The Ultimate Australian Guide To Rottweilers
Rottweilers undoubtedly count among the most recognisable dog breeds. The strong, stocky dogs boast such a characteristic look that they could be deemed iconic. The breed’s popularity owes much to the Rottweiler’s reputation as loyal protector and intelligent companion, as well as to their frequent appearances in movies and other media.
Often seen in work roles as police, military, and therapy dogs, Rottweilers also make for excellent pets, especially when properly trained.
Rottweiler Breed History
As a standardised breed, Rottweilers were recognised in Germany at the start of the 20th century. The International Club for Leonbergers and Rottweiler Dogs introduced the breed standard to the world in 1901. Yet, these dogs have a much longer history than this official record.
In fact, rather than being over a century old, Rottweilers have existed for millennia, albeit not under the same name and form.
The earliest ancestors of modern Rottweilers trace back to Roman times. During the early Roman Empire, imperial legions used drover dogs that had much in common with the breed as we know it. These Roman dogs were primarily cattle drivers and would lend the Rottweiler its protective instinct.
After the Roman Empire retreated from the region of modern-day Germany in the 2nd century, plenty of drover dogs were left behind. The dogs were largely concentrated around the Rottweil area, which is how the breed would get its name.
The local population already knew of the dog’s qualities and were quick to utilise them. In particular, butchers adopted the Rottweiler’s predecessors, using them as cattle and guard dogs. When on the road, a medieval German butcher would often entrust their money and cattle to their four-legged companion.
This background defined many of the Rottweiler’s traits. Being in constant human company made the dogs sociable and inherently compassionate. On the other hand, their guard duties instilled a high propensity towards defensive skills and reinforced the breed’s existing sense of loyalty.
Rather than their work capacity, it was the Rottweiler’s sociable nature that saved them from extinction during the Industrial Revolution. In mid-19th century, the need for cattle-herding dogs reduced significantly. Likewise, the roads became safer, making additional protection unnecessary. As a result, Rottweilers were no longer in high demand, and it seemed like the breed would see its final days by the century’s end.
However, Rottweilers have gained a reputation as lovable and protective family pets. Because of the breed’s renown as somewhat aloof yet sturdy home protectors, the dogs were preserved thanks to several devoted owners and breeders.
The American Kennel Club recognised Rottweilers in 1931. The breed saw its first British exhibition in 1936, while the first Rottweilers came to Australia in 1962.
Rottweilers have a balanced, proportional, and powerful build. They have a moderately long head which broadens a bit on top. The arched forehead ends in a strong stop, continuing onto a broad, strong snout with a straight, well-developed nose.
The jaw is broad, strong, and characterised by a scissor bite. The robust shape of the jaw and muzzle give the Rottweiler its characteristic look. The breed also has recognisable medium-sized, dark-brown eyes.
Rottweilers have a muscular neck, back, body, and limbs. Their chest is well-developed, broad, and deep, and the ribs are broadly sprung. Both front and rear legs are set well apart, straight, and strong and the limbs end in tight, powerful feet.
Where the tail is considered, Rottweilers historically didn’t have much to display, since they were prime targets for the docking practice. Luckily, docking is no longer legal for cosmetic purposes – it’s been banned in Australia since 2004. The breed’s natural tail is strong and relatively long.
Rottweiler Coat Colour and Grooming
The base colour of Rottweilers is predominantly black, with occasional examples showing slightly brown or grey shades. However, even in those cases, black is the most prominent colour. These dogs may feature particular patterns, patches, or markings.
In particular, many Rottweilers have a dark, saddle-shaped patch, appropriately positioned on the dog’s back. Also, Rottweilers must have particular markings to fall within the breed standard. Completely single-colour dogs are considered flawed.
Markings on a Rottweiler’s coat should comprise no more than 10% of the total coat surface. These markings may be on the chest, muzzle, legs, tail, or above the eyes. Most dogs will have several or all of the markings.
Chest markings are triangular and positioned right under the dog’s neck. Muzzle markings should run along the cheeks and not touch the nose bridge. On the front legs, markings may be present on the lower half, while back legs may have markings along inner thighs. When it comes to the tail, a lighter tone can be present on the underside. Finally, Rottweilers can have light dots above each eye.
