Do Rottweilers Like To Run?

rottweiler running at top speed

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I’ve written a lot about Rottweilers and sometimes it seems like these dogs are good at just about anything and everything!

From military and protection work to acting as service or therapy dogs and everything in between Rotties are great all-around dogs!

However, there’s one area that they don’t excel at and that’s running. If you’re looking for a running partner this probably isn’t the dog for you.

But do Rottweilers like to run even though they aren’t good at it?

Eager to please and brave, Rottweilers are up for just about anything you can throw at them including running. However, their bulky body and powerful muscles make them better suited for sprinting over shorter distances instead of long-distance endurance running. That means they’ll quickly get tired and won’t enjoy running long distances.

Let’s dive a little deeper and look at everything you could possibly want to know when it comes to running and Rottweilers.

How Fast Can A Rottweiler Run?

Just like you wouldn’t expect to see huge bodybuilders at a marathon, you wouldn’t expect to see the bulky Rottweiler make the list of the best endurance runners.

But if you look at any sprinting completion, you’ll probably notice that the athletes are usually very muscular- kinda like the bulky Rottie!

So how fast can a Rottweiler run?

While it’s going to vary based on the fitness level of the individual Rottweiler, most can run between 18 and 25 mph. There will be slower and faster Rotties but the majority will fall into that range at their top speed. 

The average dog can reach speeds between 15 and 20 miles an hour which means the Rottie’s strong body gives them a slight advantage when it comes to top speed alone.

Still, the Rottweiler’s top speed may not seem very impressive compared to very fast dogs like the Greyhound which can reach speeds as fast as 45 mph, but when comparing it to the speed of the average man at around 5 mph it starts to become pretty amazing!

But how did we figure out the top speed of a Rottweiler?

With so many dog breeds, it can be difficult to really measure the speed of each one. Then you’ve got variations of individual fitness and mixed breeds. However, there are people measuring the speed of their Rottweiler and you can see one very cute example:

The estimated range of 18 mph to 25 mph is based on the recorded speed of the average, untrained Rottweiler compared to the high end of an extremely fit Rottweiler.

Can Rottweilers Run Long Distances?

You’ll see some very muscular sprinters in the human world but you won’t see any muscular marathon runners.

Marathon runners are, of course, very fit but they don’t have any extra muscle that would just slow them down.

The same is true for the long-distance runners of the dog world. Deep-chested dogs with long legs are the best distance runners. That means dogs like the German Shorthaired Pointer, Vizla and even the Rottweiler’s cousin the Doberman.

So where does the Rottweiler fall in all this and can they run long distances?

Because of their relatively short legs (as compared to dogs like Dobermans) and heavy, muscular bodies Rottweilers don’t excel at long-distance running. Instead, they’re better built for shorter sprints instead of long distances. They can only run at top speeds for less than a minute in most cases. 

That doesn’t mean Rottweilers can’t cover long distances and their history as cattle driving dogs would have required them to do exactly that. However, Rottweilers aren’t able to cover long distances fast and instead, they’re better suited to keeping a steady trotting pace instead of a full-on run.

Why Can’t Rottweilers Run Faster?

We’ve already hinted at a few reasons why Rottweilers aren’t exactly built for speed but let’s look more specifically at some of the factors that slow these pups down.

Rotties Are Built For Strength

Rottweilers aren’t small dogs but they also aren’t the tallest pups you can find. With an average height of around 25 inches (63.5 cm) but an average weight of around 110 pounds (50 kg) these pups are packed with muscle.

Those muscles aren’t just about looking tough though and ancient Rottweilers helped farmers and butchers by pulling heavy carts to market. That type of work takes muscle…and a lot of it.

There’s really nothing in a Rottweiler’s history that required them to have a specialization in speed above and beyond the normal athletic ability of a dog.

Rotties Have Short Legs

Well, their legs are at least short relative to other dogs. Most folks wouldn’t accuse a Rottweiler of having stubby legs if they’re sitting side-by-side with a pug but put them next to a long-legged spaniel or even a lab and you can start to see the difference.

Long legs alone aren’t going to make a dog faster but if they’re too short, they can slow a dog down. For example, just because a giraffe has massively long legs doesn’t make them fast.

So length alone isn’t the major factor but instead length and leanness relative to the rest of the body. With thick, muscular, and relatively short legs Rotties don’t make the best runners for anything other than a sprint.

Rotties Have A Shorter Face

Another thing you’ll notice about the fastest dog breeds is that many of them have long narrow snouts which gives them a more efficient airway. Dogs like the Greyhound and German Shepherd are perfect examples of this!

Again, Rottweilers don’t have a short snout relative to extreme examples like pugs, but compared to the ultimate running breeds a Rottie’s snout is a little on the short side.

