A complete guide to the Rottweiler breed for owners and prospective puppy buyers.
- Rottweiler History
- Rottweiler Characteristics
- Rottweiler Colors
- Rottweiler Size
- Rottweiler Temperament
- Rottweilers As Family Pets
- Rottweiler Behavior
- Rottweiler Shedding
- Rottweiler Training
- Rottweiler Exercise
- Rottweiler Health Problems
- Rottweiler Lifespan
- Rottweiler Breeders
- Rottweiler Puppies
- Rottweiler Price
- Rottweiler Cross Breeds
- Is A Rottweiler Right For Me?
In this article we will be taking a look at the iconic Rottweiler breed.
Allowing you to get to know this fascinating dog, and to help then to decide whether they could provide the right sort of home for one.
The history of the Rottweiler is an interesting one. Their name is thought to have been derived from the name of their German town of origin Rottweil, pronounced “Rott-Vile”.
Believed to have been cattle dogs originally, they are thought to have been bred to accompany herds, protecting them from predators and poachers.
In more recent years they have played roles in some countries police, military and customs departments.
There were many breeds of dog put to the same use as Rottweilers, who probably make up parts of their ancestry.
These include the Molossus, Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Appenzeller and Entlebucher.
As they were involved in cattle drives, they could have potential met far more breeds along their journey.
The original Rottweiler breed standard was compiled in 1901 in Germany. The first Rottweiler was imported to the UK in 1936, however they did not gain popularity in this country until the 1960s.
You can find a full and fascinating history of the Rottweiler on the Rottweiler Club website here.
The Rottweiler is a large, well muscled and powerful dog. They have a broad head and barrel chest, with a well proportioned body and level back.
Their ears are titled and their muzzle should be long, with wide nostrils.
According to the breed standard, they should display great strength, manoeuvrability and endurance. Their forehead should be arched and their muzzle deep.
Rottweilers are black and tan in color. They have short, coarse, dense coats of fur and neat markings.
Rottweilers have tan eyebrow markings above their eyes, tan muzzles and tan chests and feet.
Rottweilers have short, easy to manage coats with a top coat and undercoat. The top coat will be medium, coarse and flat. It should be a little longer on the backs of their legs, but should never be long or wavy.
They do shed although not prolifically, and you can get away with minimal grooming of once or twice a week to keep their coat in a good condition.
Rottweilers are very large dogs. They can weigh up to 110 lbs and stand up to 27 inches high at the shoulder.
They are packed with muscle, and as such make very strong and powerful dogs.
If you have a Rottweiler puppy, you can estimate his final size using the puppy growth chart below:
Rottweilers have a reputation for being tough dogs, but they are also generally very calm and biddable. They are loyal and loving to their families, although they are also defensive of them and their homes.
This is an attribute which some people love about them as a breed, but also one which has caused them to fall into trouble in the wrong hands.
For most homes where a Rottweiler is primarily a family pet, these guarding instincts can be trouble if they are improperly managed.
Do not attempt to dominate your Rottweiler, instead work with him in a positive manner. Help him to learn that spending time with you is a happy and rewarding experience.
Rottweiler Family Dog
Due to their intense bonds with their family, Rottweilers can suffer from serious separation anxiety if not given the attention that they want.
They therefore need to spend most of their time in the company of a member of their family.
They are not clingy dogs in general who will need constant physical contact, however they do want to be in your proximity. If you leave the room, they will probably get up and follow you.
Rottweilers are therefore not suited to families who work away from home for much of the day, or who take part in activities where a dog would not be welcome.
Rottweilers and Children
Although Rottweilers can be very kind and devoted to the children in their family, they are not normally advised as pets for homes with young kids.
Even the kindest, calmest Rottweiler is still a very big dog. This means that he could accidentally knock over a small child.
In addition to this, although Rotties can adore their family’s children, they can still be wary of their visiting friends or on rare occasions mistake them for prey when confronted with their strange noises or behavior.
Due to their size, guarding nature and the potential risks involved with these factors, it is sensible to consider looking at another breed if you have very small children, or to wait until they are older before brining a Rottweiler puppy into the home.
Rottweiler socialisation is essential from the week that you bring your puppy home. In bringing home any guarding breed puppy, you need to weigh up risks of exposure to disease prior to their vaccinations being complete with the risk of them having serious behavioral problems later on in life.
Give your new puppy a day to settle into their house, then start on a programme of intense socialisation.
Ensure that you have at least one new visitor to the house every day, and that they come with treats and lots of positive interactions for your puppy.
Help them to learn from the word go that anyone who arrives on your property is a lovely friend. Try to have a range of different types of people come to visit, especially those with children.
Until their vaccinations have been completed, carry your pup with you everywhere you go. Make sure they meet and interact with everyone you can. Young, old, bearded, wearing hats. The more people your puppy sees and meets, the more likely he or she will be as an adult to not feel threatened and therefore not see the need to guard you or themselves around them.
As big, powerful dogs, Rottweilers can potentially do a lot of damage to your home if improperly managed.
Separation anxiety or sheer boredom can result in extreme chewing of furniture and other items in your home if they are left for longer periods of time than they are comfortable with.
If inadequately socialised your Rottweiler will almost certainly guard your home against visitors. A well socialized Rottweiler will not be overly friendly with your guests, but will be comfortable with them coming and going.
Rottweiler training is essential.
They are intelligent, co-operative dogs who are keen to work with their owners.
They are also great sources of power and determination, who need to be steered into behaviors and manners that fit in with our human world!
Rottweilers respond very well to positive reinforcement training.
Not only will it teach them good behavior, but it will help to keep their keen mind engaged as well.
