Are Rottweilers Dangerous or Do They Make Good Pets?
Rottweilers date back to the days of the Romans where they traveled with the army to protect the cattle, which were used to feed the troops.
Their natural guarding instinct, herding behavior, and high intelligence made them well suited for this work.
However, are Rottweilers dangerous or have they been unfairly labeled as overly aggressive by negative media? Let's examine their history and other Rottweiler facts before we jump to conclusions.
The breed gained the nickname “butcher dogs” from their work in the town of Rottweill, Germany, where they guarded the butcher shops and the butchers. In addition, they were also called Rottweil dogs, with the moniker derived from the town's name.
The animals were highly trusted and used to transport money, and “it was said that the neck of a Rottweiler was safer than any bank vault.”1 Like several other working breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, boxers or Great Danes, they are descended from the molloser dogs.
Are Rottweilers Dangerous?Click thumbnail to view full-size
Just the Facts!
Here is a thumbnail sketch of the breed.
- Origin: Germany
- Nickname/alternative names: Rottweil dog, Rottie
- Group: Working
- First AKC registration: 1931 – Stina V. Felsenmeer, dog number 805867
- Use: Herding, guard, police, military and butcher dogs
- Lifespan: 10 to 13 years
- Height/weight: 24 to 27 inches; 75 to 130 pounds
- Color/coat: Black with rust markings; double coated dogs (under and overcoat)
- Personality: Protective, loyal, obedient and affectionate
- Grooming: Brush and comb weekly. Trim nails, and clean ears as needed
- Need for attention: High
- Known health problems/heritable diseases: eye problems, osteochrondrosis dissecans (OCD), hip/elbow dysplasia, and neurological canine hemophilia
- Intelligence: Highly intelligent but a slow learner
- Social Skills: Good with family and other pets but standoffish with others.
Now, let's take a look at the characteristics of a Rottweiler.
It Doesn't Look Like Rottweilers Are Dangerous...
Characteristics of Rottweilers
The overall appearance of the Rottweiler is one of balance. The head and muzzle are broad but proportional. Powerful jaws, a coal-black nose, and a faintly wrinkled forehead combine with dark alert eyes to complete the face.
The triangular ears are wide set and can be cropped or natural. These are imposing formidable dogs that project an aura of power and strength. There should be a perceptible difference between males and females of the breed, with male Rottweilers exhibiting the massiveness that bears evidence of their mastiff ancestry.
Rottweilers are even-tempered dogs with a calm, dignified demeanor, not given to aggressiveness or excitement. They are eager to please and easy to train. Because of their need to work, your rottie will be happier if he has a job to do, such as fetching the paper. Boredom can be deadly for this breed and can lead to inappropriate behavior.
In spite of their good nature, Rottweilers are powerful dogs and require early socialization and lifelong obedience training to establish that the owner, not the dog, is the pack leader. These huge dogs could easily, but unintentionally, knock over a toddler with a paw or their tail.
In addition, they can be aggressive with other dogs or cats if they were not raised with them. Proper socialization and obedience training are as much for the protection of the dog as they are for others.
Is a Rottweiler the Breed for You?
Adding a large dog to any family requires one to make some lifestyle adjustments. For instance:
- If you do not have fenced yard, where will your Rottie exercise and play?
- Will you be able to give him the human interaction he needs?
- There may be problems buying insurance if you own a Rottie.
You must be willing to invest the time and money into training him; this training needs to be a lifelong commitment, not a one-time event.
Rottweilers are not good pets for apartment dwellers or those who do not have the physical strength to handle them.
They should not be left unsupervised with small children who may annoy or hurt them.
If your Rottweiler gets sick and you have to transport him to the vet, you will need a large vehicle. These are just some of the Rottweiler facts you need to consider before deciding if this is the best breed for you.
So...are Rottweilers dangerous..or should the finger of blame really be pointed at irresponsible owners? Any dog (or animal) has the potential to become aggressive if not properly trained, socialized or treated appropriately.
Here's an analogy. The meanest toy breed dog can only do so much damage. The jaws are tiny and exert little force. The chances of it hurting you fatally are slim. Conversely, the gentlest, best-trained large animal equipped with powerful jaws can hurt someone seriously by virtue of their tremendous size and power. The real key is proper training and socialization combined with responsible ownership.
The Complete Dog Book, Official Publication of the American Kennel Club, 18th edition
The Original Dog Bible, edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe
1The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Dog, Viv Foster