The Rottweiler originated in Rottweil, Germany and was used not only to herd and protect stock but also pulled the butchers cart to market. The money pouches were carried around the dog's neck to keep it safe.
The introduction of the railroad to transport stock led to the decline of the breed until World War I, when the need for police dogs arose. They served in various roles through both the first and second world wars and their well-developed guarding instincts gave them a fierce reputation.
This reputation stems from the fact that the Rottweiler is a powerful breed and this risk factor needs to be taken into consideration when choosing this breed as a pet. As with any breed, potentially dangerous behaviour usually results from irresponsible ownership, abuse, neglect, or lack of socialisation and training.
Often affectionately known as the "Rottie", Rottweilers are generally good-natured, devoted, intelligent and obedient. They love their owners and can be very playful, with a clownish manner. They are self-confident and can portray a discriminating aloofness in deciding who they are going to have a friendship with on a day-to-day basis. They are protective of their home and family and tend to not welcome strangers until properly introduced. Obedience training and socialisation from an early age brings out the best in these dogs and is thought to be essential for the breed.
They are a relatively healthy breed but as with all large breed dogs, hip dysplasia can be a problem. Having documentation of the hip scores for the breeding line of your puppy can help you not only choose a quality puppy, but can also save some heartache later in life. Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a joint disease which affects the shoulder, can also be a problem due to the breed's growth rate. This makes it more essential that they are fed a complete and balanced diet, specifically tailored for large breed puppies, until the age of around 18 months and are not overfed as puppies. Keeping them well-exercised and lean will not only help to make a happy dog but also help to prevent health issues in the future.
This article is dedicated to the Rottweilers of the Totally Vets family, past and present. These gorgeous photos have been provided by Debbie, mother of Cole, and Anna, mother of Stein.