The Rottweiler is a large breed of dog that is believed to have its origin as a hunting and herding dog in Germany. In the early years they were employed as draft dogs and were made to pull loaded carts for their owners. During both World War I and World War II, they began to be trained and used as guard dogs and in later years they have been trained for use as police dogs.
- Class: Working Class (AKC)
- Average Weight: 75 – 130 pounds
- Average Height: 24 – 28 inches
- Coat: short and thick
- Colors: Black & Rust, Black & Mahogany
- Tail: Commonly docked except where it has been outlawed. Undocked tails are on average between 4 and 6 inches in length.
- Life Span: usually 10 – 12 Years
Known for being a hardy breed, the Rottweiler is however prone to several serious health problems. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia – a form of canine arthritis – is common among the breed and can be painful and debilitating if left untreated. Osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone, is also common and is one of the largest killers of Rottweilers.
The Rottweiler is believed to have been developed from ancient herding dogs of the Roman Empire which made their way to the area now known as Rottweil in the south of Germany. When this area began to specialize in cattle, such dogs were in demand for their proven abilities as both a herder and a guard dog to drive and protect the cattle.
Prior to World War I there was a declining demand for Rottweilers, but in preparation for this and the second World War, the increased demand for police dogs brought with it a great deal of renewed interest in the breed. They are still used as police and guard dogs today all over the world.
Rottweilers made their first appearance in the stud books of the American Kennel Club in 1931 and they were first officially recognized as a breed in 1935. One year later they were on exhibit in Great Britain at the Crufts Dog Show.
The Rottweiler saw its height of popularity in the United States in the early 1990s. The breed’s numbers have progressively diminished along with its popularity since then.
Contrary to one well known myth, Rottweilers have actually never been bred for dog fighting.
Temperament and Aggression
Rottweilers are a very self-confident and fiercely loyal breed. When keeping a Rottweiler as a family pet, early obedience training and socialization is an absolute necessity. It is equally important that the Rottweiler’s owner establish him/herself as the Alpha dog early on in order to avoid the breed’s tendency to assert its dominance.
One of the main reasons for the Rottweiler’s reputation as an overly aggressive animal is that between 1979 and 1998, the CDC reported the Rottweiler as being the second highest breed of dog involved in fatal human attacks. While these aggressive traits can show themselves in the breed, they are most often easily curtailed with proper training and socialization at an early age.