Where does the Rottweiler come from?
The Rottweilers we know today have a long and fascinating history. They are one of Germany’s oldest dog breeds: Modern-day Rottweilers’ ancestors were the large drover dogs who untiringly moved herds of cattle alongside the ancient Roman armies – back when the Roman Empire was busy with conquering the lands North of the Alps. Eventually, these Roman dogs interbred with the local canine population. Their offspring laid the foundation of today’s Rottweiler, and many other German dog breed. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the more sturdy type of those crossbreeds became popular personal protection dogs as well as farm- and livestock guardians. Because of their extraordinary talent in handling cattle, they soon became German butchers’ utility breed of choice. Today, Rotties are famous for their versatility as working dogs – their skills far surpass the fields of cattle herding and guarding: Rotties can be found in pretty much all the different roles available for utility dogs today.
What is their temperament like?
So, what exactly is the temperament of the Rottweiler like? To better understand these formidable protectors, we have to remember that they were bred as cattle dogs and guardians: For centuries, they used to live outdoors, watching for threats, protecting their owners and their estates: Rottweilers are serious working dogs – keen, always on alert and very intense: Born to work and equipped with a high prey drive, Rotties are no dogs for beginners. Owning a Rottie comes with a high level of responsibility, because the tendency for aggressive behaviour towards other dogs and even humans is prominent in these dogs. When it comes to their readiness to protect and quite proactively defend their owners, their flock or their territory, the Rottweiler is right up there with breeds like the Fila Brasileiro or the Presa Canario.
However, this naturally confident dog can make a superb family guardian - when guided by a calm, consistent canine leader. Whilst affectionate and devoted towards the family, the Rottie is very territorial and has a strong dislike for strangers stepping on the property. For that reason, a high and secure fence around your yard is a necessity. When exercised enough, Rotties are fairly settled and calm in the home. And they absolutely love spending time in the house, together with their family.
How intelligent and trainable are Rotties?
The ancient “Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil” is an amazing guard- and service dog: powerful, beautiful, intelligent and versatile. In the hands of experienced owners, the Rottweiler will unfold its full potential as a gifted and driven worker. Always eager to please their owners, Rottweilers blossom when given jobs to do, even if these jobs just consist in performing obedience drills or retrieving toys.
Rottweilers are natural high achievers when it comes to pretty much any canine training program. Owners and breeders regularly compete in obedience and guard dog trials with their Rotties. And the breed performs beautifully in disciplines like IPO or in French Ring competitions.
It is precisely the combination of intelligence and trainability, in combination with the breed’s natural aggression, that make them such an outstanding guard- and personal protection dog. Perhaps an even better one than even the famed Belgian Malinois, who is a stellar high-achiever, but lacks the natural tenacity of the Rottie.
Are Rottweilers healthy dogs?
In general, Rottweilers are quite robust and healthy dogs. However, as any strongly built breed, they can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia as well as and osteochondrosis of the shoulder and knee. Also, they are prone to various eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. More serious conditions the breed can suffer from include various forms of cancer and heart conditions, for example cardiomyopathy and subaortic stenosis.
For these reasons, it is very important to choose a Rottweiler breeder who not only tests his breeding stock for dysplasia, but also for heart and eye conditions. The life-expectancy of the breed usually ranges from 8 and 10 years.
How much exercise does the Rottweiler need?
These dogs quite a bit of exercise to stay healthy and well-balanced. If not provided with enough outlets for their energy, they can turn very destructive and even aggressive: An under-stimulated Rottie can easily channel its surplus energy into unruly behaviour towards humans or animals. After all, these dogs have been bred to reign in large bulls – they are fearless and confident, and ever ready to strike, should they feel the need for it.
When given enough vigorous exercise and mental stimulation in the form of walks, playtime and training sessions, Rotties are quiet in the house and happy to just be around their favourite people. And yet - these dogs do need to work their muscles on a daily basis. Therefore, they absolutely need long, vigorous walks combined with some obedience drills and play.
What are their grooming requirements?
The very good news is that the mighty Rottweiler’s short, harsh black-and-tan coat hardly requires any grooming. Even when they spend a lot of time outside, Rotties usually stay quite clean. But if they get themselves seriously dirty, give them a bath with a mild dog shampoo. Of course, especially if you allow your Rottie to live in the house, two to three brushes per week are recommended. The best tools for this are a bristle brush and a pin brush. To be optimally equipped for shedding season in spring and autumn, you might want to invest in a Furminator for short-coated breeds.