The Rottweiler - A Good Family Pet?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 13 seconds

The Rottweiler is a muscular, stocky medium to large sized dog, and one of the breeds that are very distinctive in appearance and recognisable to most people, even those who do not like dogs. The Rottweiler is one of the breeds most commonly used for security and guarding purposes, and is often considered to be a serious, businesslike and potentially temperamental dog by those who are not familiar with them! The Rottweiler is often shown on TV and in film playing the role of the vicious aggressor, fighting dog or otherwise unfriendly predator, and image that historically, some unscrupulous dog owners were keen to play up, leading to the Rottweiler often holding a richly undeserved association in many people’s minds with all of the worst negative traits of dogs.

For this reason, the noble Rottweiler is often discounted as a family pet, and many potential dog owners do not even get as far as considering the breed if they also have children. However, the Rottweiler should certainly not be ruled out as a family pet, and when correctly cared for, adequately trained and loved, the Rottweiler can make an amazing addition to any family.

Read on to learn more about the Rottweiler and their suitability as dogs for people with families.

The working history of the Rottweiler

While the Rottweiler is usually associated in most people’s mind with guarding and protective roles, this is a relatively recent development in the history of the breed. While the Rottweiler’s protective instincts and natural intelligence mean that they are more than capable of turning their paw to the guardian role, initially Rottweilers were selected as guard dogs due to their heavy builds and businesslike appearances rather than any inherent predisposition to trainable defensiveness.

Rottweilers were originally used as livestock herding dogs and even to pull carts, thanks to their strong, muscular builds. Later on, the Rottweiler diversified into use as droving dogs, and today is used in a wide variety of different roles including police work, search and rescue work, as assistance dogs for people with special needs, and as guard dogs.

The traits of the breed

The Rottweiler is a heavyset and very muscular dog with a big appetite! They can also have a tendency to run to fat if they are not kept active, and while they have a lot of stamina, are not designed for protracted periods of flat-out exercise, although the Rottweiler has quite an impressive turn of speed when he needs to!

The Rottweiler has a kind, open face that is large and broad, segueing into a heavyset, thick neck and shoulders. The Rottweiler is deep chested, and muscular across the entire body. Traditionally, the tail of the Rottweiler was always docked, but this unnecessary and now illegal procedure has thankfully ceased, and most Rottweilers now possess a relatively long, flowing tail.

The Rottweiler can only be seen in one colour; black and tan, with the bulk of the head and body being black, with tan highlights on the face, neck and limbs.

That fearsome reputation

Understandably, anybody who wishes to keep a dog as a guard dog or deterrent will wish to select a dog that looks as if it is suitably serious enough to put off any potential threats, and encourage the reputation that the dog can be aggressive and not afraid to attack on command. While it is certainly true that these traits can be trained into any dog of any size or type, the Rottweiler does not have any inherent predisposition to aggression or unpredictability. Rottweilers used responsibly for guarding and deterrent roles are always incredibly well trained and managed, and do not simply square up to people unless instructed to do so.

The true nature of the Rottweiler is that of a very calm, placid and laid-back dog that is eminently trainable and keen to please. They are self-assured, keen to work and engage with people, highly intelligent and easy to control when properly trained. The breed as a whole does not have any inherent predisposition to aggression, and is not included as part of the list of dogs of which ownership is banned or restricted under the terms of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) of 1991.

Rottweilers and children

The Rottweiler bonds strongly with its family, is very tolerant and accepting of children and generally lives quite happily in a lively household with children and other pets. The Rottweiler will consider the other members of the family as part of their pack, and will be protective and caring towards the smaller members of the household. They also very much enjoy play and interaction with children. The Rottweiler may have a propensity to view itself as the guardian of the household, and may see it as their job to “herd” the children if left unchecked, which can be rather funny to observe but should be addressed via training.

Every dog is different; this is true of all breeds and types of dogs, not just the Rottweiler, and so every dog should be considered on its own merits and carefully supervised around children until their role within the household has been established.

Rottweilers are one of the dog breeds that consistently make the top ten lists of dogs most likely to be surrendered to or housed by rehoming shelters. These dogs are rarely given up due to unsuitability as a family pet, but are most likely to be there as unscrupulous owners or those who simply wanted a guard dog and not a pet found themselves unwilling or unable to care for the dog’s other needs.

If you are considering getting a Rottweiler to join your family, please consider re-homing a rescued dog. However, bear in mind that the history and temperament of any rescue dog can be variable, and a rescued Rottweiler may potentially have issues integrating into a caring family environment if they have been incorrectly cared for, and should be carefully supervised and trained. Buying a Rottweiler puppy or adult dog from an established breeder or private home may be a more viable option for the family with children; don’t rule out this noble and gentle dog when considering a new canine addition to your family!


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