History of the Rottweiler
The Rottweiler is an ancient breed. Like the Neapolitan Mastiff, it is thought they were first brought to Europe by the Roman legions centuries ago. The original Roman mastiffs interbred with German shepherd dogs and were drover dogs for herding and protecting livestock. They were also used to pull carts for butchers, and were among the earliest police dogs. Formal breed standards were established in 1901 by the International Club for Leonbergers and Rottweiler Dogs.
In 1907, a club was formed in Germany to ensure the purity and welfare of the breed. Planned breeding began, and Rottweilers quickly became popular as guard dogs, police dogs, service animals, and family companions. With their robust build and protective nature, they remain a popular breed today.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) it’s the 8th most popular breed in the US and has been popular in the States since the 1930s, valued for it’s loyalty, protectiveness and versatility, and it is still a valuable member of many human-dog teams in the military, police forces around the world, and in search and rescue situations.
Rottweiler Health Issues
Like all breeds, the Rottweiler is prone to certain health conditions. Some of the most common that affect this breed include:
Hip Dysplasia and/or Elbow Dysplasia: These are primarily genetic conditions affecting the joints and causing arthritis however, the dog’s environment and lifestyle can also be causative. Contributing factors include growth rate, diet, hormonal imbalances, weight and exercise, especially overexercsing as a puppy.
Bloat: This is a life-threatening condition which affects large, deep-chested dogs. It is a life-threatening condition wherein the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow to the rest of the body.
Osteosarcoma: This is a type of bone cancer that is more common in larger breeds like the Rottweiler.
Cardiac Issues: Some Rottweilers are prone to heart disease, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a condition where the heart becomes enlarged and doesn’t pump blood effectively.
Eye Problems: Rottweilers can be prone to certain eye problems, such as entropion (eyelids that roll inward), cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy (gradual loss of vision).
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD): This is a bleeding disorder that affects the blood’s ability to clot. It is caused by an abnormally low concentration of a specific protein called the von Willebrand factor. While some dogs who have the condition may never show signs of it, in others it may become apparent due to a sudden hemorrhage or prolonged bleeding after a surgery. It is particularly dangerous for birthing females.
Not all Rottweilers will develop any of these health problems, but it’s important to be aware of them in order to choose a reputable breeder who tests their breeding stock for these conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy diet can also help prevent and manage these issues.
Physical Characteristics of the Rottweiler
The Rottweiler is a large and powerful dog breed, with a strong, muscular body and broad chest. On average, they weigh between 80 to 120 pounds with a height of 22 to 27 inches.
They have particularly big heads with closely positioned ears, and dark eyes. Their coat is short and thick, usually black with rust or mahogany markings, though some have tan markings.
Rottweilers have tremendous strength and stamina, making them great companions for outdoor activities. They are an intelligent breed that can be trained to perform various tasks, including protection and obedience work.
With their strong protective instincts and loyal nature, they make devoted family pets that love to interact with their owners.
Despite their size and strength, Rottweilers are gentle and loving pets that form strong bonds with their families.
It is important to introduce Rottweiler puppies to proper training, socialization, and exercise from an early age so that they can develop into the wonderful canine companions they have been bred to be.
As one of the larger dog breeds, Rottweiler dogs take time to mature. A Rottweiler puppy may reach its full height at one year of age but continue filling out until two or three years old. It is especially important in the developmental stage not to overstress growing bones and joints. At this time, feed dog food that is formulated for large breed puppies.
The Rottweiler Temperament
Unfortunately, for a time Rotties were the poster dog for spotty youths trying to look tough. Most of the larger dog breeds have been through this cycle and it is extremely detrimental to the breed reputation. Owners like this only want a dog to look fierce so they train the dog to be aggressive.
However, in the hands of a responsible pet parent, Rotties are wonderful dogs. With the proper early training and socialization they are calm and even-tempered, good with kids and other pets – although they have a keen prey drive so they must be acclimatized too living with cats or smaller dogs.
They have a natural protective streak and while projecting an aloof face to strangers they are loyal, loving and playful with their family.
Caring for Rottweilers
Grooming: The Rottweiler’s short, black and tan coat requires minimal care. A weekly brush will keep it clean and shiny.
Exercise: A Rottweiler dog needs a minimum of one hour of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep mind and body in good condition.
Training: All dogs should be trained well and socialized early but it is even more important for the larger, more powerful breeds. An out of control Rottweiler is a danger to other dogs, to his owner, to strangers and to himself. Bad behaviour that would be overlooked in a small terrier could lead to a large dog being euthanised. You owe it to your Rottie to ensure that he is trustworthy in even stressful situations.
Feeding: Proper diet and nutrition are also important in keeping your Rottweiler in good health. As with all large breed pups, a dog food formulated to support their growing bones and joint will help avoid pano (gowing pains).