The Rottweiler is a large, ancient breed originating from Rottweil, in Germany. Originally used for guarding and herding of cattle, it was also known as the Rottweil Butchers Dog.
The Rottweiler is a devoted, good-natured and placid breed, and in the right hands is an ideal family dog. Although the breed was used for bear hunting in the Middle Ages, the Rottweiler’s hunting tendencies are not strong and its reputation as an aggressive breed is largely unfounded and down to the owner. Fearless, obedient and eager to work, the Rottweiler has retained both its herding and guarding instincts, but rarely attacks. Today, the Rottweiler is used as a working, companion and show breed.
Height: Dog 24 – 27 ins (61 – 69 cm)
Bitch 22 – 25 ins (58 – 64 cm)
Weight: Dog 95 – 130 lbs (43 – 59 kg)
Bitch 85 – 115 lbs (38 – 52 kg)
Average Litter Size: 8 – 12 puppies
Life Expectancy: 9 – 12 years
Good with Children: Yes, but not recommended for younger children
Kennel Club Classification: Working group
The Rottweiler has a dense double coat, with a short undercoat hidden by a coarse, flat, medium-length top coat. The hair on the legs tends to be shorter. Some Rottweilers have become acclimatised to living in hot climates and are sometimes missing the lower coat altogether.
Early Rottweilers were variable in colour, but the modern Rottweiler is always black-coated with well defined rich tan or mahogany markings.
The Rottweiler is generally a low-maintenance breed. However, males can experience seasonal heavy shedding and females also tend to moult heavily just before they come into season. This can be controlled with regular brushing.
Fleas, ticks and mites should be regularly checked for, especially if you let the Rottweiler run in long grass. The eyes benefit from regular, gentle cleaning.
The Rottweiler is a robust, relatively healthy breed. Hip dysplasia and shoulder joint osteochondritis can be a problem, owing to the Rottweiler’s rapid growth rate, but x-ray testing introduced by Rottweiler breed clubs has minimised this problem. One of the most common causes of death in Rottweilers is cancer, which is largely caused by irresponsible breeding – as are temperament problems. So long as you purchase your pup from a reputable breeder, who can show proof of parental temperament testing and hip/shoulder scoring, you can avoid these problems.
It’s essential you have your Rottweiler vaccinated against parvovirus at the earliest opportunity, and maintain immunity with regular boosters, as for some reason Rotties are more susceptible than other breeds to this disease. Another problem is a proneness towards obesity, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. Regular exercise and a sensible diet will reduce this risk.
The Rottweiler is a working breed with a strong guarding instinct. In earlier bloodlines, Rottweilers gained a reputation for unpredictable temperament – not helped by movies like The Omen! Conscientious breeding has toned down these traits and today’s Rottweilers are generally safe, trustworthy dogs.
The Rottweiler is a placid and obedient dog with a self-confident nature. Devoted to its owner, it will fearlessly protect home and family against any perceived threat. However, the Rottweiler’s inherent guarding instincts make it protective and territorial, with an aloofness towards strangers, so early socialisation is a must.
The Rottweiler is a highly intelligent powerful breed with exceptional strength, and for this reason is unsuitable for novices and young children. Experts recommend formal and ongoing training and socialisation from an early age, including with children and other pets. If this does not happen, they can become aggressive, dominant and hard to control. However, the fact the Rottweiler is so widely used in the public services is proof of its susceptibility to training.
Highly loving to its owners, the Rottweiler needs reciprocal affection, and should not be left alone for a long time as he or she can become depressed, noisy and destructive. The young dogs have a tendency towards “hard play”, which should be discouraged as it can lead to unintentional injury as they get larger, as with many large breeds. Rottweilers will also try to “herd” children and other animals. While this is an endearing trait, they must be taught where the parameters lie and not allowed to nip or bump.
A Rottweiler will need regular exercise – two outings, of at least 20 minutes – every day. However, indoors the Rottweilers are a placid breed, happy to chill out on the rug. An excellent dog for an active family, the Rottweiler loves to jog, fetch and swim, and this should be encouraged. If you can think up some “work duties,” so much the better. Their habit of “body bumping” is a race memory left over from their days of herding cattle.
The Rottweiler is one of the oldest herding breeds in the world, descended from droving dogs brought to the Württemberg region by the Romans. These interbred with indigenous molosser-types to create a versatile, hardy dog, able to herd cattle and protect flocks in all weathers.
Rottweil became an important cattle area, and in the Middle Ages Rottweilers were used by travelling butchers, sometimes carrying their master’s money pouches to prevent them being robbed. At this time there was no set breed standard. Larger dogs were used to pull carts, while smaller ones were used for cattle droving.
In the 19th century cattle herding was outlawed in Germany and the Rottweiler became primarily a butchers’ draught dog. The “Rottweil Butcher Dog” went into decline with the coming of the railways, until in 1905 there was reportedly only one bitch left. The breed was rescued in 1910, however, when the German police force began using them. By then the first German Rottweiler club had become established, and when a single Rottweiler police dog aided the arrest of 14 drunken sailors in 1912, the breed’s popularity was assured.
Rottweilers were first shown at Crufts in1936, with a separate register for the breed opened in 1966. In the mid 1990s, the Rottweiler was the most popular registered breed in America. Today, Rottweilers are widely used in Germany, Denmark and Switzerland for police, army, customs and border guard work. In Norway, Rottweilers are even used as mountain rescue dogs, shaking off their Omen image for good!
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