- Rottweilers are highly intelligent and confident dogs
- They are extremely loyal and devoted dogs
- Easy maintenance on the grooming front
- Low to moderate shedders
- They are "natural" watchdogs being protective by nature
- Very loyal and protective of their owners, families and properties
Points to Consider
- Rottweilers are not a good choice for first time dog owners
- Early socialisation and training is a must
- Can be very demanding on a lot of fronts
- They are large dogs and therefore need enough space to express themselves as they should
- Rottie puppies are extremely boisterous and exuberant
- Early socialisation and training must start early and be consistent throughout a Rottie's life
- Can sometimes show aggression towards other animals
- Some Rotties dribble a lot more especially after they have eaten or had a drink of water
Rottweiler General Information
Rottweilers have been a popular choice as family pets and companion dogs for decades both here in Ireland and elsewhere in the world. They are powerful and impressive dogs with sleek black and tan coats. Although it’s in a Rottie’s nature to “protect and guard”, they are not known to be aggressive by nature although over many years they earned an unfair reputation of being one of the more aggressive breeds in the world. They are extremely loyal which means when needed, a Rottweiler will stand their ground with no hesitation at all and protect their owners as well as their property.
They are not the best choice for first time owners even though they are known to be easy to train. The reason being that Rotties must be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the needs of these large, intelligent and powerful dogs. They are a great choice for people who have the time and dedication it takes to train them in which case a Rottie becomes a valued member of a family and household. Long ago, Rottweilers were described as being the "dark guardians of a family" which describes the breed to a tee.
Where did the Rottweiler Breed Originate?
The actual origin of the Rottweiler remains a little hazy, although it is thought that they have an interesting ancestry. Many people speculate the breed came about when the Romans bought dogs with them during their invasion of Europe which they crossed with native breeds like the Entelbucher, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog as well as some others, all of which are believed to be descendants of these same Roman dogs.
Rotties were often found in southern Germany and Switzerland and the breed was given their name because so many of them were left in the livestock trading town of Rottweil in Germany's southern region of the Black Forest. Their main job back then was to herd and guard livestock and their reputation of being loyal and courageous gradually spreading to other parts of the land.
These large, impressive dogs became popular with butchers and were often seen pulling carts. At the time they were known as Rottweiler Metzgerhunds which translated means Rottweil Butcher's Dog and they are thought to be not that different that the Rotties we see today.
By the 19th century Germany had outlawed cattle driving which meant the need for Rotties declined and it was only in 1914 that they again started to be valued for their work as war dogs. In 1882, the first Rottie was shown in Germany with clubs being established quite a few years later in 1907, but by 1910, the Rottweiler had become Germany's official police dog.
Mrs Thelma Gray imported the first Rottweiler to the UK in 1936, but during the next few years right up to 1945, the dogs vanished without having produced any progeny. With this said, the Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1936 with a breed standard having been established. At the end of the war, a Captain Roy-Smith bought a male and female Rottie over from Germany, but had no success in breeding the pair. He then imported another female and managed to breed a litter.
Today, the Rottie remains a popular choice not only for their guarding abilities, but for their impressive yet kind and loyal natures which has seen them find a place in the hearts and homes of many people the world over.
Interesting facts about the Rottweiler
- Is the Rottweiler a vulnerable breed? No, they are among the most popular dogs in Ireland and elsewhere in the world.
- Rotties were once the popular choice with German butchers and were known as the "butcher's dog"
- They would be harnessed to pull carts and drive cattle in times long past
- The Rottweiler is thought to be one of the most ancient breeds having been around at the time of the Romans
- They are descendants of the Molossus a Roman Mastiff-type dog
- Rottweilers were used as Police dogs and excelled at their jobs
How should a Rottweiler look?
- Height at the withers: Males 61 - 69 cm, Females 56 - 63 cm
- Average weight: Males 50 - 60 kg, Females 35 - 48 kg
Rotties are large and impressive dogs, being well proportioned, powerful and extremely well-muscled. They have broad heads with moderately arched foreheads and nicely muscled cheeks. Dogs have slight wrinkling on their heads when they are alert otherwise the skin is tight. Their muzzles are deep with a well-defined stop. Noses are always black with nice wide, large nostrils.
Their eyes are almond shaped and medium in size being dark brown with closely fitting eyelids. Ears are pendant and smallish and set high and wide apart on a dog's head and always lie close to a dog's cheek. Rotties boast a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Lips are tight but fall away gradually at each corner of the dog's mouth.
Necks are fairly long and very well-muscled with dogs holding them slightly arched showing a lot of power and strength. Shoulders are well laid back, sloping and rather long with Rotties boasting powerful, well-muscled front legs. Chests are broad and deep with dog's having well sprung ribs and deep briskets. Backs are level and straight with deep, strong flanks. Their croup is broad and slopes very slightly.
