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Rottweiler Breed Summary

Strong, Powerful, Loyal, Calm and Protective Doggies

The Rottweilers’ ancestors, a Mastiff-type dog, laid the foundation to this newer breed, having marched to Southern Germany with Romans during Ancient times, they mated with local dogs to create a similar breed to the one we all know today. Over 600 years later, new inhabitants of this same area found red tiles left behind from the Romans and named their new town ‘das Rote Wil’, or in English, ‘The Red tile’, thus the name of this historic breed! This breed was then used to drive cattle from town to town for butchering, where it nearly became extinct. It wasn’t until 1882, where a Rottweiler was exhibited as a dog show, that the breed began to flourish. They are now well-known for working alongside the police and also as family pets!

Kennel Club Group Working
Lifespan 8-10 years
Height (at the withers) Males 61-69cm (24-27 inches) / Females 56-63cm (22-25 inches)
Weight Males 50-60kg (110-132lbs) / Females 35-48kg (77-106lbs)
Coat Harsh, Thick Short Double Coat
Colour Black and Tan; Black and Mahogany
Eye colour Brown
Common health issues Hip Dysplasia; Elbow Dysplasia; Cancer; Eye Problems; Entropion; Ectropion; Cruciate Ligament Rupture; Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD); Wet Eczema; Cold Water Tail; Bloat; Aortic Stenosis.
Other Names Rott, Rottie

This breed are fierce guardians of their ‘hooman’ families and similar to their ancestry, remain as a strong and powerful dog. They make natural guard dogs, due to their suspicion of strangers and powerful stance. Because of their protective personalities, it’s vital that these doggies are socialised from a young age, so that their protectiveness can be channelled more efficiently and not take over!  Without proper training, they can become bullies, which is not how this breed has been reared to be. They are not naturally vicious dogs and are easy to train due to their high intelligence. They also make wonderful companions, despite some people’s pre-conceptions about the breed. They are a loyal, misunderstood group of doggies, but with the right owner, will make a fabulous friend and protector for many years.

The Rottweiler’s origins are unclear, although it is generally thought that they descend from a mastiff-type dog known as the Molossus. These dogs drove the cattle of the Roman army as they invaded Europe and, over time, were crossed with native dogs such as the Entlebucher, otherwise known as the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Certainly Rottweilers were common in Southern Germany and Switzerland, and gained their name from the town of Rottweil, a busy livestock trading town in the Black Forest. They were bred to herd and guard livestock and, over time, they gained a reputation for loyalty and bravery, which spread to other regions. 

The Rottweiler was also frequently used by the butchers of Rottweil, and their original name Rottweiler Metzgerhund literally translated as Rottweil Butchers’ Dog. As well as their herding and guarding, they pulled the meat carts to market. Butchers and cattle traders would also tie their purses around the dogs’ necks to deter thieves. It is thought that the breed has changed little physically since those days.

By the mid 19th century cattle were being transported by rail, and so the need for Rottweilers declined. The breed suffered greatly, and became almost extinct. In 1882 just one poor quality Rottweiler was shown at the Hellibron show in Germany. However, in 1901, the Rottweiler and Leonberger Club was founded and wrote the first standard. In the build-up to the First World War, the German police wanted working dogs and, by 1910, the Rottweiler was their official choice of breed. During World War I Rottweilers were widely used as messenger, ambulance, draught and guard dogs.

A number of breed clubs were founded in Germany over the years. The Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub (DRK) was founded in 1914, followed by the  Süddeutscher Rottweiler-Klub (SDRK) the following year, which eventually became the International Rottweiler Club (IRK). While the DRK registered around 500 dogs, the SDRK had around 3000. The two clubs had different aims, with the DRK interested in producing working dogs, while the SDRK was concerned with appearance. Eventually, the various clubs amalgamated, and formed the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK) in 1921. This has remained the most long standing Club and today promotes good breeding practices across the world, with a focus on preserving the breed’s working abilities. 

It is believed that the Rottweiler first arrived in the States in the 1920s, when it was imported by a German emigrant. The first litter was bred in 1930, and the first dog, Stina v Felsenmeer registered with the American Kennel Club in 1931. It wasn’t until 1936 that the Rottweiler was imported into the UK by a Mrs Thelma Gray, with the Kennel Club registering the breed that year, and they were shown at Crufts. However, the dog wasn’t bred from and the breed vanished from the country. After World War II, a male and female were imported by Captain Roy-Smith, but this pair failed to mate successfully. It took the introduction of another female to breed the first litter. 

Rottweiler numbers remained low on both sides of the Atlantic until the 1960s. In the mid-1990s, the Rottweiler was the most registered dog with the American Kennel Club, with more than 100,000 registered. However, this led to an increase in irresponsible breeding, which led to some health and temperament issues, leading to bad publicity for the breed and a reduction in popularity. However, dedicated breeders have hard worked to correct these problems, and the dog has become more popular again.