A descendant of Roman cattle dogs, the Rottweiler has become far more versatile since the breed’s inception. In addition to working as a cattle driver, the Rottweiler has served as a military and police dog, a search and rescue dog, a guard dog, and a companion. It is popular throughout the world.
The American Rottweiler Club sums the nature of the breed up well in its statement, “The Rottweiler is an eager partner but a reluctant slave.” The Rottweiler is happy to accommodate a master he loves and respects, but he is simply too strong and determined to be forced.
The Rottweiler ranges from 22 to 27 inches (56 to 69 centimeters) in height, and weighs anywhere from 80 to 125 pounds (56 to 69 kgs).
History of Breed
Rottweilers are thought to have evolved from the Mastiff or the German Shepherd. They were used by the Roman army to drive and guard herds of cattle. Some members of the troops eventually settled with their dogs in what was later to become the town of Rottweil.
While still used to drive cattle, the dogs’ responsibilities were expanded to include guarding cattle sale profits and pulling carts and wagons. The breed played an essential role in the town’s economy until the mid-1800s, when cattle driving was outlawed.
Their numbers consequently declined almost to the point of extinction. However, in 1901, fans of the breed rallied to save it, and formed a club to renew the breed. That club lasted only briefly, but another took its place, and reintroduced Rottweilers into the workforce as police and guard dogs.
The breed was recognized as a working dog by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1931.
Color and Coat
The Rottweiler sports a distinctive coloring, as there are no variations. The coat is predominantly black with rust or mahogany markings on the muzzle, neck, chest, and legs. The coat is short and thick, and the hair is coarse.
Personality and Temperament
Although reputed to be tough, tenacious, and imposing, Rottweilers also have a softer side. They are extremely loyal to their family members, and regard them with affection. Courageous and hard-working, other traits of Rottweilers include power, agility, and stamina. Rottweilers are highly territorial, and make formidable guard dogs.
Control of this powerful dog is a necessity. Those who udertake the task of training Rottweilers should be strong and confident, and their training techniques should be firm, fair, and consistent.
Rottweilers have an aggressive and protective nature, and they will act instinctively in situations where they perceive it to be appropriate. Unfortunately, they don’t have the ability to distinguish between shouts of anger and voices that are raised simply to be heard, a threatening shove versus one person tripping over another in a game, or an intruder hiding in the bushes versus a gardener employed to trim them.
Thus, care must be taken to avoid placing the Rottweiler in situations where such judgment calls must be made. Dominance games, such as tug-of-war, should be avoided.
Rottweilers need an outlet for their energy to prevent them from engaging in destructive behavior. Long walks, active games, or free play in a fenced yard are all good choices. Rottweilers benefit from early and continuous socialization. The breed’s suitability with children varies from one individual to another.
The dogs may show their latent herding instinct by bumping and shouldering in an attempt to round children up, and due to their size, they are not suitable for children under school age. Rottweilers can co-exist with other household pets, as long as they are exposed to them early on; however, they may exhibit some same-sex aggression.
Rottweilers are best suited to rural or suburban environments, and should not be chained or tied up. Invisible fences are not effective with this breed. Rottweilers enjoy cold weather and can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates, as long as they’re given adequate shelter. They are not well-suited to hot climates, and may become overheated.
This breed is most compatible with an owner who is experienced in handling dogs, as first-time owners may find themselves out of their league with Rottweilers. These dogs are not for pushovers, the elderly, or the infirm.
Rottweilers are powerful, muscular, and deep-chested. They are slightly longer than they are tall. Their necks are arched and very well muscled.
They have a broad head; a short, broad muzzle; and their noses are black, with relatively large nostrils. Their short, triangular ears drop close to the head.
Their eyes are dark and almond-shaped, and their expression reveals the dogs’ alertness and confidence. The tail is docked short, leaving only one or two vertebrae.
Typical Health Concerns
Rottweilers are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, kidney problems, and neurological disorders, such as epilepsy.
The grooming needs of the Rottweiler are minimal, consisting primarily of basic brushing. The coat may be groomed with a bristle brush or wiped down with a damp towel. The Rottweiler is a heavy shedder.
Country of Origin
Germany is considered the country of origin for the Rottweiler.
Average Life Span
The life expectancy of the Rottweiler is 8 to 12 years.