Hindquarters are broad and very well-muscled with lower thighs being muscular at the top, yet sinewy lower down. Back legs are powerful and very powerful. Their feet are compact, round with dogs boasting well-arched toes. Back feet are longer than the front ones. Pads are extremely strong with short, dark nails. A Rottie's tail is quite thick adding balance to a dog's overall appearance and is set level to their croup. Dogs carry their tails horizontally, but they may hold it slightly higher when excited.
When it comes to their coat, the Rottie has a medium length, coarse top coat which lies flat to a dog's body. Their undercoat is shorter and grey, black or fawn in colour, but it does not show through their top coat. The hair on the back of a dog's front legs and breechings is typically slightly longer than on the rest of their body. With this said, excessively wavy or long coats are highly undesirable under the Kennel Club breed standard. The accepted coat colours for the Rottweiler is as follows:
Black & Tan
Black with very well-defined markings which includes a spot over each eye, on a dog's cheeks, a strip on each side of their muzzle, on their throat, two triangles on each side of the breast bone, on a dog's front legs from carpus down to the toes, inside of a dog's back legs that goes from the hock to their toes.
How should a Rottweiler move?
When a Rottie moves, they do so with supple strength and a sense of purpose which gives them the impression of being powerful dogs capable of travelling longer distances. Their backs remain level and firm with a tremendous amount of power coming from a dog's hindquarters. Their movement must be well balanced, free moving and positive with dogs showing a tremendous amount of power and balance.
What does the Kennel Club look for?
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and the seriousness of the fault would be judged on how much it affects a Rottie's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Male Rottweilers must have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that the size of a Rottie can be a little smaller or slight bigger as well as being a little taller or slightly shorter than stated in their Kennel Club breed standard which is to be used only as a guide for the breed.
Does a Rottweiler Have a Good Temperament?
The Rottweiler is known to be an active dog and one that needs lots of exercise as well as mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-balanced characters. As previously mentioned, they are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be handled by someone who has the right sort of experience in handling and training such an intelligent, impressive and powerful dog.
It's essential for a Rottweiler's training to start early and puppies must be well socialised from a young age for them to grow up to be more confident, relaxed adult dogs. It's vital for these dogs to be treated with a lot of respect and to use positive reinforcement when training them. Rotties are known to be confident and highly intelligent which means they quickly pick up new things, but this includes the good and the bad. However, in the right hands, they are obedient and extremely devoted dogs that excel at all sorts of canine sporting activities.
Although, a Rottie does make a good family pet, their sheer size means taking care when they are around younger children. They are a very good choice for people who work from home or for families where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house because they do not like being left on their own for long periods of time which can lead to a Rottie developing a condition known as separation anxiety.
A fully mature Rottweiler is an extremely strong dog and one that can be very demanding as well as arrogant at times. The instinct to "guard" is a trait that is deeply embedded in their psyche which must be well understood when sharing a home with a Rottie. People unfamiliar with the personality of a Rottweiler often do not understand that these dogs do not need to be taught to "guard and protect" the reason being it’s a Rotties natural instinct to do so.
With this said, the Rottweiler thrives in a home environment and as previously touched upon, they hate being left on their own for any length of time. A Rottie is never happier than when they can be with their owners and will follow them around just to be with them and to check out what's going on in their environment and hate it when they are left out of anything.
It is vital that breeders only breed from Rottweilers with sound temperaments and who spend a lot of time and effort socialising their puppies right from the word go. As such, stud dogs must be "temperament assessed" which tests how a Rottie reacts and behaves in a lot of different situations and settings they are bound to encounter during their life time. The assessment should include the following:
What is the impression a Rottie gives off? It should be of a dog that is reserved, friendly, confident, relaxed and calm
How does a Rottie react to someone who approaches in a friendly manner? A Rottweiler with a sound temperament would show no aggression or fear towards anyone who approaches them or their owners providing they do so in a friendly way
How does a Rottie react to a more unusual approach which could include someone in a wheelchair or on crutches? A dog with a sound temperament would not react at all nor would they feel threatened in any way
How does a Rottweiler react to loud noises? A confident dog with a good temperament would not react in an adverse way at all to loud and sudden sounds like a car back-firing being one example
How does a Rottie react to other dogs? A well balanced, even tempered Rottweiler would take things in their stride no matter what other dog they meet providing the dog does not approach them in an aggressive way
Providing a young Rottweiler is not left with a "bad experience" during the first few months of their lives, they generally mature into confident, relaxed dogs that take things in their stride. It is recommended that all breeders have their stud dogs "temperament assessed" before using them for breeding purposes and potential owners should ask the breeders about this before buying a puppy from them.
Are they a good choice for first time owners?
