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The Rottweiler – bred to protect These beautiful, muscular black-and-tan working dogs have been used as livestock- and property guardians and personal protection dogs for centuries. During the second World War, Rottweilers served as guard dogs for German soldiers, and today, the breed has gained world-wide recognition as police and military service dog. Especially in recent times, more and more people are interested in this breed for the purpose of personal- and home protection.  But what about those statistics that say the Rottie is to blame for almost as many dog-bite related deaths in America as the American Pitbull Terrier? Is this a dog whom not even their owners can control, and who is a serious danger to children and other animals? The Rottweiler we have today is an excellent natural guardian. Bred and trained to defend their own during centuries, they are born with an exceptionally strong protective instinct. An instinct that includes any other animals living on their property, thanks to the Rottie’s past as livestock guardian. These same instincts make Rottweilers very protective of their entire family; children and other household pets included.  The Rottie – Families’ best Friend or Foe? But then, you might ask, why is it that so many accidents happen with Rottweilers? In many cases of these dogs biting their owners’ children – instead of protecting them -, we see that the dog was kept outside of the home: Instead of being allowed to live in the house, many of these Rottweilers had spent their days in a kennel or on a chain since puppyhood. Which, of course, would have made it very difficult for this dog, and that child, to form a close connection with each other. In all likelihood, many of these Rottweilers did not regard the child as part of their family, because they were only handled by one person in the household. Also, Rottweilers do have a considerable prey drive, which makes it possible that their apparent aggression was triggered by a sudden movement of the child. And whilst, of course, bite-accidents involving children are an absolute worst-case scenario, similar reasons can apply to a Rottweiler biting another pet - like another dog in the household, the cat, or an unfortunate rodent like a rabbit or guinea pig. However, whilst there usually is a reason behind any bit-attack, I have to say that this breed does come with a certain natural level of aggression: When compared to a Golden Retriever or Beagle, the Rottweiler is clearly more prone to being reactive. And, despite training and socialisation, many Rotties develop dog aggression when they reach adulthood.  Now, to all the Rottweiler-lovers out there who are watching this video: Please do not get me wrong; I absolutely love Rotties and I enjoy working with them whenever I get the chance. It is just that they need the firm leadership of an experienced handler - much more than most other breeds. And even more than most other large guardian breeds. A Rottweiler without rules, boundaries and limitations can easily contribute to the breed’s reputation as being potentially dangerous. Avoiding accidents like Rotties biting kids or other pets requires every (human) member of the household to be the dog’s calm, consistent leader. If this is not possible, because your children are still too small to be calm, let alone to calmly lead a dog - then it is your responsibility as the dog’s handler to ensure their safety. If your Rottweiler respects your guidance, it is not likely to snap at your child. Of course, you should not leave your dog and your kid together without supervision. With that said, Rottweilers can make amazing family dogs, when raised as part of the family. And when taught to respect all humans and pets in the household. These dogs are very fun-loving and they make amazing playmates for older children. Because they are eager to learn, they easily can be taught to play fetch, tug-of-war, and other fun games with their family. A well-socialized Rottweiler who is diligently trained in obedience and manners can make an excellent family guardian - who will respect, and protect, their own no matter what.  And this wraps up our discussion of the Rottweiler’s behaviour towards children and other animals. As we saw, these powerful guard dogs can be affectionate and devoted family companions – if raised and trained by an experienced owner, and if allowed to share the home with their favourite humans. 

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