Why Do Rottweilers Growl? (Vet Tech Explains)

Why Do Rottweilers Growl

Rottweilers have a bad reputation as aggressive guard dogs. Regardless of this reputation, these dogs are one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. While these dogs can act aggressively, it’s usually the case that their bark is stronger than their bite. And by bark, we usually mean growl when we’re talking about Rottweilers.

Rottweilers love to growl and seem to make these noises for all sorts of different reasons, so what are they?

Rottweilers might growl to issue a warning or act protectively, or when they’re guarding resources. Rottweilers also growl when they’re scared or experiencing pain. Some Rotties even growl when they’re playing or excited! Rotties are also known to purr or grumble when they’re happy.

In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why Rottweilers growl, including the difference between a growl and a  grumble. We’ll delve into the underlying causes of growling and answer the interesting question of why some Rottweilers growl when you pet them.

6 Reasons Why Rottweilers Growl

Did you know that Rottweilers are one of the oldest known dog breeds?

It’s said that these dogs were around during Roman times, and protected humans while also herding cattle. For a long time, Rottweilers’ main tasks were both guarding herds of animals and defending their property. With such a long history as working dogs, many of the instinctual behaviors that can be tied to Rottweilers are incredibly strong.

As we talk about some of the reasons why these dogs growl, it’s important to keep in mind how long they’ve been around as working dogs.

1. To Issue A Warning

Rottweilers have a natural perspective instinct that makes them excellent guard dogs. Growling is often used as a means of communication to issue a warning to a threat. Here are a few different situations where you might notice your Rottweiler growling as a warning.

Rottweilers can be wary when encountering strangers. Unfamiliar people or animals can cause them to feel threatened. A growl is a way for them to convey their unease or to signal that they are going to act if pushed further. Warning growls can also come when Rottweilers are acting protectively or playing, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

If your Rottweiler is growling and warning, it’s a good idea to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible. The natural next step after a growl is a bite. Rottweilers have an incredibly strong bite force that is higher than that of a German shepherd or a pit bull. As a Rottweiler owner, it’s essential to understand when your dog is giving a warning before they act aggressively.

2. As A Sign Of Pain Or Illness

Known for their stoicism, dogs often hide signs of pain or illness. This is a natural instinct that once helped them survive in the wild. Now, growling can be a way for Rottweilers to express discomfort, and it’s important to know when to pay attention to these cues.

Rottweilers can growl if they’re experiencing physical discomfort like joint pain, dental issues, or injuries. They might growl when the affected area is touched or in anticipation of a painful stimulus. Rottweilers might also growl when they’re being handled in a way that causes them pain or distress. Sensitive handling areas can include ears, paws, or bellies for some dogs.

If your dog seems like they’re growling at nothing or at random times, this could be a sign that they’re uncomfortable.

3. They’re Playing Or Having Fun

Growling during play can be very confusing for pet owners. It’s hard to tell when growling is just for fun and isn’t turning into aggression. But, it’s important to remember that Rottweilers are expressive and may express their joy through playful growling.

Knowing the context and body language to distinguish playful growling from aggressive growling is so important for rottie parents!

A dog that is growling playfully will usually still be wagging its tail. A wagging tail almost never comes with aggression and is a good sign that they are having fun. A relaxed body language is another good sign of a dog that is playfully growling. This sort of body language should show a loose posture, upturned, ears, and an open mouth with no signs of teeth showing.

Rottweilers also might growl while playing to taunt or tempt another dog to join in the fun. Even though they are growling, they’ll be play bowing or wagging their entire backside.

4. They’re Scared

Despite their strong and confident appearance, Rottweilers can be susceptible to fear and anxiety. These dogs are sensitive, and when a Rottweiler feels threatened or frightened, growling can be a way to cope with their emotions. Here are some of the things that can make a Rottweiler growl out of fear.

Sudden loud noises can be shocking, and even frightening for Rottweilers. It’s not uncommon for dogs to have sensitivities to noises like thunderstorms are fireworks. These noises are extra loud for dogs since they have incredible hearing capabilities! If a Rottie were to hear an unusual noise at night, it would be yet another reason to growl!

Rottweilers might also growl due to anxiety when placed in unfamiliar environments. New places, people, or things can scare them and cause them to respond defensively by growling.

