If most people knew half as much about Rottweilers as they thought they did there would be no breed ban. There are Rottweiler search and rescue dogs, including one who worked the Oklahoma City Bombing, who are treated like canine criminals not because of anything they did but rather what people did (or didn’t do – train them!) to others of the same breed.
The Rottweiler was developed as a drover to move cattle to market and as a cart dog. From Mastiff type dogs they were developed to herd cattle to the troops trying to conquer Europe. It was centuries later when driving of cattle was outlawed and cart dogs were no longer needed the Rottie was without a “job” and, as a large dog, they had to earn their keep. By the late 1800s the breed was in trouble.
In the early 1900s the Rottweiler found favor as a police dog and by 1921 roughly 3400 dogs were listed among several clubs. In 1931 the breed was admitted to the AKC. They are black with mahogany, rust or tan markings.
The standard calls for a powerful dog with clearly defined rust markings. Males are slightly larger with heavier bone than females, who should be feminine without indication of weakness. Generally the breed is 22-27 inches in height with the males on the larger end, and ideal being mid range. Proportion and balance is important.
A dense, straight medium length coat lying flat with an undercoat present on neck and thighs not to show through the other coat iDue to his development as a drover, he maintains a powerful trot that covers ground efficiently.
Although many areas have enacted breed bans and often any ‘vicious’ dog that is heavy set and black and tan is deemed to be “Rottweiler” due to their development they should be a confident dog that is somewhat aloof, not making immediate friendships. This does not say aggressive! He is an all purpose dog and as such, a good temperament is key. A dog that is overly shy or aggressive is disqualified – this is part of the breed standard and anyone breeding for that standard selects not only on conformation but those things inside the dog.
Like all dogs, the Rottweiler can be faced with health issues. As with many deep bodied dogs bloat can be a factor and something you should always keep in mind to attempt to prevent. Abdominal distension can feel like a drum, with restlessness, salivation, gagging or belching that doesn’t produce anything are all signs of bloat and mean IMMEDIATE action. The faster you get the dog to the vet and to surgery the better his chances of survival. Prevention is much better – don’t allow your Rottie to overeat, or to exercise just before or after eating. Keep the food time calm.
Other issues that affect Rottweilers include skin issues from allergies to sebaceous cysts, eye issues including cataracts, slipped disc, seizures or epilepsy, Wobbler’s Syndrome, hip or elbow dysplasia, arthritis, back issues, liver disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, cardiomyopathy Von Willebrand’s Disease, vaccine reactions, bladder infections and, for a minority, aggression issues (more towards other dogs than people).
Some of these more serious issues can be found by testing the parents before deciding whether to breed.
It is hard to ignore the repeated stories of “Rottweiler attacks” but not all of the dogs involved are actually Rottweilers. Remember, to some people including authorities any heavy set black and tan dog is a “Rottweiler” and there are thousands of crossbred dogs out there that fit that description.
The Rottweiler needs an owner who is devoted to socializing and training from the first day together. Like any other dog a young Rottweiler needs to learn what is acceptable in our world and we need to understand what, as a dog, is acceptable in his. Any large, powerful breed needs the basics taught by the time they are weaned then continued to be reinforced.
Rottweilers are, according to some, less trainable but often this is due to the owner’s approach more than the dog’s attitude. Imagine for a minute walk down the street and someone comes up and is animated and urgently saying something in German – but you don’t speak German. Is he warning you of something, is a friend of his collapsed around the corner and he needs help or is he ready to rob you? Without speaking the language you don’t know. Rottweilers don’t speak English! We can teach them to recognize words but they communicate a totally different way than we do.
What we don’t see and hear in the news reports are the for sure Rottweilers who are hero dogs. For example, when a kidnapping suspect ran from police he happened to run into a stranger’s home. The home he picked had a five year old Rottweiler inside – and the suspect was caught.
A Rottweiler named Bella is a certified guide dog. Many are certified therapy dogs. They’re certified search and rescue dogs. Esmonds Sixth Sense CGC is not only certified for wilderness search & rescue but also cadaver detection. Recipient of the ARC Heroism award, Mirko Medallion and Anvil TRUE award, “Dugan” found a missing 22 year old woman in a wooded area – hypothermic but alive.
In World War I they’ve been documented as ambulance dogs – those dogs trained to find the wounded and ignore all else on a battlefield. They’ve served our military.
Remember when you’re listening to talk about breed bans these are without exception. It includes dogs like Gunner handled by John Randall. A purebred Rottweiler Baron worked the ruins of the Oklahoma City bombing. Gunner worked in the ruins of an F5 tornado in Oklahoma. Then he worked the call that even left the big heart of a Rottweiler hero disheartened – he was called to New York City after the 9/11 attacks. He came out of the rubble on breaks and became a therapy dog for the others.
Little is said about dogs like Vito, a K9 officer who served his community with handler Lt. Neal Goodman for 11 years, retired at 13. He was certified by the North American Police Work Dogs Association in obedience, search and aggression, narcotics, patrol and tracking. He completed 75 narcotics searches and found three lost children during his working career. He found a suspect hiding in a tree.
Another K9 handler was shot by an eluding prison escapee. His Rottweiler jumped from the cruiser, deflecting a fatal shot and loss of her partner. She herself was shot three times, with a bullet lodged in her spine, in her chest and the third less than two inches from the heart. Both recovered and retired together.
A pet Rottweiler saved a family when a fire started in an electrical blanket covering a child, allowing the family to escape. Another Rottweiler intercepted the kidnapping of a child, saving the six month old baby from abduction when the would be kidnapper dropped the baby when faced with a dog.
As illustrated by these and other heroes the Rottweiler is a good dog if given proper training and environment to be the best dog he can be. These dogs do not get the credit deserved. Get a good dog, provide training and positive interaction. There is no need to fear a solid dog trained well. He might just save your life.