It is ultimately thanks to the efforts of enthusiastic lovers of this breed that this obedient and hardworking breed was able to prove its special abilities as a working and guard dog for the police, army, and rescue services and as a guide dog. The General German Rottweiler Club (ADRK) was founded as early as 1907, and recognition as an independent dog breed in Germany followed a short time later. In 1930, the first specimens made their way to Great Britain and the USA, and recognition by the associations there was not long in coming.
The Rottweiler dogs owe their name to the oldest town in Baden-Württemberg – Rottweil. According to tradition, the cattle herding and driving dogs brought over the Alps by the Romans were mixed with local dogs.
The cattle dealers and butchers – often in one person – used these dogs in the 19th century to effectively guard and drive their animal capital. The name “Metzgerhund” was therefore synonymous with the Rottweiler until the beginning of the 20th century.
With the advent of modern modes of transportation, the specialized German four-legged friend is losing its traditional use. Herds of cattle and sheep no longer need him. He is still in demand: in the police and military services.
History of the Rottweiler
The ancestors of the modern Rottweiler were molasses and mastiff-like dogs that accompanied the Roman army during their campaigns of conquest in Europe. The task of these dogs was mainly to protect the herds of cattle brought by the Romans to ensure the food of their legionnaires. They also proved to be extremely adept at hunting wild boars.
They also served as guard dogs on outposts set up by the Romans. After the cattle had been eaten by the legionnaires, the dogs protecting them were simply left behind, and the guard dogs were often “forgotten” there when the Roman warriors later retreated from the occupied territories.
Many Swiss dog breeds have their ancestors in these dogs, as the Romans’ travel route was across the Alps and the Gotthard Pass. From what was then Germania, the Romans only conquered the areas on the left bank of the Rhine and the southern part of present-day Germany.
There they erected the border wall known as the “Limes” to protect them from the Germanic warriors they feared very much. At that time, intensive livestock trading was already taking place in the Swabian town of Rottweil, south of the Limes, and over the next 1800 years, the town developed into one of the main hubs for the German and southern European livestock trade.
By crossing their frugal and hardy native herding and driver dogs with the Roman dogs, the local butchers and cattle dealers bred a distinct new breed that had been known since the Middle Ages as the “Rottweiler butcher’s dog”. He served not only as a drover and as a draft dog for small wagons but was also used as a guard dog for the cattle traders’ journeys, which were still dangerous at the time.
In order to avoid robberies, travelers’ purses were often attached to the dog’s collar. The vivacious, powerful appearance of the Rottweiler did not leave most robbers unimpressed, so they voluntarily refrained from their illegal project.
When driving cattle was banned in Germany in the 19th century and the herds could only be transported by the then-new railway, driving dogs became superfluous. Since the Rottweilers could no longer earn their own living as a result, their numbers dwindled in favor of smaller and therefore easier to feed dogs, so that by the beginning of the 20th century they were almost extinct.
To this day, the big strong dog is kept as a working dog. In addition, the Rottweiler has a firm place as a family dog - not an easy undertaking at a time when keeping them in some federal states is subject to restrictive regulations.
Every dog has the potential to pose a danger to humans and animals. Add to that the Rottweiler’s strength, size, and sometimes bad reputation for biting incidents. Neglect or even misdirection can mutate the animal into a dangerous weapon.
The self-confident four-legged friend with a pronounced protective instinct is not a beginner’s dog! The required consistent and very early training is a must. Nevertheless, the always attentive, willing to learn and friendly Rottweiler does not need a hard hand. Assuming good and early imprinting and rearing, the Rottweiler develops into a loyal and reliable house and yard dog.
However, the great physical and psychological presence of the self-confident animal requires an experienced and consistent dog handler. The FCI standard shows under the number 147 for the male weight of about one hundredweight. Rottweiler bitches weigh about 42 kilograms. The latter reach a shoulder height of between 56 and 63 centimeters, the males add another five centimeters.