The markings will usually present the most noticeable difference in colouration. Most common variants include mahogany, rust, and tan. Mahogany, i.e., dark brown is the most widespread while tan is the rarest and lightest variant.
Rust colour is relatively common in Rottweilers and is a rather unique trait in the canine world. Only a single other breed, Affenpinscher, has rust as a standard colour.
While we mentioned single-colour Rottweilers as a non-standard variant, dogs with such coats still exist. Firstly, there’s the exception of the pure black Rottweiler. These dogs aren’t actually completely black, but their markings are so small and faint that the colour difference may be unnoticeable.
Secondly, there are several unique colour variants that appear relatively rarely: red, blue, white, grey, and all-black. Unlike pure black Rottweilers, these variants are strictly non-standard, notably because such dogs are usually the product of cross-breeding.
If not crossbred, Rottweilers may have a rare coat colour due to recessive genes, as is the case with blue and grey dogs, or albinism in the case of white Rottweilers. The all-black variant is different from pure black in that all-white dogs feature no markings at all. Such Rottweilers are exceptionally rare.
In terms of grooming, Rottweilers have a very short coat, making them easy to maintain. Despite the short hair, the dogs tend to shed very much approximately three times a year.
Rottweilers are considered a medium-to-large breed. They usually don’t display considerable size differences, which means most adult Rottweilers will be of similar height and weight. Variations will occur between males and females, as well as in different life stages.
Males may reach up to 70 centimetres in height and weigh about 60 kg. Females will be somewhat smaller, growing up to 63 centimetres and reaching around 45 kg. At three months old, the dogs will have only about a quarter of their final weight but will grow almost to full size within the first year. Rottweilers will be fully developed after 24 months.
Like many other breeds, Rottweilers appear in mini variants. However, such dogs aren’t good representatives of the breed. Mini Rottweilers may be purebreds in three cases:
- If the pup is a runt
- If the dog is a direct offspring of two runts
- If the dog is genetically predisposed for dwarfism
Runts are the smallest dogs from a litter. While they may look endearing, the reason behind their diminished size is that the pups are naturally underdeveloped. This means that runts will usually have higher health risks, and the same goes for dogs with dwarfism genes. Many see breeding such dogs on purpose as unethical.
On the other hand, Mini Rottweilers may be a product of mixed breeding. Sometimes called “Pocket Rotties,” these dogs come from mixing a Rottweiler with a Poodle, Beagle, or another small breed. Pocket Rotties can weigh as little as 13 kg.
Rottweiler Breed Pros and Cons
Intelligent, well-tempered, active, and loyal, Rottweilers have a lot to recommend them as great pets. Due to their work dog history, they’re also relatively easy to train and discipline. Plus, they’ll guard their home and family wholeheartedly. Here are the most significant traits that make Rottweilers an excellent choice:
- Exceptional work dogs
- Observant and keen guards
- Very intelligent, especially when compared to other breeds
- Low maintenance
- Active and enjoy exercise
- Good around children
There’s a common misconception about Rottweilers as particularly aggressive dogs. Besides the skewed view on the breed often propagated by Hollywood movies, this impression might be a result of the dog’s common role as guards.
Rottweilers definitely can be aggressive, but they’ll act so only towards uninvited people like burglars or trespassers. In other words, they’ll react to a perceived threat. In normal conditions, a Rottweiler will never harm a family member or express unwarranted aggression.
Fortunately, the breed doesn’t struggle when it comes to learning and training, making it easy to teach them what is and isn’t an actual threat. Rottweilers count among the top 10 breeds in terms of intelligence. They also respond well to commands and tasks, which is what makes Rottweilers great working dogs.
Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, Rottweilers, in fact, possess an excellent temperament. If socialised properly, they’ll be extremely friendly, even towards other dogs. The breed is also renowned for its loyalty and affectionate nature. It’s lesser known that Rottweilers can be very playful as well.
Playfulness comes naturally to Rottweilers due to their love for an active lifestyle. They enjoy long walks, running, and even swimming. As such, these dogs are perfect companions for outdoors lovers.
Finally, Rottweilers love children and enjoy playing with them, especially while they’re puppies. If brought up in a playful environment, the dogs may develop a lively, almost goofy character.
