The Rottweiler is one of the world’s oldest herding dogs. Although there are no firm records, it is thought that the ancestors of the today’s Rottweiler were droving dogs that accompanied the Romans on their invasion of Europe. The Roman armies had no way of keeping their meat fresh, so their livestock was brought with them on their long marches. They needed a reliable working dog to help move the herd, and these dogs were used to move live meat throughout Europe with the Roman soldiers. The Germans recognized these dogs’ strong guarding and herding ability, and bred them carefully to strengthen these traits.
The Rottweiler is named after the town of Rottweil in Germany. The modern Rottweiler isn’t often used as a livestock dog any more, but they are very effective police dogs, search and rescue dogs and guard dogs. They are also a popular family pet.
This strong and noble breed was recognized by the AKC in 1931.Since then, they have been one of the most popular dogs in the United States.
Rotties are a medium large, powerfully built dog which gives the impression of strength and courage. They are typically black in color, with red or tan on the face, legs and feet. Their broad head features medium sized triangular ears and dark brown eyes, which have an alert and intelligent gaze. They may be born with a bobbed tail, but if not, the tail is docked except in those countries where this is prohibited.
Standing up to 27 inches, or 70cm, tall at the shoulder, and weighing up to 105lbs (48kg), their size, strength and confident air can be quite intimidating.
Rottweilers are an intelligent breed and they learn quickly. This allows them to fill many roles, from police dog to service dog, from successful obedience dog to being your family’s best friend. They are quietly confident, and because of their instinct to guard, they are usually extremely protective of their family and territory. These dogs are very effective as guard dogs.
This breed needs early socialization and regular training to really bring out the best in them. Although they are usually placid, they do have a reputation for being aggressive towards people and other dogs. Unfortunately, in many cases this is because their owner hasn’t put the time and effort into rearing and training their Rottweiler pup properly. The sheer size and strength of these dogs mean that if they are aggressive, they can do a great deal of damage to their adversary.
The Rottweiler benefits most from a confident and consistent owner who will teach them their place in the family pack. They need a leader or they will take on that role themselves, which will make life challenging for everyone in the family. Because of this, the Rottie isn’t the best breed for the first time dog owner.
Hip Dysplasia is a major problem in the Rottweiler. This causes painful arthritis in the hip joints, and has a genetic basis. Good breeders will x-ray their adult dogs and send the films away for hip scoring, then only breed from those dogs with the soundest hips.
This breed is also susceptible to another painful orthopedic condition: osteochondrosis dissecans. This is an abnormality of the cartilage in a joint, which also leads to arthritis. It typically affects the elbow and shoulder joints, and while genes do play a role in its development, a rapid growth rate will make the situation worse. Again, elbow x-rays of breeding stock before mating will help to reduce the incidence of this painful condition in the breed. Also, a puppy’s food intake and exercise levels should be managed so they don’t grow too quickly, or exercise too much when their bones are developing.
Rottweilers can have ectropion, where the eyelids are loose and expose the eye to irritants such as dust and wind. They can also have the opposite problem, entropion. In this case, the eyelids roll inwards, and the eyelashes rub on the eye, causing pain and inflammation. Both conditions can be corrected surgically if necessary.
These dogs also suffer regularly from bone cancer, particularly of the long bones of the leg. This is an aggressive tumor, and spreads quickly. Even with surgical treatment followed by radiation or chemotherapy, the prognosis is very poor.
Because they were developed to work, the Rottweiler needs a job to do, otherwise they will get bored and amuse themselves, and you may not like how they do this. Obedience and agility training, trick training or service dog work will give their mind the stimulation it needs.
Rottweilers enjoy lots of exercise, and will appreciate a long walk every day. Be careful if you decide to take them to an off leash dog park; unless they have been well socialized from puppy-hood, they can get into scuffles with other dogs.
The Rottweiler’s short coat is very easy to care for. Wash when necessary, and brush weekly with a firm brush to remove loose hairs and add a shine to their coat.
This isn’t a breed for everyone. They are best suited to an experienced dog owner who has the time and energy to train them, socialize them and meet their need for exercise. They are good with families providing they are taught their place, and children are never left alone with their dog.
The Rottweiler is often too large and too active for apartment living, and prefer to have a reasonable sized back yard to call their own.
These dogs will be a devoted and loyal companion for up to 12 years.