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Are Rottweilers Smart? How Intelligent Are They?

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Dogster Team


Are Rottweilers Smart? How Intelligent Are They?

Rottweilers are big, slobbery dogs that look downright adorable yet menacing if turned against you. Despite their impossible-to-miss brawn, Rotties have brains too. In fact, Rottweilers are considered one of the most intelligent breeds you can get.

From nearly all aspects, Rotties dominate the competition in terms of intelligence, allowing them to be ranked as the 9th most intelligent breed. Although you don’t need an intelligent Rottie to enjoy its companionship, its intelligence sure does make training easier.

To learn more about the intelligence of Rottweilers, read on.


The 3 Dimensions of Dog Intelligence

Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock

Before diving into the main topic at hand, it’s important to understand what it means when someone asks, “Is a dog smart?” Based on numerous tests, a dog’s intelligence can be broken into three dimensions: obedience, instinct, and adaptive intelligence.

The smartest dogs tend to score high in all three branches, whereas the least intelligent breeds score low in all. There are some breeds that fall in the middle, scoring high in one branch and low in the others.

To understand if and why Rottweilers are smart, it’s important to understand these three branches first.

1. Obedience

Obedience is the easiest branch of intelligence to spot. Dogs that learn tricks quickly and can follow commands are smart when it comes to obedience. In contrast, other dogs that need repeat training to learn commands and tricks are not smart in the obedience category.

2. Instinct

Instinctual intelligence deals with the dog’s ability to perform the task it was bred for. As you likely know, certain breeds were bred for specific purposes – Australian Shepherds for herding, Labrador Retrievers for retrieving fowl, Rottweilers for guarding, etc.

Although all dogs technically have breed purposes, certain individuals are better at performing their tasks than others. The individual dogs that do great at their breed task score highly in the instinctual intelligence category.

3. Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is a branch that many people forget. Unlike people, dogs do not necessarily learn by themselves. Instead, many breeds need someone to train them to do certain tasks. That being said, some breeds can learn by themselves by problem-solving and learning from their pasts. These dogs have high adaptive intelligence.

High adaptive intelligence is only found in the most intelligent breeds. If a dog scores low in obedience and instinct, it is almost certainly going to score low in adaptive intelligence. However, just because a dog scores high in obedience and instinct does not mean they will score high in adaptive intelligence too.

Rottweiler by the river
Image By: AlexasFotos, Pixabay


Are Rottweilers Smart? Yes!

Now that we understand the basis for gauging a dog’s intelligence, we can answer the true question at hand: Are Rottweilers smart?

Though unsurprising to many Rottie fans, Rottweilers are one of the most intelligent breeds. Unlike other dogs, Rotties score highly in all three branches, placing them in the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds by most expert tests and standards.

It’s important to note that not all Rottweilers will be smart. More than just a dog’s breed determines its intelligence. As a result, certain Rottweilers are smarter than others.

Rottweilers’ Obedience

Based on Coren’s Intelligence test, Rottweilers can learn commands in under five repetitions. What this means is that Rotties pick up on commands and can follow through within just a couple of minutes of training. To put that in perspective, the average dog takes between 25 and 40 repetitions.

Furthermore, Rottweilers are so obedient that 95% of Rotties tested were able to follow commands on the first attempt. Average dogs only have a 50% success rate at the same feat.

Rottweilers’ Instinct

Rottweilers are known for being fantastic guard dogs, and there’s a reason for it. Rottweilers were originally bred for guarding purposes and loyalty. Even though people today don’t often want an attack dog, the Rottie’s guarding roots run deep, meaning that most Rottweilers have great instinctual intelligence too.

You can see the Rottweiler’s incredible instinctual instinct every time it barks at a newcomer, chases animals away from the property, or sticks closely to a child of the home.

Rottweilers’ Adaptive Intelligence

What really makes the Rottweiler so intelligent is its adaptive intelligence. Unfortunately, there is no scientific test to determine the exact adaptive intelligence of a dog. This forces most people to base their assessments off their own experiences and dog.

In comparison to other breed owners, Rottweiler owners frequently report high amounts of adaptive intelligence. For example, Rottie owners often explain that their Rottweiler learns from simply observing their other dogs’ actions and mistakes.

Image Credit: mar_qs, Pixabay


Are Rottweilers Smarter Than Other Dogs?

Generally speaking, Rottweilers are smarter than other dogs. Often, they are listed as one of the top 10 smartest dog breeds, speaking to how intelligent this breed is.

According to Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, which has come to be the top resource for gauging a dog’s intelligence, Rottweilers placed 9th out of a roundup of 130 dog breeds total. The top 10 most intelligent breeds according to his studies are as follows:

Though just two spots away, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, placed 11th on the same list, may need up to 10 times more repetitions to learn a command and only obeys on the first command 85% of the time, which is 10% less than the Rottie.

If you compare the Rottie to lower scoring dogs than the Corgi, the difference becomes even clearer. The Bulldog, which ranks 77th place, can take between 80 and 100 repetitions to learn a new command and only does so on the first try 25% of the time or less.

Rottweiler standing in the ground covered with snow
Image Credit: K L, Pixabay

Does It Matter if Your Rottie Is Smart?

The one advantage of an intelligent dog is that they are easier to train. The quicker your dog picks up on commands, the less work you must do. For this reason, people often want a smart dog so that they can train them easily.

Just because a dog is intelligent does not mean they will be easy to train, though. Certain intelligent breeds are difficult to train because they are so willful. Due to their independence, they might not follow the command, even if they know what they ought to do.

Even though everyone wants to brag about a smart dog, you don’t need a smart Rottie to be happy. Because these dogs are so loyal and loving, their intelligence is just the frosting on top of the nearly perfect dog. Not to mention, even the slowest of Rotties tend to score higher than other breeds.

Rottweiler walking on sand beach
Image By: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock



To make a long story short, Rottweilers are not just smart, but they are one of the most intelligent breeds today. In terms of obedience, instincts, and adaptive intelligence, Rottweilers score highly in all three, which makes them the 9th smartest breed.

Keep in mind that not all Rottweilers will demonstrate the same amount of intelligence. If your Rottweiler isn’t that bright, that’s okay! The dog will still be loyal, loving, and a ball of fun regardless of intelligence! The same goes for any other breed too.

Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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