Why Does My Rottweiler Growl at Me? (6 Reasons, Not all Bad!)


Why Does My Rottweiler Growl at Me

Dogs are man’s best friend, and nothing beats seeing your buddy happily running around a park and zooming up to you! Slobbering your face with love, and wagging their tail in excitement.

These are the things you want to see in your happy friend. You give your pooch so much love and attention, so when your dog starts to growl and bare their teeth, it feels like a sucker punch to the heart.

Why are they growling? What have I done wrong? Is my dog happy?

With all these questions running through your mind, you know you need to find an answer to why your Rottweiler is growling at you, and how to make them happy!

Before we dive into what is going on, it’s important to know the history of the Rottweiler breed, so you can better understand how they might be thinking. Have a look at our brief history of Rottweilers.

Brief History of Rottweilers

If you own a Rottweiler, then you’ll know first hand that they are stocky and strong dogs.

Normally they have a short black coat with tan markings on the legs, head, and chest, but you already know this!

We are looking at why your Rottweiler is growling, so to understand your dog’s needs, we need to know what they were bred for.

Rottweilers were bred to work. They are descended from cattle herding dogs, bred in the Roman legions of Rottweil in Germany.

Breeders selectively bred the cattle herding dogs to hone in on “wariness” and “protectiveness” personality traits, with a particular interest in protectiveness against strangers.

This was great for people who need guard dogs, rescue dogs, and police dogs. 

Rottweilers are an intelligent breed, so it doesn’t take them long to figure out friend and foe. However, they are not the most naturally social due to their breeding history.

Rottweilers tend to require a steady training regimen to learn social skills and become less wary around strangers.

So now you know the history of Rottweilers. This might help you understand why your dog is growling, and recognize their point of view.

But you’re not here to get a therapy lesson about your buddies’ parentage, so let’s dive into the more direct answers to your questions!

The Quick Answer!

The quick answer to why your Rottweiler is growling at you is because they want to say something.

Growling, like in all dogs, is a way for your Rottweiler to explain that something is happening. It could mean they are in pain, it could mean that they are afraid.

Sometimes, like when you cry at the end of a good movie, it could be a way to say they are happy.

Your dog’s body language should tell you if it is a happy growl, a playful growl, or a negative growl. Listen, and watch. They will tell you how they feel. 

Time to dive into the details. The quick answer is probably not enough to help understand what your dog is saying, to let’s look at some details you might have missed.

Why is my Rottweiler Growling?

Because Rottweilers were bred to be guard dogs, they tend to growl more often than other breeds. Whenever a Rottweiler sees a potential threat, they are more likely to growl than investigate or get you. This is their nature.

That being said, they also growl when they are afraid, happy, or in pain. Growling can be really upsetting to hear, but don’t jump to conclusions. Try to figure out what your dog is trying to say.

1. I’m Having a Great Time!

If you are playing tug of war, or about to grab your Rottweiler’s lead, you might start to hear them growl. Don’t worry! They are just finding it hard to hold in their excitement. 

Think of these types of growls like a toddler who is so excited they start to scream!

You may not like the noise, and it might put you on edge when the growl comes out of nowhere, but your buddy is telling you that they are having a great time. They are showing you they are excited!

2. I Just Growled to Say Hello!

If you go away on vacation, it can be heartbreaking to get back to your dog and hear them growling or barking at you.

Your heart might drop as you wonder if they are upset with you for leaving. Or maybe it wasn’t a long holiday that set this off, maybe your dog is growling every time you get back from work or the mall!

Either way, you must be thinking that your dog is angry for being abandoned. Well, worry no longer.

The likelihood is your Rottweiler is anxious to be reunited with you, and just as we said before, their main method of communication is growling! Give your buddy a cuddle, that’s all they want!

We have covered the happy reasons for your Rottweiler growling, so now it’s time to look at the not-so-happy reasons.

Like we said before, they could be scared or in pain, so let’s have a look at how these growls are presented.

3. I’m the Top Dog

Are you looking at this article because your Rottweiler is growling at other dogs on the street, or maybe you’re here because you have brought home a new furry friend and your Rottweiler isn’t happy about it? 

If your Rottweiler is growling in these situations, it is probably because they are feeling that historical protectiveness for you.

They have seen a stranger and are now acting instinctively to protect you. This growl is to tell the new person, animal, or object that they, the Rottweiler, are in charge. 

The way to stop your Rottweiler from growling at strangers is to associate strangers or other dogs, with rewards. Have a special treat that your dog will only get when they are being nice to the stranger. 

Let’s try this out with an example. You are walking down the street with your dog on their lead, you see another dog is coming towards you.

Give your Rottweiler a treat at this point, and keep giving them the same treat until your dog starts to growl. When the growling starts, the treats stop. Your buddy will realize that growling around other dogs will not give them a treat. 

It will take a couple of tries before this trick sticks, but your Rottweiler is smart and they should be able to kick their instincts to the curb with the right kind of training. 

4. Help! I’m In Pain!

The instinct to be aggressive when you are hurt is one that even people feel. If your dog has had surgery or has an underlying health condition, then this growl might be in response to that pain.

If the pain is instant, like knocking a wound against something, then a growl might come out quick. If the pain is upsetting your Rottweiler, then the growl might be to let you know that something is wrong. 

If you are worried that your dog might be in pain, but there is no obvious reason (for example, they haven’t had surgery), then here are some things for you to look out for:

  • Limping
  • Whimpering and Whining
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Restlessness or Sleeping more than usual

If your Rottweiler or any of your dogs are experiencing these kinds of symptoms, then something is wrong. You should take them to a vet to figure out what that issue is.

5. Oh no, I don’t like this. 

As we said before, Rottweilers are bred to be wary of strangers and to protect either a person or an object, but in this modern age, any animal could be scared of the sudden noises or strange things that they see.

If your dog sees something as a threat, they will growl to scare off the enemy, but they will also be growling to warn you of the enemy.

This type of growl, unlike the Top Dog growl, is because your Rottweiler is scared. You might hear your dog growl at the phone or fireworks, or if they have been treated badly in the past they might growl at a person or an animal. 

It can be hard to know the difference between a scared dog, and an aggressive or Top Dog. When a dog is scared they will avoid the thing they are scared of.

If they can’t find a way to escape, your dog will panic. In a panic, your buddy might lose control of their bowel or bladder and even bite you in an attempt to survive. 

Here are some signs that your dog is scared:

  • Tailed tucked between their legs, instead of standing straight or rigid
  • Crouched down, with their bottom lower than their shoulders
  • Ear laid flat
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Yawning 
  • Panting

To help your dog get past their fear, you need to make sure you don’t encourage it.

Petting your dog might feel like you are comforting them but you are actually rewarding them for their fearful behavior. Instead, you should remain calm. This will show your buddy that there is nothing to be afraid of.

If the problem persists, then you should talk to a trainer or specialist so your furry friend can have the help they need to move on from their fears.

6. I Don’t Share Food

All dogs get defensive around food, especially puppies. Back in the day when dogs were wilder, they would have acted like wolves in a pack.

They would need to protect their food from the wildlife around them, and they would have fought for dominance in sharing their food with the pack. The higher ranking the dog was, the more or better food they would get.

Domestic dogs still hold this idea in their DNA, so even though there is enough food to go around, your dog might be territorial around their dog bowl.

Rottweilers, unlike other breeds, were bred to be defensive. Their whole design was to protect or defend an item or person.

Because of this, they are more likely to hold onto this defensive relationship with food. If you or another dog tries to touch your Rottweilers bowl, your buddy might growl to stop you from taking it away from them.

If your dog was a stray, this reaction might be intensified. Your poor dog would have struggled to find food and would have had to protect that food against other strays or wildlife.

And if your dog is a puppy, they know they have to battle their siblings for food and water as they are in a dangerous part of their life cycle. 

There are five steps that you can take to stop your dog from growling when they are eating:

  • Be There! Eventually, they will see that you aren’t trying to steal their food, and they will relax!
  • Add A Treat and Back Away! The treat shows you are being nice, and backing away shows you aren’t stealing their food!
  • Talk! Hearing you speak will let them know where you are, so they don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on you. Speaking in a conversational tone will show them that you aren’t upset or agitated, so they can be calm too.
  • Try Hand Feeding! Use the treat from step 2, and instead of adding it to the bowl, put it in your hand. Try to get closer to the bowl every day so they can see you aren’t interested in their food. 
  • Touch the Bowl! Speak to your dog in your normal tone and try to touch their bowl. Don’t take the food though, you are just trying to show them that your presence isn’t a bad thing

Take these steps slowly, as all dogs are different, but if you follow them your Rottweiler should get past their food aggression problem.

So now you know the different reasons for your Rottweiler growling!

Keep this article on hand, so that if you see your Rottweiler acting differently you can quickly figure out what is actually going on in their head! 

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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