Are you trying to choose between a Golden Retriever and a Rottweiler for your next dog?
Both Goldens and Rotties can be amazing pets and companions but have some significant differences.
It’s important to understand each breed’s qualities to help you pick the dog that best fits your lifestyle, so both you and your dog are happy together.
This article will start by looking at an overview of both Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers, and then we’ll compare the two breeds on a variety of categories, including:
- Energy levels
- How much they bark
- How good they are with kids
- How good they are with other dogs and other animals
- And much, much more!
Golden Retriever Overview
Golden Retrievers are friendly, happy dogs who enjoy spending time with people, both their family and new friends.
Historically, this breed was developed to retrieve shot birds to a hunter, so they have a genetic predisposition to work closely and cooperatively with their humans.
While there is always variation within every breed, Goldens are best known for their social demeanors and eager-to-please vibe.
This is an active, energetic breed, and Goldens need daily exercise in order for them to settle nicely around the house.
They are also very smart and intuitive and do best with positive reinforcement training methods to bring out the best in them.
Rottweilers are strong, impressive-looking dogs known for their loyalty and natural guardian instincts.
They are also very playful and affectionate with their families, and can even be quite clownish.
Rottweilers have an interesting history, serving as cattle-herders, cart-pullers, guardians.
Even though most people keep Rotties as companions these days, modern Rotties still have herding and guarding instincts, which need to be properly channeled to keep everyone safe and happy.
Rotties are large dogs with a striking black and tan medium-length, flat coat.
While they love playing and interacting with their family and familiar friends, they are often aloof and reserved with strangers and can be protective of their homes and property.
They have moderate to high energy levels and require consistent exercise in order to be well-behaved around the house.
These are devoted, highly intelligent dogs who love spending time with their families and also tend to enjoy hiking, swimming, herding livestock, and even pulling a cart, a throwback to their unique history.
An hour to 90 minutes of exercise is typically sufficient for most Golden Retrievers.
Walks, hikes, swimming and playing games in the yard are all great outlets for Goldens.
They also love to spend time outside, so giving them plenty of time and space to enjoy the great outdoors is important for this breed.
For Rottweilers, 45 minutes to an hour of exercise per day is usually enough to meet their needs.
As with any breed, younger Rotties may be more energetic and might require more exercise.
While they have a stocky build, these are very athletic dogs and they love walks, hikes, and swimming.
Rottweilers can also have herding abilities so a herding ball can also be a great exercise outlet for them.
Golden Retrievers require more exercise than Rottweilers, though both will need consistent exercise.
If they don’t get enough exercise, behavior issues, such as destructiveness and excessive barking, can arise.
With their stockier structure, Rottweilers don’t have as much endurance as a Golden Retriever, so if you’re looking for a good running partner, the Rottie is probably not the best choice.
Golden Retrievers are moderate to heavy shedders and shed year-round.
They have a double coat and need to be brushed a couple of times a week.
Most Goldens will shed more heavily two times a year, usually the spring and fall, so some extra brushing is helpful during those times to move the shedding process along.
Rottweilers are moderate shedders and also shed year-round.
Just like Goldens, Rotties have a double coat, but it’s much shorter, and do fine with one weekly brushing.
They also “blow coat” twice a year, so you can expect more heavy shedding during those times.
Goldens typically are heavier shedders than Rottweilers, and their fur is also longer than Rottie fur, which can make it seem like even more dog hair to clean up.
While Rotties shed more moderately, you will be dealing with year-round shedding no matter which breed you choose.
Goldens are very owner-oriented and really enjoy working with their humans.
They are eager to learn and usually pick up on training quickly, which is one reason they are so popular for service dog work.
Golden Retrievers are very smart and in tune with their owners, and have an innate desire to engage with you.
Their biggest challenge is often listening to you around other people and dogs, as they are such friendly, social dogs, so this may require a little extra training effort.
Rottweilers are very intelligent and eager to learn, but can have a bit of an independent streak.
Generally, they enjoy training and require patient, positive reinforcement-based training methods.
Rotties really love working with their humans and so this makes training pretty easy.
Both breeds are highly trainable, but the Golden Retriever is just a bit easier to train.
Sometimes Rotties can be more independent, while most Goldens are very owner-oriented.
Goldens and Rotties are both highly intelligent breeds and very fun to train.
