Labrador retriever vs Rottweiler: Comparing Two Popular Dog Breeds

You’re ready to add a loyal four-legged friend to your family. You want an intelligent, playful, devoted dog that can also be a protective and alert watchdog. Both the Labrador retriever and the Rottweiler fit this description. But labrador or rottweiler which is best for you and your lifestyle?

Labrador retrievers vs Rottweilers have significant differences regarding size, energy level, health considerations, and temperament. Before deciding between these two popular breeds, you’ll want to understand their unique characteristics and needs. This comprehensive guide includes everything you need to know about choosing between a Labrador and a Rottweiler.

Brief History of Labrador and Retrievers

The Labrador retriever originated in Newfoundland, Canada, where they worked alongside fishermen – retrieving fish, pulling small boats, and helping the fishermen with their day’s catch. Their friendly, eager-to-please nature made them highly trainable.


Labs were later bred as gun dogs in Britain, retrieving waterfowl for hunters. It’s this experience of retrieving that gives the breed its name. The Labrador retriever became famous as a family pet thanks to their gentle, patient temperament. They consistently rank as one of the most popular dog breeds.

Brief History of Rottweilers

Rottweilers were developed as working dogs in the Roman Empire, driving and protecting cattle during the Romans’ travels across Europe. Their name comes from the small town of Rottweil, Germany, where they were known as “Rottweil butchers‘ dogs”.

Rottweilers eventually transitioned to being police dogs, service dogs, military dogs, and guard dogs. Despite their imposing size and protective tendencies, they became popular family pets in the mid-1900s.

Rottweiler Vs Labrador Size And Appearance

Labrador retrievers are medium-large dogs, weighing 55 to 80 pounds on average. They stand 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder. Labs have a broad skull, a thick neck, a broad chest, and a solid build.

Rottweilers are much larger, weighing 80 to 135 pounds as adults. Their height ranges from 22 inches for a petite female to 27 inches for a large male. Rottweilers have a large, powerful head with strong jaws. Their bodies are sturdy, with a deep chest.

Both breeds lab vs rottweiler have a short, dense double coat that sheds moderately year-round. Lab coats come in three colors: yellow, black, or chocolate. Rottweiler coats are always black with rust or mahogany markings on the face, paws, and legs.

Grooming and Shedding Labrador retriever vs Rottweiler

The short, water-resistant coat of the Labrador retriever requires minimal grooming. Occasional brushing, along with regular bathing, keeps their coat looking shiny. Labs shed consistently year-round. Their shedding increases during seasonal changes when they “blow” their undercoat.


Rottweilers shed moderately year-round, with heavier seasons in spring and fall. Brush them weekly for a fur-less fuss!. They also go through heavy seasonal shedding, losing clumps of hair in the spring and fall.

Exploring grooming needs, it’s interesting to contrast the shedding tendencies of the Labrador Retriever with the Rottweiler, examining how each breed manages its unique shedding levels, with a particular focus on the Rottweiler shed level.

A Great Dane or long-haired breed requires much more intensive grooming. But rottweiler vs labrador shed noticeably year-round, so regular vacuuming is necessary! 

Activity Levels and Exercise Needs Labrador retriever vs Rottweiler

Labrador retrievers have an enthusiastic temperament – they love being active and need at least 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. A young Lab under three may need even more daily activity to prevent destructive behavior.

Labs enjoy activities like retrieving, agility, jogging, and swimming. Knowledgeable people need both mental and physical exercise to be happy. Lab owners should be committed to providing daily activity through walks, playtime, dog sports, or hiking.

The Rottweiler’s activity level is notable, as these robust dogs thrive on regular exercise and mental stimulation, showcasing their energetic nature and need for an active lifestyle.

Leaving a Lab or Rottie alone all day without exercise risks boredom, frustration and destructive tendencies. An active owner or family is ideally suited to meet these breeds’ needs.