As with all breeds, Rottweilers have several cons in contrast to the pros. Certain physical and character traits may make these dogs a poor fit for some owners. However, it’s worth noting that most of the breed’s shortcomings can be overcome with sufficient attention from the owner. The following are the Rottweiler cons in a nutshell:
- Susceptible to breed discrimination
- Require consistent and regular training
- May become rebellious
- Plenty of shedding
- Tend to drool and pass gas plentifully
- Relatively short lifespan
- Require plenty of space
- Must have proper mental stimulation
Uncharacteristic for most breeds, Rottweilers are often perceived as dangerous dogs, which may lead to discrimination. This practice can result in certain people being scared of the breed without reason. However, the discrimination sometimes escalates to Rottweilers being prohibited from particular public areas.
For instance, in the U.S., some parks and even entire cities don’t allow Rottweilers. Such bans often perpetuate the misconception. While some owners might have a problem with the way their dogs are viewed publicly, Rottweilers also have plenty of fans worldwide and many people who meet a well-behaved Rottie will likely love the dog.
Rottweilers are naturally confident, somewhat stubborn, and hard-headed. As former cattle dogs, they may tend to position themselves as the pack leader. Yet, the dogs can be trained for obedience with positive reinforcement, and they’ll often find great fun in following orders.
Speaking of training, Rottweilers will be hard to train without consistency. If they don’t have a defined, regular training program, they can lose interest. Furthermore, their hard-headed nature will undoubtedly prove detrimental in this regard.
Training difficulties can be overcome with a thought-out, constructive, and, most importantly, consistent approach. In that case, training can bring great benefits, turning the dog into a loyal companion with unparalleled work ethic.
When it comes to shedding, drooling, and passing gas, there’s not much an owner can do to avoid these issues. They’ll certainly be lessened with proper care, but people looking for a tidy dog should search elsewhere.
Similarly, a Rottweiler won’t be a good choice for relatively passive owners or those who tend to spend most of their day indoors. These dogs will require plenty of space and activity to stay healthy and happy. In addition, Rottweilers will only become their best selves with ample mental stimulation.
Contrary to common misconceptions, Rottweilers are, in fact, quite gentle. This powerful breed is kind and caring by nature, making Rottweilers excellent family dogs who will also protect their own with fervour.
This breed doesn’t tend to be overly reactive or aggressive. Such behaviour is usually a result of abuse, neglect, or poor socialisation rather than an inherent trait. Of course, Rottweilers can become aggressive if they feel threatened or, more commonly, if they aren’t trained properly.
Rottweilers don’t react well to punishment. They’ll more likely get confused and fearful if punished, and if the fear piques, the dogs may lash out as means of self-defence. Training with positive reinforcement is the best way to approach Rottweilers, and this method is recommendable for all dog breeds.
Territorial and protective by nature, Rottweilers must be taught when it’s appropriate to guard their home and family. With proper training, they’ll stay friendly towards people who don’t pose a threat and still protect you against malicious people.
In other words, the Rottweiler’s temperament and personality represents a good foundation for a well-behaved companion and guard dog. However, this potential will be fulfilled only with proper training.
Untrained Rottweilers exhibit negative behaviours that give the entire breed the undeserved notoriety. It’s crucial to remember that the dog’s behaviour will depend more on the owner than the animal’s inherent traits, which are mostly positive in this breed.
Rottweilers are generally very healthy but may be prone to certain health issues. Generally speaking, their health will depend on genetic factors, diet and hydration, and activity level. Additionally, Rottweilers will need to visit the vet regularly for checkups. They’ll also need to form meaningful bonds with their owners to maintain mental wellbeing.
Obesity is quite common among the breed. As relatively large and powerful dogs, Rottweilers can consume up to 2,300 calories daily. If that energy isn’t spent through exercise, outdoor activities, and play, it will quickly turn into fat deposits.
If a Rottweiler starts gaining weight, it’s best to make adjustments to the dog’s diet (including treats) and consider stepping up its exercise routine. Furthermore, it’s crucial to prevent the Rottie from stealing table scraps or food from other pets.
Rottweilers are also prone to various issues with the stomach and digestive system. These problems may range from very light, like diarrhoea, to severe, like gastric dilation volvulus or GVD. The latter is a particularly serious case of stomach bloating and requires immediate treatment to avoid a fatal outcome.
