He cannot be a gentleman which loveth not a dog. – John Northbrooke
One of the oldest of the herding breeds, ancestors of Rottweilers are believed to have marched into Europe with the Roman armies who used them to herd and guard cattle brought in to feed the legions. Once established there, they interbred with local herding dogs.
These dogs were named after the town of Rottweil in Germany which was a center for cattle production. Known in German as “Rottweiler Metzgerhund” or “Rottweil butchers’ dogs” because they were developed by the butchers of Rottweil, the dogs drove cattle and pulled carts laden with butchered meat to market. On the return journey, they guarded the money (wearing it on their collars). Driving cattle requires a strong dog with staying power, determination, endurance, and physical strength.
Photos displayed courtesy of Marie-Josee Gallant, VonStoisch Rottweilers, Quebec
The Rottweiler stands up to 27 inches (68 cm) at the shoulder and has a harsh, shiny, black coat with rich tan or mahogany markings. He is a powerful dog with a sturdy build. As befits a working guard dog, he has great strength, agility, and endurance.
By the mid 19th century mechanized transport, particularly the railways, helped to change the focus of the Rottie’s job from herder to police, protection, and guard dog. In Europe, they are particularly prized as police dogs.
As working dogs, Rottweilers like to have something to do. Herding, competing in obedience, tracking, search and rescue, or retrieving the newspaper are all jobs at which Rottweilers excel.
First time dog owners should think twice about this breed as they have a dominant nature. This is not the dog for everyone. They require a calm, stable and firm “pack leader” or they will assume that role for you. They will test their position in the family pecking order to see if they can move up. Owners of these dogs must be strong leaders who must be in control at all times in order to gain the respect of their dog.
Early training is imperative to control the rambunctiousness of the young Rottie. As he matures, you will have to deal with a large heavy dog who will want to sit on your feet, get on your lap, or just lean against you. You will need to have the upper hand!
Fearless and confident, Rottweilers are effective guard dogs, loyal and determined, who will defend their families and property vigorously. They may be aggressive towards other dogs and must be socialized at an early age.
Rottweilers who are overly aggressive and even dangerous are usually the products of irresponsible ownership, abuse, neglect, or lack of socialization and training. Be aware that these dogs are exceptionally strong which is the primary reason that responsible breeders and breed experts state that formal training and extensive socialization are essential for all Rottweilers.
In addition to training and socialization, Rottweilers need exercise and challenging mental stimulation. Boredom can lead to destructiveness. This breed, brought up in these conditions are wonderful companions, devoted to the family. However, it is never recommended that strong, naturally dominant dogs be left unsupervised with children.