Goldens are generally a pretty quiet breed.
They might bark when excited or when the mailman drops off a package, but otherwise, they are not known to bark a lot.
Rotties are calm, quiet dogs and not very barky.
Because of their guardian instincts, they usually only bark if they perceive something as a threat and want to alert you to it.
Neither Golden Retrievers nor Rottweilers are big barkers.
While they may have different reasons for their barking, it’s usually pretty minimal.
Golden Retrievers can thrive within a variety of lifestyles.
Whether you live in a crowded, urban area, or on a peaceful ranch, so long as you are meeting their exercise and enrichment needs, a Golden Retriever can be happy.
They tend to roll with the punches and this easy-going nature helps them feel comfortable in a range of settings.
Rotties are also a fairly adaptable breed and can suit a variety of lifestyles, so long as their needs are met.
While they do need consistent exercise, adult Rotties are pretty mellow around the house.
With their guardian instincts, some Rottweilers may be a bit more unsettled by the noise and commotion of apartment living, but others can adjust.
Additionally, they are very large dogs, and take up quite a bit of space, so keep that in mind if you live in tight quarters.
Both Goldens and Rottweilers are adaptable dogs that can thrive in a variety of lifestyles.
How Are They With Other People?
Most Goldens have never known a stranger.
They love meeting new people and receiving attention, and love the company of humans.
Usually, they are gentle, loving dogs, but sometimes they can be a little too enthusiastic so training can help them learn how to interact with people politely.
Rotties adore their families and close friends, but most are not social butterflies in the way that a Golden Retriever is.
While a Golden might feel they are best friends with anyone who crosses their path, Rottweilers usually take more time to warm up to strangers.
A well-bred Rottweiler should NOT be aggressive.
Rather they are calmly self-assured while around people, but simply not interested in always interacting with them.
Sociability can also vary within the breed, with some being more eager to meet new people with a wiggly tail nub, and others being more standoffish.
If you’re looking for a dog that is reliably social with people, the Golden Retriever is the way to go.
While Rottweilers are not aggressive with other people, they are usually less indiscriminately friendly.
Depending on what you’re looking for in a dog, either could be better suited for you in this category.
Are They Good with Kids?
Golden Retrievers can be great family companions, as they love the attention and fun that kids can provide.
It’s important for kids to be taught how to respectfully interact with a dog, and even though Goldens are sweet and gentle, they should not be expected to put up with rude behavior from a child.
Additionally, they are bigger dogs and in their excitement, they could potentially accidentally knock a kid over, so they should always be supervised.
Rottweilers typically do well with kids, as they have a calm demeanor and enjoy playing with their family.
While they can make excellent companions for kids, they can also have herding tendencies and might try to corral rowdy kids.
They are also huge dogs and could accidentally injure a child.
Again, kids should always be taught how to be polite towards dogs and you should always supervise interactions to ensure both the dog and child are safe and happy.
Both Goldens and Rottweilers have traits that make them wonderful family dogs.
Even though they tend to get along well with children, training and supervision are important to help them develop a good dynamic together.
How Are They With Other Dogs?
Golden Retrievers usually get along well with other dogs and really enjoy playing with their dog friends.
While some breeds tend to lose interest in playing with other dogs as they mature, many Goldens are like “forever puppies” maintaining a playful, silly energy even as adults.
There is always variation in dog sociability within every breed, so it’s possible for some Goldens to prefer more lowkey friends, or to simply keep to themselves.
Rottweilers can also do well with other dogs, and a well-bred Rottie should not be aggressive towards other dogs.
Some might be more on the outgoing side, where they enjoy romping around and meeting new dog friends.
Others might be more stoic, and just not care so much about interacting with other dogs.
Both Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers generally do well with other dogs.
They both tend to be fun-loving pups who enjoy playtime with friends, but it’s also possible that they prefer playing with only certain other dogs, or would rather not interact at all.
Even if they are more mellow and like to keep to themselves, neither breed should be aggressive towards other dogs.
How Are They With Other Animals?
Golden Retrievers usually have low prey drive, which allows for peaceful coexistence with other pets like cats or even rabbits.
They are usually gentle with other pets and can develop friendships.
But you will still want to give a slow, good introduction and work on some training to promote a positive, safe relationship between all species in your home.
