An in-depth look at the Rottweiler
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
The Rottweiler is the ninth most popular breed according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). When it comes to “Rotties,” people seem to either love them or hate them, but any fan will tell you about the intelligence, love, and loyalty of this breed.
Rottweilers stem from Roman dogs brought to Rottweil, Germany, around A.D. 75. Rottweilers have had many jobs, including bear hunting early on, herding and guarding cattle, pulling carts, and, more recently, police and guide work. The Rottweiler almost went extinct in the late 1800s when cattle herding became illegal in Germany. However, through careful breeding, it was re-established. The Rottweiler was officially recognized by the AKC in 1931.
The Rottweiler is distinctive in size and demeanor. According to the breed standard, the “Rottweiler is a medium large, robust, and powerful dog, black with clearly defined rust markings,” and its “substantial build denotes great strength, agility, and endurance.” Male Rottweilers can be up to 27 inches at the shoulder and females 25 inches according to their breed standard. The markings can vary in shade from light rust to mahogany. Most Rottweilers in the U.S. have docked tails, but many places ban docking to leave their thick tail.
Rottweilers should be calm and confident. They tend to be aloof and do not lend themselves to immediate friendships. They have “an inherent desire to protect home and family” and are intelligent dogs of “extreme hardiness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work.” These traits make proper socialization and training very important. Rottweilers can be seen as stubborn, but these dogs herd by pushing their weight around — the same with people if they have other ideas than you. Most of them like to have “a job,” such as herding, guarding, agility, or obedience.
Rottweiler lifespans average 8-10 years but vary greatly. There are studies looking into why there is such a wide age range. Similar studies are underway as to why breeds like the Rottweiler are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Many factors contribute to joint dysplasia, including genetics, injury, age of neutering, and weight. Many Rottweilers like to eat and are prone to obesity.
Rottweilers may have deformities with the eyelids, either rolling in, known as entropion, or rolling out, ectropion. These can be corrected with surgery, but being a genetic condition, careful screening can help avoid the need for this procedure.
Unfortunately, this breed is vulnerable to cancer, particularly of the bones. Heart disease is also seen in Rottweilers. Rottweilers can be more sensitive than other dogs to the deadly parvovirus. Proper vaccinations as puppies are paramount.
The Rottweiler’s history has been tainted with stories of aggression. Reputable breeders have worked hard to undo this negative image and breed sound, healthy animals. Research is important to see if this breed is right for you and to find that perfect, loyal friend.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.