A Rottweiler is a medium large, robust and powerful dog breed originating from Germany.
The breed is black with clearly defined tan markings on the cheeks, muzzle, chest, legs, and eyebrows. The markings on the chest should form two distinct upside-down triangles; a tiny patch of white in between is acceptable. The cheeks should have clearly defined spots that should be separate from the muzzle tan. The muzzle tan should continue over the throat. Each eyebrow should have a spot. Markings on the legs should not be above a third of the leg. On each toe should be a black ‘pencil’ mark. Underneath the tail should also be tan.
Nails are black. Inside the mouth, the cheeks may have black patches, although the tongue is pink. The skull is typically massive, but without excessive jowls. The forehead is wrinkly when the Rottweiler is alert.
A Rottweilers’s eyes are a warm, dark brownâ€”any other color may not be acceptable as part of the “pure breed”. The expression should be calm, intelligent, alert, and fearless. The ears are small drop ears that lie flat to the head. ‘Flying’ ears are considered undesirable by some breeders. The coat is medium length and consists of a waterproof undercoat and a coarse top coat. It is low maintenance, although experiences shedding during certain periods of the year.
Rottweilers are not naturally without tails. Tails were originally removed to prevent breakage and infection that would occur when the tail became covered in mud and other debris collected from pastures and livestock. Today, many owners decide to have the tails removed soon after the puppies’ birth for purely cosmetic reasons. The tail is usually docked to the first joint. Although this is a commonly accepted practice, many people and organizations believe it to be cruel and unnecessary; it must be noted that there is debate about the degree of suffering experienced by a characteristically pain-tolerant breed at such an early age.
The chest is deep and should reach the Rottie’s elbows, giving tremendous lung capacity. The back should be straight; never sloping. The Rottweiler stands 25 to 27 inches (63-68 cm) at the withers for males, and 23 to 25 inches (58-63 cm) for females. Weight is usually between 90 and 110 lb (41-50 kg) but can be even higher.
A well-trained and socialized Rottweiler can provide the right owner with a great deal of exercise and loving companionship. They are usually quick to learn and have a strong desire to please their owners. They are intelligent, to the point that they shouldn’t be left to their own devices, and are happiest when mentally stimulated. Despite this, they can also be strong willed at times, and should be taught in a firm, consistent manner. This is generally a calm breed. That said, they are playful animals, usually very excited at the first sign of fun. Rottweilers thrive on attention from their owners and need their people to be happy. If a Rottie has been neglected excessively, it will usually strive, creatively, to get the owner’s attention.
The Rottie is not usually a barker: he is a silent watcher who notices everything. The female, however, may become a problem barker in order to “protect” her “den”. In the event the dog feels threatened, he tends to go very still before attacking, and there is no warning growl. This is one of the breed’s characteristics that lends itself to the reputation of being unreliable. An observant owner, however, is usually able to recognize when the Rottie perceives a threat. When the dog barks, it is more of a sign of annoyance with external factors (car alarms or other disturbances) rather than threats.
The Rottweiler can resort to aggressiveness in unfamiliar situations. For the most part, this is not of grave concern to most dog owners. However, the Rottie’s large size and incredible strength make this an important point to consider. For this reason, early socialization with as many people, animals, and situations as possible is very important in order to produce a dog that is tolerant of strangers.
The breed is an ancient one, and its history stretches back to the Roman Empire. In those times, the legions travelled with their meat on the hoof and required the assistance of working dogs to herd the cattle. One route the army travelled was through WÃ¼rttemberg and on to the small market town of Rottweil.
This region eventually became an important cattle area, and the descendants of the Roman cattle dogs proved their worth in both droving and protecting the cattle from robbers and wild animals. It would be a brave villain who would try to remove the purse around the neck of a Rottweiler Metzgershund (Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil).
However, by the end of the 19th Century, the breed had declined so much that in 1900 there was only one female to be found in the town of Rottweil. But the build up to the World War I saw a great demand for “police dogs,” and that led to a revival in interest for the Rottweiler. Its enormous strength, its intelligence, and its ability to take orders made it a natural weapon of war.
From that time, it has become popular with dog owners, and in 1935 the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. In 1936, Rottweilers were exhibited in Britain at Crufts. In 1966, a separate register was opened for the breed.
In recent years, the breed has received some negative publicity, primarily due to a lack of understanding of the breed and canine nature on the part of the owner, and indiscriminate breeding on the part of the breeder. Unscrupulous breeders have produced dogs with highly aggressive tendencies and some owners have used the dogs to boost their macho images. Other owners may acquire a Rottie for a family pet, but neglect to properly socialize and train the animal, resulting in a dangerous, unpredictable dog who makes the rules.
Despite the media’s fascination with Rottweilers who run afoul of canine behavioural standards, people who have experience with properly raised individuals can attest to the Rottweiler’s friendliness and often clownish nature. In fact, the FCI standard calls for a dog that is fond of children. Nevertheless, this breed is not for the inexperienced or uninvolved dog owner, or anyone who lacks the physical strength to handle the Rottweiler.