Short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds have a much harder time getting enough oxygen and that’s a critical component of the running equation. Most Rottweilers have a long enough snout that they’re distinctly outside the brachycephalic category but many are still at a disadvantage compared to the long-snouted speedsters.

Do Rottweilers Make Good Running Partners?

We’ve established that Rottweilers aren’t great runners compared to dogs, but they are much faster than the average human.

Does that mean Rottweilers still make good running partners?

Unless you’re just going for a very light jog, Rottweilers don’t make good running partners. They lack the endurance to keep up for longer distances and most won’t enjoy the experience after a few minutes of full out running. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy running with your Rottie but if you’re in good shape, your endurance will quickly outpace your Rottweiler’s. After all, it takes a lot of work to move all that muscle and most scientists agree that humans evolved around the ability to run long distances.

Your Rottweiler Will Run With You…Even If They Don’t Want To

Rottweilers are well known for their bravely, loyalty, and drive to please their owners. Typically, these are all desirable qualities and just a few of the many reasons why we love our Rotties so much.

But it can also be very problematic in some cases since Rottweilers will push themselves way beyond their ability or comfort levels in order to please you. This could lead to pain, discomfort, and in some cases even heatstroke depending on the weather.

It’s up to you to understand your Rottweiler’s limits and make sure that if you do go running it’s done in a safe way.

Be Careful With Your Rottweiler’s Joints

Your Rottie wouldn’t be considered “light” by just about any standard. Carrying around all that extra weight and muscle means more impact on joints when Rottweilers are running.

Like most big dogs, Rotties are prone to hip dysplasia. But these big dogs are also prone to elbow dysplasia. These are both genetic conditions that are constantly trying to be “bred out” but they still commonly occur.

Running and other exercises won’t cause any kind of dysplasia on their own but high-impact exercises can make symptoms of even mild dysplasia worse. Not only will that be uncomfortable to your Rottweiler but it could lower their overall quality of life even when they aren’t running.

Avoid Running Rottweiler Puppies

Many folks assume that puppies are ready for just about anything you can throw at them but the truth is young dogs aren’t as tough as they might act!

As veterinarian Georgina Phillips explains, “Puppies have growth plates, which are primarily made of cartilage, at the end of long bones that need time to solidify. Eventually, these growth plates will close and become dense bones but this takes time. For bigger dogs like Rottweilers, this process can take as long as 18 months.”

Too much exercise during this time can cause lifelong problems for puppies as injury can lead to uneven or abnormal growth. While it can seem pretty difficult to do at times, you’ll want to limit any forced exercises like running to less than 10 minutes until your Rottweiler is at least 18 months or older. 

Instead, you want to opt for things like off-leash play in the backyard or any activity where a puppy can easily choose to take a nap and self-regulate their exercise.

What Are Better Exercise Options for Rotties?

Okay, so long-distance running is out of the picture as the main source of experience for Rottweilers. But that still leaves plenty of other exercise options!

Swimming

Even though they don’t have a history in the water, most Rottweilers love a good swim! Swimming can be a great way for Rotties to stay cool and active. Even if you don’t have a large body of water nearby you can pick up a dog-friendly kiddy pool and watch your Rottie constantly try to bite the water!

This one is my favorite for big dogs and it’s also very easy on the budget.

Pulling Carts

Your Rottie does have a history of pulling heavy carts to market and this is another great exercise that lines up with your dog’s powerful body type as well. It doesn’t even have to be a cart and your Rottie will be happy to pull just about anything while wearing a harness.

If you want to take things to the next level, you could even have your Rottweiler pull you around the neighborhood like these people did!

Give Your Rottie A Job

As a working dog, Rotties are very used to having a job that keeps them both physically and mentally stimulated. Pulling carts is one of the jobs that Rotties have done in the past but they also have a long history as general farm dogs which means they can handle just about anything.

Some folks have even taught their Rottweiler to work as hunting dogs! It’s honestly hard to find a job that your smart Rottie can’t do so get creative!

Toys & Yard Games

Beyond those more unique examples, you can exercise your Rottweiler just like you would any other dog. Just make sure to focus on short bursts of playtime which line with your Rottie’s natural style and not long drawn out games of endurance!

Closing Thoughts

With a powerful build and high intelligence, Rottweilers excel at many things.

But one of the few things they can’t do well is run!

One look at a Rottie’s muscular build, relatively short snout, and thick legs and it should be no surprise that these dogs aren’t built for distance running. Still, all that muscle isn’t useless and these powerful pups can reach top speeds of 25 miles per hour in many cases!

That still doesn’t make them great running dogs and there are plenty of other fun ways to exercise your Rottie!

What do you think? Can your Rottweiler break the 25 mph barrier or are they on the slow side?