Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement

Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement

Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement : I am often asked if I value breed type or movement when  My answer is—both.

The two important characteristics of the Rottweiler are its essential breed type, and its athletic, powerful, and balanced movement. This is a breed that needs to be athletic enough to have the endurance to trot all day in the field.

When I am judging Rottweilers in the ring, the first thing I do is move them around the ring; twice, if possible. This gives the dogs a chance to relax, and to notice me and the other dogs, while giving me the ability to assess their movement.

The individual exams allow a closer inspection of each dog, to assess breed type. The Rottweiler is 9-to-10 in proportion, which should look square when standing. The front and rear angulation should be equal. All this equates to balance and strength, which provides balanced and strong movement.

When I examine the head, I look for the correct proportion of 60/40 head-to-muzzle, with a well-developed stop. The muzzle should be strong and only slightly tapering to the tip. The eyes should be dark and almond-shaped. The ears are level with the top of the head and lay close to the head. The characteristic expression comes from the dark, almond eyes, well-developed zygomatic arch, and the correctly proportioned skull and muzzle, which denote strength and power. The appearance is of a medium-large dog that is compact, athletic, and robust. It is each of these attributes, put together, that gives the Rottweiler the appearance of nobility and strength.

Most of the questions asked about examining the Rottweiler are about checking dentition. This includes checking for a scissors bite and counting the teeth. I generally recommend looking at the teeth first in the exam as Rottweilers can be aloof, and examining the bite is easier at the beginning. I check the front for a scissors bite (level is a fault, over and undershot are a DQ), then look at P1-P3, the larger molars, and the M3 (or the tiny set of teeth in the lower back) last. Rottweilers can have no more than one missing tooth. One missing tooth is a severe fault, two or more is a DQ. Remember, proper dentition and teeth are what helps to keep the head type and strength!

 Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement

The rest of the exam requires a light hand on the dog, without bending over or crowding the dog. After I check the bite, I simply run my hand down the back, look OVER the back from the rear (to check for rib spring), and check the testicles. It is not easy to hide structural faults on this breed; most can be observed during movement.

Now that the dogs have been observed moving, then again on individual exams with gaiting, it is time to look at the class one more time. At this point, I have determined which dogs in the class are the best moving and in balance, with reach and drive and level toplines. From this group, I will select those that exhibit the best type, in proportion 9/10 height-to-length (or almost square), with the breed-specific attributes of the head as described in the standard, along with appearing athletic, robust, and powerful. At this point, I often walk down the line to check head and structure one more time, and then move them again to assess side gait and how the toplines hold up during movement.

Once again, to recap, the important
Rottweiler Breed Characteristics are:

  • Overall Proportion, 9/10 Height-to-Length
  • Athletic, Strong and Robust, While Compact
  • Balanced Side Gait with a Strong Topline
  • Head Proportion 60/40, Skull-to-Muzzle
  • Skull Broad Between the Ears
  • Eyes Almond-Shaped and Dark Brown
  • Ears Medium-Sized and Carried Level with Top of Skull

The Rottweiler is a trotter. His movement should be balanced, harmonious, sure, powerful, and unhindered, with strong forereach and a powerful rear drive. The motion is effortless, efficient, and ground-covering.

Watch the Rottweilers move, and select the best movers. From these, use the breed-specific descriptions to select from the best movers. In that light, you WILL be choosing the best dogs!

 Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement

 Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement
Heads of a Dog and Bitch


  • Entropion, Ectropion;
  • Overshot, Undershot (When Incisors Do Not Touch or Mesh); Wry Mouth; Two or More Missing Teeth;
  • Unilateral Cryptorchid or Cryptorchid Males;
  • Long Coat;
  • Any Base Color Other than Black; Absence of All Markings;
  • A dog that in the Opinion of the Judge Attacks Any Person in the Ring.

Please REWARD soundness and balance!

Please AVOID dogs that are unbalanced or straight in the front and over-angulated in the rear. This does not make for balance or strength.

Judging Rottweilers | Breed Type & Movement

(All images provided by the author.)

  • Lew Olson has owned and shown Rottweilers since 1978, She has bred over 100 AKC Champions under the Blackwood Kennel name. She has been an AKC judge since 2001 and judges the Working, Toy and Non-Sporting breeds. She has judged Rottweilers in Finland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Trinidad, and Jamaica and has had the honor of judging at the American Rottweiler Club National twice. Next year she will judge a Rottweiler Specialty in Adelaide, Australia. She has been a member of the American Rottweiler Club for 41 years and is the ARC Judges Education Chair. She has a PhD in Nutrition, has written two books on canine nutrition and has presented seminars on Canine Nutrition. Besides judging, she is still active in showing in conformation and performance events.

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