The breed can suffer from elbow or hip dysplasia, a condition affecting the joints. Unfortunately, both dysplasia types are painful and challenging to manage. Weight plays a significant role in the condition’s development and symptoms, so weight control may represent a good preventative measure or treatment.
Massive, energetic, and active, Rottweilers tend to rupture their cranial cruciate ligaments, responsible for knee stabilisation. This is the same condition as anterior cruciate ligament rupture in humans. Such ligament injuries can be addressed with surgery, physical therapy, and supplements.
Sadly, Rottweilers are predisposed to osteosarcoma, an aggressive type of bone cancer which is also among the leading causes of death in the breed. Early signs of this cancer include lameness and pain. The diagnosis is relatively easy and may be done via radiography or physical examination. If discovered early, the ailment may be treated with success.
Physical activity is the primary factor in Rottweiler care due to their athletic build and strength. It’s advisable to provide the dog with at least an hour of activity daily, including walking or running, mental stimulation, and exercises. It’s not unusual for Rottweilers to exercise by pulling weights, which is a great way to maintain and develop their muscles.
When it comes to grooming, Rottweilers are low maintenance. However, regular hygiene should be kept. The dog will need brushing at least twice weekly, nail clipping once monthly, and teeth brushing every day. Rottweilers should be bathed approximately once every two months.
Coat brushing won’t be a demanding task most of the time. It would be best to start by checking the dog’s coat for any irregularities like lumps, cuts, foreign objects, inflammation, and signs of allergies. Rottweilers can suffer from allergies and skin infections, which often appear as skin irritation.
It’s worth noting that Rottweilers will shed unevenly during the year. The shedding will be seasonal and particularly long during the winter. Those periods will require more frequent brushing and occasional blowouts. Blowouts are done with special dog blowers and are best performed outside or, better yet, by taking the Rottie to a professional groomer.
Rottweilers can build up earwax and develop ear infections due to a number of reasons. Regular ear cleaning will prevent such issues. Finally, it’s good to brush the dog’s teeth regularly to avoid problems like periodontal disease.
A proper diet for adult Rottweilers should contain plenty of protein for muscle growth and development, and sufficient carbs and fats to keep the dog energised throughout the day. About a quarter of the dog’s daily intake should consist of protein. Fats should represent around 15%, and the rest of the meal should be made up of carbs.
Puppies will require more daily meals and a higher protein and fat content. Growing Rottweilers should have four meals consisting of up to 30% of protein and 20% of fat. Once they are full-grown, these quantities should be reduced to a healthy maintenance diet and meals restricted to one or two per day.
As mentioned before, diet will be one half of the essential requirements for good health, with physical activity being the other part. It’s crucial to adjust these two factors so that the dog has enough energy but doesn’t gain too much weight.
Rottweiler Suitability with Children and Other Pets
Rottweilers can be exceptionally loyal, kind, and gentle, which makes them a great natural fit for families with kids. Better yet, these dogs are strong and sturdy, so they’ll endure rough play without risk. As instinctive protectors, they’ll also attentively watch over children.
When it comes to other pets, Rottweilers will usually be investigative when meeting other animals. They’ll likely be alert around another dog but should have no issues accepting the other pet. Of course, this will largely depend on the Rottie’s training.
We’ve pointed out before that a Rottweiler’s temperament and behaviour relies on the owner more than the dog itself. If they are socialised and taught to recognise what is and isn’t a threat, Rottweilers will be friendly and won’t be aggressive towards other dogs. Similarly, they can learn to be perfect companions for kids.
Rottweiler Australian Rescue Groups and Breeders
There are several rescue groups and breeders in Australia dedicated to Rottweilers. Furthermore, other organisations work to find homes for Rottweilers. For instance, The Rottweiler Club of South Australia INC deals in Rottweiler rescuing and rehoming, although it’s not a dedicated service.
You can find Rottweiler breeders in every Australian state. A comprehensive list of breeders can be found on the Dogz Online Australia website.
Rottweilers have plenty of potential for a great pet. These dogs can be loving, gentle, disciplined, and loyal, easily changing between playtime and home protection duties. Yet, the breed requires committed, responsible ownership. While maintenance won’t be an issue, Rottweiler owners will have to devote their full attention to developing their pet’s character and positive traits.
Those who are ready for such a commitment will gain a friend and companion like no other.
Check Out Some Of Our Other Breed Guides