Why Do Rottweilers and Dobermans Look Alike?

Why do Rottweilers and Dobermans look alike

If you like the look of Rottweilers and Dobermans, you may be wondering why they look so similar. It’s no coincidence that these dogs look so much alike. There’s a lot of shared history between these two breeds and plenty of reasons why they look so similar. 

Why do Rottweilers and Dobermans look alike?  Rottweilers and Dobermans look alike because Dobermans are descended from Rottweilers, among some other breeds, and because these two breeds have done very similar work throughout their histories with humans. 

Wondering exactly why Rottweilers and Dobermans look alike and what else they may have in common? Here’s what you need to know about these two striking breeds and just what they have in common.

Why Do Rottweilers and Dobermans Look So Similar? 

The Rottweiler: a Foundation Breed

Rottweilers and Dobermans share common ancestors and a common history, which may go a long way towards explaining their similarities in appearance. Dobermans are one of a number of breeds that are descended from Rottweilers. 

Rottweilers are one of the oldest known breeds. They marched alongside the Roman Empire as it conquered far-flung regions of the then known world

Rottweilers served a number of functions for the ancient Romans. They likely originated primarily as herding dogs. They used their large size to physically push livestock along in the direction that the drovers wanted them to go. 

Not surprisingly, these large, powerful dogs also worked as war dogs. The same bravery that enabled them to fend off predators that threatened homes or livestock also enabled them to be great warriors on the battlefront, able to take on even the most intense adversaries to defend their families. 

Unsurprisingly, even when the Roman Empire fell, Rottweilers remained very popular and highly functional dogs in the places they had conquered. Rottweilers became police dogs, military dogs, personal protection dogs, and more. They were particularly beloved in Germany, where they became the foundation stock for a number of German breeds, including the Doberman.

How Dobermans Descended From Rottweilers

In 19th century Germany, a tax collector was finding subjects to be unfriendly and downright hostile when he tried to collect their taxes. He wanted a bold, brave, and physically intimidating dog who could stay by his side while he did his rounds, protecting him from any aggressive citizens that he met along the way. 

He used a number of breeds to create this ideal Tax Collector’s companion, the most prevalent of was the Rottweiler. Other breeds mentioned by historians as having gone into the Doberman include the Black and Tan Terrier, which later became the Manchester Terrier, and the German Pinscher, as well as some smooth-coated hurting dogs. The Doberman’s inventor was very happy with the breed, and so were a number of other dog enthusiasts of the time. 

Who was this creative tax collector? His name was Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann and he naturally decided to name his new breed after himself!

The Doberman became more refined and elegant in appearance until it became the dog we know today. They soon became very popular for work as police dogs, military dogs, and personal protection dogs.

The Doberman’s undying loyalty was a hallmark of the breed that still rings very true today. This loyalty is one of the primary reasons why so many people adore this powerful breed.

Why do Dobermans and Rottweilers Share Black and Tan Coloration?

Black and tan, which is the overall black coloration with brown points over the eyebrows, around the muzzle, and in several other places, is an ancient coloration found in many dog breeds going far back in history. Rottweilers always had black and tan coloration, back to a time shrouded by history. 

It should be no surprise that they passed this coloration onto Dobermans as well. Many of the other breeds that went into creating Dobermans, such as Manchester Terriers, also show this distinctive black and tan coloration. 

Black and tan is not so dominant that every puppy descended from dogs showing black and tan would have inherited the coloration. Therefore, we can assume that breeders worked deliberately to maintain the black and tan coloration in the Dobermans when they were bred from breeds like Rottweilers.

Why is Black and Tan Coloration Desirable in Rottweilers and Dobermans?

It is hard to come to a definitive answer as to why black and tan coloration has been desirable in both of these breeds through the years. However, it is probable that a few characteristics of this coloration resulted in it being the primary coloration in both breeds.

Expressive Face

Both Rottweilers and Dobermans have worked very closely with people through the years,  often at tasks that required significant back and forth between handlers and dogs. The eyebrows and other facial markings help to make the face more distinctive, which may make it easier for this dog to communicate with handlers.


Something about black coloration and tan points just seems to cause a visceral response in many people. Even a friendly Doberman or Rottweiler can be decidedly intimidating-looking.

These dogs are very often used for jobs in which an intimidating appearance provides very clear benefits. It would be best if bad guys just ran away from a Doberman or Rottweiler police or military dog or even better if they just surrendered. This intimidating appearance may make it more likely that the dog would scare somebody into giving up even before they become a threat.


A somewhat uniform appearance has always been important in police and military dogs. The coordinated appearance like a military uniform often has a very intimidating effect on enemies. This is likely one of the reasons that these dogs have maintained this coloration throughout the years. 

Are all Rottweilers and Dobermans Black and Tan?

Not every Doberman or Rottweiler inherits the black and tan coloration, but in order to be registered with the AKC, they do need to display a tan/red and black coloration. 

