Why Do Rottweilers Lay On Their Backs?

young Rottweiler happily laying on their back

Watching our Rottweilers contort themselves into their favorite sleeping positions can be downright comical.

Your Rottie may have just discovered the wonders of laying belly up or in the hilariously dubbed “Crazy Legs” position.

So, why do Rottweilers lay on their backs?

Rottweilers are often big softies who like to get cozy right where we are—often laying on the couch, across our laps, or at our feet. Your Rottie may like to lay on their back because they’re overheated, they’re laidback and totally chill, they’ve got an itch, they’re feeling emotional, or they just like it!

Let’s explore these five reasons why your Rottweiler lays on their back!

Reason 1: Because Your Rottie Is Overheated

It’s possible that your Rottie is laying with their belly up and paws to the ceiling because they’re trying to cool down. 

After a brisk walk, a good play romp, or an effective exercise session, your Rottweiler needs time to recover. This recovery usually involves cooling their bodies and getting their breathing back to a normal speed. 

Though your Rottie may not do a set of cooldown stretches after a workout, they still have to find ways to cool down all that muscley mass of dog!

Your Rottweiler has special glands that allow them to sweat through their paws, which is part of why we don’t see sweat dripping off of their faces and backs as we see on us humans when it’s hot out. This lack of sweat as we think of it is also why you’ll notice your Rottie panting when they’re hot or feeling exerted. 

You may have noticed that the fur on your Rottie’s tummy is some of the thinnest fur on their body, compared to the double coat they grow everywhere else. This makes your Rottweiler’s belly an easier place to cool down if they flip over. There’s a lot of heat generated around your Rottie’s stomach, due to all their internal organs, so if they don’t lay on their back it may take them a little longer to cool that area off.

So, if your Rottweiler has decided to flop onto their back, it could be that they’re just trying to “air things out” and cool off.

You may notice that your Rottweiler puppy or older Rottweiler lays like this as a cool down technique more than your young adult Rottie. Puppies and older dogs sometimes have a harder time cooling down, so your Rottie may enjoy laying on their back more in certain seasons of their life. Baby Rotties, especially, may not be able to properly regulate their temperatures yet.

Just because your Rottweiler is laying on their back when hot, it doesn’t mean they’re suffering from heatstroke. If you are unsure about your Rottie’s behavior, take note of the possible symptoms and contact your veternarian to share your concerns.

Reason 2: Because You Have One Chill Rottie

If your Rottweiler hasn’t just come back from a tiresome trek through the outdoors but has decided to lay belly up, it may just be that your Rottie is super chill already.

And not in the temperature sense, either.

You know… chill, hot, cooling down… you get it!

If your Rottweiler lays like this often, then it could be that you happen to have the ultimate laidback Rottweiler. 

Our beloved Rotties have plenty of ways to show that they are comfortable in their environment—and when they’re not. A happy Rottie trying to show you their love may lean up against you, cling to your side, and of course wag their tail—sometimes all at once!

Check out this adorable Rottie snuggling on his back with his owner!

A Rottweiler’s posture can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling. Floppy ears, a wagging tail, and a certain “flopped-outness” can all pretty quickly tell you that your Rottie is completely at ease. If your Rottie’s muscles all seem to be kind of loose when they’re lying on their back, that’s a good indicator that your Rottie is relaxed in that position. Similar to cats, slow blinks can also indicate that your Rottweiler is happy as can be.

Happy Rottweilers are known for having the cutest, silliest, downright goofiest grins, no matter the position they’re in.

Keep an eye out for that cheeky grin when your Rottie smiles up at you from their back on the floor!

Reason 3: Because They’ve Just Can’t Reach That Itch!

Perhaps the easiest explanation to recognize for why your Rottie keeps laying on their back is because they’ve got an itch! 

Your Rottweiler may have been trying to scratch that one hard-to-reach spot and decided that laying on the floor on their back is the best way to get their mission accomplished. 

