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Rottweilers struggle with an image problem. They are often portrayed as a vicious breed, but the Rottweiler is a smart, loyal, and loving companion if responsibly reared. Their powerful build may not be for everyone, but owners who pick up a Rotty and raise it right, will never look back.
The Rottweiler is believed to be the descendant of an ancient dog, used by the Roman army during their attempted conquest of Europe. As was the case with all travelling armies during this time, without the ability to refrigerate food, livestock was a necessity. The ancestors of the Rottweiler were used to protect and herd these cattle.
As the army passed through southern Germany, the dogs bred with native breeds and so began the bloodline that gives us the modern day Rottweiler. The breed was used in the area for over 200 years, protecting livestock, pulling carts and guarding money that merchants would hang from the dog’s neck.
The introduction of a rail network in the mid 19th century saw a rapid decline in numbers, and within 40 years the Rottweiler was nearly extinct.
The breed hung on, and the beginning of the First World War marked a great revival for this powerful dog. Known for its strength, loyalty and protective nature, the Rottweiler was bred to meet the need for police dogs. During the First and Second World Wars, the breed was often used as messengers, guard, and ambulance dogs.
The Rottweiler was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1931, and today, is an extremely popular breed around the world.
Rottweilers are a striking breed, mainly due to their imposing stature. They are a powerfully built dog, which is no shock considering the protective roles they have been bred to carry out over the generations.
Unlike some other breeds that have a variety of colours and patterns, a pure bred Rottweiler is primarily black with brown highlights on its legs, chest and snout.
They are classified as a large dog with males being slightly bigger than females.
There is a common misconception that the Rottweiler is an aggressive breed. As is the case with a lot of these powerful breeds, proper training and socialisation from a young age will ensure a happy, loyal and calm pet.
Due to its heritage as a cattle or guardian dog, they have a tendency to rub and bump into people. Combined with their large frame this means they can easily knock over children, so it is always a good idea to supervise your dog.
Dangerous behaviour stems from irresponsible rearing, abuse, negligence or a lack of proper training and socialisation. Because of this, it is a must to always be vigilant when approaching an unknown Rottweiler. You don’t know how they have been raised. Rottweiler’s do not simply welcome strangers into their house. They will often survey the behaviour of their owner to assess whether newly met people are friend or foe.
When it comes to training, Rottweilers can easily be kept under control once you assert your dominance. If you let them be the boss, they can be a handful due to their stubborn nature. Training should be done through firm, but never harsh discipline.
The energy level of a Rottweiler can vary greatly depending on their heritage. For this reason it is always a good idea to find out from the breeder how the individual will behave. Regardless of whether they have come from an energetic or laid back bloodline, they will need at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day. This is very important, as a bored Rottweiler is capable of becoming a destructive and undisciplined pet.
If exercised properly, a Rottweiler’s indoor nature is usually that of a couch potato. They are more than happy to laze around during downtime.
Rottweilers are generally a very healthy breed. As with most larger dogs, they are susceptible to hip dysplasia and other joint issues. Reputable breeders should be able to provide x-rays of major joints to prove their health.
For unknown reasons, they are extremely vulnerable to parvovirus, which is of great concern to breeders.
Rottweilers are very prone to cancer, which is one of the most common causes of death. They are also susceptible to obesity due to their large frame. This, combined with their capacity for destruction if neglected, makes it very important to regularly walk your pet Rottweiler.
Grooming wise, these guys are a dream. They are one of the easiest dogs to maintain due to their short coat and lack of shedding.
You can expect a healthy lifespan of eight to ten years.