Temperament and Personality Labrador retriever vs Rottweiler

The classic Labrador retriever personality is friendly, patient, outgoing and eager to please. They are playful dogs that get along well with children, strangers and other pets. Labs are very affectionate and make excellent family companions.


Rottweilers tend to be much more severe – their temperament is alert, confident and watchful. They form strong bonds with their family. Rottweilers are naturally inclined to be protective of their home and family members.

Early obedience training and extensive socialization are critical for the Rottweiler breed. When properly trained, Rottweilers are steadfast, compliant and devoted to their owners. But their powerful guarding instincts require an experienced owner.

Intelligence and Trainability of Rottweiler versus Labrador

Labrador retrievers and Rottweilers are highly intelligent breeds, ranking in the top 10 dog breeds for obedience and working intelligence.

Labs are elementary to train. Their aim to please their personality allows them to pick up basic obedience commands as puppies rapidly. Labs excel at complex tasks like bomb detection, arson investigation, and guiding blind people.

Rottweilers are also highly trainable when handled by an authoritative owner. They respond best to firm, consistent training with positive reinforcement. Their natural guarding instincts can make training Rottweilers more challenging in some aspects.

Early socialization and training are vital to preventing overprotectiveness in Rottweilers. An inexperienced dog owner may struggle to train a Rottweiler puppy properly.

Health Issues to Watch Out For

Labrador retrievers have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. They are prone to health problems like:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Eye issues like cataracts and PRA
  • Ear infections
  • Bloat
  • Obesity

Buying from an ethical breeder who screens for dysplasia and eye issues can help avoid some of these conditions.

Rottweilers live 8 to 11 years on average. Some of the primary health risks include:

  1. Hip dysplasia
  2. Bone cancer
  3. Gastric torsion (bloat)
  4. Elbow dysplasia
  5. Heart conditions like aortic stenosis
  6. Allergies

Reputable Rottweiler breeders should test breeding dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia, heart problems, allergies and have a history of health in their bloodlines.

Nutrition and Feeding

Labrador retrievers are prone to obesity since they love food and tend to overeat. Measuring out daily portions and avoiding high-calorie treats prevents excess weight gain.


Labs do well on high-quality commercial dog food for medium- to large-breed dogs. Look for a formula with real meat as the first ingredient, and avoid grain-heavy foods.

Rottweilers may be at risk for bloat, a life-threatening stomach condition. Feeding them 2 or 3 smaller meals spaced throughout the day instead of one large meal may help reduce bloat risk.

A high-protein diet supports muscle growth and development in Rottweilers. But don’t overfeed treats or free-feed puppies, which can quickly lead to obesity.

Ideal Home Setting

Labs adapt well to any home – including apartments, condos and homes with modest-sized yards. But they do require daily walks and playtime. Labs should be inside dogs that get plenty of interaction with their families.

Rottweilers need space to move and play. A home with a large, fenced yard is ideal. Their size and exercise needs make Rottweilers less suited to apartment living unless you are very committed to providing long, daily walks.

First-Time vs. Experienced Owners

Eager to please and highly responsive to training, Labrador retrievers are an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Their affectionate nature and moderate activity level make them one of the most family-friendly dogs.

Rottweilers require experienced handlers who establish themselves as pack leaders. First-time owners may struggle to socialize and train a Rottweiler puppy correctly. Their strength and guarding tendencies demand an owner who understands the breed.

Breed-Specific Legislation

Some cities and apartment complexes have restrictions against owning certain breeds like pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds and Doberman pinschers. Rottweilers have been targeted by breed-specific legislation for bans or restrictions.


Labrador retrievers are among the most accepted breeds, with few housing or insurance restrictions. Their reputation as friendly family dogs allows them access to more imposing-looking breeds.

Costs: Purchase Price, Medical & Supplies

The average purchase price of a Labrador retriever puppy from a reputable breeder ranges from $800 to $1,500. Rescued adult Labs may cost $50 to $400 to adopt. Annual medical care, food, supplies, and training costs average $500 to $600.

