- This article is about the dog breed. For other uses of the word, see Rottweiler.
A Rottweiler is a large, robust and powerful dog breed originating in Germany.
The breed is black with clearly defined tan or mahogany markings on the cheeks, muzzle, chest, legs, and eyebrows. The markings on the chest should form two distinct upside-down triangles, and even a tiny patch of white in between is not acceptable for show dogs. The cheeks should have clearly defined spots that should be separate from the muzzle tan. The muzzle tan should continue over the throat. Each eyebrow should have a spot. Markings on the legs should not be above a third of the leg. On each toe should be a black 'pencil' mark, and the nails are black. Underneath the tail should also be tan.
The coat is medium length and consists of a waterproof undercoat and a coarse top coat. Rottweilers tend to be low maintenance, although they experience shedding during certain periods of the year.
The skull is typically massive, but without excessive jowls. The forehead may be wrinkly when the Rottweiler is alert, but otherwise the skin should be relatively fitted, or "dry." A Rottweiler's eyes are a warm, dark brown ??” any other color does not exemplify the desired breed type. The expression should be calm, intelligent, alert, and fearless. The ears are small drop ears whose inner edges are flush with the head. 'Flying' ears are considered undesirable. Inside the mouth, dark lips and gums are preferred, although the tongue is pink. Blotchy pigmentation is undesirable and complete lack of pigment ("bubble-gum pink")is listed as a serious fault in the AKC standard for the breed.
Naturally, Rottweilers are a tailed dog. There are at least two different explanations as to why tails were originally bobbed. One version is that tails were originally removed to prevent breakage and infection that would occur when the tail became covered in mud and other debris collected from pastures and livestock. Another is that as working dogs they were bobbed to avoid a "tail tax" (the method used to count livestock being driven to market was to count tails). Today, many owners in U.S. decide to have the tails removed soon after the puppy's birth for purely cosmetic reasons. The tail is usually docked to the first joint, and in general should give the impression of a lengthened topline. In the past docking was a commonly accepted practice, but it has been banned in the European Union.
The chest is deep and should reach the dog's elbows, giving tremendous lung capacity. The back should be straight, never sloping. According to FCI standard, the Rottweiler stands 61 to 68 cm (24-27 inches) at the withers for males, and 56 to 63 cm (22-25 inches) for females. Average weight is 50 kg (110 pounds) for males and 42 kg (95 pounds) for females.
In 2005, Dr. Brady Barr of the National Geographic measured the bite forces of many different animals, including domestic dogs for the documentary Dangerous Encounters: Bite Force. A Rottweiler named Rocky was measured at having a bite of 265-328 pounds.
In the hands of a responsible owner, a well-trained and socialized Rottweiler can be a reliable, alert dog and a loving companion. However, any poorly trained dog can become a danger in the wrong circumstances. In general Rottweilers are fond of children, very devoted, quick to learn, and eager to please. They are typically bright dogs and they thrive on mental stimulation. Rottweilers are playful animals who may frequently demand attention from their owners if they are not receiving the mental stimulation they desire, and they will find creative and often destructive ways to elicit it if they are excessively neglected. Such behavioral problems as chewing, barking for attention, and eating less are a result of neglect and are more common among females of the breed.The breed normaly weigh 100 to 120 pounds.
The Rottweiler is notably a steady dog with a self-assured nature, but early socialization and exposure to as many new people, animals, and situations as possible are very important in developing these qualities. The Rottweiler also has a natural tendency to assert dominance if not properly trained. Rottweilers' large size and strength make this an important point to consider: An untrained, poorly trained, or abused Rottweiler can learn to be extremely aggressive and destructive and, if allowed to run at large, may pose a significant physical threat to humans or other animals. They can be strong-willed and should be trained in a firm, fair, and consistent manner - the owner must be perceived as the leader. If the owner fails to achieve this status the Rottweiler will readily take on the role. However, Rottweilers respond readily to a clear and benevolent leader. Aggression in Rottweilers is associated with poor breeding, poor handling, lack of socialization, natural guarding tendencies, and abuse.