Rottweilers are a demanding breed and therefore as previously touched upon, they are better suited to people who are familiar with their needs and who has enough time to dedicate to training their dogs. Puppies must be well socialised and taught ground rules from a young age so they understand right from the word go who is alpha dog in a household and who they can look to for direction and guidance before they grow into impressive and imposing large mature dogs. As such they are not a good choice for first time dog owners.
What about prey drive?
The Rottweiler has a high prey drive, but with the right amount of early socialisation and training, handlers and owners can control their dogs whenever they meet another animal with the emphasis being on the need for Rotties to be well handled, socialised and trained when still young and therefore most receptive and easier to handle.
Are Rotties playful?
Rotties mature slowly and therefore remain extremely playful right up to when they are anything from 2 to 3 years old and beyond. They enjoy playing all sorts of interactive games which includes activities like “fetch” or find the treat when one has been hidden for them.
What about adaptability?
Because of their sheer size and weight, Rottweilers are better suited to living in a house with a back garden where they can express themselves as they should. With this said, garden fencing must be ultra-secure to keep a Rottweiler safely in.
Do Rottweilers bark too much?
Rottweilers are not given to barking excessively for no reason. They do, however, let an owner know when there are strangers about or when they don't like something that may be happening in their environment because they are extremely good watchdogs. With this said, any dog that’s left on their own for long periods of time may bark incessantly to get some attention and as a way of showing how unhappy they are.
Do Rottweilers like Swimming?
Some Rotties love swimming whereas others don't like the idea of getting their feet wet and it would be a mistake to force a dog to do jump in water if they look frightened. On the other hand, anyone who shares a home with a Rottie that loves water, should take great care when walking their canine companions anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case they leap in.
Are Rottweilers good watchdogs?
The Rottweiler is a "natural" watchdog because guarding and protecting is a trait that is deeply embedded in their psyche. As such they are among the best watchdogs around and don’t need to be taught to guard anything when it comes to protecting anything.
Is it easy to train a Rottweiler?
The Rottweiler is one of the most intelligent dogs on the planet and therefore they learn new things extremely quickly. The downside to this is that a Rottie would be just as quick to pick up some bad habits as they are the good. They need to be handled with a firm yet sympathetic approach that is always consistent right from the word go and throughout their lives which is one of the reasons they are better suited to people who are familiar with their needs.
Rottweilers need to be well socialised when they are puppies and it cannot be stressed strongly enough that their training must start as early as possible too. Failure to socialise a puppy or train a young dog correctly is a recipe for disaster both for a Rottie and their owners. They are extremely intelligent, but they also boast a very dominant side to their characters. As such, they need to be taught their place in the pack and who is alpha dog in a household for them to be truly well-rounded dogs.
They are among the breeds that are super sensitive to a person’s voice and as such respond well and extremely quickly when they are given a command. With this in mind, it is worth noting that great care has to be taken when training a Rottweiler to avoid getting them too excited which could result in a dog becoming unruly and unmanageable.
The first commands a Rottweiler puppy should be taught as soon as they arrive in their new homes are as follows:
- Leave it
Mature Rotties excel at many canine sports and in the right hands and environment, they are easy to train to take part in the following activities which they thoroughly enjoy:
Competitive obedience - an activity that requires a tremendous amount of precision and accuracy which includes dogs doing heelwork, recall, retriever, send away, stays, scent, distance control
Agility - a fun activity that Rottweilers are known to enjoy which sees dogs having to negotiated obstacles which includes things like jumps, weaving poles, A-frames, dog walk, seesaw, tunnels and tyres
Flyball - a team activity where 4 dogs compete in relay jumping hurdles and catching a flying ball when they step on a pedal that releases it into the air before chasing back to their handlers over the same set of jumps
Working trials/IPO - for the more serious competitors take part in working trials that consist of four disciplines which are control, agility, tracking and protection
Are Rottweilers Good With Children and Other Pets?
As previously mentioned, Rotties need to be treated with a great amount of respect, but when they bond with a family, the bond remains very strong throughout their lives. In short, a Rottweiler becomes totally devoted to their owners and families. If they are given the right amount of daily exercise and enough mental stimulation they are good pets, but care has to be taken when they are around children, especially toddlers who may not yet have been taught how to behave around dogs. As such, PetBond advises that Rotties are not the best choice for families with babies or very young children.
Anyone who already shares a home with a Rottie and younger children should always make sure they are never left together unattended. It is also crucial for parents to teach young children how to behave around dogs and when to stay away from them, particularly when there is food around or during playtime.
Care also has to be taken when Rotties are around cats and other smaller animals which includes family pets. It would be a mistake to leave a Rottie in the same room with them. If they have been well socialised as puppies and trained by someone who really appreciates the strong herding and guarding instincts of the Rottweiler, they will tolerate other dogs, but care must be taken when they are around any dogs they don't already know because a Rottie could show a more aggressive side to their natures when they first meet a new dog.