Exercise is very important for your Rottweiler.
He will need a couple of good walks each day, in addition to his regular training sessions.
Due to their predisposition for heart problems and obesity, keeping your Rottweiler fit and at a healthy weight is very sensible.
Rottweiler Health Problems
Sadly, the Rottweiler breed has a lot of potential health problems to contend with. The most common of which are related to their bones.
Hip dysplasia is very common in Rottweilers. The breed median hip score of Rottweilers is 8. Only buy a Rottie puppy from parents who both have hips scoring 8 or less in total.
Rottweilers can also suffer from elbow dysplasia. If you are buying a Rottweiler puppy, make sure that both parents have elbow scores of 0 to reduce the chances of your puppy developing it as he grows.
Rottweilers have a high rate of cancer, including osteosarcoma. This is a particularly aggressive form of bone cancer that is found in several of the large and giant breeds of dog.
It causes dogs to initially become lame, and as it progresses can result in amputation or sadly require euthanasia.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
Osteochondrosis of the shoulder, ankle or spine are a risk in the Rottweiler breed. OCD occurs as a result of the bone growing improperly, causing restricted movement and blood flow at the joints. OCD can cause a dog to become lame or develop arthritis without surgery.
Panosteitis is an inflammation of the leg bones, common in large and giant breeds of dogs. The condition does pass after a time, but can be very painful for the dog and result in severe limping and lameness. It occurs most often in younger dogs, and is treated with anti-inflammatories and restricted exercise.
Sub-Aortic Stenosis (SAS)
SAS is a type of heart disease often associated with the Rottweiler, as well as some other large breeds such as the Newfoundland and Golden Retriever.
It causes a lack of blood flow from the heart to the aorta, and can result in an otherwise apparently healthy dog suddenly dropping dead without warning.
There is a DNA test for SAS. To avoid serious heartbreak down the line, make sure that both of your potential pup’s parents are clear.
Hypothyroidism in Rottweilers occurs when their thyroid gland does not produce the quantity of hormones it is supposed to. This results in all sorts of symptoms including tiredness, weakness, loss of hair and appetite.
It is a fairly common health problem in several larger breeds of dogs, and one which usually becomes apparent after around 4 years of age.
von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
vWD is a bleeding disorder, similar to haemophilia. Dogs with vWD don’t clot properly and can continue bleeding for protracted amounts of time after injury.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA blindness is fairly common in many of the pedigree dog breeds. Fortunately, it has a DNA test and can therefore be avoided by potential puppy owners. Make sure that your pup’s parents are both PRA clear, or that only one is a carrier.
As with many larger dog breeds, Rottweilers can be prone to bloat. Where the stomach becomes distended with gas. You can reduce the chances of your dog getting bloat by helping them to slow down their eating pace with a slow feeder, and by keeping their food bowls at ground level.
Rottweilers live on average between just 8 and 9 years, according to two large studies on mortality in dogs.
Only visit breeders who are committed to full health testing, and who are happy for you to view both of the parents.
Once you have found a Rottweiler breeder than you are happy with, you will in all likelihood need to wait for them to have a litter of puppies. Some breeders will only have one litter a year, and this will usually be in the Spring or Summer time. It is entirely worth waiting a few months for the right puppy, rather than getting one you are less confident in just because it is available sooner.
Good breeders often reserve all the pups in the litter before they are even born. However, most will not require a deposit until they are at least three weeks old and you have had the opportunity to visit them. Be wary of a breeder who asks for a full payment before you have had a chance to view the litter or parents.
The puppies should be playful and confident, not shying away from visitors but rushing up to greet them in a wave of fur.
If you are lucky enough to have the pick of your litter, then you will need to decide whether you want a male or female puppy.
Don’t be afraid to let the breeder lead your choice when it comes to which pup to bring home from the litter. They will be the most familiar with the puppies’ temperaments.
Make sure that you meet both parents, as this is a guarding breed so a confident stable nature is essential.
The price of a Rottweiler puppy will depend upon where you are located. In the UK it will range from £600 to £1,000, in the US it will be anywhere around $1,500 to $3,000.
Bear in mind that the initial buying cost of your puppy will in no way reflect the amount of money he will cost you over his life.
Ensure that you are able to budget for weekly food costs, veterinary insurance, annual vaccinations and any one off costs including beds, toys and training equipment.
Insurance is very important for owners of Rottweilers, as they can have some very serious and expensive health problems. This will probably not come cheaply, and you can find out more about insuring your dog here.
If you are concerned about the potential health problems associated with the Rottweiler breed, then you might be interested in a mixed breed Rottweiler.
If you buy a first cross, then this puppy’s parents will need to have both had all of the health tests associated with that breed. Outcrossing can reduce the chances of the puppy having some inherited diseases, but this is not guaranteed.
How they will look, their characteristics and temperament will be complete luck of the draw. So make sure that you are completely happy with both parents before committing to a puppy.
Is A Rottweiler The Right Breed For Me?
Fully grown Rottweilers require owners with a lot of knowledge of positive reinforcement training and how to apply it.
They also need large houses, big gardens and lots of time to devote to socialization and exercise.
They are not well suited to environments with young children, or where the adults are out for much of the day at work. Nor are they suited to people who are not happy to commit to hours of socialization and the use of positive training methods.
If you are happy that you can provide the perfect environment for a Rottweiler puppy, then you need to have a serious think about the health implications of bringing one home.
Only go to a breeder who has fully health tested their breeding stock, has no history of cancer or heart failure in the lines. Even then, ensure that you are happy to commit to a full cover lifetime insurance policy, to make sure that your puppy has the best possible chance of a long and healthy life.