ROTTWEILERS AT A GLANCE
Names: Rottweiler, Rottie or Rott
Weight: Male: 50 – 60kg (110 – 132 lbs). Female: 40 – 50kg (88 – 110 lbs)
Height: Male: 60 – 70cm (24 – 28 inches). Female: 55 – 65cm (22 – 26 inches)
Life span: 8 – 12 years
Coat: Double coat, short, thick and strong fur
Colour(s): Black and tan/mahogany
Litter size: 8 – 14 puppies
Breed group: Working dogs
Perhaps no other dog is portrayed in such polar opposites terms than the Rottweiler. Calm, devoted, gentle and loyal family companions according to owners. Vicious, wild and dangerous animals according to the media.
A highly intelligent and adaptable breed, the Rottweiler is one of the older herding and protection breeds. The breed is widely accepted as being a descended from Roman Empire droving dogs. During their conquests through Europe, eventually reaching what is now modern day Germany, the Romans drove herds of cattle for food and their dogs where used for herding and protection of the live stock. For centuries after the dogs continued to be used in herding and guarding. They would later be called ‘butcher dogs’, used to herd stock, pull carts of meat to market and protect their owners money pouches on the journey home.
In time a city in the region was named Rottweil, giving the dogs their name.
As rail roads spread and train became the standard method for moving stock, the need for a herding breed evaporated resulting in a decline in Rottweiler numbers. In the 1910’s building to WWI demand for police and military dogs saw the breed revived.
The temperament is where they are most misunderstood by many. The American Kennel Club describes the Rottweiler as:
…a calm, confident and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in its environment. It has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making them especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog.
A well socialised and trained Rottweiler will be good-natured, calm, gentle and obedient. Instances of aggressive individuals can almost always be attributed to abuse or neglect from irresponsible owners. Without proper socialising their protective instincts can turn into aggression.
Worse are irresponsible/inexperienced owners wanting a “guard dog” who encourage aggression while not providing leadership, training and socialising. When used in a family guarding role, socialising and leadership are essential in teaching that there are times to protect and times not too. Leadership and obedience are essential in maintaining these.
Though exceptionally strong Rottweilers naturally adjust the amount of forced required for a task. This can be seen in herding where barking but no physical contact will be made with smaller or more compliant herd animals, where larger or stubborn animals are found a Rottweiler will put its weight to work physically forcing the herd animal to move. A method not available to other working dogs like Kelpies.
The same can be seen in play. With smaller or slower playmates Rotties will dial things down to half-speed, perhaps some gentle mouthing. When an exuberant buddy their own size is up for it, play can look like two logs crashing into each other and wrestling.
Rottweiler health is generally good but due to irresponsible breeding in the past joint issues, particularly to do with the shoulders, are not uncommon. In more recent years dedicated breeders have made great strides in improving this. X-rays are not uncommon to properly determine joint health is selecting individuals to breed.
Joint issues, aside the Rottweilers “physical prowess” can not be denied. They are an impressive animal by any standard. Though this has made them versatile, capable and popular dog it has worked against them in the media. When a “dangerous dog” is required in a film Rottweilers are often chosen, some would call it ironic given the obedience and temperament required to act aggressive on queue and stop when told. Similarly when an article is published on an incident with a dog or changes in law are proposed, Rottweilers are often pictured even when not involved.
Rottweilers are the perfect example of “you get out what you put in”. Though their strength and protective nature are not factors to be ignored, with love, socialising and training their natural good nature will shine through. In return for your efforts you’ll be rewarded with a calm, confident, loving and loyal addition to the family.
CHARACTERISTICS AND SUMMARY
Suited to indoor living: 5/10 – While Rotties can be exuberant, especially when young or excited, they have a ‘couch-potato’ side. With sufficient daily exercise they can be suited to indoor living.
Owner experience required: 8/10 – Though generally calm and good natured, a Rottweilers size, strength and protective instincts require a dedicated, firm owner to oversea their development. If not trained and socialised properly, aggression and dominance issues can develop. Due to their size and strength an ‘alpha’ owner who’s verbal commands will be obeyed is important.