Some Rottweilers do have higher prey drive, and so pets like cats may trigger chasing or predatory behavior.
Their herding instincts may also be triggered by a cat.
It’s not to say that they can’t get along well with other pets in your home, but you may need to put in some more training time to help a Rottie learn how to act around the other pets.
It helps when a Rottweiler is introduced to cats or other critters from when they are puppies, rather than bringing home a cat to an adult Rottie.
Again, it’s not that it’s doomed to fail, but it may take more effort.
Golden Retrievers are the more natural fit when it comes to coexisting well with cats.
But there are plenty of Rotties who adore their kitty housemates and get along just fine.
Golden Retrievers are known for their sweet, eager-to-please personalities.
In many ways, they are the quintessential dog: loyal, intelligent, intuitive and playful.
They adore their humans and want to spend lots of time together.
Goldens are often very aware of their owner’s feelings, but shouldn’t be overly sensitive.
A well-bred Golden Retriever should be trustworthy, stable and confident.
Rottweilers are very devoted to their families and love to be together.
They are natural guard dogs, and the AKC breed standard describes them as having a “wait and see attitude,” which perfectly sums up their watchful, yet calm demeanor.
A well-bred Rottweiler should be a stable, self-confident presence who is not shy.
They often show protectiveness over their home and family.
While they can seem serious, they are also silly and playful and can be quite the comedians.
Rotties are alert, yet even-tempered and are very willing to work with their humans.
Goldens and Rotties can be pretty different in terms of temperament, though they are both so loyal to their families.
The Golden Retriever has that always cheerful almost dopey temperament, while still being very smart and up for anything.
The Rottie has more of a calm, grounding presence, yet very loving, affectionate and playful.
The energy they bring into your home can feel very different, with neither being better or worse.
It just depends on your own personality and what kind of traits you prefer in a dog.
Golden Retrievers can be trained fairly easily to be off-leash companions for your outdoor exercise.
Most Goldens are naturally inclined to stick nearby and check in with you, which makes the training process easier.
Historically used as hunting partners, they had to respond reliably to the hunter’s direction all while off-leash in the field.
So while it definitely will take time and training, coming when called and staying in your vicinity do come pretty naturally.
Simply unclipping your dog’s leash without any training is not a good idea, so you’ll want to spend time building up the skills needed to safely allow your dog off leash.
Rottweilers have higher prey drive, which can make off-leash reliability a bit trickier,
It’s not that they can’t be trained, but it may take some extra work to build up a really solid recall and teach them how to stay nearby.
Plenty of Rottweilers have been taught excellent off-leash skills, but it may not come quite as naturally as it does to the Golden Retriever.
If off-leash reliability is really important to you, a Golden Retriever is likely the better match.
Rottweilers are very trainable though, so if you have your heart set on off leash adventures with your dog, it’s certainly a possibility.
You may just have to work at it a bit harder.
The American Kennel Club provides the following ranges for female and male Golden Retrievers:
Females: 55 to 65 lbs, 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall
Males: 65 to 75 lbs, 23 to 24 inches tall
For Rottweilers, the American Kennel Club gives the following size ranges:
Females: 80 to 100 lbs, 22 to 25 inches tall
Males: 95 to 135 lbs, 24 to 27 inches tall
While both are large breeds, Rottweilers are considerably larger than Golden Retrievers.
They are very muscular, powerful dogs and can easily overpower a person, such as if they decide to chase a squirrel while on leash, or if they jump up with excitement.
If they do feel threatened and their protective instincts are triggered, that is a lot of dog to manage.
Every dog requires training to help shape them into a safe, polite member of society.
But with very large breeds such as Rotties, there is some extra responsibility because of the potential risk that their size can pose.
Depending on your own size, they might even outweigh you!
Just keep in mind the possible challenges that such a large dog can bring.
According to the American Kennel Club, a Golden Retriever’s life expectancy is 10 to 12 years.
The American Kennel Club states that Rottweiler’s life expectancy is 9 to 10 years.
Larger breeds typically have lower life expectancies and this is true for Rotties.
Goldens usually give you a couple more years, though no matter how long they live, it’s never long enough.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Sub-aortic Stenosis (SAS)
- Mast cell tumors
- Eye disorders
- Skin issues
PetMD lists the following as common health issues for Rottweilers:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Sub-aortic stenosis
- Gastric torsion
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Von Willebrand’s disease
As you can see, both breeds can have health issues, so make sure to purchase a puppy from a breeder who health tests every dog they breed.
