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Is a German Shepherd Stronger Than a Rottweiler?

Last Updated: December 29, 2023

German Shepherds and Rottweilers are both large breed dogs categorized as herding and working dogs, respectively, by the American Kennel Club. Their role as family guard dogs, police dogs, or service dogs depicts their fame as strong and reliable breeds.

Nonetheless, a prospective buyer’s dilemma could be whether the German Shepherd or Rottweiler is equal in strength when performing these tasks. So, is a German Shepherd stronger than a Rottweiler?

German Shepherds are not stronger than Rottweilers. GSDs are a lot smaller in weight and have a less muscular build than Rottweilers, who were bred to drive cattle to market and pull carts of meat. Rottweilers also have stronger jaw muscles with a bite force of 328 PSI vs. 238 PSI of the GSD.

But the two breeds also manifest similarities and differences in other characteristics, indicating that each is strong in its own right.

Whether you are trying to solve the strength puzzle because you are thinking of owning one of these dogs or are just curious about how the two breeds compare, this article has all the answers.

You’ll learn about features that manifest differently or similarly in Rottweilers and German Shepherds and eventually learn about the ultimate strength-defining aspect between these breeds.

Let’s get started!

A German Shepherd and a Rottweiler standing adjacent.

Rottweiler vs. German Shepherd – Who is The Strongest?

A standard answer to this question is elusive. You’ll have to answer this question for yourself by the time you read the last line in this article.

But I’ll give you all the help you need by exploring the strength-related features of German Shepherds and Rottweilers so that you have all the information you need to solve your puzzle.

Watch The Ultimate Showdown Between The Rottweiler vs. The GSD…

The question is, will you have the same opinion?

Breed Size: Who Stands Larger and Taller?

When the Germans in Rottweil decided to crossbreed their sheepdogs with the Romans’ mastiff-type dogs, they had in mind a large and strong hybrid dog who would pull carts of meat for butchers and defend their masters and their cattle and money.

A look at the Rottweiler confirms that they were successful in their intent. A full-grown Rottweiler has a stout build that will intimidate the strongest of men, coupled with its mean-looking face.

As for the German Shepherd, Captain Max von Stephanitz, who is credited with the creation of the German Shepherd Dog as we know it today, was attracted by the breed’s intelligence and working strength, two traits that make a sturdy herding dog. 

Considering their physical traits, we clearly have two strong dogs, but there are apparent differences in their weight and height, which vary with sex.

German ShepherdRottweiler
Male: 65-90lb (29.5-40.8kg)
Male: 95-135lb (43.0-61.2kg)
Female: 50-70lb (22.6-31.8kg)
Female: 80-100lb (36.3-45.4kg)
Male: 24-26ʺ (61-66cm)
Male: 24-27ʺ (61-68cm)
Female: 22-24ʺ (56-61cm)
Female: 22-25ʺ (56-63cm)

There will always be variations in the general weight and height guidelines of all breeds, and the above is a rough guide.

For example, my female German Shepherd is pretty big for a girl. Nevertheless, she is proportionally built, which is all that matters – she stands at 27ʺ tall and weighs 88lbs (40kg)!

From the differences in weight and height, the Rottweiler stands out. The largest male Rottweiler would be 45lb (20.4kg) heavier and 1ʺ (2.5cm) taller than the largest male German Shepherd. 

The Rottweiler also has a stronger dog bite force when compared to the German Shepherd. Be aware that there have been myths and misinterpretations surrounding the strength of dog bites.

An experiment on animal bite force by Dr. Brady Barr found that the Rottweiler has a bite force equivalent to 328 PSI (pound-force per square inch), while that of the German Shepherd equals 238 PSI.

If we were to stop here and gauge the strength of the two breeds by these physical aspects, we would hand over the trophy to the Rottweiler. 

But does the strength of a dog breed rely solely on its physical build and power?

Let’s explore other strength features of the two breeds.

Adult Rottweiler standing on the field

Breed Temperament: Which Is Better at Keeping Their Behavioral Reactions in Check?

Temperament and personality in dogs are used to explain their behavioral responses in the face of an internal or external stimulus.

External stimuli could be the actions of humans (owner or stranger) or other dogs. Internal stimuli could be the dog’s psychological state, such as stress or anxiety. 

In this light, dogs are categorized into five personality traits according to the following factors:

  • Playfulness
  • Curiosity/Fearlessness
  • Chase-proneness
  • Sociability
  • Aggressiveness

From a dog strength perspective, I would consider a dog strong if he can keep his behavioral reactions in check. Is it the Rottweiler or the German Shepherd that takes the cup this time? Let’s consider two scientific studies.

In a study that compared German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Boxers, the Rottweiler was the most prone to fear and aggression. This was explained by the fact that the breed is the least social compared to the other two breeds.

