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 Photo of Rottweiler
Photo: courtesy of Mrs Karen Harvey

Rottweiler Books

Group: Working - Breed Standard


The breed is an ancient one, and its history stretches back to the Roman Empire. In those times, the legions travelled with their meat on the hoof (having live cattle) and required the assistance of working dogs to herd the cattle. One route the army traveled was through Württemberg and on to the small market town of Rottweil. The principal ancestor of the first Rottweilers during this time was supposed to be the Roman war dog, local sheepdogs the army met on its travels, and dogs with molosser appearance coming from England and The Netherlands. During the Roman Empire, these Rottweilers and other war dogs even made up large dog-only platoons, which would be sent to attack enemy forces.

This region eventually became an important cattle area, and the descendants of the Roman cattle dogs proved their worth in both driving and protecting the cattle from robbers and wild animals. It would be a brave villain who would try to remove the purse around the neck of a Rottweiler Metzgershund (Butcher's Dog of Rottweil).

However, by the end of the 19th Century, the breed had declined so much that in 1900 there was only one female to be found in the town of Rottweil. But the build up to the first World War saw a great demand for "police dogs", and that led to a revival in interest for the Rottweiler. Its enormous strength, its intelligence, and its ability to take orders made it a natural weapon of war.

From that time, it has become popular with dog owners, and in 1936 Rottweilers were exhibited at Crufts.

A popular misconception about the Rottweiler is the breed was used for dog fighting, when, in fact, it was neither bred nor used for dog fighting.


Dogs height at shoulder: between 63-69 cms (25-27 ins); bitches between 58-64 cms (23-25 ins).

The breed is Black with clearly defined tan or mahogany markings on the cheeks, muzzle, chest, legs, and eyebrows. The markings on the chest should form two distinct upside-down triangles, a tiny patch of white in between is not acceptable for show dogs. The cheeks should have clearly defined spots that should be separate from the muzzle tan. The muzzle tan should continue over the throat. Each eyebrow should have a spot. Markings on the legs should not be above a third of the leg. On each toe should be a black 'pencil' mark. Underneath the tail should also be tan. Nails are black. Inside the mouth, the cheeks may have black patches, although the tongue is pink. The skull is typically massive, but without excessive jowls. The forehead is wrinkly when the Rottweiler is alert. A Rottweiler's eyes are a warm, dark brown — any other color may not be acceptable as part of the "pure breed". The expression should be calm, intelligent, alert, and fearless. The ears are small drop ears that lie flat to the head. 'Flying' ears are considered undesirable by some breeders. The coat is medium length and consists of a waterproof undercoat and a coarse top coat. Rottweilers tend to be low maintenance, although they experience shedding during certain periods of the year.

Naturally, Rottweilers are a tailed dog. Tails were originally removed to the first joint prevent breakage and infection that would occur when the tail became covered in mud and other debris collected from pastures and livestock. The chest is deep and should reach the dog's elbows, giving tremendous lung capacity. The back should be straight; never sloping.


In general, Rottweilers are fond of children, very devoted, quick to learn and eager to please. They thrive on mental stimulation. Rottweilers are playful animals who may frequently demand attention from their owners if they are not receiving the mental stimulation they desire and will find creative and often destructive ways to get it if they are excessively neglected. The Rottweiler is notably a steady dog with a self-assured nature. The Rottweiler's large size and incredible strength make this an important point to consider, and for this reason the Rottweiler is a breed that only experienced dog owners should consider.

Breed Health

The Rottweiler is a tough and hardy breed, but potential owners should be aware of known health issues that can affect this dog. The most serious genetic health risks a Rottweiler faces are canine hip dysplasia (CHD), subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS), elbow dysplasia, and osteosarcoma. Other conditions which may affect this breed include hypothyroidism, gastric torsion (bloat), and allergies. Rottweiler owners should have their dogs' hips, elbows, heart, and eyes tested by a veterinarian before breeding. DNA tests should also be performed to screen for von Willebrand's disease (vWD). Rottweilers typically live between 8 and 11 years.

Breed Care





In the hands of a responsible owner, a well-trained and socialized Rottweiler can be a reliable alert dog and loving companion. A poorly trained or untrained Rottweiler, however, can be destructive, and if allowed to run-at-large may pose a significant physical threat due to its size and strength. They thrive on mental stimulation. They can also be strong-willed at times, however, and should thus be trained in a firm, fair and consistent manner. Rottweilers respond readily to a clear and benevolent leader. Early socialization and exposure to as many new people, animals, and situations as possible are crucial to producing a dog that is tolerant of new environments. See our books on training

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