Another super common place, where Rottweilers might growl out of fear is at the veterinarian’s office. Many dogs have completely different personalities when they go to the vet. All the things happening to them are new and can be frightening. Rottweilers might growl out of fear, especially if they’re not used to the vet.

5. They’re Acting Protectively

A big reason why Rottweilers growl is that they’re acting protectively.

Rottweilers have a protective nature. With a long history as guardian dogs, it’s hard for them to shake the feeling that they need to protect their families. The intention behind protective growling is to deter potential threats and maintain the safety of those around them.

Rottweilers may growl when a stranger or other threat approaches their families. This can happen if someone approaches them aggressively, or if they approach them in a more casual way. You never know what might set your Rottweiler off.

If your Rottweiler is growling and standing between you, and something else, they’re definitely acting protectively. It’s important to stop the situation before it turns into a real act of aggression.

Luckily, there are ways to work around Rottweilers and their protective instincts. You’ll need to do a lot of training, desensitization, and socialization to show your furry friend that approaching strangers aren’t a threat unless you say so.

6. They’re Resource Guarding

The last reason why Rottweilers growl is that they’re guarding resources.

Resource guarding is a behavior and dogs where dogs try to show ownership over something. Resource guarding can occur around toys, beds, treats, food, or even a special person. When dogs guard resources, it’s likely that they’ll growl to assert their dominance and claim territory.

In addition to growling, dogs might point their ears back, lick their lips, become stiff, and hyper-fixated when guarding a resource. It can be difficult to stop resource guarding, especially in Rottweilers. One of the easiest ways to avoid resource guarding is to make sure you have enough of the resources, especially if you have multiple dogs.

What’s The Difference Between Growling And Purring?

Rottweilers are one of the only dogs that also growl when they’re content. But, this sound is different from typical growling and is often referred to as purring, grumbling, or rumbling. Affectionately called “Rottweiler rumbles” these sounds arise from deep in your Rottweiler’s throat and chest.

Growls and purrs can sound similar so it’s essential to observe body language. When a Rottweiler growls aggressively, they’re often on alert and has a stiff posture. In aggressive moments, they often exhibit pulled-back lips to show their teeth. When a Rottweiler purrs they’re almost always relaxed and comfortable.

Here is a great video of a Rottweiler purring happily while their owner pets them.

Why Do Rottweilers Grumble/Purr?

The most common reason why Rottweilers purr is that they’re receiving affection. Rotties purr when they’re being petted and when they’re comfortable. It’s very similar to a situation when a cat purrs! If you want to learn more about why and when Rottie’s purr, read our article all about it here.

Why Do Rottweilers Growl When You Pet Them?

Sometimes, you might notice that your Rottweiler growls when you pet them. There are two main reasons, why Rottweilers growl while being petted. In one instance, it’s a true growl that you’ll hear from your pet. In the other instance, your Rottweiler is just purring.


As we just talked about above, Rottweilers purr when they’re content.

It’s easy to mistake a purr for a growl, and you just need to look at the situation to determine which one it is. If you’re petting your Rottweiler, and they look happy and content, they’re most likely purring while you pet them. This isn’t something to be concerned about and is hopefully a behavior you find enjoyable and comforting.


On the other hand, your Rottweiler might be growling in pain when you pet them.

Rottweilers are sensitive and can use a growl as a way to communicate their emotions and feelings. In the wild, animals tend to hide their pain. Many dogs still do this, but occasionally, animals have no choice other than to respond to painful stimuli.

If you’re petting your Rottweiler in an uncomfortable place, don’t be surprised if they growl to discourage you from touching them.

Final Thoughts

Rottweiler growling can be a source of confusion and concern for pet owners. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior is essential for effective communication with these loyal and protective dogs.

Growling in Rottweilers can serve various purposes, including issuing warnings, expressing discomfort, playing, showing fear, acting, protectively, or resource guarding. It’s so important to be able to differentiate between aggressive, growling, and more benign forms of vocalization, like grumbling or contented purring.

By recognizing the context and body language, as well as individual variations in your Rottweiler’s behavior, you can better understand their needs and emotions. This will help you respond more effectively to problematic behaviors like growling or separation anxiety.

Effective training, socialization, and positive reinforcement can help minimize growling in situations where it is not warranted, ensuring a harmonious relationship between you and your beloved Rottweiler.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *