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Red Rottweilers

genetics and color history of the breed

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A note about breed DNA tests
Red and other colors over view
Vitiligo and merle
Color history and genetics of the Rottweiler (with photos)

First, a note about Embark, Wisdom Panel, and all the other "What's my breed" tests.

These tests are NOT proof of "purebrededness"

They only go back 3-5 generations. These tests are being used by scammers to "prove" that their off standard dogs "are purebred"

Scammers in many breeds including Rottweilers, are adding a different breed to obtain a color or trait they want (merle or red for example) then breeding those puppies back to the target breed for 5+ generations (all the while lying on registration paperwork and commiting stud book integrity fraud).

Then they will Embark (or other breed dna test) the dogs to claim they are purebred.


Do not get scammed into paying more

Red (and other color) Coats Overview

    In general the "theory" that red/tan (and maybe blue/tan) Rottweilers "could" exist sounds valid. because Rottweilers and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are very closely related and blue/tan and red/tan occurs with frequency in a few lines of GSMD. HOWEVER the reality is that since the mid 1900's the Rottweiler has been bred solely for black/tan discarding all other base colors including wolf sable and brindle. That said it is "possible" that some older lines "could" harbor the recessive blue/tan or red/tan (but NOT wolf sable or brindle as they are a dominant) , however it is HIGHLY unlikly.

    Unless there is DNA proof (DNA parentage NOT Embark type test) of *the parentage of the litter AND *the parent's parents AND *parent's grandparents and so on for more than 5 generations, then the pups are more likely mixes between Rottweilers and Doberman or other breed where those recessive colors are far more common.

    In almost 40 years in the breed dealing with both US and Euro/import lines I can tell you that I have seen/heard of exactly FOUR supposed purebred red/tan, ONE blue/tan and one black pigmented white. That is it, AND all were before DNA parentage was commonplace so there's still doubt!

    Both parents would have to carry the gene for it to appear.

Off color coated dogs should never be bred as these colors were removed from the breed towards the beginning of the breed history.

Vitiligo affected

    Dogs affected with Vitiligo are NOT blue merle.

    NO merle gene exists in the breed, nor EVER did.

IF you see a merle Rottweiler is IS NOT purebred

    Dogs with vitiligo (as in humans) have an autoimmune disorder that affecteds the pigment cells.

Color history and genetics of the Rottweiler

The only Breed standard accepted color in any country is black with tan, rust, brown or mahogany markings
*Long coat is a disqualifying fault
(note-test your breeding dogs only at a lab that tests for all 5 long genes- most labs only test for L1 and some rottweilers have a different long coat gene)
*Wire to the extent that it changes body coat is a disqualifying fault (tiny slight beard is not)
>*Any base color other than black is a disqualifying fault
*Blue eyes are a disqualifying fault and very uncommon
*Total Lack of markings is a disqualifying fault
*White marking beyond few white hairs on chest is serious fault
*Merle does not and never has existed in breed

The below historical information is derived from several old breed standard and history sources including the book
“Studies in the breed history of the Rottweiler”

Many breeds have color specific standards Rottweilers are just one example

The breed started life with many colors :
*Wolf sable (agouti) with tan points
*Brindle on ash grey background with tan points
*Black and tan (black tan point)
*Red and tan (brown tan point)
*The breed nearly died out and was rebuilt wherein some yellow (ee) and sable (ayat) dogs popped up from mixed breedings
*All of the above colors occasionally with white chest and belly markings

The breed clubs decided they only wanted black and tan with no white so started editing the standard over several years.

In the 1901 standard the first colors to be eliminated were yellow/red dogs with no tan points (ee- recessive red or ayat sable)  because they were thought to be strong indicators of mixed breedings.  The standard still listed both brindle on ash grey background and wolf sable(agouti) and red with tan points (brown tan point) in addition to black with tan, rust, brown or mahogany markings (black tan point ).

The 1913 standard dropped brindle and wolf sable, but red with tan points (brown tan point) remained.

In 1921 the two Rottweiler clubs in existence combined to form the ADRK and the first ADRK standard only allowed black with tan, rust, brown or mahogany markings dogs, but some white on chest and belly was allowed but undesirable

After 2nd world war the standard was redone again and the only allowed color was black with tan, rust, brown or mahogany markings dogs with any white being undesirable

 Modern Rottweilers genetically are for all intents and purposes, entirely clear of anything but black with tan, rust, brown or mahogany markings

(black tan point genetically BBatat)

Bill- Rottweiler

Bill a purebred Rottweiler in Black and rust

Wolfsable is absolutely totally gone, if you see it it’s a mix (genetically this is agouti with tan points)

brody- rottweiler x GSD

Brody was a Rottweiler X German Shepherd Dog mix

Ash grey striped dogs (brindle on a pale grey base) are absolutely totally gone, if you see one, it’s a mixbreed.

The yellow/red colored dogs (ee recessive red or ayat sable) also long gone if you see a red no tan point dog it it’s a 1000% mixbreed in spite of internet sites that want you to believe differently

Roscoe rott x DDB
Roscoe- tested sable (ayat)
Rottweiler X Dogue de Bordeaux
photo courtesy
Macy Cochran

Luci & Rocky
Rottweiler X American Pit Bull Terrier X Spanish Mastiff X English Mastiff
photo courtesy Faye Michelle Packer

Red &tan (brown tan point) has been bred out so much that if you see one, assume the dog is a mix breed unless the owner has many many generations of parentage dna verified (not breed dna tests) as scam breeders have been purposely mixing in red & tan Dobermans to sell the pups as rare red Rottweilers

likly purebred- before color
testing was available
photo courtesy
Becky Lohse Giddings
Rottweiler x Doberman puppy

White markings have been mostly bred down to just a strip or few hairs at most on the chest.

Once in a blue moon you will see a large chest patch but never toes or belly

click on the below image for a full size reproducible poster




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Last updated  6/21/2023
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