Even if you don’t know the breed, you’ve probably seen a Rottweiler.

They’re mostly black with some tan patches here and there, tall and muscular with short, tight fur, large heads, square jaws and small ears set back. They appear cuddly and intimidating at the same time. In addition to being amazing watchdogs, they will, with the right nurturing and training, make amazing companions as well.

These reliable, warm and loving dogs get on easily with humans, and the males of the breed, in particular, can be dominant, so obedience training is essential. Equally essential, are exercise and boundaries, as Rottweilers are working dogs. This means they’re bred to respond to human attention and command, thrive on activity, and enjoy the stimulation of tasks and games. They don’t drool much, won’t snore a lot, and are relatively easy to care for despite their significant size and mass.

Rottweilers’ height ranges from 55cm for a small female to 70cm for a tall male, and adult weights run from 36kg to 54kg similarly.

This mastiff family breed nearly went extinct in the 1800s. The close shave was due to smaller dogs taking over their tasks and gaining popularity, but they survived the fad and their presence has persisted till today, making them one of the oldest breeds.

In antiquity, “they accompanied the Romans through Germany,” Hill’s Pets explains, “driving their cattle and guarding outposts. Many were left behind and, in the town of Rottweil in southern Germany, they became the breed we know today.”

They’re more than security dogs these days, though, making important contributions as service dogs, in therapy and even in the armed forces. How could they enrich your life?


Top ten attributes of the rottweiler


1. Effective guard dogs. They are visually intimidating, brave, confident dogs who are not afraid to take a stand. The males are particularly assertive. All Rotties will need to be disciplined with positive reinforcement so that they develop manageable barking habits.

2. They can be trained from young. And should be. They’re wilful but clever and love to learn. They require attention and consistency and because they’re intelligent and strong, they should be trained in obedience from the get-go. Early training will ensure their territorial instincts are controlled, as pointed out by Vortex Mag.

3. They’re highly obedient. Given healthy boundaries and consistent guidance and discipline, they’ll obey your every command with pleasure. There’s nothing quite so comforting as a dedicated watchdog who also listens while she guards. Grr…

4. They’re sociable. Rotties enjoy engaging with others and make wonderful companions for this reason. They do need appropriate introductions to new people and other pets because they’re cautious creatures. If they’re left outside a lot, or alone suddenly or extensively, however, they may suffer psychologically from the neglect, become depressed and anxious through it and develop troubling behaviours as a result.

5. They love ‘jobs’. From driving cattle to carrying bags, the Rottie really loves a To-Do list. They’ll mind your six-year-old (who knows how to behave around a dog), pull garden refuse to the compost heap, and much more. Don’t suppose you have a herd of cattle that needs to be moved to the next field? Pushing the dog food bag around a bit might do just as well. If it’s sealed!

6. They’re loyal to your little ones. With early training and socialisation with children (and other dogs and pets), they become a supportive and active part of the family. They are guardians first, however, so it is important to have an adult human around if they’re with a group of young ones including your own little one. This is to monitor, for example, their response to an innocent kiddy squabble. It could lead a protective Rottie to stand up for “her” human child.

7. They thrive on exercise. This breed needs a lot of aerobic activity to balance its bulk. If they don’t get enough, they may become obese, which is a great risk to their health in the present and in the future. They make a willing companion on runs, hikes and long walks and the beautiful beast is also a great deterrent to would-be criminals!

8. A (true) friend for life. These dogs are deeply loyal once they trust you. The American Kennel Club describes them as having “a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.” In other words, if you prove yourself, you’ll never walk alone.

9. Great for cuddles. In addition to protecting your happy home and being a part of the family, the Rottweiler’s sheer size makes it an amazing couch companion for Netflix binge sessions. Remember that dogs rarely bite their humans and when it does happen it’s usually because something is seriously amiss with the dog. If you are chilling together as usual and hear a growl, retreat promptly, gently and slowly, and consider a vet check-up ASAP – something that you can’t see might be very sore.

10. Perfect for experienced dog-lovers. Hill’s Pet points out that Rotties need “extensive and continuous socialisation” so they make a great challenge for those interested in a hands-on relationship with their dog and “need a firm, patient hand and a knowledgeable owner.” They also take their time to grow up, oftentimes not reaching full adult size until 2 or 3 years old and they live for 8 – 12 years, so will best suit owners willing to invest time and energy over a long period. “Without ongoing companionship, socialization, obedience training, and supervision,” Vortex Mag warns, “he is ‘too much dog’ for many households.” In other words, it’s important to honestly assess if you are “enough human” for the many charms of the robust Rottweiler.

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