Saturday, June 6, 2009

The True Temperament of the Rottweiler

By: Charles Kassotis

Looking at the Rottweiler, there's no doubt that this dog has some mastiff in his ancestry. The breed dates back at least several centuries and was probably used in several capacities during the Middle Ages. There's no real evidence as to why, but it seems that the breed became less popular about a century ago, and was probably fairly near extinction when efforts to save the integrity of the breed finally came about.

In those early years, the Rottweiler was probably used mainly for herding. Today, Rottweilers are most often used as guard and watch dogs, though they can also be trained to herd, hunt and to perform in obedience trials. Rottweilers are also sometimes used in police, military and rescue work.

They have a reputation for being aggressive. Remember that the early breeders sought to enhance the protective nature of the dog in order to ensure the safety of the herds they were responsible for. That means there are some aggressive tendencies in this dog, but socialization and training can make them a very safe animal.

By the same token, the dog can be trained when to bring those aggressive tendencies to the forefront. Poor training, mishandling and mistreatment may also make this breed a very aggressive animal. When engaged in a fight, the Rottweiler seems impervious to pain. This has made them a very popular dog for dog fights. The reputation as a dog that will attack has prompted some cities to ban the animals from the city limits.

The Rottweiler is typically a large dog and adult males may attain a weight of 120 to 130 pounds. They have a very compact body, large neck and squared off head. As a rule, the Rottweiler will be black with some brown markings on the chest, face and legs. Most breeders dock the tails and dewclaws (if present), depending on the region in which the breeder lives. Some countries have banned docking and clipping ears.

When socialized well and trained properly, the Rottweiler is a very calm dog, but also very protective of his family and territory. They love to play, but are usually content to leave playtime outside - making them a good choice for the person with limited indoor space who wants a larger dog. As long as they're given the chance to get outdoors often to work off their energy, they'll usually be happy laying around inside.

Though territorial to a great degree, the Rottweiler will tend to greet those he knows with great affection. These are dogs that don't like to be left alone for great periods of time. They really need interaction with their people, whether it's walking, swimming, playtime or naptime. The natural intelligence of the breed and their tendency to be anxious to please make them ideal for obedience training and for learning new tricks.

Training is everything with this dog and most who regularly handle these dogs seem to agree that firm training must begin very early. Because these dogs achieve a very large size fairly early, it's easy to let a Rottweiler's natural aggressiveness take over his personality.

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