The Rottweiler, also known as the Rottweil Dog, the Rottweiler Metzerhund, the Butcher's Dog, the Rott and the Rottie, is a solid, stocky, deep-chested dog with a dependable and willing disposition, great intelligence and an unusually strong guarding instinct. Because of irresponsible breeders and owners who neither raised nor socialized their dogs properly, the Rottweiler has developed an undeserved reputation as a dangerous dog. However, their calmness, confidence and desire to please make them extremely popular for police, therapy, obedience, show, service and guide dog work. They are one of the most popular breeds in America as family and personal companions and when raised with love and kindness are no more dangerous than any other powerful dog breed. The Rottweiler was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1931 and was accepted into the Working Group in 1935.
The mature male Rottweiler stands 24 to 27 inches at the withers and typically weighs between 90 and 130 pounds. Females should be 22 to 25 inches in height and usually weigh around 100 pounds. Their short coat is easy to care for, and regular brushing will help to control shedding. The only acceptable color for this breed is solid black with rust to mahogany markings. His high-set tail is almost always docked extremely short.
The exact ancestry of the Rottweiler is not well known. Most historians believe that this breed descends from drover dogs used by the Romans to move livestock many centuries ago. How the Rottie transitioned from a herding dog to the animal so well-known today is probably attributable to the Roman's desire to conquer all of Europe. Vast armies were needed for this effort, and they had to bring their food sources on the hoof, as they were without the benefit of refrigeration. Herds and flocks required management by dogs of great strength and stamina that were also capable of guarding the soldiers and stock at night. The Roman drover dogs were perfectly suited to these tasks.
Sometime around 700 A.D., a local ruler ordered that a Christian church be built on the site of ancient Roman baths in southwestern Germany. During the excavation, red tiles from Roman villas were discovered, and the site was named "das Rote Wil," meaning "the red tile". This site is now called "Rottweil." It developed into a cultural trade center and hub, and was extensively fortified in the 12th century, which attracted even more commerce. Many cattlemen and butchers settled there, and they needed dogs to help them in their trades. These Roman drover dogs and their descendants worked cattle and drove them to market until well into the 19th century and became known as the Rottweiler Metzgerhund, or the Butcher's Dog.
With the onset of the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, cattle-driving by drover dogs became replaced by the railroad, causing a drastic decline in the need for and numbers of the Rottweiler. Not much was written about the breed until 1901, when a combined Rottweiler and Leonberger club was formed. The club created a written standard for the Rottie, addressing both physical type and temperament. During the first part of the 20th century, Rottweilers gained popularity as police dogs. The breed also was used by the German army during the first World War. A number of different breed clubs were founded in Germany after the war, with duplication, dissention and confusion. Eventually, in 1921, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK) was formed. It published its first studbook in 1924 and remains active to this date.
The American Kennel Club admitted the Rottweiler into its Stud Book in 1931. The official standard for the breed was approved in 1935, and the first Rottweiler earned an AKC conformation championship title in 1948. The American Rottweiler Club was formed in 1971 and is the parent club of the breed in the United States. The Kennel Club (England) recognized the breed in 1966.
The average life span of the Rottweiler is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, cranial cruciate ligament injury, bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus), cancer, elbow and hip dysplasia, epilepsy, congenital deafness, entropion, distichiasis, medial canthal pocket syndrome, iris cysts, progressive retinal atrophy, subaortic stenosis, follicular lipidosis, mucocutaneous hypopigmentation (on the lips and nose), parvoviral infection, eosinophilic gastroenteritis, enteritis and enterocolitis, hypothyroidism, osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), paneosteitis and von Willebrand disease.
Rottweilers have a reputation for being viscous attack dogs, but despite what television and movies may say, this is not their true nature. Rotties are incredibly loyal, which makes them superb watchdogs, and they will protect their family fearlessly – but to be viscous, they must be trained that way. When properly trained, socialized and exercised from puppyhood, Rotties are even tempered and dignified companions. They do not buddy up to just any newcomer, but rather take their time to decide who is worthy of their time and affection. With their families they are affectionate and playful, and most Rottweiler owners note that their dogs seem to not know how large they are, wanting to cuddle up on the couch or the bed. For experienced dog owners who have the time to commit to a large breed, the Rottweiler is a true blue friend.
Rottweilers need moderate exercise to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. They are far too large for apartment life and are much better suited for the suburbs. Rotties should be walked several times a day, and allowed to have an hour or so of running time, as well. It is important for your Rottie to burn off as much energy as possible during the day, as a bored Rottweiler will chew and can destroy your living room in no time flat. In the summer months, a Rottweiler's exercise should be limited, however, as their black coats make them prone to overheating.
Rottweilers are not the most agile dogs in the world, but they do appreciate the extra time and exercise involved in agility activities. Rottweilers were originally used to drive cattle and haul carts, and they enjoy having a "job" to do. Agility requires them to think and obey, this giving them a "job." If you can't do agility, walking your Rottie with a backpack can help make him feel as though he is "working" and also provides a more extensive workout.
Rotties can be a handful to train, and novice dog owners can sometimes become overwhelmed by the task. This large breed often exhibits dominance and assumes he is the one in charge of the house. Rules and boundaries must be enforced with 100% consistency – if you give a Rottweiler an inch, he will take a mile (and then some).
Training should be conducted confidence and firmness, but never harshness. A Rottweiler needs to respect you in order to accept leadership from you, and his response to anger and physical punishment is t disregard you as the leader and assume the role himself. Training should begin early, before any bad habits can develop. Socialization should also be conducted early and often. Rotties are naturally wary of strangers, so they must learn that guests are welcome into his home.
Well bred Rotties can be a joy to live with and are never aggressive toward strangers, no matter how wary they may be. Indiscriminate breeding of this popular dog, however, has caused many Rotties to be born with unstable blood lines. It is important that potential owners conduct extensive research on a breeder before adopting. Aggression is not a natural Rottweiler tendency, and any breeder who claims otherwise should be avoided.
Rottweilers love to chew, and if not properly exercised or given enough of his own interesting bones to chew, he will become bored and turn to household items. Their jaws are tremendously strong and Rotties can make quick work of furniture.
The ideal Rottweiler is a medium large, robust and powerful dog, black with clearly defined rust markings. His compact and substantial build denotes great strength, agility and endurance. Dogs are characteristically more massive throughout with larger frame and heavier bone than bitches. Bitches are distinctly feminine, but without weakness of substance or structure.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Dogs--24 inches to 27 inches. Bitches--22 inches to 25 inches, with preferred size being mid-range of each sex. Correct proportion is of primary importance, as long as size is within the standard's range. The length of body, from prosternum to the rearmost projection of the rump, is slightly longer than the height of the dog at the withers, the most desirable proportion of the height to length being 9 to 10. The Rottweiler is neither coarse nor shelly. Depth of chest is approximately fifty percent (50%) of the height of the dog. His bone and muscle mass must be sufficient to balance his frame, giving a compact and very powerful appearance. Serious Faults--Lack of proportion, undersized, oversized, reversal of sex characteristics (bitchy dogs, doggy bitches).
Of medium length, broad between the ears; forehead line seen in profile is moderately arched; zygomatic arch and stop well developed with strong broad upper and lower jaws. The desired ratio of backskull to muzzle is 3 to 2. Forehead is preferred dry, however some wrinkling may occur when dog is alert. Expression is noble, alert, and self-assured. Eyes of medium size, almond shaped with well fitting lids, moderately deep-set, neither protruding nor receding. The desired color is a uniform dark brown. Serious Faults--Yellow (bird of prey) eyes, eyes of different color or size, hairless eye rim. Disqualification--Entropion. Ectropion. Ears of medium size, pendant, triangular in shape; when carried alertly the ears are level with the top of the skull and appear to broaden it. Ears are to be set well apart, hanging forward with the inner edge lying tightly against the head and terminating at approximately mid-cheek. Serious Faults--Improper carriage (creased, folded or held away from cheek/head). Muzzle--Bridge is straight, broad at base with slight tapering towards tip. The end of the muzzle is broad with well developed chin. Nose is broad rather than round and always black. Lips-Always black; corners closed; inner mouth pigment is preferred dark. Serious Faults--Total lack of mouth pigment (pink mouth). Bite and Dentition--Teeth 42 in number (20 upper, 22 lower), strong, correctly placed, meeting in a scissors bite--lower incisors touching inside of upper incisors. Serious Faults--Level bite; any missing tooth. Disqualifications--Overshot, undershot (when incisors do not touch or mesh); wry mouth; two or more missing teeth.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck--Powerful, well muscled, moderately long, slightly arched and without loose skin. Topline--The back is firm and level, extending in a straight line from behind the withers to the croup. The back remains horizontal to the ground while the dog is moving or standing. Body--The chest is roomy, broad and deep, reaching to elbow, with well pronounced forechest and well sprung, oval ribs. Back is straight and strong. Loin is short, deep and well muscled. Croup is broad, of medium length and only slightly sloping. Underline of a mature Rottweiler has a slight tuck-up. Males must have two normal testicles properly descended into the scrotum. Disqualification--Unilateral cryptorchid or cryptorchid males. Tail--Tail docked short, close to body, leaving one or two tail vertebrae. The set of the tail is more important than length. Properly set, it gives an impression of elongation of topline; carried slightly above horizontal when the dog is excited or moving.
Shoulder blade is long and well laid back. Upper arm equal in length to shoulder blade, set so elbows are well under body. Distance from withers to elbow and elbow to ground is equal. Legs are strongly developed with straight, heavy bone, not set close together. Pasterns are strong, springy and almost perpendicular to the ground. Feet are round, compact with well arched toes, turning neither in nor out. Pads are thick and hard. Nails short, strong and black. Dewclaws may be removed.
Angulation of hindquarters balances that of forequarters. Upper thigh is fairly long, very broad and well muscled. Stifle joint is well turned. Lower thigh is long, broad and powerful, with extensive muscling leading into a strong hock joint. Rear pasterns are nearly perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, hind legs are straight, strong and wide enough apart to fit with a properly built body. Feet are somewhat longer than the front feet, turning neither in nor out, equally compact with well arched toes. Pads are thick and hard. Nails short, strong, and black. Dewclaws must be removed.
Outer coat is straight, coarse, dense, of medium length and lying flat. Undercoat should be present on neck and thighs, but the amount is influenced by climatic conditions. Undercoat should not show through outer coat. The coat is shortest on head, ears and legs, longest on breeching. The Rottweiler is to be exhibited in the natural condition with no trimming. Fault--Wavy coat. Serious Faults--Open, excessively short, or curly coat; total lack of undercoat; any trimming that alters the length of the natural coat. Disqualification--Long coat.
Always black with rust to mahogany markings. The demarcation between black and rust is to be clearly defined. The markings should be located as follows: a spot over each eye; on cheeks; as a strip around each side of muzzle, but not on the bridge of the nose; on throat; triangular mark on both sides of prosternum;on forelegs from carpus downward to the toes; on inside of rear legs showing down the front of the stifle and broadening out to front of rear legs from hock to toes, but not completely eliminating black from rear of pasterns; un-der tail; black penciling on toes. The undercoat is gray, tan, or black. Quantity and location of rust markings is important and should not exceed ten percent of body color. Serious Faults--Straw-colored, excessive, insufficient or sooty markings; rust marking other than described above; white marking any place on dog (a few rust or white hairs do not constitute a marking). Disqualifications--Any base color other than black; absence of all markings.
The Rottweiler is a trotter. His movement should be balanced, harmonious, sure, powerful and unhindered, with strong forereach and a powerful rear drive. The motion is effortless, efficient, and ground-covering. Front and rear legs are thrown neither in nor out, as the imprint of hind feet should touch that of forefeet. In a trot the forequarters and hindquarters are mutually coordinated while the back remains level, firm and relatively motionless. As speed increases the legs will converge under body towards a center line.
The Rottweiler is basically a calm, confident and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment. He has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making him especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog.
The behavior of the Rottweiler in the show ring should be controlled, willing and adaptable, trained to submit to examination of 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/her, 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.
Faults - The foregoing is a description of the ideal Rottweiler. Any structural fault that detracts from the above described working dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
Entropion, ectropion. Overshot, undershot (when incisors do not touch or mesh); wry mouth; two or more missing teeth. Unilateral cryptorchid or cryptorchid males. Long coat. Any base color other than black; absence of all markings. A dog that in the opinion of the judge attacks any person in the ring.
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Sources: American Kennel Club