Adopting a rottweiler into family with young children


by stephanie

Hi there,

My husband got a Rottweiler given to him…he is a year and a half old…165 pounds….has no training whatsoever. I have 3 very small children and am just concerned about how Hannibal will react with them.

I don’t know what kind of life he had with previous owners so am concerned about his personality. He is happy-go-lucky (so i’m told, he will be arriving tomorrow) but what signs should i look for if he has aggressive behavior? I’m a bit nervous to have him around my kids as one child in specific LOVES dogs…as in tried to ride them….puts blankets on them…lifts up their ears and talks into them…i have been told that when you have small children it is best to have a dog from a puppy so that they are raised with the hyper behaviors of children therefore take it as a regular occurance….but with Hannibal i don’t want to find out he doesn’t like kids by taking off a limb….help???

Thanks so much

Hi Stephanie
Although generally Rottweilers make excellent family pets and are no problem when raised around children, you do have some legitimate concerns her and as a mom myself I can totally understand you being a little nervous about the whole situation.

As Hannibal is a full-grown adult, and you have no idea what sort of life he’s had previously or whether or not he’s familiar with young children, you are going to need to be especially vigilant about monitoring his interaction with the children (and equally their interactions with him, even the youngest ones need to realize that dogs aren’t toys and that they have feelings and things that they like, and don’t like, and those need to be respected).

Some Rottweilers can have a fairly high ‘prey drive’ which means that they may have a tendency to chase fast moving creatures, especially if they’re making high-pitched noises…. and this description fits little kids very well. Even in fun, a Rottie chasing a toddler can end in the little one getting knocked down or hurt. You will need to make sure this doesn’t happen. Not all dogs will have this instinct, and it’s by no means unique to the Rottweiler breed.

Make sure that from day one, Hannibal realizes that even the smallest child is higher up in the ‘family hierarchy’ than he is. He shouldn’t be allowed to get up on (or sleep on) beds, sofas, chairs or anything that gives him an elevated position. As long as he’s not food-aggressive, let the kids give him his bowl of food, treats etc. But again close supervision is going to be needed until you can evaluate his personality and reactions.

In my experience, the biggest males are often the biggest babies as well, and will usually tolerate all sorts of things in a good natured way. However, this dog is definitely an unknown quantity for now, so take it slowly and if you run into any problems seek professional help from a local, qualified dog obedience trainer and your vet.

Also, bear in mind that media portrayal of this breed, along with irresponsible breeders and owners, have given Rottweilers a ‘bad name’ and in many situations normal canine behavior (acceptable in the majority of breeds) is misinterpreted or over-reacted to by people unfamiliar with the breed. Don’t expect Hannibal to be aggressive, dominant or anything other than just a DOG, with a personality of his own of course, and some habits both good and bad.

Take precautions by supervising kids and dog closely, be patient and loving, but firm, with Hannibal and expect some homesickness on his part. Hopefully this will all work out well. I wish you all the very best of luck.

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Dec 13, 2010


Please …
by: Annie in WA’s Rott’n Mom

Please, find another home for this Rott asap. Having raised quite a few Rotts (and I love and respect the breed very much). We have also rescued many, many Rott mixes. One of the first things that we ask a potential rescue home-to- be, is how old are your children? You have a very large dog, who will still continue to grow for at least another 6 months. Simply bumping into a child will knock it down and possibly hurt the little one. Once down, the child will cry and you can have the dog’s prey drive kick in.

The Rott has already warned you by growling, you have no room for error.

This dog needs a home with adults only.

Dec 13, 2010


Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thanks for responding so quickly, Hannibal has been home with us a few days now and there are a few warning signs already. He is a big teddy bear but mostly with my husband. He seems to be ok with the kids ONLY when he is at eye level…when he is laying down and they walk by his lips twitch and he becomes stiff. He has snapped at my husband twice already but immediatly after gets desperate for attention so at least he knows what he did was not good. He is having an issue with his paws and when you get close when he is cleaning them he curls his lip…i adore him already but cant shake the feeling that if i accidently bump into him he may snap at me…or my children

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About The Rotty lover 2159 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone