The first impression of a rottweiler is of solid strength, and that is quite accurate.
Rottweilers are slightly longer than tall, large dogs, ranging in height from 22 inches for a small female to 27 inches for a large male. Weights go from 80 to 120+ pounds (36 to 54+ kilograms).
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Rottweilers are blocky dogs with massive heads. Ears lie fairly tight to the head, hanging down somewhat. Muzzles are square and strong, but rottweilers can be a bit drooly because of loose flews (lips). Rottweilers should always be black with tan points, and the ideal coat is quite short, dense, and a bit harsh. Occasionally a “fluffy” puppy will turn up in a litter, but that coat is disqualified in the breed ring. Tails are docked very short, ideally one to two vertebrae long.
As is common with the larger breeds, rottweilers can be slow maturing. Many do not reach full adult size until 2 or 3 years of age, although adult height is often set by one year of age. These dogs will fill out, broadening their chests and becoming the massive dogs we expect with age.
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Rottweilers have been selected for guarding and protection work, and this must be kept in mind at all times. Well-socialized rottweilers get along nicely with people and other dogs, but males in particular can be a bit aggressive and dominant. Active, intelligent dogs, they are fully confident enough to act on their own, so they need guidance right from the start.
If left to their own devices, rottweilers can become nuisance barkers or diggers, and with their size they are capable of much destruction. Bred to work, Rottweilers do best with training and jobs to do, even if just as a child’s companion. Aggression can be a problem, and this dog is fully capable of inflicting severe damage, so rottweilers do need a firm, patient hand and a knowledgeable owner.
Rottweilers are fairly easy to keep for such large dogs and, in fact, have a tendency to obesity if not exercised enough. Coat care is minimal; a quick, weekly grooming will suffice most of the time. Some rottweilers do drool a fair amount, especially large males with loose flews (lips).
One of the most important things to remember with rottweilers is that they need extensive and continuous socialization to be good family companions. Training is a must and should start in early puppy hood. Their courage is unquestioned, but it can be misdirected. This breed is not an ideal one for first-time dog owners. Rottweilers love to work and will happily compete in virtually all dog sports from obedience to herding and weight pulls.
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Ideally, a rottweiler will be exposed to other pets, including dogs, right from the start, and also to children. Rottweilers are often very protective of their children and should be supervised when with a group of children. This breed is definitely one that should only be purchased from a reputable breeder, because its popularity has led to some temperament and health problems. Rottweilers live about 12 years.
Rottweilers rank as one of the most ancient breeds. They accompanied the Romans through Germany, driving their cattle and guarding outposts. Many were left behind and, in the town of Rottweil in southern Germany, they became the breed we know today. Rottweilers are considered to be in the mastiff family. Rottweilers were instrumental in the development of the Doberman Pinscher much later.
Rottweilers were working dogs from the start, driving cattle to market, pulling carts, guarding the homestead, and even carrying money to and from the market in money belts tied around their necks. Today they work in security and herding.
The rottweiler had almost died out as a breed near the turn of the century when smaller dogs took over many of their functions and were easier to maintain. Luckily, dedicated breeders revived the breed, and it ranks as one of the most popular breeds in the United States today. A delightful series of children’s books, beautifully illustrated, is about a rottweiler named Carl and his adventures with his family’s baby.
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