  • Rottweilers can be black and mahogany, black and rust, or black and tan. 
  • Dobermans can have some more variation in their coloration. They can be black and rust, blue and rust, fawn and rust, or red and rust. They are sometimes born white, but this is not an accepted color with the AKC. 

What Else do Rottweilers and Dobermans Have in Common?

Rottweilers and Dobermans have the same ancestors and have done many of the same jobs throughout history, so it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that they have a fair amount in common besides their appearance. Here are some more things that these breeds have in common.


Both Rottweilers and Dobermans have been expected to fiercely defend their families and property even in situations that could cause them significant harm. This bravery remains a key characteristic in both breeds today. 

These are dogs that can quickly learn to be personal protection dogs. Both of these breeds are accepted into the elite competition of Schutzhund, a highly competitive German sport that emphasizes the well-roundedness of German working dogs. 

They are even eligible for bite work, which is not true of every breed- even among the breeds that can compete. If you want a dog that you can train to protect your home and family, either the Doberman or the Rottweiler is a superb choice. 


Rottweilers tend to be slightly larger than Dobermans, but these are both large breeds, weighing in at around 100 lbs. This size is a critical component of the breed’s ability to do difficult and intensive work, but it also has a downside.

Larger breeds often don’t live as long, and this is also true of Dobermans and Rottweilers. Both breeds can only be expected to live to 10 to 12 years at most, which you may not find enough time to enjoy with your Rottweiler or Doberman.


Both Rottweilers and Dobermans are true workhorses of the dog world, capable of performing a wide variety of training tasks. Rottweilers have been used for a wide range of jobs throughout history, and Dobermans have also shown great versatility. 

These dogs are well-known to excel in any kind of work that involves tracking or protection, but can also do very well as service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and of course as loving family companions. If you want a dog that is eager to please and willing to do just about anything for you with the right direction and motivation, these are breeds worth considering.

It is worth keeping in mind that both Rottweilers and Dobermans tend to mature slowly and may experience periods of rebelliousness and pushiness in puppyhood and adolescence, especially. Do not mistake your Doberman or Rottweiler pushing against your rules and boundaries as stupidity or inability to learn. It is normal for these breeds to push their owners occasionally, but with a firm and consistent handling and proper motivation, you can train these dogs to do almost anything for you.

Reserved with New People

Dobermans and Rottweilers have both been bred and trained to protect their people and possessions throughout the breeds’ histories. Therefore, you should expect them to also show guarding instincts around your family. 

It is normal for both Dobermans and Rottweilers to guard their homes, sometimes aggressively. It is extremely important that you not disregard barking or other aggressive behavior from your Rottweiler or Doberman. Without direction, your dog may well decide that they need to protect your home, even if it’s just from your friends or the mailman. 

With proper training, your Doberman and Rottweiler will be able to be around new people without incident and should be able to greet people after a short time and get along well with visitors. However, it may be that you will always need to ask your Rottweiler or Doberman to step into another room or go into a down stay when people are first crossing the threshold. The guardian instinct is extremely strong in these breeds.

Lots of Shedding

Dobermans and Rottweilers may not shed as much as fluffy breeds like Huskies and German Shepherds, but many people are shocked to find out just how much hair they do leave lying around the house. Both of these breeds shed regularly year-round and may be especially intense shedders seasonally.

Rottweilers have double coats that leave fluffier undercoat hair and rougher guard hairs that manage to get stuck on completely different kinds of fabric. Dobermans have sleek coats that shed continuously to keep them shiny. 

Both of these coats are quite easy to care for with occasional brushing and bathing, but you can expect there to be some significant shedding.

High Exercise Needs

Dobermans and Rottweilers are working dogs. As such, they need a job to be happy. If you don’t have work for your Rottweiler or Doberman to do, you will need to provide work in the form of games, structured activity, and training. 

A Doberman or Rottweiler left to lay around the house or yard by themselves will not be a happy dog. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that leaving your dog outside is a form of exercise. Guarding breeds like these can quickly develop potentially dangerous problem behavior when they are left outside by themselves. Especially if they haven’t been taught to manage their guarding and prey drive instincts

If you are going to bring a dog like this into your life, expect to spend up to an hour or two a day providing sufficient exercise. These dogs are highly trainable, and often a challenging obedience training session can do as much to wear them out as a several mile-long jog.

Ideally, you will alternate plenty of physical exercise with lots of challenging and fun training to keep your dog mentally and physically exhausted.

Are You Considering a Rottweiler or Doberman?

If you like the look of Rottweilers and Dobermans and wonder why they seem similar and which you should choose, you’ll likely find that which breed you decide on is largely a matter of personal preference. These dogs have a lot in common besides their appearance, and the same homes will likely be a good fit for either breed. Be sure that you have time to thoroughly exercise and train these powerful dogs, and you will have a brave, loyal companion.

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