The Rottweiler breed began as a general-purpose working dog in the farm area of the German Rottweil district. These dogs were used to herd and protect livestock.   Another of their jobs was to pull meat-laden carts to market. 

Rottweilers are still used to herd livestock, but they also are used as a guide, guard, rescue, and even police dogs.  Rottweilers are intelligent and courageous.  With the right training, these dogs are extremely loyal and friendly.  They are in the top ten most popular and most intelligent dog breeds.

Rottweilers are powerful dogs.  They are territorial and very protective of their family.  Rottweilers are not naturally aggressive and can be excellent family pets.  However, improper treatment and training from an abusive and neglectful owner can make these dogs very dangerous.   According to the O’Hara Law Firm, Rottweilers were responsible for over 10% of fatal dog attacks, even though they are less than 3% of the total dog population.  

History of the Rottweiler

When the Roman legions set out to conquer the world, they could not stop at a local supermarket to buy food.  They had to bring along their own supplies, and for meat, that meant herds of livestock.  They used dogs, most likely a Mastiff breed, to do the hard work of driving the livestock.  The dog was also used for guard duty and maybe even  participated in combat.

Sometimes, when the livestock was gone, and the dogs were no longer needed, the Romans left the dogs behind.  One place this happened was in the German region of Rottweil.   The Roman dogs interbred with local herding breeds, and over time the impressive Rottweiler breed was developed.

Driving livestock to market was dangerous in the middle ages, and a great big imposing dog was needed for protection.  The Rottweiler was well suited for this job and became known as Rottweiler Metzgerhund, meaning Rottweil butchers’ dogs.  Once the meat was sold, putting the money in a pouch around the Rotweiller’s neck was the next best thing to having an armored truck for the trip back home.

Although the cattle-driving business has pretty much disappeared, the Rottweilers guarding instincts has made it one of the most feared, and thus useful, protection dogs in the world.  Irresponsible owners have caused the breed to have a bad image in the press, but the breed is still one of the most popular in the United States, where it is ranked eighth on the AKC’s most popular breed list.

Training a Rottweiler

If you decide to get a Rottweiler, it is imperative that you properly train and socialize your dog starting while they are still puppies.  Since Rottweiler dogs are large and strong, they can become a problem for owners who have not properly trained their dogs.  

Rottweilers are one of the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds and are relatively easy to train.  They are affectionate and loyal dogs who have a controversial reputation that is not entirely the dog’s fault.  Much like the Pit Bull, most of the responsibility for aggressive behavior is the result of their owners’ poor and negligent actions.

Rottweilers are powerful, and because they can easily intimidate people, there have even been efforts to stop Rottweiler breeding. These efforts may be misguided since the breed is not naturally more aggressive than any other. When well trained, they are not a menace to society, but it is your duty to provide that training as an owner.

If you are a first time Rottweiler owner, you may want to consult or hire a professional dog trainer.  If you have the confidence to do the training yourself, it is still a good idea to buy dog training books, watch videos, or find an online dog training course.

Getting a Rottweiler Puppy

Getting a new puppy is so much fun, and Rottweiler puppies are so cute, you will want to choose the very first puppy you pick up.  But, getting a dog is a big commitment.  You want to temper your excitement and pick the puppy best suited for your family.

It would be best if you bought your Rottweiler puppy directly from a breeder, not from a pet shop.  That way, you can see the puppies’ parents and get an idea of how big the puppy will become and how they may behave when it is an adult.

puppy rottweiler in studio

When you select your Rottweiler puppy, ask the breeder whether the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has certified the puppies’ parents.  The OFA exists to reduce orthopedic and other genetic diseases in animals, particularly in purebred dogs.  If both puppies’ parents are certified, then the puppy will likely also pass the OFA certification.  The dog needs to be about two years old before it can be certified.

Whichever Rottweiler puppy you choose from the litter, insist on getting a health guarantee from the breeder and take the puppy to your veterinarian for a wellness examination as soon as you can.

If you have a strong preference for a male or a female, that will help narrow your choice of puppies. One puppy in the litter may be more timid or more aggressive than the others, and it’s up to you to decide what kind of personality you want your dog to have. 

Are Rottweilers Healthy?

Rottweilers are generally healthy, but like all purebred dogs, they may have certain hereditary health issues.

The Rottweiler may suffer from elbow dysplasia. Cardiac problems and hip dysplasia are also common problems. Rottweiler puppies are at some risk of having patellar luxation, although the risk is relatively low.   It is best to test for this disease to be safe. 

Rottweiler dogs can suffer from obesity, leading to further health problems such as arthritis, difficulty breathing, heart failure, and other diseases. Ensuring that they get enough exercise every day is essential to a  healthy Rottweiler.

Rottweilers are a lot stronger than they look and so you need to consider their size before choosing one for your family pet.  Be sure that you learn all about a Rottweiler’s care. With a properly bred Rottweiler, you will be sure that your new family member will make a steadfast companion and a loyal friend who will sacrifice its life for you.  No friend has greater love than one who will lay down his life for yours.

For More Information:

If you want more information about the Rottweiler and where to get a puppy, please visit The American Rottweiler Club (ARC) website.

Dog Breeds Similar to Rottweilers:


BreedHeight (inches)Weight (Pounds)Life Expectancy (Years)Popularity (AKC)Country
German Shepherd 22-2650-907-102Germany
Doberman Pinscher24-2860-10010-1217Germany
Belgian Malinois22-2640-8014-1643Belgium
Bullmastiff24-27100-1307-951United Kingdom