What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Rottweiler Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016
The AKC Standard describes the Rottweiler as "a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships."
Typically steadfast, sensible, and serious (though some are happy-go-lucky clowns!), the Rottweiler tends to respond quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment.
This muscular dog needs some space and exercise: brisk daily walks, interactive romping sessions, and regular opportunities to stretch out and run. Mental exercise (advanced obedience, agility, retrieving a ball, Schutzhund) is even more important and appreciated.
Rottweilers must be thoroughly socialized at an early age so that their territorial instincts are controlled rather than indiscriminate.
They can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex, and while many Rottweilers live peacefully with the family cat, other individuals are predatory toward cats.
Most Rottweilers are inclined toward dominance and will test for position in the family pecking order, but they will respect an assertive owner who knows how to lead a strong-minded dog.
Overall, the Rottweiler is a splendid, capable companion in the right hands, but without ongoing companionship, socialization, obedience training, and supervision, he is "too much dog" for many households.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large, stocky, muscular, and powerful
- Is handsome and easy to groom
- Is calm, steady-tempered, and confident
- Is very loyal to his family
- Makes an intimidating-looking deterrent
A Rottweiler may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- An extremely careful search to avoid overaggressive- or unstable-tempered lines
- A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet, lie on your lap, and lean his weight against your leg
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Providing enough socialization so their protectiveness doesn't become aggression
- Potential aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Slobbering and drooling (in individuals with massive heads and heavy jowls)
- Gassiness (flatulence)
- Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
- A multitude of serious health problems and a shortish lifespan
A Rottweiler may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of Rottweilers
If I was considering a Rottweiler, I would be most concerned about...
- Legal liabilities. Unfortunately, Rottweilers are targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
- Potential aggression. Too many idiots are breeding Rottweilers to be dangerously sharp, thinking that these dogs will protect them. The reality is that "sharp" dogs aren't protective -- they're simply over-aggressive, which makes them more likely to attack an innocent person, child, or another animal. If you want a good family dog, you do not want an aggressive Rottweiler.
If you want a Rottweiler puppy, you need to search hard for Rottweiler breeders whose main focus is good-natured temperament and you need to carefully evaluate the temperament of BOTH parents for good nature. If you want to adopt a Rottweiler adult dog, you need to temperament-test him. Read my book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, for step-by-step guidelines on temperament-testing puppies and adult dogs to see if they'll make a good pet.
- Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Rottweilers need enough exercise to keep them lean, but not so much that their growing bones, joints, and ligaments are over-stressed and damaged. Adult Rottweilers need enough exercise to keep them in shape, but not miles of running, and never in hot or humid weather -- their black coat makes them prone to overheating.
Since you need to minimize their exercise, young Rottweilers can be rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision at this time. Otherwise, left alone, young Rottweilers become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can destroy your living room.
- Providing enough socialization. Most Rottweilers have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone. However, note that many Rottweilers have minimal protective instincts and are big cuddlebugs who LOVE everyone.
- Potential animal aggression. Many Rottweilers will not tolerate another dog of the same sex. Dog-on-dog aggression is a common issue in the breed. And though many Rottweilers are just fine with the family cat, some individuals have strong instincts to chase and seize cats.
- The strong temperament. Most Rottweilers are not eager-to-please Golden Retrievers. The best Rottweilers are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they are not pushovers to raise and train. Some individuals are obstinate and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
You must teach your Rottweiler to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No."
My book Teach Your Dog 100 English Words, gives you a unique vocabulary to use with your dog AND teaches my Respect Training Program. Your dog will look at you when you speak and do what you say. Not just when he's hungry for a treat or feels like it. But all the time. Because he respects you.
- Slobbering. Rottweilers with loose jowls (typically large males ) tend to slobber or drool after eating and drinking.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Commercial diets make flatulence worse by including fibrous or hard-to-digest ingredients such as corn, soy, and other grains. Instead, feed your Rottweiler an easy-to-digest, meat-heavy, homemade diet.
- Shedding. For such a shorthaired dog, Rottweilers shed more than you might think – on the high side of average.
- Finding a healthy one and keeping him healthy. Unfortunately, Rottweilers have become a risky breed for long-term health. Many Rottweilers do live to 12 or 13, but many others are lost at age 6 or 7 to crippling joint diseases, bone cancer, heart disease, bloat, or epilepsy. To avoid these problems, you need to buy your Rottweiler from a person who can pass the "14 Family Companion Guidelines" in my book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams. If they're not following these guidelines, it's a big risk to buy a puppy from them.
Once you have your puppy home, you need to keep him healthy by following the 11-Step Health Care Program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
If you want your dog to live a long, healthy life and seldom need to visit the vet, this is the book for you. How to prepare healthy meals, getting only the right vaccinations (not the ones that are either useless or risky), preventing fleas, ticks, and heartworm safely, getting dangerous (to dogs) products out of your home, healing or improving current health issues, and much more. This is my best book, and bargain priced, too!
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