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Dogs as Pets: The Rottweiler

Introduction: The ninth in the Dogs as Pets series.

Choosing a dog to become a family member is a big decision. You must determine whether you want a mix-breed dog or a pedigreed one. A mix-breed dog is exactly what it implies, more than one breed of a dog mixed together. A pedigreed dog is one breed only with nothing but that breed in the pedigree
going back for generations. What size is right for you? Should you buy a long-haired dog or a short-coated one? A big dog or a small dog? In this series, we will examine pure-bred breeds only. So far, we have looked at several breeds. This time we will examine the Rottweiler as a pet.

The Rottweiler

Brief History:

The Rottweiler (nicknamed “Rottie” or “Rott”) dates all the way back to Roman times. It is one of the oldest known breeds of dogs. Its main use was to herd livestock. The Romans used the dogs to herd and guide their livestock which they brought with them as food. They needed strong and durable dogs to complete the task. At that time, they developed a dog that is the ancestor of the Rottweiler. When the Roman Empire fell, the dogs were used to herd cattle in the town of Rottweil, which is obviously where they got their name, Rottweiler Metzgerhund (which means Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil.) Eventually, the Rottie was no longer needed as a herder when livestock cattle cars came into use in moving cattle in the 1800s.

The Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (German Rottwiler Club) was founded in January 1914. Due to their size and power, they eventually became used as police dogs, leader dogs for the blind, and guard dogs. Rotties were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1931. They are a member of the Working Group.

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Description:

(written with a very condensed version of the American Kennel Club Standard)

The Rottweiler is a powerful, well muscled dog standing 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder (females 22 to 25 inches). They weigh from 95 to 135 pounds (females 80 to 100 pounds) with an average life span of 9 to 10 years. They are black with rust markings. The body is compact with a broad and deep chest, the back is straight and strong. The tail is docked short. The Rott’s head is broad and of medium length with a strong broad upper and lower jaw, and the ears are level with the top of the skull.

About the Rottweiler:

Rottweilers can be very good family companions. Intelligent, active, faithful and affectionate, a Rottie will be a friend for life! They are courageous and self-assured. Extensive socialization and training is very important and should begin early in puppyhood. If done so properly, they get along with people and other dogs. They are a breed that needs a steady hand and guidance to be a good canine companion, otherwise aggression, especially in the male, may become a problem. However, despite what you may have heard, they are not temperamentally unsound or vicious. With proper training, they make a wonderful family pet. They can be protective of their humans, especially children, so they make exceptional guard dogs.

Despite their large size, they are fairly easy to keep. Their intelligence makes them highly trainable. They will adapt to apartments, but will need regular walks to keep them in good condition. A home with a yard is desirable for daily exercise if available, but there are plenty of other types of exercise that will keep your Rott fit and healthy. They make excellent dogs for obedience, and herding trials. They love to be with their people, so be prepared to give them plenty of attention.

Being a short-coated dog, they require minimal grooming. Brushing weekly and bathing regularly will keep the coat healthy. Teeth should be cleaned and nails should be trimmed weekly.

Rottweiler should be fed a high-quality dog food. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend what food is best for your dog. Be careful to watch how much they are fed, as they are prone to become overweight. And of course, always have fresh water available for your dog to drink.

As with all breeds, there are health issues to look out for. Hip dysplasia, heart conditions, and eye diseases can show up in the Rottweiler. Regular check-ups by a qualified veterinarian is essential to detect any of these conditions early.

As always, in looking for a puppy, make sure you go to a reputable breeder. It is important in this breed to stay away from “backyard breeders.” With a reputable breeder, you will have a much better chance of receiving a healthy, stable puppy that has been properly bred. Check out the AKC Marketplace/Puppy Finder for AKC Registered puppies and breeders, or go to the American
Rottweiler Club. These organizations are the best resources for finding puppies.

All in all, the Rottweiler can make a wonderful addition to your family. If it is the breed for you, be prepared for a loving, loyal companion and protector!

Kathleen Knowles
Contributing Writer

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