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A long a chequered history, the 'Rottie' as it is affectionately known is a medium to large, distinct looking dog with a large, well built frame. Known as 'Butchers Dogs' in their native Germany, they were used to guard stock and also to pull the meat carts used by butchers at one point. In modern times, the Rottie is still used as a working dog, for example as guard dogs, search and rescue and Police dogs, but they also enjoy huge popularity as pets.
It is said that the Mastiff type dog used as far back as Roman times for droving livestock is an ancestor of the modern Rottweiler. As the Romans Empire grew, these Mastiff types mated with local dogs. The Romans settled in areas in Southern Germany famed for its fertile soils and temperate climate. Using distinctive red roof tiles on their buildings, one particular settlement was renamed - Das Rott Wiel - the Red Tile. This type of dog was named for this town and was a useful, multipurpose dog used for guarding, herding and due to their size and strength, pulling carts. In the late 1800's, the Rottweiler almost died out as a breed, but were the usefulness was once again recognised in the early 1900's when they were used as Police dog, a role to which they were particularly well suited. From this, they went from strength to strength and several breed owners clubs were formed in Germany and during the first and second World Wars, the Rottweiler played a pivotal part acting as a messenger, ambulance, draft and guard dog. The Rottweiler made its appearance in the UK around this time and has gone from strength to strength in terms of popularity, which peaked in the 1990's.
Average height to withers: 24-27 inches for males with females between 22-25 inches
Average weight:50-58 kg for males and 40-48kg for females
The Rottweiler should have an overall short haired black coat is richly enhanced by tan markings on its legs, above its eyes, cheeks, chest and undercarriage. They do have both an under and outer coat although it has been known for Rottweilers bred in hot countries to be missing the undercoat. The head is in good proportion to its body with a large and broad, black nose. The eyes should be of medium size, almond-shaped and dark brown in colour with ears which are medium-sized, pendant, triangular, wide apart, and set high on the head. The head gives way to a thick and muscular neck and into a firm straight back with a deep and roomy chest and rib cage. The tail is short or 'bob tailed' and this was a breed which was traditionally docked, although with the passing of legislation in the UK prohibiting this (with permitted exceptions), the majority of Rottweilers have their natural tail. Rottweilers can have a tendency to put on weight, so care must be taken to make sure their weight/height ratio is monitored.
Rottweiler's have a somewhat undeserved reputation for being aggressive. While they may be aloof and 'standoffish' with strangers (which is not surprising giving its guarding heritage), the Rottweiler's general nature is one of even temper, placid, devoted and calm. While they will react to their surroundings, as a confident dog, it will do so with considered measure. With its innate herding and guarding instincts, it will naturally want to protect its family pack and environment and when this is coupled with good socialisation and training from a very early age, the Rottweiler's loyalty is second to none. With the strength and power contained within the body of this breed, it is imperative that a good basic training is adhered to. Given this as a fact, Rottweiler's are suited best to owners with previous dog owning experience who can bring out the best in them. In addition, they can make good companions for families with children and other animals, again, when socialised from an early age.
Their easy going intelligence should ensure that learning new commands and behaviours should not be too much of an issue for a Rottie and when a good training programme is in place making it possible for the playful side of this dog to come out in safety.
With some negative media coverage of this breed as an aggressor, it is worth bearing in mind that it is also a very courageous dog with one even being awarded an RSPCA bravery award in 2009.
The average lifespan of a Rottweiler is between 10-13 years. As a rule, Rottweilers are quite healthy dogs but like many larger and heavier breeds, it can be prone to hip dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia (HD) can affect all breeds of dog but is more prevalent in some breeds than others. It is caused by the abnormal formation of the hip ball and socket joint. Normally the ball would form a pivot point in the socket; however, some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition for HD. This means that at birth their hips are normal but as they grow, the hip joint does not grow correctly and as a result the ball no longer fits as it should. After the age of a year or so, the owner can opt to have their dog 'hip scored'. Hip scoring is a method used by vets to determine the degree of HD in dogs and involves the vet assessing a number of criteria during a diagnostic examination. If the dog is then found to have a high probability of HD, remedial action can be taken.
Again, given the size of this breed, they can also be prone to rupture of the cruciate ligament while exercising so it is worth the owner ensuring the dog does not leap from the hind leg, for example while trying to catch a ball. Obesity can be an issue of the dog is allowed to overeat, as given the chance it will do, so regular exercise is a must for this dog.
Left alone for prolonged periods, this is a breed of dog which can become easily distressed so it is suited to an experienced owner. That said, they can be a couch potato given the chance and even as a large dog they can be inactive indoors. They do not demand to much exercise per day but are capable of extended walks if the owner is inclined.