Devoted, affectionate, self-assured, and protective, the Rottweiler is a member of the Working Group. This large breed dog has been given a negative stigma, as many people associate their tough, muscular appearance with viciousness; however, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Rottweiler dates back to the Roman Empire. This breed is believed to be the descendants of an ancient Asian Mastiff-like dogs, which were used to herd livestock as the Roman army trudged across Europe in an attempt to conquer the tribes of the continent. As the ancient Romans moved into the region that is now the southern part of Germany, these dogs were used to heard and drive cattle, and the practice continued after the Romany army was defeated by ancient Germanic Tribes.
The dogs that remained in the region served as herding dogs in the German town of Rottweil. The dogs were crossbred, and they were invaluable to the livestock market; they assisted butchers, driving the cattle and protecting them from predators and thieves. Eventually, these dogs were coined “Rottweiler Metzgerhunds”, which translates to “Butchers’ Dogs”. The advent of railways lead to the decline of the breed, as trains replaced them in the transport of livestock.
The breed nearly became extinct, but as World War I came on the horizon, the need for dogs that could assist police sparked a resurgences in the Rottweiler. The breed served several roles in both World Wars, acting as messengers, guard dogs, and ambulance assistants. The breed proved their worth and Germans became enamored with the Rottweiler. In 1914, the first Rottweiler club was founded in Germany. The popularity of the breed caught on throughout Europe, and eventually spread to the United States.
By 1931, the first Rottweiler was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Because of their loyalty, protective nature, and self-assured demeanor, the breed is one of the most popular in the United States; it ranks 8th out of 193 breeds that are registered with the AKC.
Characteristics of the Rottweiler
Next, we’ll go over the appearance and temperament of the rottweiler.
Rottweilers are large, robust, and powerful dogs. Females can stand 22 to 25 inches and weight up to 100 pounds, while males can stand 24 to 27 inches and weigh up to 135 pounds. Both genders are very muscular and they stand and walk with an air of confidence. The head of the Rottweiler is large and is triangular in shape. Their noses are wide and black, their eyes are set deeply, are shaped like almonds, and are dark brown in color. They have a double coat of medium length, dense, straight hair, and they can vary in color. Colors can include a combination of black and mahogany, black and rust, and black and tan. No matter the color, this breed tends to have distinct markings over their eyes, on their cheeks, underneath their tails, and on the lower portion of their legs.
The Rottweiler is often regarded is a vicious dog, which is largely due to the manner in which they have been portrayed by Hollywood; however, this could not be further from the truth. While this breed is incredibly loyal and will go to great lengths to protect their human companions, they are not vicious by nature. The true nature of the Rottweiler is an even-tempered, fun-loving dog that tends to be hesitant when meeting new people. As their trust is earned, however, they become very affectionate. In fact, it has been said that Rottweilers do not seem to be aware of their size, as they will try to cuddle up in the laps of their human companions.
This breed enjoys rigorous play, and after a day spent chasing rubber dog toys and engaging in tug-o-war with rope and tug toys, they love to cuddle with their humans or curl up in a dog bed. With proper socialization and training, the Rottie, as it is affectionately called, can do well with people of all ages, including children, as well as other pets.
There are some undesirable traits that are associated with the Rottweiler, though. They can become aggressive if they are not properly trained, as they have an innate desire to protect. They can overly energetic and rowdy, especially when they are young. The Rottie is also tenacious, so they require a great deal of firmness and patience. If they are not properly exercised and are left to become bored, they can become destructive, and they do have a tendency to chew. Offering your Rottie chew toys for dogs will encourage positive chewing and prevent damage to your home; bully sticks for dogs can help to prevent problematic chewing, too. Because of their loose lips and large mouths, they also have a tendency to drool.
Regardless of their undesirable traits, with proper training, a Rottweiler will make a compassionate, loving, and loyal companion. Their life expectancy is short, however; on average, they live up to 10 years.
Caring for a Rottweiler
Rottweilers have specific care needs that must be attended to in order to ensure a healthy life and appropriate behavior.
According to animal nutritionists and veterinarians, Rottweilers will thrive if they are fed a high quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs. Like all breeds, Rotties should be fed premium sources of protein, healthy fats, wholesome fruits and vegetables, and easily digestible carbohydrates. This muscular, large, and energetic breed needs a lot of protein to power their energy levels; adults should be served 22 to 26 protein and growing puppies should receive 24 to 28 percent.
Healthy fats are another important feature of their diet; adults should be fed up to 16 percent fat and puppies should be fed as much as 18 percent. Opt for dog food brands that clearly list the sources of fat (beef or chicken, for example), as opposed to recipes that are not clear about the fat content.
Rottweilers can suffer from sensitive skin, which can be aggravated by certain ingredients; particularly grains. Therefore, feeding your Rottie a grain free dog food may help to reduce skin irritation. Additionally, foods that replace grains with sweet potatoes, peas, and other easily digestible ingredients offer more vital nutrients and are easier on the stomach. Lastly, Rotties are prone to obesity, which can lead to a host of health problems. To maintain a healthy weight, consider feeding your pet a dog food for weight loss.
Lastly, dog food for Rottweilers should be free of harsh ingredients. They should not contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives; animal byproducts and fillers should also be absent from your pet’s food. Recipes that are comprised of these types of ingredients can have adverse effects on the overall health and well being of a Rottie. Some reputable brands to consider offering a Rottweiler include:
Rottweilers shed year round, and they shed a lot; shedding can increase during the fall and spring seasons. While their coats aren’t as difficult to maintain as breeds that have long or curly hair, they do still need to be tended to. To facilitate shedding, brushing on a regular basis is essential. Brushing not only helps to remove any spent hair, but it also loosens dirt and debris that has accumulated in their fur, and encourages the production of natural skin oils, which help to nourish the skin and improve the luster of the coat. Use a soft-bristled dog brush and go over your pet from head to tail, including the legs, at least once a week. During heavy shedding seasons, brushing three or more times a week may be needed.
