most controversial individuals are usually HD/ED free.
But that brings us to the question of how reliable these tests really are.
Remember to always ask your Serbian Rottweiler breeder (or any other breeder) to see the actual x-rays and at which veterinarian they were taken. If in doubt, consult an independent veterinarian about the results!
It’s hard to imagine that the most extreme Rotties don’t suffer from problems such as respiratory problems due to their short snouts alone.
However, so far I have not been able to find any evidence as documentation is scarce.
If you are considering purchasing a Rottweiler puppy, make sure you track it ancestry which often also shows inbreeding or line breeding.
If anything seems unclear to you, consult your breeder or perhaps even an expert veterinarian.
In terms of temperament, many Rotties are characterized with children, but that is actually only a small part of daily life and even then it is only a fragment.
Always ask to see the parents, communicate with them, ask for certificates or videos.
Serbian Rottweiler size
Serbian Rottweilers generally fall on the large side of the breed standard and are often heavier than their German or American counterparts, at up to 65-69 kg for males instead of 50-59 kg.
Rottweiler puppies grow quite quickly and although large German males do exist, they will almost always have a different build.
Size shouldn’t matter that much and at some point a Rottie will lose the athleticism that propels his muscular body.
A healthy weight is essential to prevent many obesity-related problems in dogs.
Additionally, feeding your dog a healthy diet reduces the chance of problems such as hip or elbow dysplasia, heart problems or suspected loss of cognitive function.
Serbian Rottweiler vs German Rottweiler
Serbian Rottweilers have been bred with a short snout and blockhead, and in many cases an overall stocky build, while German Rottweilers are still bred somewhat true to their original type.
Whether the best type is the original or the Serbian type or a combination thereof is left up to each potential dog owner.
Personally, I am not a big fan of breeding farms that pose health concerns as discussed above.
Until there is definitive evidence showing that a specific bloodline is 100% healthy, I would err on the side of caution and go for a well-bred type instead.
According to the ADRK (German Rottweiler Club), many Serbian Rottweilers would be disqualified, or at least score many faults.
Here is a small exception to the features that the ADRK considers “errors”:
- Head: (…) Narrow, light, too short, long, coarse or exaggeratedly molossoid head; skull too wide (lack of stop, too little stop or too strong stop). Very deep frontal groove.
- Muzzle: Long, pointed or too short muzzle (any muzzle shorter than 40 percent of the length of the head is too short); split nose; Roman nose (convex nose bridge) or saucer-shaped (concave nose bridge); acquiline nose (…)
- Skin: Wrinkles on the head.
Many of the “serious mistakes” could just as easily have been aimed at some of the extreme Serbian Rottweilers out there:
- General appearance: Too molossoid type and heavy general appearance.
- Skin: Skin on the head strongly wrinkled, strong wrinkles in the forehead, muzzle and cheek areas, strong dewlap.
- Gait: Slow action while trotting.
Ultimately, it’s important to do your research.
When purchasing a puppy, ask for health tests, interact with the parents, and spend time with each puppy.
Checking their bloodlines nowadays takes a few minutes and can save you a lot of headaches, especially if there is inbreeding (as can be the case with any dog breed and breeder).
Disclaimer: This blog post does not and does not intend to replace veterinary attention. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows signs of illness, call your vet.