Originally bred as cattle-protecting dogs, Rottweilers are known to be relentless protectors of their pack. They are an intelligent breed and extremely loyal to their owners. Rottweilers are known to be aloof with strangers until properly introduced to them and are very quick learners.
They are an ancient breed with a strong work ethic and an even stronger devotion to their families. But sometimes these beautiful dogs may be a bit misunderstood. While it’s true that the Rottweiler dog breed isn’t for everyone, they can make some of the best pets you’ll ever have.
Here are a few important things you should know about Rottweilers – before you get one, or before you decide not to get one!
Rottweiler History from Ancient Rome
The Rottweiler has only been formally recognized by the AKC since 1931, but the breed’s history can be traced back to ancient times. Though there are no formal records to indicate the Rottweiler’s lineage, reasonable logic and other historical records indicate that “Rotties” are likely descended from drover dogs. These ancient Roman canines were used to herd cattle. The drover dogs worked while Roman troops marched long distances, guarding the cattle along the way. Drover dogs were hard-working, intelligent, and possessed a strong guarding instinct – all qualities that match the AKC standards for modern Rottweilers.
Early drover dogs also had to be very strong and powerful to manage herds of cattle. Rottweilers today use their bodies to push cattle to follow their instruction. This requires immense strength and drive, two qualities that modern Rottweilers still possess.
These Roman marches traversed all over Europe, including southern Germany, where a new town was founded by the Romans called Rottweil. It was there that people with their drover dogs began to settle, and the dogs continued working as cattle herders and guard dogs.
Rottweilers Nearly Went Extinct
Rottweilers were a hardworking breed for centuries, working diligently at many jobs for their masters. Until suddenly, they were not needed!
For years the town of Rottweil depended on these dogs to keep their industry booming. They pulled carts and most importantly, herded cattle. But then in the mid-19th century, the rise of railroad transportation was beginning to take over. Cattle driving was outlawed to make way for the new trains and railways. On top of that, donkeys began to replace dogs for cart-pulling work. Suddenly the Rottweilers had no jobs to do. No one needed them.
At the end of the 19th century, the Rottweiler population was declining so sharply that by 1905 there was only one female of the breed in the entire town of Rottweil. Something had to be done.
In 1907 a Rottweiler club was formed in Germany, and they began to protect the breed. Members started to keep records of breeding and outlined breed standards for the Rottweiler’s appearance and temperament. Breeding became more planned and well thought out in an effort to save the breed and preserve the lineage. If it hadn’t been for this club’s devotion, the Rottweiler might have never existed in modern times.
Rottweiler will be the Boss
Modern Rottweilers are members of the “working group” of dogs, and still, have that drive in them that has existed since ancient Rome. In the modern world, the Rottweiler expresses this trait by always looking for someone to be their boss. They enjoy being in a working environment and thrive when they are given direct and firm commands.
However, if a Rottweiler has a timid owner, the Rottweiler will give the title of the “boss” to itself. This can lead to unwanted aggressive encounters if the dog doesn’t have the proper guidelines for behavior. As the American Rottweiler Club puts it, Rotties “have strong territorial instincts.” These instincts can be useful when a Rottweiler is trained properly and knows who is the boss, but detrimental if your Rottie is making their own rules.
Rott Socialization is very Important
So how do you make sure your Rottweiler doesn’t turn bad when they grow up?
Plenty of socialization! Early and frequent socialization coupled with training is mandatory for Rottweilers. It’s also not something you can stop doing once your Rottweiler grows up. Training and socialization should be a lifelong endeavor.
When a Rottweiler has proper socialization and a firm hand to look to for guidance, they can often be found following their favorite human from room to room. They are an extremely loyal and loving breed and crave attention and direction from people. Leaving your Rottweiler home alone or chained outside for extended periods of time is a big mistake. All that hard work and training you put in won’t do a bit of good if your Rottie is left to their own devices. Being alone can make a Rottweiler behave very destructively.
While this all may seem a bit high maintenance, Rottweilers truly love people and often express themselves in a goofy manner with the people they love. This clownish behavior is a lot of fun and can be extremely rewarding for the Rottweiler owner who puts in the time and effort to diligently socialize their dog.
Rotties Love to Work!
Rottweilers as a dog breed have not lost the work ethic that they learned herding cattle in ancient Rome. But herding isn’t the only thing Rotties excel at. In fact, they are so driven to follow directions and do good work, the breed is now used for many other jobs. Rottweilers can be found pulling carts, performing agility, tracking, working as police dogs, working with the military, and even working as therapy dogs! They certainly are a multi-talented breed.
This is thanks to their intelligence and willingness to be trained. Consistent and early training is extremely important! A common mistake with Rottweilers is believing that they need to be trained using physical force. Their size and their reputation for aggression can sometimes make people believe this. However, forceful training methods can actually be the cause of aggressive behavior.
The need to please and work hard is deeply ingrained in Rottweilers. Firm but patient obedience training is the best place to start. Once a Rottweiler understands what their master wants from them, they typically catch on quickly – and even love it!
Link: Rottweiler dog breed