Think of a bear rubbing its back against a tree or a person using one of those scratcher sticks in the shower—we all get that stubborn itch, even your Rottie. One sign of itchy doggy skin beyond the obvious wriggling around on the floor is dandruff.

Here are a few things you can do if you think your Rottweiler is dealing with dry, itchy skin and that’s why they’re constantly laying on their back.

Reason 4: Because They’re Feeling Emotional

Unlike a super chill Rottweiler who is merely hanging out, by showing you their tummy your Rottie could be simultaneously showing signs of insecurity or submission.

My family Rottie, for instance, was incredibly insecure and constantly needed physical reassurances that we still loved him. Unfortunately, this was due to some past abuse from a previous owner. As his new owners, we saw our Rottie’s insecurity and submissiveness in how he would continuously force his adorable Rottie nose into our hands and how he would sometimes lay belly up. Your Rottweiler, like ours, may be communicating their vulnerability, anxiety, and deference to you as their leader or special person.

This may not happen with a healthy, secure, and well-socialized Rottie, however. Rottweiler discipline, especially early on and with lots of positive reinforcement, can not only help your Rottie know how to interact with people, but will also teach them to be more self-confident.

If your Rottweiler growls when you approach while they are laying on their back, you might consider giving your vet a call. For our Rottie, we knew he had some behavior disorders to work through because of his past abuse and that was why he acted so insecure a lot of the time, including when he showed us his belly. A Rottweiler who is in pain or having a behavioral problem can feel threatened and therefore growl if you approach their “weak spot” or their belly, so we suggest talking with your vet to discuss what could be going on with your Rottie.

As we mentioned earlier, a happy and healthy Rottweiler who feels totally at ease in their environment will contentedly sprawl belly up. 

Read your Rottweiler’s body language to determine whether they’re lying on their back because they feel at ease or because they feel insecure.

Reason 5: Because They Simply Like It!

Like people, our Rotties can have a favorite sleeping position—or just a position they find relaxing! 

They may “only” have four legs and one tail, but Rottweilers sure like to explore all the ways they can arrange those furry limbs!

At different phases of their life, your Rottie may have decided that they only wanted to sleep in a tight little donut ball, on their side against the couch, or sprawled out like Superman. 

If your Rottweiler doesn’t seem to be in any pain, shows signs of relaxation, and isn’t acting like they’re overheating, it could simply be that laying on their back is your Rottie’s current favorite sleeping position. This preference may change in time, or they may always like it best. 

The fun part now is guessing what your Rottie’s favorite sleeping position will be in the years to come!

An Age Thing

We talked earlier about how both baby Rotties and older Rotties may struggle to regulate their body temperatures. Your aging Rottie may have a few other reasons for favoring this belly up position.

If your older Rottweiler is starting to develop symptoms of arthritis, they may want to take some of the pressure of their stocky frame off their joints by sprawling belly up. However, they may only choose this position if they have somewhere where their back can be well supported, like against a cushy, padded bed on floor level. It might be easier for them to roll onto their backs in this supported position, rather than curl their body and legs into a complex donut or superman pose. 

The American Kennel Club has a few tips for helping your older Rottie navigate the changes that come from doggy aging, including a gradual loss of mobility.

A senior Rottweiler may just need a little assistance to get as comfortable laying down as they once did. A few well-placed cushions in your Rottie’s favorite nap spot may do the trick, particularly if your Rottie favors laying on their back.

Final Thoughts

As with any doggy concern, it’s always wise to consider your Rottweiler’s situational context when trying to get to the why behind their behavior. 

Your Rottie could be resorting to laying on their back because of temporary circumstances like the heat outside or they could have just decided that this is their new favorite thing to do! 

After ruling out any negative factors influencing them, you can enjoy the individual quirks of your Rottweiler as they go through each season of life—winter through spring, puppy through senior, crazy legs and beyond!

What is your Rottweiler’s favorite sleeping position?

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