Rottweiler Colors – Is The Rottie Only Black & Tan?

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You may have wondered what Rottweiler colors are possible and if there are color combinations to avoid.

As a Rottweiler owner myself, I get confronted with this quite often and there seems to be a surge in Rottweilers that definitely don’t adhere to the breed standard, not only by head shape, built, but also their colors.

Why is that a problem?

Some Rottweiler colors can put your furry companion at risk for health diseases and genetic defects so beware when buying a purebred Rottie.

To help you determine which colors are possible and what exactly they are called, check the following excerpt from the AKC breed standard for the Rottweiler:

Always black with rust to mahogany markings. The demarcation between black and rust is to be clearly defined.

AKC Rottweiler Breed Standard

These are the generally accepted colors for Rottweilers:

  • Black and mahogany
  • Black and tan
  • Black and rust

We’ll go into detail below on how you can distinguish these colors, whether or not there are other rare Rottweiler colors like red, blue and all black and how you can spot a poorly bred Rottweiler.

Before that, check the rest of the breed standard in relation to the color and markings:

The markings should be located as follows: a spot over each eye; on cheeks; as a strip around each side of muzzle, but not on the bridge of the nose; on throat; triangular mark on both sides of prosternum; on forelegs from carpus downward to the toes; on inside of rear legs showing down the front of the stifle and broadening out to front of rear legs from hock to toes, but not completely eliminating black from rear of pasterns; under tail; black penciling on toes.

The undercoat is gray, tan, or black.

Quantity and location of rust markings is important and should not exceed ten percent of body color.

Serious Faults-Straw-colored, excessive, insufficient or sooty markings; rust marking other than described above; white marking any place on dog (a few rust or white hairs do not constitute a marking).

AKC Rottweiler Breed Standard

Dogs will be disqualified if the base color is something other than black and if markings are absent. Markings can vary in size though.

That being said, the AKC also states that the Rottweiler should have a docked tail and is excluded from conformation shows if that is not the case. I’m strongly against this notion and would encourage everybody to question something like that.

Breeds that are born without tails are a different story, but docking the tail even though the dog doesn’t serve a working purpose like hunting makes absolutely zero sense.

Breed standard is good enough for color clarification though, so let’s dive in.

Rottweiler Mahogany Color

The Rottweiler color mahogany is a deep, rich color that looks quite astonishing due to the reddish-brown look.

A mahogany colored Rottweiler with that rich reddish tone will stand out from the crowd.

Although the degree of mahogany varies, this is certainly not the rarest Rottweiler color, quite the contrary. It’s pretty common, especially among American Rottweilers.

Male Rottweiler in mahogany and black color.

However, it’s important to note the difference between true mahogany and red since it’s possible to mix these up. Red markings are not allowed, neither is the whole body in red. More on that below.

Black and Rust Rottweiler

The Rottweiler with the color black and rust is actually pretty similar to the one with mahogany, with the difference being that it’s a tad lighter.

However, even experts get these mixed up and with some breeds, rust is the only option to describe this kind of coat color.

The Doberman is one of these and is mentioned with black and rust most often. This color is quite common for the Rottweiler too.

Black and Tan Rottweiler

My Rottie Amalia is actually black and tan, according to her passport.

She has relatively small chest markings and eyebrow markings. Deciding between mahogany, rust, or black and tan is just a matter of optics and breeding lines.

Black and tan Rottweiler in the woods.

Black and tan is seen quite often in other breeds, but apparently not as often among Rottweiler circles.

Black Rottweiler vs. Light Tan Color

Below is a comparison between a mainly black Rottweiler with rust markings and a very light tan Rottweiler that has bigger markings.

Comparison between Rottweiler colors. One Rottweiler is nearly all-black and the other dog has lots of light tan markings.

Technically, the black Rottie is not all-black but if you’d only look at the face, it’d be hard to make out the eyebrow markings.

The tan Rottweiler has huge markings on the chest, around the muzzle, as well as on his front and hind legs.

Positioning of the markings of both dogs are correct, they just vary in degree.

Rare Rottweiler Colors

The so called “rare Rottweiler colors” are not desirable at all. It’s important to understand that most of these are crossbreeds and/or carry gene defects which often come with the associated health issues.

You should never choose a dog based on its color anyway. That being said, if you’re into a specific look, there may be other breeds that fit into your life.

Always make sure to ask your breeder questions about health testing, breeding programs, socialization, and so on.

Do not buy into the scam from irresponsible breeders that advertise their rare Rottweiler colors.

White Rottweiler

A Rottweiler can be white due to various reasons like albinism and vitiligo.

If a dog has albinism, the whole coat will turn white. However, this defect is not desirable at all and should be avoided at any cost. Read more about albinism and how it relates to the nose color.

In case a Rottweiler has vitiligo, only parts of the coat will turn white with black and tan patches of fur in between.

White Rottweiler with patches of black and tan.

This condition also occurs in humans and is mostly harmless, although undesirable in a breeding program.

In any other case where the dog turns out to be white, it’s most likely a crossbreed. White Rottweilers do not exist naturally and should not be sold as rare Rottweiler puppies.

Grey Rottweiler

Just like the others on this list, a grey Rottweiler means that it’s most likely a crossbreed.

If a dog inherits the dilute gene from both parents, the dog’s coat can turn out to be grey. Inheriting this gene is no issue, but the fact that these dogs have been bred with another dog breed point to a non-reputable breeder.

When it comes to genetics, there are many moving parts. However, the Rottweiler’s base color should always be black.

Although grey does exist in the Cane Corso, it’s often falsely labeled as “blue”, an indication that the breeder knows very little about the breed.

Red Rottweiler

While red Rottweilers have a unique and interesting looking coat, they are simply the result of crossbreeding.

The look of the rusty brown can be pretty similar to the rare brown Dobermans.

All Black Rottweiler

The all black Rottweiler is non-existent and is a disqualification according to the AKC (absence of all markings).

However, the black Rottweiler below has very little markings on the underside of his paws and around the muzzle but nearly no eyebrow and chest markings.

Black Rottweiler with very little markings around the muzzle and underside of the paws laying down.

Smaller markings are definitely no defect, but they’re quite rare since most breeders try to achieve rich markings on the various spots outlined above.

Rottweiler Colors To Avoid

There are various colors that don’t exactly scream “crossbreed” but they’re just as atypical for the Rottweiler and makes me question any breeding program. Completely different story with rescues, of course.

Although it’s not exactly detrimental when a dog has the “wrong” color, it can be an indicator of a breeding program that doesn’t have the goal of advancing the breed with healthy and correct types.

Health testing has priority, always.

This puppy has very light tan markings, it could be argued that this not even tan anymore but rather cream, blonde, or another light color.

Black and tan Rottweiler puppy with markings that are too light.

This dog has regular markings, but you can spot shades of brown on his neck which would disqualify the dog according to the AKC breed standard.

Rottweiler with false brown color markings extending to the neck.

These Rottweiler puppies have specs of black on their paws and ears.

Although colors may change with age, it’s unlikely that splotches of this kind will disappear.

Rottweiler puppies that have black specs on their paws and nose.

If you are interested in learning more about dog colors check out The Controversy Around the Blue-Eyed Pitbull.

About Danielle

In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

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