* Physical Characteristics
The Rottweiler is a dog of many talents: he's rough and tumble,
for anything; easy to train, if treated with respect and consistency;
loyal and protective, at times to a fault; strong, yet gentle; aloof
and dignified with strangers and playful and loving to his family.
In short, the Rottie is the typical.
"Tough guy with a heart of gold"
This steadfast canine soldier developed from the Molossus dog of
Italy, a Mastiff-type dog bred to fight lions in and serve the army
in its campaigns. The progenitors of the Rottie traveled with the
conquerors, driving and Roman amphitheaters protecting cattle that
fed the warriors on their long and arduous treks through inhospitable
terrain. Dogs often stayed behind as the armies pressed on, breeding
with the native canines and producing working dogs suited to particular
climates, conditions, and occupations.
The Romans crossed the Alps into southern Germany in the First Century
on the road to conquering all of Europe. The Romans established
the town of Arae Flaviae as a fortified cultural and administrative
center. The red-tiled roofs of the most important buildings gave
the village its German name, Rottwil (red villa), later changed
to Rottweil. The town grew in importance, and by the Middle Ages,
it was a bustling center of commerce and justice. Cattlemen used
the descendants of the Roman dogs to bring the herds to the butcher
for sale and to guard their purses of money on the way home, and
the butchers in turn used the dogs to pull the carts carrying the
meat. The butchers developed a larger strain of dogs for draft work,
but it is the smaller herding-type Rottweilers that are most popular
Eventually, donkeys replaced Rottweilers as city cart draft animals.
The growing prominence of the railroad for shipping freight as well
as transporting people led to the outlawing of cattle drives through
German towns. Since dogs were prized more for the work they did
than the companionship they provided, Rottweilers declined in population;
in 1900, only a single Rottie bitch was recorded in all of Rottweil.
The breed's resurgence began a few years into the 20th Century when
Rotties were recognized as potential police dogs for their intelligence,
loyalty, and strength. The rest is history. In 1921, after several
years of squabbles among fanciers, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler
Klub formed with the motto "Rottweiler breeding is working
dog breeding." No Rottweiler can have a German championship
without first proving his mettle as a working dog.
The Rottie came to the US with a German emigrant, probably in the
late 1920s. The first litter was whelped in 1930, and the first
dog registered by the American Kennel Club in 1931. The original
stock in this country came from Germany, but breeding requirements
in the US were not as strict as in the homeland. The breed marked
time until after WWII, when it began a steady rise in popularity
as an obedience dog. In more recent years, German-bred dogs have
achieved a level of attention as more Rottie owners get involved
in Schutzhund or protection work with their dogs. German breeders
still insist on working ability in their dogs and championships
are withheld if the dog cannot prove himself in the field as well
as the show ring.
Popularity in the US accelerated puppy production and caused health
and temperament problems in the breed, but bad publicity and a general
downturn in the preference for big guardian breeds has caused a
turn-around. Rottweiler registrations numbered in the hundreds in
the late 1940s, peaked above 100 thousand per year in the mid-1990s,
and dropped to 37,355 at the end of the decade. Today, the breed
ranks eleventh in popularity of AKC's 148 breeds, down from second
a few years ago. Litter numbers are on the decline as well; the
breed ranked sixteenth in 2000 with 13,089 litters registered.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: a solid, powerful dog of above
average height. Well proportioned and compact in build, it displays
strength, suppleness, and endurance. Male dog are bigger and heavier,
with a distinctly masculine appearance.
HEIGHT: 60 to 69 cm (23 to 27 in) for the adult
dog. 55 to 64 cm (21 to 25 in.) for the bitch.
WEIGHT: under F.C.I. standards, 50 kg (110 lb).
Else where, not specified.
HEAD: medium length. Skull board between the ears.
Forehead moderately arched. Well-defined stop. Cheeks well muscled.
Fairly deep muzzle. Skin on head can form wrinkles when dog is attentive
but should not be loose. Wide black nose with large nostrils. Firm
black flews. Powerful scissor bite.
EYES: of medium size, rather deep-set, almond
shaped dark brown.
EARS: small, triangular, drooping, set on high
and wide apart. Inner edge of ear lies close to cheek.
NECK: robust, very muscular, and slightly arched.
BODY: long, sloping shoulders. Broad and roomy
chest with well-developed sternum. Ribs well sprung. Firm, straight
back. Short, deep, and powerful loin. Wide, slightly slopping croup
of medium length.
Tail: Short and strong, carried horizontally.
Should be docked close to the body.
Forequarters: Legs straight, strongly developed
and not close together. Elbows tight.
Hindquarters: Broad, well muscled thighs. Hind
legs long and robust, strong at top and sinewy lower down. Powerfully
angulated hocks. Fairly well-bent stifles. No dew-claws.
