Breed Basics: Rottweiler


rottweilerThe Rottweiler may look fierce but raised and trained properly, he is a reliable companion and excellent pet. They were at one time used to guard and herd flocks and, like most herding dogs, can be independent thinkers and are generally quite intelligent. They are naturally protective and immensely strong. They require an owner that is willing to be a kind and intelligent boss that leads his pack and trains his dog. Dogs with poor temperament that are not properly socialized and trained can be a problem.


This is a large dog of stocky build. The tail is often, though not always, docked. They love exercise and are always game for good run or hike but can be quiet and lazy indoors, making them suitable for active owners who live in apartments or have only a small yard. They are extremely strong and have been used to pull carts throughout history. Temperament is as much an issue as health in the breed and buyers should research breeders well and meet multiple dogs, including the parents, from the breeder to ensure that consistently good temperaments are a priority to the breeder.


The Rottweiler is extremely intelligent and easily trained for obedience and other canine sports such as schutzhund. Because they are naturally dominant and strong willed, training should begin immediately upon arrival in the home. Positive training methods work best with the Rottweiler and use of force is not recommended. They are independent thinkers and need leadership from their owners. With proper socialization and training, the dog should not be a threat to anyone unless they pose a threat to the handler.


Rottweilers love children and can be patient and loving pets for homes with children. As with all dogs, he should be well socialized with children and given guidance that firmly establishes all people higher in the pack hierarchy than the dog. The naturally protective nature of the dog means that it is important to train him to understand who is and isn’t a problem as you don’t want him feeling a need to protect the child if the two children get into an argument.


Rottweilers live 10-12 years. They are prone to hip dysplasia, anterior cruciate ligament tears, entropion (a rolling inward of the eyelid), cataracts, bloat, hypothyroidism, and subaortic stenosis (a cardiac issue). Like some other black and tan breeds, they do seem to be more prone to some viruses than other breeds.


Although they can be lazy and are prone to overeating, if you provide activity your Rottweiler will gladly join in. Ensure that even if you do not have a large yard or live in an apartment, that your dog gets out for regular walks and weekly runs. Proper socialization and training are extremely important as is getting a dog from a good breeder. Do your research and the homework and the Rottweiler can be a fabulous companion.