The modern Rottweiler breed originates from the town of Rottweil, Germany. They were used as working dogs, herding livestock, and pulling carts. They were known as the “Rottweil butcher’s dog” because they could pull meat carts and handle livestock. But their origins date back thousands of years. One of the earliest documented uses of Rottweiler-type dogs was by the Romans, who used them as working and war dogs.
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Rottweilers continued to be popular throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance and performed various tasks. However, their popularity began to decline in the 18th century, and by the 20th century, they had fallen out of favor altogether. But thanks to dedicated breeders, the Rottweiler has made a comeback in recent years and is now one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
Rottweiler descended from Roman herding and watchdogs
In our post, “how were Rottweilers used by the Romans” we take a proper look at the ancient origins of the Rottweiler, tracing back to the Romans, Greeks, and Tibetan Mastiff. But for the purposes of this article, we will pick up the story of the Rottweiler in Greece and Rome, where they were originally called the Molossus.
There seemed to be two main types of Molossus. One was a livestock and home guardian called the canis pastoralis and the other was for hunting, called the canis venaticus.
About this breed, Virgil writes: “Never, with them on guard,” says Virgil, “need you fear for your stalls a midnight thief, or onslaught of wolves, or Iberian brigands at your back.”
How did the Molossus arrive in Rome?
It’s generally agreed that the Molossus was first a Greek dog that eventually spread to Rome. In fact, the famous Roman statue of a Molossus, the Jennings dog, is a copy of a Greek statue. It seems they came to Greece from Epirus, where a people called the Mollossians existed. Alexander the Great’s mother was a Mollosi Princess. This is where the connection between these dogs and the rest of Greece started.
Another possibility is that Alexander the Great found these dogs in his conquest of Asia and took them back to Greece. This looks possible since mastiff-type dogs like the Tibetan Mastiff seem to share the same ancient history as the Rottweiler. In fact, the general consensus is that all mastiffs today are probably related to the Molosser. As far as we can tell, when the Romans conquered Europe, they brought their Mollosser guardians and war dogs with them.
These dogs became the basis for what would eventually become all mastiff breeds, including the Rotweiller, English Mastiff, Bullmastiff, and Anatolian Shepherd. They even developed into miniature molossers, like the Pug and French Bull Dog.
The defining features of the Molosser breeds can be seen in the same characteristics that the ancients wrote about. These are:
- A robust and powerful build, typically heavily muscled
- Shorter muzzles with heavy jowls
- Usually, very large dogs
- A strong defense drive and drive to protect their families and livestock
- A fearless nature
- A feisty ability to take on anything, no matter the size.
I think we can all agree that based on these characteristics, we can see the Rottweilers we love today got their defining traits from.
The modern Rottweiler
The modern Rottweiler is thought to have originated in the town of Rottweil, Germany. The name “Rottweiler” actually comes from this town. Rottweilers were used by local butchers (the “rottweilerott” or “rottweiler metzgerhund” was the German word for “butcher’s dog”). Rottweilers were used to herd livestock and pull carts of meat to market.
Thanks to their intelligence, strength, and obedience, butcher dogs could keep large herds of animals under control and move them from one place to another. They were also used as guard dogs, keeping watch over the butcher shops and preventing theft.
In the early 1900s, German Law enforcement began to use the Rottweiler, and then they became common worldwide during World War One. Their strength, intelligence, and protective instincts made them perfect for this role. Rottweilers soon became known as “police dogs” and were used by law enforcement globally.
Rottweilers in World War I
The Rottweiler was first used in war during World War One. They were used for various tasks, including guarding prisoners, escorting convoys, and detecting explosives.
Rottweilers proved to be invaluable during the war. They were brave and were able to perform a wide range of tasks. They were an essential part of the German war effort.
Rottweilers as working dogs
Rottweilers began to be used as working dogs in a variety of industries. They were used as guide dogs for the blind, guard dogs for factories and businesses, and law enforcement agencies.
Rottweilers have a long history of being used as working dogs. They were initially bred in Germany as drover dogs for herding livestock and pulling carts. They were later used by law enforcement all over the world.
Their strength, intelligence, and protective instincts make them perfect for this role. Various organizations now use Rottweilers for various tasks, including guarding property, detecting explosives, and escorting convoys. They are a vital part of the global law enforcement community.
Their strength, intelligence, and obedience made them perfect for these roles. Rottweilers soon became known as “working dogs” and are still used today in a wide range of industries.
Rottweilers as police dogs
Today, Rottweilers are still used by law enforcement worldwide. They are valued for their strength, intelligence, and protective instincts. Rottweilers are used for various tasks, including guarding prisoners, escorting convoys, and detecting explosives.
Rottweilers have been used in the police for over 100 years and continue to play a vital role in law enforcement. They are among the most popular breeds used by police and are well-suited for the job.
The Rottweiler breed was first used in war during World War One. German law enforcement used it for various tasks, including guarding prisoners, escorting convoys, and detecting explosives. They are still used by law enforcement today and are well-suited for the job.
However, the Rottweiler is used less and less today in police and military work for four main reasons.