Feet: round and compact. Toes well arched. Hind
feet somewhat longer then front. Hard pads. Short dark powerful
Coat: Coarse, flat thick outer coat of medium
leanth. Fine undercoat must not show through. Longer hair on feet,
back of legs.
Colour: black, with brown markings on cheeks,
muzzle, chest, feet, over the eyes, and beneath tail.
Faults: too light or heavy. Long or curly coat.
White markings. Sway or roach black. Hocks turned in or out. Abnormal
hip joints. Poor bite. Missing molars and premolars. Ectropion,
entropion, or slack eyelids. Eyes yellow or blue. Nervousness or
The Rottweiler in motion is a picture of power and stamina with
strong reach in front and forceful drive in the rear. A well-conditioned
Rott is a superb athlete; he trots with great stamina and seemingly
little effort - an efficiency of movement inherited from his days
as a cattle drover.
It is in breed temperament that the Rott is often misjudged. A well-bred
Rottweiler is calm, confident, and courageous with an inherent aloofness
towards strangers and a reserved attitude in new situations. Combined
with his fierce devotion to home and family, these characteristics
can be subverted from their original purpose by poor breeding practices,
lack of socialization, and failure to teach basic good manners.
Rottweiler owners without a strong grasp of the breed's nature can
find themselves in trouble if the dog has been badly bred or assumes
leadership of the family.
The Rottweiler standard is clear in regard to temperament: "The
behavior of the Rottweiler in the show ring should be controlled,
willing, and adaptable, trained to submit to examination of the
mouth, testicles, etc. An aloof or reserved dog should not be penalized,
as this reflects the accepted character of the breed. An aggressive
or belligerent attitude towards other dogs should not be faulted.
"A judge shall excuse from the ring any shy Rottweiler. A dog
shall be judged fundamentally shy if, refusing to stand for examination,
it shrinks away from the judge.
"A dog that in the opinion of the judge menaces or threatens
him or exhibits any sign that it may not be safely approached or
examined by the judge in the normal manner shall be excused from
the ring. A dog that in the opinion of the judge attacks any person
in the ring shall be disqualified."
This standard for temperament can be easily related to daily interaction
with the dog. If the dog does not accept examination by the owner
or by anyone chosen by the owner, such as a veterinarian, without
either shrinking away or becoming aggressive, the dog does not exhibit
acceptable Rottweiler character. Any Rottweiler that does not exhibit
true breed character should be spayed or neutered to prevent passing
unacceptable temperament to its offspring and should be placed in
a home where owners understand how to deal with an unsocialized
dog with aggressive tendencies.
To be blunt, the Rottweiler is not a dog for everyone. Like all
other breeds with strong natures, it has become a target for those
who would ban dogs by breed rather than individual temper. Failure
to select a well-bred Rott and to train it appropriately can result
in individual tragedy and in prohibition of the entire breed in
a community. Some cities and towns in the world have added the Rottweiler
to a list of restricted or banned breeds; some training schools
Like Akitas, Dobermans, Malamutes, and other dominant breeds, Rotts
must be trained to obey and respect the humans in its family. Training
classes, where the puppy can become accustomed to new situations
and to other people and dogs, are ideal, but private training is
acceptable if accompanied by additional efforts to socialize the
animal. Daily use of commands such as sit, stay, down, come, and
stand as well as training Rambo to walk on a leash without pulling
are essential to building a partnership with the dog.
Rottweilers should never be banished to the back yard, whether confined
to a kennel run, allowed free-range of a fenced yard or chained.
Like other guardian breeds such as Akitas, Chow Chows, Dobermans,
and German Shepherds, Rotties left to their own devices can become
very territorial, particularly if they do not get enough human interaction
or if they are teased or tormented by neighborhood children or other
dogs. Invisible fences are not suitable for guardian breeds as they
do not prevent intruders from entering the property or keep the
dog in if he really wants out. All in all, the well-bred and well-trained
Rott. Is my favorite breed.
Rottweilers are susceptible to structural problems such as hip
and elbow dysplasia, malformations of the joints that can cause
crippling, and osteochondrosis (OCD), a bone and cartilage problem.
They may also be subject to panosteitis, an intermittent lameness
cause by varying bone density in young dogs.
Retinal problems are also a possibility, as is spinal cord paralysis.
Like all deep-chested dogs, the Rott is also susceptible to bloat,
a condition in which the stomach can turn and block, causing a buildup
of gas. Unless treated very quickly, bloat can be fatal.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are genetically carried malformations. Dogs
that are dysplastic are likely to produce dysplastic puppies. Breeding
stock should be x-rayed to rule out the presence of dysplasia; buyers
should be sure to ask if the sire and dam of a litter have been
rated clear of hip dysplasia. Retinal problems are inherited, as
is the tendency to bloat.