Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bad Dog? The Rottweiler Reputation

The modern day Rottweiler dog breed developed in Rottweil, Germany and is named for that city. The breed had experienced a decline in popularity in the 1800s so much that only one Rottweiler was shown in the Heilbronn, Germany dog show in 1882. In 1901, a Rottweiler Club was formed in Germany and by 1935 the breed had been recognized by the American Kennel Club as a purebred member of the working dog group.

The Rottweiler has an illustrious though unconfirmed history. The breed is thought have descended from Roman mastiff dogs almost two thousand years ago. These dogs were a viable part of the conquering Roman army. They were used to herd cattle to feed the army and also as watchdogs. By 700 A.D., the Romans had been ousted from the city of "das Rote Wil" (the red tile) but ancestors of their dogs remained and were used as beasts of burden and for herding in the city, which later became Rottweil, Germany.

The Rottweiler was once the most popular family dog in America. Currently, they are in the top five but reports of bad behavior have made many potential owners wary of the breed. Tales of aggressive and even violent behavior are due in large part to bad owners, not bad dogs. Rottweilers have inherent personality traits that can manifest in negative behavior if they do not receive proper care and training from an early age.

Surprisingly, the American Kennel Club, which judges purebred dogs on not just physical traits but also behavioral characteristics, defines the breed standard for Rottweilers as calm, confident, and courageous. Rottweilers are actually known more for their laid-back nature than aggression. Problems in behavior may stem from Rottweiler dogs' natural tendency to protect their owners and families. These dogs can become aggressive with other dogs and that is also recognized in the breed standard. However, aggression becomes violence when Rottweilers feel that they or their families are being threatened.

Potential for violence is enhanced if their owners either early in life or as adults mistreat dogs and also when no training has been completed.Potential Rottweiler dog buyers should research the breed before buying. Rottweilers are large, strong, active dogs and they require adequate room to run, loving discipline, and the opportunity to be put to work. Rottweiler buyers should also research Rottweiler breeders. Buying a purebred dog of any kind is a tricky business and there are many unethical breeders in the market to make money. There are several signs to look for in a good Rottweiler dog breeder. All good breeders should maintain a clean, adequate kennel, allow visits so potential buyers can see the environment where puppies are raised, interview the buyer to determine whether puppy and buyer are a good match, provide pedigree and other registration papers, provide medical records, have puppies and parents evaluated for genetic disorders common to the breed. Breeders should also be willing to provide advice, Rottweiler information, and training tips and will have buyer sign a contract to give the dog back to the breeder if the buyer cannot keep the dog