Rottweilers should be bathed on an as-needed basis. Generally, baths should be given once every 6 to 8 weeks or when your pet is visibly dirty or is emitting an odor. Use a dog shampoo that is free of harsh ingredients, such as perfumes and dyes. Additionally, make sure to work the shampoo into his coat so that you thoroughly cleanse both layers of his hair. Though Rottweilers can swim, many do not like the water, so you may be met with hesitation at bath time. Make sure to bathe your pet in a secure location that will properly support his weight. Use a shallow, lukewarm water, and consider offering your pet water toys for dogs to promote a positive experience.
The paws of a Rottweiler should also be attended to. Their nails should be kept neat and trim; clipping once a month will prevent overgrowth, which can lead to a number of complications. Pay attention to the pads of your pet’s feet, too. The hefty weight of this breed can increase the risk of cracking. Wipe the surface and in between the pads to remove any built-up dirt and debris. Massage a dog paw wax into his pads to moisturize and protect them.
Wipe out your pet’s ears with a clean, damp cloth on a weekly basis. Doing so will remove dirt, debris, and wax. The build-up of these elements can cause an infection if left unattended. Dental health is also important. Consider brushing your Rottie’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs once a week to remove accumulated plaque and tartar. Doing so will strengthen the teeth and combat foul breath. If your pet is resistant to brushing, offering a dental chew and a dog breath freshener can be an effective way to manage his dental health.
Exercise and Activity
As herding dogs, Rottweilers have a lot of energy. Regular exercise serves as a healthy way to release pent up energy and also helps your pet maintain a healthy weight. Exercise is also mentally stimulating, which will prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Rotties should receive at least an hour of exercise a day; but they can certainly tolerate more.
Regular walks are a must for this breed. Not only does it offer the physical exercise that they need, but it’s also mentally stimulating. A minimum of 30 minutes should be reserved for a walk each day; however, longer is better. At least one walk is needed, though two is better. You can also engage your pet in activities that help to build muscle. Pulling weights, Frisbee, playing fetch, and tug-o-war are all great ways to build muscle in a Rottie. These activities are also engaging and provide the mental stimulation that this breed needs.
Training is essential for the Rottweiler. This breed tends to become overly protective if they are not properly trained, which can lead to aggression and other problematic behavior. Socialize your pet with other animals and humans by enrolling him in training classes. Exhibit firmness and leadership when directing your pet to instill that you are the leader. Start by working on basic commands, including “sit”, “stay”, and “heel”. You should also train your Rottie to tolerate others being near his food, as this breed can become food aggressive.
Once a Rottie has mastered basic training skills, you can begin to teach him more difficult tasks. Surprisingly, this breed does well with agility training. It offers them the exercise and mental stimulation that they need, as well as the direction that they require.
Housebreaking should also start as early as possible; however, older Rotties can also be housebroken. Crate training is the most effective housetraining method. Offer your pet a dog crate that provides enough space to stand and turn around, and confine him to it when you are not able to react to the signs that indicate he needs to use the bathroom; but, do not leave a Rottie in his crate for too long; they are a social breed and require interaction with their human companions. If they are left alone for too long, they can develop anxiety and aggression. Teach your Rottie where he should use the restroom and direct him to the location as soon as he exits his crate. Also, take him to his designated bathroom area about 10 to 15 minutes after eating. While housebreaking, do not leave your pet’s food down all the time; only offer it at the time that has been established for eating. Letting an un-housebroken Rottweiler eat when he pleases will surely lead to accidents.
With all aspects of training, it’s important to be firm and direct; however, make sure that you offer plenty of positive reinforcement, encouragement, and guidance. Training should also be made fun and engaging to hold your pet’s attention and keep him interested in the tasks that he is being taught.
The average life expectancy of a Rottweiler is 10 years; with proper care, you can improve the chances of your pet reaching his expected life span and ensure that he lives a happy, healthy life. Proper care for a Rottie involves understanding what type of health issues they are prone to and knowing how to prevent or treat them.
Rottweilers are genetically predisposed to the following health conditions:
- Aortic stenosis. This condition is characterized by an obstruction of blood flow in the heart It can cause a number of side effects, including difficulty breathing, lethargy, and even death. Therefore, it’s important to have your pet assessed by a veterinarian on a yearly basis; if Aortic stenosis is identified, your vet will discuss treatment options with you.
- A Rottweiler’s hips and elbows are prone to dysplasia; a condition that is marked by malformed hip and elbow joints. Dysplasia can increase the risk of arthritis, cause pain, and reduce mobility. Offering your pet a protein-rich dog food and dog joint supplements can help to offset the symptoms that are associated with this condition.
- Progressive retinal atrophy. This disease of the eyes can lead to blindness if left untreated. Signs include glassiness in the eyes, dilated pupils, and seemingly clumsy behavior, as your pet is unable to see clearly. Veterinary care is require for this condition.
- With this condition, your pet’s thyroid does not produce enough hormones. This can result in weight gain, lethargy, anxiety, and depression.
- Rottweilers are also prone to allergies; particularly of the skin. These allergies can be aggravated by certain foods. Feeding your pet a limited ingredient dog food can help to prevent allergic reactions.
These are just some of the health concerns that Rottweilers are prone to. By feeding your pet a healthy, well-balanced diet, providing him with plenty of exercise and activity, and taking him for routine veterinary care, you can offset the development of these conditions and improve his overall health and quality of life.