The Golden Retriever Club of America recommends a list of tests that breeders conduct before breeding a dog, and you can ask breeders to see the results of those tests.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has recommendations for Rottweiler breeders to follow, which you can also ask to see.
Some health issues are genetic, and the only way to know if a dog may potentially pass on disease to their puppies is through testing.
Golden Retrievers can have some behavior issues, including:
- Sound sensitivity
- Resource guarding
- Jumping on people
- Counter surfing
- Destructive Chewing
- Grabbing things with their mouth, such as shoes or your arm
- Pulling on leash
- Separation Anxiety
Rotties can also experience behavior issues such as:
- Destructive Chewing
- Separation Anxiety
- Pulling on leash
- Jumping on people
- Counter surfing
- Aggressive behavior especially towards strangers
Whether you get a Golden Retriever or a Rottweiler, socialization and training are critical to raising a well-behaved dog and preventing behavior issues from developing.
Some behavior issues also have a genetic component, so you’ll want to talk to breeders about any behavior issues in their dogs before purchasing a puppy from them.
Neither breed should be aggressive, but unfortunately it can happen, and it’s often due to poor breeding, lack of socialization and training, or traumatic experiences.
Rottweilers, with their guardian instincts, especially need a confident owner who can be their guide in the modern world, so that the dog does not feel it’s their job to step up any challenges.
Rottweiler puppies range from $1,000 to $2500, also depending on the breeder and location.
While it might be tempting to save money while buying a puppy, a cheap price is likely a red flag.
Cheap puppies might come from a breeder who is not responsible, and the parents may not be physically or behaviorally healthy.
Always look for a puppy from a breeder who health tests every dog they breed and prioritizes a good temperament.
Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers are both athletic, intelligent dogs who absolutely adore their families.
They’re both playful, easy to train and can make wonderful family dogs.
The main points of contrast are size and temperament.
Rottweilers are very large and strong and this can be an added challenge for some people.
Goldens are also bigger dogs, but are easier to manage as they aren’t as massive or muscular as Rotties.
Additionally, you should be aware of the guardian and herding instincts that a Rottweiler brings to the table.
These are not bad instincts, but they need to be properly understood and handled, or else they may become problematic.
Rottweilers may also be more indifferent or standoffish towards new people.
They can be quite silly with their families, but have more of a calm and watchful demeanor.
Goldens are usually indiscriminately friendly and happy to interact with strangers.
A Golden Retriever has more of a cheerful, “forever puppy” personality and can be higher energy.
Neither breed is better than the other, rather it boils down to which dog best fits with your personal lifestyle.
It really helps to meet several dogs of each breed to get a better sense of what they are like in real life.
It’s really worth taking the time to figure out which breed suits you.
And on the flipside, think about what you can offer a dog and which breed would be happier with that life.
You will both be much happier when you mesh well together!
Have you had either of these dogs? What do you think?
Let us know down in the comments!
See other breed comparisons here:
- Golden Retriever vs. Labrador
- Golden Retriever vs. Irish Setter
- Golden Retriever vs. German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever vs. Golden Doodle
- Golden Retriever vs. Border Collie
- Golden Retriever vs. Beagle
- Golden Retriever vs. Husky
- Golden Retriever vs. Bernese Mountain Dog
- Golden Retriever vs. Australian Shepherd
- Golden Retriever vs. Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retriever vs. Boxer
- Golden Retriever vs. Cocker Spaniel
- Golden Retriever vs. Doberman
To learn more about whether or not a golden retriever is right for you, take the Golden Retriever Quiz!
And if you’ve decided on getting a Golden Retriever, check out this article on how to raise a Golden Retriever puppy.
- 300 Golden Retriever Names For Your New Puppy
- Puppy Starter Kit: 17 Essentials For Your New Golden Retriever Puppy
- 8 Types Of Golden Retrievers (With Pictures)
About the author:
Alisa Healy is a professional dog trainer in the Chicago suburbs, with a wide range of training experience from shelters to in-home training to dog sports. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and is passionate about helping people and dogs live fulfilling, harmonious lives together.