Four reasons the police don’t use Rottweilers as much anymore:
- The Rottweiler is physically heavy and extremely powerful, making it difficult for an officer to carry their dog if they need to, or to control their dog in a high-pressure situation where the dog may become reactive.
- The Rottweiler is more physically intimidating than the German Shepherd or the Belgian Malinois. The goal for most police departments around the world is not to scare citizens with their working K-9s, and the Rottie can certainly look scary.
- The bite force of the Rottweiler is simply too much. There are plenty of records of Rottweilers breaking bones when they are attack trained. This is a problem for law enforcement because the main objective of an attack-trained dog is to hold and disarm a suspect, not to dismember them. In other words, using Rotties on bad guys can count as excessive force!
- Some trainers claim Rottweilers are more easily distracted when working and can forget to chase down a suspect. This is a controversial opinion, as many trainers agree that Rotties from the right working lines can go toe-to-toe with the working German Shepherds. So perhaps a better perspective is that these days it is harder to find Rottweilers with the correct genetics for police work, as more are bred as pets or for the show ring.
Rottweilers as therapy dogs
Rottweilers are also being used as therapy dogs. Their strength, intelligence, and protective instincts make them perfect for this role. Rottweilers are being used to provide support to people who are suffering from a variety of illnesses or injuries. They are also being used to help children with autism learn how to interact with others.
Rottweilers continue to play an essential role in society, performing various tasks for various organizations.
Rottweilers as herding dogs
Rottweilers still have much of their herding heritage, and some have taken to herding as a fun activity for their Rottweilers. Just see this great video about Rottweilers as herding dogs:
Characteristics of a Rottweiler
The Rottweiler is a large, muscular dog with a short coat. They have broad heads with black muzzles and deep-set eyes. Rottweilers are known for their strength, intelligence, and protective instincts.
The temperament of the Rottweiler
The Rottweiler is a loyal and protective dog breed with a calm demeanor. They are not aggressive by nature but can be very protective of their family and property. Rottweilers require firm training and socialization from an early age. With proper training and socialization, the Rottweiler can be a great family pet.
Training and caring for a Rottweiler
Rottweilers require a lot of exercise and should be given plenty of room to run. They should be fed a high-quality diet and groomed regularly. Rottweilers require firm training and socialization from an early age. The Rottweiler can be a great family pet with proper training and socialization.
There are several Rottweiler clubs throughout the world. These clubs offer training and socialization programs for Rottweiler owners and their dogs. They are also a great source of information and maintain breed standards to ensure the lineage of these dogs.
Allgemeiner deutscher rottweiler klub (ADRK)
The (ADRK) is a member-based organization that is dedicated to the breeding, training, and showing of German Rottweilers. The ADRK was founded in 1971 with the goal of promoting the breed standard. They offer a variety of resources to their members, including an online database of Rottweiler pedigrees, a magazine, and educational seminars. They also host a number of events each year, including a national championship show, a regional specialty show, and a health seminar.
American Rottweiler Club (ARC)
The ARC was founded in 1990 with the goal of promoting the breed standard in the US. They are the American equivalent of the Allgemeiner deutscher rottweiler klub (ADRK).
American Kennel Club (AKC)
The (AKC) is the largest dog registry in the United States. They are responsible for registering over 25 million dogs and maintaining a database of over 150 breeds of dogs. The AKC is also responsible for organizing dog shows and competitions, and they offer a variety of resources to dog owners and enthusiasts.
The Rottweiler is one of the breeds that is registered by the AKC. In fact, the Rottweiler is a very popular dog breed in the United States. There are over 150,000 Rottweilers registered with the AKC.
The Kennel Club
Similar to the AKC, The Kennel Club is a British organization that is responsible for registering and promoting over 200 breeds of dogs. They offer a variety of resources to dog owners and enthusiasts. The Rottweiler is one of the breeds that is registered by the Kennel Club. The Rottweiler is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United Kingdom. There are over 25,000 Rottweilers registered with the Kennel Club.
Other common working dog breeds
Today, Rottweilers are not the only breed of dog being used as a working dog. There are a variety of different breeds that are being used for a variety of tasks. Some of these breeds include:
German Shepherds are widely used as working dogs. They are used by law enforcement agencies, the military, and search and rescue teams. They are known for their strength, intelligence, and obedience.
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dog in the world and are widely used as working dogs. They are used as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and detection dogs.
Golden Retrievers are also popular as working dogs. They are also used as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and detection dogs.
Cocker Spaniels are popular as working dogs in the United Kingdom. They are used as detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, and assistance dogs.
The breeds of dog that are being used as working dogs continue to evolve and change. There are a variety of different breeds that are well-suited for the task, and each has its own unique set of skills and abilities.
Rottweilers are an interesting breed with a long and varied history. They have been used as working dogs, war dogs and police dogs for centuries, and their intelligence and strength make them perfect for such roles. While they can be excellent family pets, it is important to remember that they are a large breed of dog and need plenty of exercise and training. Thanks for joining us on this journey through the history of the Rottweiler!
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