However, in a different study, the German Shepherd recorded 292 snaps, bites, or attempts to bite compared to the Rottweiler’s 210.

The German Shepherd’s bites/attempts were directed more towards other dogs, while the Rottweilers were primarily towards strangers. Also, the German Shepherd recorded more bites/bite attempts toward its owner when compared to the Rottweiler. 

It appears that each breed both scores and loses points equally when it comes to temperament and personality strength. 

Breed Health: Which Is More Susceptible to Disease?

Both the German Shepherd and the Rottweiler are generally healthy dogs. But both breeds also manifest susceptibility to some health problems – as most dogs do. 

For example, since both are large breeds, they are predisposed to hip dysplasia. Indeed, a study on the prevalence of hip dysplasia in the US and Canada in 2017 showed that the Rottweiler had the highest prevalence of the disease. 

However, the German Shepherd is also prone to Degenerative Myelopathy. This degenerative disease was initially considered unique to the GSD but is present in several other large breeds. 

In fact, a study done in Mexico in 2018 found that 11 of the 22 tested breeds recorded a high frequency of SOD1, the allele associated with the disease. The German Shepherds had a frequency of 0.13, while the Rottweilers had a frequency of 0.7.

Both breeds are also known to be susceptible to bloat (GVD).

So, who is stronger here? Well, it’s a tie: both breeds seem susceptible to some diseases.

East German Shepherd Sitting on the floor

Life Expectancy: Who Lives Longer Than the Other?

The rule of thumb regarding life expectancy among dogs is that the larger the dog, the faster the aging and the shorter the life expectancy. Smaller dogs are known to live longer than larger ones. 

Applied to our two breeds, you would expect that the Rottweiler has a shorter lifespan than the German Shepherd. In fact, the German Shepherd has an average lifespan of 10.3 years, while that of a Rottweiler is 9.8 years.

Again, as with the average weights and heights of dogs, there is always variation, depending on where you look. For example, the AKC assigns to the Rottweilers a life expectancy of 9-10 years and 7-10 years for the German Shepherds. 

The difference may not be much, and it would be easy to say that both breeds have a life expectancy that ranges around 7 to 10 years, awarding them the same credit when it comes to life expectancy. 

Breed Exercise: Who Has More Energy for Exercise?

Both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd are high-energy dogs. The Rottie is muscular and athletic and enjoys walking/trotting and swimming, among other activities.

The German Shepherd is equally active and athletic and will enjoy plenty of exercise for his mental and physical well-being. 

High-energy dogs can become destructive if not given enough exercise. The UK Kennel Club recommends more than 2 hours of exercise per day for the German Shepherd and Rottweiler, suggesting equal energy levels for the two breeds. 

Both breeds are very sensitive and love being part of the pack – that means you and your family! If they are not sufficiently exercised and left alone for long periods, they will suffer separation anxiety.

So, which is stronger, the German Shepherd or the Rottweiler?

FactorGerman ShepherdRottweiler
Bite force
Prone to fear
Prone to disease
Longer lifespan

The Ultimate Decider: Training Is Mightier Than Breed!

There is no doubt that the breed defines the features of a dog. But it is also true that training is a strong factor in determining the characteristics of individual dogs. 

According to The Telegraph, even though the dogs’ original breeding purpose determines breed characteristics, each dog is unique.

This explains why some dogs are often trained to meet specific owner expectations and easily contradict breed stereotypes.

As pastoral dogs, German Shepherds are usually expected to follow orders and be fierce defenders. On the flip side, as working dogs, Rottweilers are expected to use their muscular bodies to guard and pull carts.

However, today’s breeds are loving and loyal family pets and are often trained to be service and therapy dogs.

Related: Can German Shepherds Kill?


Is there a significant difference in agility between German Shepherds and Rottweilers?

German Shepherds tend to have an advantage in agility over Rottweilers. Their lighter and leaner build allows for quicker turns and bursts of speed. Rottweilers prioritize strength over mobility.

How does the muscularity of a Rottweiler differ from that of a German Shepherd?

Rottweilers are heavily muscled dogs, with a thicker build than German Shepherds. Their muscles are designed for pulling, dragging and holding. German Shepherds have a more toned, athletic musculature suited for herding and agility. While powerful, they favor endurance over sheer strength.

The Bottom Line

The German Shepherd and the Rottweiler breed characteristics can easily be adapted to fit specific training purposes, and both can become even stronger.

However, if trained to be loving and loyal, they will also become precisely that.

Deciding how strong each of the two breeds is can be weighed on many factors, including their physical build, personality, amount of exercise they can take per day, health, and life expectancy. 

So, which is stronger, the German Shepherd or the Rottweiler? The decision is still yours!

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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