The Rottweiler is not usually a barker. Male dogs are silent watchers who notice everything and are often quite stoic. Females may become problem barkers in order to protect their den. An attentive owner is usually able to recognize when a Rottweiler perceives a threat. Barking is usually a sign of annoyance with external factors (car alarms or other disturbances) rather than a response to actual threats.
The Rottweiler Welfare Association offers the following advice for would-be Rottweiler owners:
Like all dogs, the Rottweiler needs to be trained properly and controlled at all times, and should be prevented from any chance to make predatory attacks upon livestock and wildlife.
- No one should own a Rottweiler unless they are absolutely sure they can control it, and are willing and able to devote time and effort to teaching the dog basic good manners
- The Rottweiler has a natural guarding instinct. Do not do anything (for instance, rough play) to enhance this guarding instinct.
- No Rottweiler should be left in the sole charge of a person, such as a child, who is not capable of controlling it
- Any person who owns a dog should be aware that he will be devoted to and feel protective towards his household. This should be borne in mind when children are playing, people are arguing, or visitors are calling
- Third party insurance should be taken out on any Rottweiler that you own.
The Rottweiler is a tough and hardy breed, but potential owners should be aware of known health issues that can affect this breed. The most serious genetic health risks a Rottweiler faces are canine hip dysplasia (CHD), subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS), elbow dysplasia, and osteosarcoma. Other conditions which may affect this breed include hypothyroidism, gastric torsion (bloat), and allergies. Rottweiler owners should have their dogs' hips, elbows, heart, and eyes tested by a veterinarian before breeding. DNA tests should also be performed to screen for von Willebrand's disease (vWD). Rottweilers typically live between 8 and 11 years.
The breed is an ancient one, and its history stretches back to the Roman Empire. In those times, the legions traveled with their meat on the hoof and required the assistance of working dogs to herd the cattle. One route the army traveled was through W??rttemberg and on to the small market town of Rottweil.The principal ancestor of the first Rottweilers during this time was supposed to be the Roman war dog, local sheepdogs the army met on its travels, and dogs with molosser appearance coming from England and The Netherlands.
This region eventually became an important cattle area, and the descendants of the Roman cattle dogs proved their worth in both driving and protecting the cattle from robbers and wild animals. However, by the end of the 19th Century, the breed had declined so much that in 1900 there was only one female to be found in the town of Rottweil. But the build up to the World War I saw a great demand for police dogs, and that led to a revival of interest in the Rottweiler.
From that time the breed has become popular with dog owners, and in 1935 was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. In 1936, Rottweilers were exhibited in Britain at Crufts. In 1966, a separate register was opened for the breed.
The first Rottweiler club in Germany, named DRK ("Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub" ??” German Rottweiler Club) was created the 13 January 1907, and followed by the creation of the SDRK ("S??ddeutscher Rottweiler-Klub" ??” South German Rottweiler Club) on the 27 April 1907 and became the IRK (International Rottweiler Club). The DRK counted around 500 Rottweiler, the SDRK 3000 Rottweilers. The goals of the two clubs were different. The DRK wanted to produce working dogs and did not emphasize the morphology of the Rottweiler. The main stud dog of this club was Lord von der Teck. The IRK tried to produce a homogeneous morphology according to their standard. One of the main stud dogs of this club was Ralph von Neckar. One dog emerged and gave us the base of the actual Rottweiler type: Lord von der Teck son of Lord Remo vom Schifferstadt.
On 14 August 1921 the two clubs merged to become the ADRK (Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub) which is now known as the official German Rottweiler club. The first currency of the ADRK was : "Die Rottweilerzucht ist und bleibt Gebrauchshundezucht" (The Rottweiler breeding is and remains the breeding of a working dog)
A popular misconception about the Rottweiler is that the breed was used for dog fighting, when, in fact, it was neither bred nor used for dog fighting.
