The Rottweiler is a robust working breed of great strength descended from the mastiffs of the Roman legions. A gentle playmate and protector within the family circle, the Rottie observes the outside world with a self-assured aloofness.
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 8 of 192
- Height: 24-27 inches (male), 22-25 inches (female)
- Weight: 95-135 pounds (male), 80-100 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 9-10 years
- Group: Working Group
About the Rottweiler
A male Rottweiler will stand anywhere from 24 to 27 muscular inches at the shoulder; females run a bit smaller and lighter. The glistening, short black coat with smart rust markings add to the picture of imposing strength. A thickly muscled hindquarters powers the Rottie’s effortless trotting gait.
A well-bred and properly raised Rottie will be calm and confident, courageous but not unduly aggressive. The aloof demeanor these world-class guardians present to outsiders belies the playfulness, and downright silliness, that endear Rotties to their loved ones. (No one told the Rottie he’s not a toy breed, so he is liable plop onto your lap for a cuddle.) Early training and socialization will harness a Rottie’s territorial instincts in a positive way.
The Roman Empire was the organizing force behind Western Europe’s formative years, and dog breeding was among the many pursuits forever altered by the Roman genius for practical problem solving.
When conquering Roman legions marched to far-flung corners of the world, they brought their herds with them as food on the hoof. The army required tough, durable dogs to move and guard the herd. Utilizing Asian mastiff types as breeding stock, the Romans developed the distant ancestor of today’s Rottweiler. For centuries the legions struggled to contain Germanic tribes, the so-called barbarian hoards, massed on the Empire’s northern borders. The dogs the Romans brought to these areas became foundation stock for many German breeds.
In the centuries after the empire’s collapse, the Roman drover dogs found work in the cattle town of Rottweil. It was here, moving herds from pasture to market and protecting all concerned from bandits and rustlers along the way, that they earned the name Rottweiler Metzgerhund, or Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil.
The Rottie’s career in livestock ended with the rise of the railroad cattle cars in the 1800s. They found new work as police dogs, personal protectors, and all-around blue-collar dogs capable of performing various heavy-duty tasks. Rotties were among the first guide dogs for the blind, and in more recent times they distinguished themselves as search-and-rescue workers at such disaster sites as Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center.
Considering the many roles the breed has played during its long history, it is remarkable that the Butcher’s Dog has changed little in form and temper since its first German breed standard was drawn up in 1901.
The Rottweiler should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate for the dog’s age level (puppy, adult, or senior). Some breeders recommend an excellent-quality raw diet or grain-free kibble, and some advise feeding additional meat, vegetables, or cottage cheese to puppies. Watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level to avoid him becoming overweight. If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.
The Rottweiler has a straight, coarse, medium-length outer coat that lies flat. The undercoat is present on neck and thighs. He should be brushed weekly and bathed regularly. He sheds only very moderately for most of the year, although he will shed more profusely twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. His teeth should be brushed and nails trimmed weekly. The use of a grinding tool such as a Dremel is especially effective in trimming the nails.
Rottweilers love swimming, walking, and trotting, especially with their people. The breed is muscular and athletic and should have the opportunity to exercise on a daily basis. If there are jobs to do, Rottweilers learn easily to cart and are excellent workers in herding, tracking, and obedience. There is no limit to the canine activities that the Rottweiler can learn to do. Excess weight is not good for any dog, and exercise can help to keep your Rottweiler fit and healthy.
The Rottweiler must be trained starting early in his life. Leadership, puppy socialization, basic training classes, and living in the owner’s home are key to raising a well-mannered Rottweiler. Rottweilers are “people dogs” who do not do well isolated from humans and life experiences. No matter the breed, dogs must live in this world complete with strange animals and people. One expert in the breed notes, “As a Rottweiler owner, it is my responsibility to spend time, energy, and money giving my dog the opportunities to learn on a day-to-day basis.” The breed is intelligent, highly trainable and wants to please, although some may be stubborn. It is very important that discipline be consistent, fair, and firm, without being rough. Roughhousing with the Rottweiler may encourage aggression and should be avoided. Rottweilers excel in many canine sports, and the breed works with a human partner in many functional roles.
Before breeding, responsible Rottweiler breeders have potential sires and dams tested for health problems such as hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint that can be detected via X-ray; eye diseases and heart conditions. Cancer sometimes occurs in the breed, as in all dogs. David Waters, Ph.D., DVM, of the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, has done research focused on cancer prevention funded by the Rottweiler Health Foundation. Dr. Waters has discovered that cancer and longevity are linked to a careful vaccination regimen, thus strengthening the immune system, as well as keeping males and females intact until at least six years of age.