The pros and cons of keeping a Rottweiler as a pet
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The pros and cons of keeping a Rottweiler as a pet

The Rottweiler is one of the oldest extant dog breeds, with a known history going back many hundreds of years in almost the same physical form as the Rottweilers we keep today. Originally used to herd and guard cattle and deter predators such as wolves, the Rottweiler is an incredibly loyal dog that has naturally strong guarding instincts, and today, Rottweilers are still widely used as police dogs and patrol dogs by security firms.

While the Rottweiler has something of a fearsome reputation and certainly has the physical strength and tenacity to serve as excellent personal protection dogs, they also make excellent family companions, and get on well with people of all ages including young children.

So, is a Rottweiler a good choice of dog for you and your family? Read more about the domestic Rottweiler before you make your decision.

Build and requirements

The Rottweiler is a large, hefty and muscular dog with a very businesslike appearance, which makes them effective deterrents against burglars and other undesirables. They also have masses of stamina, and while they do not have a particularly high sustainable top speed, they are able to run and walk for many hours at a reasonable pace without tiring, so if you like to take long walks and explore outdoors, the Rottweiler is a good pick.

To go with their large size, the Rottweiler also has a hearty appetite, and requires a rather significant amount of food each day. They come in towards the top end of the scale in how much like for like it costs to feed them, and you should not underestimate the potential cost of providing an adequate high quality diet for the Rottweiler.

The Rottweiler is also a rather slobbery dog, and can often be seen with their dinner stuck around their noses, so while they have short coats and require minimal grooming, you should be prepared to dedicate some regular time to keeping your dog’s face clean, particularly after meals.

Temperament and traits

The breed-standard Rottweiler should be laid back, calm and confident, and not snappy or unpredictable. They are confident, self-assured dogs that are eager to please, but do have something of a tendency to stubbornness, and so may not be a good pick for a first-time dog owner. While the Rottweiler should not have a tendency towards being aggressive, and will slot quite nicely into their role in the pack with the adults at the top, their confidence can soon turn into dominance if they are not properly managed.

While they make excellent family pets and are highly affectionate and protective of children, they may well see smaller children as beneath them in the pack and have a tendency to dominate them or herd them, something that it is vitally important to manage.

For such a big, businesslike dog, the Rottweiler is actually very soft and affectionate, and will very much enjoy cuddles, being near to you, and living as part of the family.

Socialisation and territorial instincts

Due to their history as guard dogs and protective dogs, the Rottweiler will instinctively see themselves as the guardian of the pack, ever watchful for threats to their families, either from other dogs or from people.

This means that your Rottweiler may become very territorial of your home and garden, and will instinctively find it challenging to accept the presence of strangers or visitors. This requires significant amounts of training and socialisation to resolve, much more than is generally required for other breeds and types of dogs. Incorrectly socialised, the Rottweiler may be wary and suspicious of both other dogs and people, something that you will need to carefully manage and deal with.

On neutral ground such as in a dog park, the well-socialised Rottweiler will usually play nicely with others and very much enjoy joining in games and chases with other dogs. They do have a natural tendency to dominance, however, so it is important to teach your Rottweiler about appropriate play and impulse control with others.

The breed’s reputation

In popular culture, the Rottweiler is often portrayed as an aggressive, even vicious dog that is hard to control and prone to being snappy or difficult. While any experienced Rottweiler can tell you that this is not the case unless the dog is incorrectly socialised and handled, nevertheless, this does mean that the Rottweiler owner may fall victim to other people’s preconceptions about their dogs.

Other dog owners may on occasion be wary or concerned about allowing their dogs to play with your Rottweiler, particularly in very energetic games, and some people are instinctively suspicious and afraid of the breed, particularly if they also have children with them.

While there is little that you can do other than demonstrate by example that your dog is safe, it is important to take into account the feelings of other people where your dog is concerned, and ensure that they do not invade anyone’s personal space. If your Rottweiler is friendly and outgoing, they may be keen to bound up to strangers to make friends or start a game, but even if you know that your dog means well, this can prove frightening to people that do not know your dog. Ergo, it is important to teach your dog good recall and respecting the personal space of others.

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