Sensitivity: 3/10 – Rottweilers are typically quite thick skinned and will not be phased by a loud household, noisy neighbours or clanging around in the garage. Their calm, confident nature makes them well suited to busier, noisy environments.
Needs company: Like all dogs Rottweilers will want to spend the majority of their time with their family, however when their calm and self-assured nature is complemented with daily exercised to avoid boredom and restlessness they do reasonably well being left alone during work hours.
Suitable climates: Rottweilers have an under-coat and and outer-coat making them well suited to temperate areas and suitable for colder climates. Their short snout and thick coat can make them more prone to over heating in hotter climates so caution should be taken here.
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND OTHER DOGS
Friendly with family: 8/10 – Rotties will bond and show affection for all members of the family though they can often pick a ‘favourite’.
Child friendly: 8/10 (with some conditions) – While friendly towards children a Rottweilers great strength is a factor not to be ignored. An overly excited Rottweiler can be like a wrecking ball, a friendly but still more than enough to knock a child over. Rotties may lean on their family members and herding instincts may also cause them to ‘bump’ children to move them. Adult supervision is recommended for small children.
Dog friendly: 7/10 – With proper socialisation Rottweilers are as friendly as any dog, but again, the Rottweilers strength is not to be overlooked in this regard. Rotties are typically a fearless breed, if another dog exhibits dominant behaviour – such as ear biting – towards them or acts aggressively Rotties will give warnings – growling and other body language – but if warnings are ignored will likely settle things physically rather than submit.
Friendly toward strangers: Rotties range from aloof to friendly with strangers. Originally bred to guard livestock, protective tendencies may be heightened at home but with a confident owner sending the ‘all is well’ signals introductions to strangers should be no problem.
One master dog: Rotties are typically not a one master dog and will respect each member of the family, but each member will have to earn that respect.
Intelligence: Rottweilers are highly intelligent and versatile, filling roles in the military and police, as search and rescue dogs, herding livestock, as guard dogs and as faithful members of the family. They’re also top performers in obedience trials.
Ease of training: Rottweilers are highly trainable but firm and consistent hand is essential.
POSSIBLE UNDESIRABLE BEHAVIOURS
Mouthing: 3/10 – Play-biting is common during puppyhood, less so in adult behaviour. With their herding pedigree they may ‘grasp’ family member to move them.
Prey drive: 4/10 – Originally bred for herding and guarding, Rotties do not typically have a high drive to chase prey.
Tendency to bark/howl: 4/10 – When young and left along Rotties will bark and howl for company, but this fades as they grow older and adjust. Barking while ‘protecting’ is common but when with company or relaxing at home they’re typically silent.
Goes wandering: 4/10 – Rotties will follow their nose if something interesting presents itself but usually won’t go too far from the rest of the pack.
Drooling: Contrary to popular opinion Rottweilers do not constantly drool. In individuals with particularly large heads/jowls there may be a small amount of ‘regular’ drooling, though normally drooling will limited to times when food is imminent, while asleep if the mouth is left open or after vigorous exercise.
Grooming required: A weekly brush is enough, bi-weekly brushes will mean a bit less fur on your floor.
EXERCISE NEEDS & GENERAL HEALTH
Energy level / Intensity: Moderately active Rotties will require a vigorous walk morning and night. More energetic Rotties may enjoy fetch, bounding and general physical play (watching out for those little kids we mentioned) and freely running in parks or outdoor areas.
Playfulness: Until later years Rotties will almost always be up for a vigorous play session with the family.
Exercise frequency : Twice daily for the first view years, once in later years.
General health: Rottweilers are generally healthy but due to irresponsible and over breeding in past years hip and elbow dysplasia are not uncommon, though any reputable breeder will have focused heavily on reducing this. If the breeder does address this in their breeding criteria seek your Rottie pup elsewhere. Excessive protein due to over feeding can mean growth spurts and weak bones, and like all deep chested dogs Rottweilers can suffer from bloat however this can easily be avoided by feeding your Rottie twice daily instead of a single large meal.
Keywords: Rottweiler. Rottweiler puppies. German Rottweiler. Purebred Rottweiler.