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The Regal Rottweiler

The Regal Rottweiler

The regal Rottweiler, presenting a look of nobility, is known as the world’s best guard dog.  He is one of the most misunderstood breeds in the world and much of what is heard about him is just plain fiction, fueled by fear.   This pedigree has gained a bad reputation due to the stereo-type “guard dog” portrayals in the movies and on TV and also because some people have trained them to be hostile.  The perception that many people have of him isn’t even remotely close to reality. Unfortunately, attacks by Rottweilers can and do happen...just as with any other breed.  But his size, power and strength usually make them devastating.  The news media many times will also greatly distort the facts of an attack to gain ratings.  Any bad Rottweiler traits are normally due to a lack of training or abuse by a bad owner, not due to flaws in his personality. 

The Rottweiler’s temperament is not that of an aggressive, vicious dog that many people mistakenly believe.  Instead he  is an instinctive guardian who is highly intelligent, loyal, self-confident, calm, courageous, independent, devoted and protective.   He craves attention, positive reinforcement and has a strong desire to please his master. Considered to be a working dog, he is task-oriented and happiest when he has a job to do.  He makes a great service dog and many work as police, search and rescue, customs, guide or therapy dogs.  He tends to be cautious, watchful and aloof with strangers until he's properly introduced to them. He's tough, strong,  powerful and possesses a lot of endurance and stamina.  Territorial, fiercely loyal and protective of his home and family, he will do whatever it takes to defend his loved ones.   He’s an incredibly gentle dog that  thrives on companionship and wants to be around people always.   He is excellent with children as long as he has been properly socialized from a young age and he tends to sometimes bond more with one particular family member than with others.

The Rottweiler is said to be the most intelligent and easiest to train of all dog breeds.  Because he is so extremely task-oriented he needs lots of mental stimulation, as he bores easily.  He learns new commands quicker than any other breed, which makes him very easy to work with and he can be quite an entertaining clown around his family.  While he is the ultimate guard dog, he is not necessarily the best watch dog because he may not bark much.  As he encounters new situations he will quietly observe and analyze acting like a chameleon, changing his temperament depending on what the situation calls for.  Many times he will “talk” in a low, grumbling sound to the capture attention of his audience.   His tendency to lean against people goes back to the days when they were cattle drovers and used to lean against the cattle to get them to move in a particular direction. 

The ancestors of the Rottweiler originated from the ancient Roman drover dogs, which were Mastiff-type working dogs that traveled with the Romans beginning with the invasion of Germany and as they continued to conquer Europe.  The breed we know today was developed in a southern region of Germany in a city called Rottweil, which was built on the site of the Roman baths.  Red tiles that were excavated there gave the town its name "das Rot Wil" which translats to "the red tile".  Rottweil became a prosperous marketplace and culteral center of its time attracting farmers, cattlemen and other traders from considerable distances to do business there.

The Rottweiler was soon turned into a working dog, used also for droving cattle and protecting people and their property.  The locals began aggressively breeding them purely for performance and usefulness since few highwaymen dared to challenge the strong and courageous Rott.  The men began using the dogs not only in bringing in their stock safely but also making the return trip with them to protect their money bags, which they fastened to the collars of the Rottweiler.  Between the 12th and 19th centuries the breed was known as “Metzgerhund” or “Butcher’s Dog” as he was used to protect the butcher’s money on trips to and from the markets and the bank. 

The breed played an extremely important role during Roman times, accompanying the traveling legions of soldiers across the Alps while helping them to drive and protect the cattle and also to perform mountain rescues. They were replaced by donkeys for cart pulling and them almost became extinct after the railroads were developed because they were of no further use to anyone.  At one point in 1905 there was only one female Rottweiler left.  It soon became evident that the breed was highly suitable for tasks set by police service and as protectors of policemen themselves.  

They began to grow popular again and around 1910 breeding commenced. In the mid to late 1920's the first Rottwiler in the United States was imported from Germany.  During both the 1st and 2nd World Wars he was used as a beast of burden for the military brigades and put into service as a wartime guard animal.  In 1931 the first Rottweiler was entered into the American Kennel Club (AKC) stud book.  

Many people today think of the Rottweiler as a “giant breed” and some breeders strive to breed extra large dogs.  However, the Breed Standard describes him as being a medium to large-sized dog.  German Rottweilers are actually shorter and more muscular than American ones and seem to be more robust and agile than the larger ones.  The weight typically should fall between 75 and 130 pounds. He's one of the top 20 most popular dog breeds in the United States. 1992 was the peak of Rottweiler popularity in the United States with over 70,000 registered with the AKC, making it him the 2nd most popular breed in the country.   Since then, however, the breed’s  popularity has been steadily on the decline because so many people have trained them to be aggressive and because of people’s ignorance.  Early socialization for the Rottweiler is essential as he is extremely territorial and will defend his family to the death if he senses danger.  He needs firm discipline and training as a puppy and can never be allowed to dominate.   But, If raised properly, he can be the best, most loyal companion any human could ever hope for.  He truly is a gentle giant and a wonderful member of the family structure.

Article and Images by Christina Bush