Depending on pedigree and titles, Rottweiler puppies from breeders generally range from $1,500 up to $4,000 or more. Adopting a Rottweiler from a rescue often costs between $100 to $500. Annual costs to own a Rottie average $800 to $1,200 or more.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

When researching rottweiler and labrador breeders, look for the following signs of a responsible breeder:

  1. AKC registered dogs
  2. Genetic health testing on breeding dogs
  3. Titles/proofs of pedigree
  4. Only breeds one or two types of dogs
  5. Requires spay/neuter contracts
  6. Ask you questions about your home
  7. Provides vet records & health guarantee

Avoid purchasing a Labrador or Rottweiler without papers or health testing from a retail pet store, puppy mill, or backyard breeder. These poorly bred puppies are prone to behavioral and health issues.

Labrador or Rottweiler: Which Breed Makes a Better Family Dog?

The classic family-friendly breed, Labrador retrievers, does exceptionally well in homes with children. Labs are patient, gentle, and affectionate with kids. Their energetic, fun-loving personalities make them ideal family companions.

Rottweilers can excel as family pets with proper training and socialization. However, their large size, tendency to jump, and powerful jaws pose risks around toddlers or young children. Rottweilers may be better suited to families with older kids. Parents should always supervise young children around any breed.

Which Breed Makes a Better Working Dog?

The eager-to-please nature and high working intelligence of Labradors have made them a trendy breed choice for guide dogs, bomb and arson detection dogs, hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, and other working roles.


Rottweilers also have high working drive and intelligence. Their strength and protective temperament suit them well as police, security, and military working dogs. Rottweilers can make excellent service dogs with specialized training.

Popular Portrayals

Some famous Labrador retriever movies and TV characters include Marley from Marley and Me, Vincent from Lost, and Buck from Call of the Wild. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s Labs Buddy and Seamus lived in the White House.

Rottweilers have been portrayed in military and police roles in movies like Transformers, Lethal Weapon 3, and Training Day. Famous Rottweilers include the pup in The ‘Burbs and the Cleveland Browns’ mascot, Chomps.

Finding the Right Puppy or Rescue

Research breeders to find a happy, healthy Labrador or Rottweiler pup. Ask your veterinarian and breed clubs for referrals. Or consider adopting an adult Lab or Rottie through a rescue group or shelter.

Rescues and shelters allow you to meet the dog before adopting. An adult dog’s personality is already formed, so it’s easier to match their energy level and temperament to your home.

Bringing Home Your New Puppy

When bringing home a new Labrador or Rottweiler puppy, be prepared with:

  • Collar, leash, ID tag
  • Dog crate
  • Dog bed
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Puppy housebreaking pads
  • Puppy food
  • Interactive chew toys

Enroll your puppy in an obedience training class for socialization once they have their initial vaccinations. Use positive reinforcement and be patient – a puppy’s attention span is short, but they are highly willing to learn! Socialize your Rottweiler pup extensively to prevent overprotectiveness.

Conclusion: Key Differences and Which Breed is Best For You?

To summarize the key differences:

  • Labs have a more easygoing temperament, while Rottweilers are severe and aloof.
  • Rottweilers need experienced handling to manage their guarding instincts.
  • Labs adapt well to any home, while Rottweilers do best with space and a yard.
  • Labs require less intense exercise than high-energy Rottweiler puppies.
  • Rottweilers are more prone to breed restrictions.
  • Labs are the least expensive, while Rottweilers have higher healthcare costs.

For an outgoing, friendly first dog that thrives as part of an active family, the Labrador retriever can’t be beaten. Rottweilers need dedicated training and firm leadership, but they make loyal companions for experienced owners.

Take the time to assess your lifestyle and experience level honestly as you decide between bringing home a Labrador and a Rottweiler. Both breeds can make beautiful additions to your home with training, care, and love!

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