The Rottweiler has a dubious reputation for being an excellent guard dog. Anyone who has lived with this gentle giant knows their protective nature is combined with a calm, gentle and obedient temperament.
Rottweilers can look a little scary to the uninitiated and are often owned by people who value the look of this traditional ‘guard dog’. The truth is that any dog will guard their home, so specific breeds and training is not required. A big dog is probably a better deterrent than a small dog and certainly a Rottweiler fits the bill!
Rottweilers are eager to please, obedient and easy to train. They do need a firm hand and early socialisation to ensure they are safe around other dogs and kids. They need a decent amount of exercise and have a propensity for weight gain and subsequent health problems if not cared for appropriately.
WHAT DOES THE ROTTWEILER WANT IN THEIR PERFECT LIFE PARTNER/FAMILY?
I love family life and an owner who has an interest in training, playing and taking long walks with me. In return I will give you my undivided loyalty and keep the family safe. I love games and will easily bore, but am quite happy lazing around with you in the evenings after a long walk and a vigorous play and training session.
AT A GLANCE
|Height (at shoulder)||58-69 cm|
Intelligent – These intelligent dogs are very trainable and need at least 2 hours a day of exercise and training when young, continuing on into adult-hood. Without mental stimulation and training they become easily bored and sometimes destructive.
Loyal – A Rottweiler will often bond very closely to one person in the family and be extremely loyal. This can translate to a dog that is not suited to long periods of being alone and a dog that needs constant training, play and exercise to ensure they do not develop behaviour problems.
Courageous – Rottweilers are often courageous to a fault. They will rarely back down from an argument and will often take on bigger dogs and have a tendency towards aggression if not socialised. These dogs must be carefully watched around small children, but if well socialised are big friendly giants and great family dogs.
EXERCISE & TRAINING
|Exercise Requirements||High – 1-2 hours day|
|Training Requirements||High – Needs a firm hand and lots of training to ensure they are easy to handle.|
Rottweilers can be big gentle giants, despite their sometimes fierce reputation. They have traditionally been used as guard dogs, police dogs and military dogs in some countries due to their muscular strength, determination and of course willingness to work and train.
The key with owning a Rottweiler is early socialisation before 12 weeks of age and ongoing training. There is no need to specifically train your dog to be a guard dog, as any dog will be protective of your home and the main deterrent is appearance. A dog cannot be trained to recognise a ‘good’ person from a ‘bad’ person, so a dog trained to bite is a danger to the general public and this practice should not be encouraged.
While Rottweilers love to play, train and work, they can also be lazy and gain weight if not kept well exercised. They appreciate vigorous exercise, so must be kept lean to avoid knee injuries, such as cruciate ligament tears. If you are out at work during the day, doggy day-care or a dog walker can help to keep your Rottweiler happy. Alternatively you can set up games and puzzles to play during your absence to keep your Rottweiler mentally stimulated.
|Trips to the Groomer||No- easy care at home|
|Brushing||Low – Little to no brushing required|
|Hair fall||Moderate Shed – will drop some hair, but not excessive|
Rottweilers are very low maintenance in the grooming department. With a good brush their coat will come up very shiny and they rarely need bathing. Their coat is short, so while they do shed, the overall amount of hair in the house is moderate.
|Good With Kids||Good – okay with older kids, but maybe not those under 5
|Good With Other Small Pets||Low – Strong prey drive, best kept separate from other species|
|Sociability||Medium – Can live alone or with others|
Rottweilers are very loyal to their family, but do have a strong prey drive and should be watched around smaller pets. There is a higher risk of a fatal dog attack with a larger breed dog such as a Rottweiler, so care should be taken to socialise them with kids and other dogs prior to 12 weeks of age. Rottweilers need an experienced owner who is able to watch for warning signs of potential aggression and is able to supervise any interactions with kids and other dogs.
|Overall Expenses (Annual)||Medium – $1500-$2000|
|Veterinary Expenses (Annual)||Medium – $200-$500|
|Food Expenses (Weekly)||High – $20-$30+|
Owning a Rottweiler, you will need a good budget. Pet insurance is recommended due to their propensity for orthopaedic injuries. They also tend to live life to the full, so can be prone to accidental injuries. Keeping your Rottweiler on a good quality diet, a healthy weight, vaccinating and desexing will help to go some way towards maintaining a moderate cost, healthy dog.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS
Hip Displaysia/Elbow Dysplasia – Rottweilers are prone to hip dysplasia and while more breeders are hip scoring in an attempt to breed out this devastating disease, in some cases it can still occur, particularly with overfeeding at a young age. Elbow dysplasia is a similar problem, which can also occur commonly in Rottweilers.
Parvovirus – Parvovirus occurs in young puppies but is more common in certain breeds so it is recommended your dog is not walked in high risk areas such as parks until 2 weeks after the final vaccination, which should be given after 14 weeks of age.
Cruciate Ligament Rupture – Larger breed dogs, particularly those prone to obesity are prone to knee injuries, most often due to a conformation issue and vigorous exercise.
Entropion – in some cases the eyelids roll inwards a little, causing the eyelashes to irritate the eye and in some cases cause painful corneal ulcers and vision loss. The condition is easily corrected with surgery.
PREVENTATIVE CARE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Avoid feeding too much, overexercising and do not supplement with calcium particularly when growing. Avoiding obesity can help limit the risks of cruciate ligament tears and osteoarthritis.
Ask your vet to check your dog’s hips and elbows regularly for hip dysplasia and make sure the parents of your pup were hip scored by the breeder.
Rottweilers should have 3 puppy vaccines to cover them for parvovirus at 4 weekly intervals, with the final vaccine occurring between 14-16 weeks of age. Avoid high risk areas such as parks with your Rottweiler puppy until 2 weeks after your final vaccine.
BREED ORIGIN AND INTERESTING FACTS
Rottweilers were originally descended from Roman army dogs used for cattle droving due to their strong guarding instinct. They were bred in southern Germany extensively for their strength and were even used to pull butcher’s carts and hunt bears. The breed almost died out in the 19th Century, but was revived and they then became popular military and police dogs in Germany during WWI.
Rottweilers are strong, eager to learn and obedient so are used for various jobs including search and rescue, police work, guard dogs and military dogs.
Rottweilers traditionally had a docked tail; however this barbaric practice was officially banned in Australia in 2004, though it is still permitted in other countries.
While Rottweilers have a reputation for being fierce and are listed as one of the top breeds for causing fatal dog attacks, they actually are no more inclined to bite than any other breed. In fact most vets are more worried about those little ‘land shark’ Chihuahuas than larger breeds like Rottweilers. The concern is always that if a big dog is aggressive the consequences can be so much worse.
RESCUE A ROTTWEILER
Pet Rescue lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.
The RSPCA often has Rottweilers for adoption, just do an advanced search on their adoption page.
Rottweiler Club of SA lists available Rottweilers and coordinates foster care for Rottweilers in the area.
West Coast Rottweiler Rescue is WA based and provides care and rehoming services for the breed.
Working Dog Rescue which is Australia-wide occasionally lists Rottweilers who need new homes.