The Rottweiler in Media
- Muzzle/Scout and Gerta from Road Rovers
- Good Dog, Carl
- "Snot" (from the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie)
- "Missy" of Joss Stone
- "Max" from the Punisher comic book
- "Arnold" Turtle's Rottweiler in Entourage
- "Dracula" of Phil Anselmo
- "Cofi" from the movie Amores Perros
- "Prince" (from the People Under The Stairs movie)
- The unnamed Rottweiler guarding the cemetery in Pet Semetary
- "Killer" the pothead Rottweiler in Half Baked
- Mirror-Universe Porthos in Star Trek: Enterprise (in the "normal" universe, Porthos is a beagle)
- The unnamed Rottweiler kept as the family pet in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- Several unnamed security Rottweilers in "Catch That Kid".
- Lethal Weapon 3
- Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
- "Fang" in Dumb and Dumberer
In recent years, the breed has received some negative publicity, often due to a lack of understanding of the nature of the breed on the part of the owner. Unscrupulous breeders have produced dogs with highly aggressive tendencies and some owners have used the dogs as guard or protection dogs. Other owners may acquire a Rottweiler for a family pet, but neglect to properly socialize and train the animal, resulting in a dangerous, unpredictable dog who makes the rules.
The portrayal of Rottweilers as evil dogs in several fictional films and TV series, most notably in The Omen, has contributed to this negative publicity. Interestingly, Mace Neufeld (executive producer, The Omen) had trained Alsatians in the U.S. for this role, but they had to substitute Rottweilers at the British shoot location because of Britain's 6-month quarantine rule on animals.
Despite the media's fascination with Rottweilers who run afoul of canine behavioural standards, people who have experience with properly raised individuals can attest to the Rottweiler's friendliness and often clownish nature. In fact, the FCI standard calls for a dog that is fond of children. Nevertheless, this breed is not for the inexperienced or uninvolved dog owner, or anyone who lacks the physical strength to handle the Rottweiler.
As a result of recent dog attacks involving the breed, some German L?¤nder put the Rottweiler on an index of dangerous dogs. The L?¤nder adopting the legislation are Bavaria, Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia. Visitors and residents must obey the local muzzling and leash-length laws.
Raising a Rottweiler is a significant responsibility. The rewards can be great for those willing to devote the necessary attention; the headlines can be sensationalized when that responsibility is ignored. Attacks by large dogs generate large headlines; less publicized are the details of the treatment of that dog prior to their anti-social behavior. Like any intelligent animal much of their personality is a reflection of their upbringing. Following are some examples of publicized Rottweiler attacks.
On 23rd September 2006 a five month old baby girl was mauled to death by two Rottweilers after being left alone with them, in Leicester, United Kingdom.
On 27th September, 2006 a fifteen month old boy was attacked by a Rottweiler and suffered injuries to his face after a severe mauling, in Middleton-on-Sea, West Sussex, United Kingdom. The owner of the dog volunteered to have the dog destroyed after it was seized by police.
On April 13th, 2007, a three month old baby was attacked and killed by a Rottweiler, near La Plata, capital city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The baby was attacked while she was sleeping at her grandparent's house, the owners of the dog. 
Prospective owners should take these examples to heart, and should never leave small children alone with ANY animals no matter how well they feel they have trained them.
One unusual example of the breed's guarding instinct is a rescue attempt of a woman sinking in a peat bog in County Durham, when rescuers were prevented from saving her when her two Rottweilers began snarling at them. They were enticed away from the scene after being fed with biscuits. The happy ending here occurred despite poorly trained dogs - the owner could otherwise have had the dogs "sit" and "stay." This behavior would be typical of a dog well bonded with its owner, as would be the many unreported cases where burglaries and even murders were deterred by the presence of one or more Rottweilers in a home.
- ^ American Kennel Club standards
- ^ USRC Breed Standard
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7jhrxy0HKs
- ^ "Rottweilers, dog control and the law", BBC News, 2006-09-25, pp. 1-3. Retrieved on 2007-02-09. (in English)
- ^ Rottweiler Care - Breeder Retriever, URL dated January 2, 2007
- ^ Coile, Caroline, Ph. D., Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, Barron's Educational Series, 2005. Page 144.
- ^ "Rottweilers keep rescuers at bay", BBC News, 2007-02-09, pp. 1. Retrieved on 2007-02-10. (in English)
- The International Encyclopedia of Dogs; Stanley Dangerfield and Elsworth Howell (editors), Pelham Books, London, 1985. ISBN 0-7207-1561-X