The Rottweiler is probably one of the most recognisable dogs worldwide because they have quite the reputation. Though their sheer size can sometimes seem intimidating, these working dogs are incredibly loving and intelligent. However, they do need to be matched with the right pet parents for the happiness and safety of everyone.
Read more about the Rottweiler’s origins, their characteristics, and why socialisation is so important for them throughout their lives.
History of the Rottweiler
Although their roots can be traced as far back as Roman times, the breed as we know it originated in the German region of Rottweil, where they worked on farms to pull carts. They were also used to help butchers in taming and controlling aggressive bulls and cows when it was time to slaughter.
Looking at their wide chests and muscular builds, it’s easy to see why they made excellent working dogs. Nowadays you’re not likely to see them pulling carts, but their strength paired with their intelligence and adaptability means Rotties often do very well when given a job. Whether that’s search and rescue, dog obedience competitions or something in between.
When you think of Rottweilers, the first thing that comes to mind is probably their size. And it’s true, these are not small dogs! This is probably partly why they’ve gained a reputation as a fierce guard dog. Males can weigh over 60kgs, and females can weigh up to 45kgs.
Aside from their huge size, here are a few other physical traits of the breed:
- Colour: Black with tan markings
- Grooming needs: Low
- Average lifespan: 8-11 years
- Head shape: Broad forehead with triangular floppy ears
- Breed group: Working dogs
Rottweilers are known for their bravery, intelligence, and confidence. They’re fiercely loyal to their families, and are generally quite calm and obedient. Because they’re naturally confident dogs they often need guidance – just like a bold, rambunctious toddler. Without proper guidance, they’ll act on their own impulses.
Rottweilers love to work and will happily compete in most dog sports, so they make an excellent companion for someone who wants to teach their dog tricks, do agility, or even teach their dog to pull things around!
Though they don’t have enormous energy needs, Rottweilers do need a “job” to do. Even if it’s just being a companion animal. If they’re left without enough socialisation, attention and training they can display problematic behaviours like excessive digging or barking. Aggression is of course the biggest concern, especially as they are fully able to inflict serious damage.
When you’re looking for a Rottweiler puppy, it’s important to make sure you know how to avoid puppy mills in New Zealand and find a reputable breeder. Buying from an ethical dog breeder isn’t only a moral responsibility, though that’s definitely important! Buying ethically gives you the best chance of bringing home a puppy who was bred for a calm, intelligent temperament.
Though of course, you still need to do plenty of training yourself. Which brings us to another commonly asked question around Rottweilers and inherent aggression.
Are Rottweilers aggressive?
Rottweilers are often used as guard dogs. They’re also frequently seen in military and police work, with good reason. Rotties are trainable, brave, and have a natural instinct to protect. Hence, Rotties have developed a reputation as being dangerous or vicious dogs.
The reality is they’re not inherently vicious or aggressive, but they are reactive and want to protect. This protective instinct can turn into aggression if not properly managed.
If you’re thinking of bringing home an adopted dog like a Rottweiler, socialisation and good training will be your best friends. A well-bred and well-trained Rottie is a pleasure to have around, and they’re gentle and loving, especially to their families.
Living with a Rottweiler
As mentioned earlier, Rotties can start to display aggressive behaviours when not properly handled. Because of this, the breed isn’t typically suitable for first time owners but experienced and patient pet parents should do well.
It’s crucial that any Rottweiler parent prioritises obedience training and socialisation, with both starting when the dog is young. Importantly, you should continue training and socialisation throughout their lives. Instead of viewing as something you can check off a list, think of them as continual and always able to improve.
A Rottie puppy should be exposed to other pets and children right from the start. Under supervision, of course. You should also find a good puppy school as early as possible, and make sure you always train your dog properly and with respect. Read about why positive reinforcement for dog training beats punishment paws down.
Health considerations and pet insurance
A lot of health conditions in dogs are genetic, so are related to your pet’s breed, particularly in purebred dogs. Of course, this doesn’t mean your dog will develop these problems, it just means they’re at a higher risk than other dogs.
Rottweilers are mostly healthy dogs but they’re prone to one or two conditions. The most common of these are hip dysplasia (as with other large breeds), canine bloat, and sub-aortic stenosis. Both canine bloat and sub-aortic stenosis can be very serious and cause sudden death. Your vet will know your dog is prone to these, so make sure to go for regular check ups and know the signs and symptoms of all these diseases. You can read more about canine bloat here and sub-aortic stenosis here.
Because of their size and their origins as working dogs, Rotties also gain weight easily. Obesity can cause a range of problems including heart issues, joint problems, and diabetes in dogs.
If you’re a Rottweiler owner, it’s important to ensure your dog receives a balanced diet and enough exercise. Your vet can guide you if you think your Rottie might need an adjustment to their diet or exercise regime.
As always, prevention is the best cure when it comes to dog health. Being a proactive pet parent and working alongside your vet gives yours the best chance of living a long and healthy life.
That’s why it’s important to get pet insurance early, before pre-existing conditions develop. With a pet insurance policy in hand, you can get appropriate medical treatment for your Rottweiler (or other dog or cat!) if problems do arise.