History and Origins of the Breed
The Rottweiler is a medium large, strong-minded and powerful dog breed originating from Germany.
The breed is of ancient origin, but its true history remain misty to this day. In Germany it was first called the Rottweiler Metzgerhund which translates literally as the 'butcher's dog from Rottweil', because it was utilized as a butcher's dog in the whole region around Rottweil.
Rottweil is a city lying on the banks of the River Neckar in the Land of Baden-Würtenberg, between Stuttgart and Freiburg. The city of Rottweil used to have a famous cattle market, where this dog was used as a cattle drover, hence its name "Rottweiler".
The city itself dates back to 73 A.D. when it was founded by the Romans and baptized Arae Flaviae.
The current name "Rottweil" dates from 771 and means "red villa" (rote Villa in German, and in the year 771 "Rotuvila") which probably referred to the color of the ancient Roman villas.
With the arrival of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, the breed had declined so much that in 1900 it was almost extinct. Cattle were now being moved by rail rather than along country roads, and the Rottwiler gradually became obsolete. Then, with the outbreak of World War I, it found an important new role as a military service dog in the German army.
Its enormous strength, its intelligence, and its ability to take orders proved during the War opened a new blossoming career as a guard dog after the war, and the Rottweiler's numbers began to rise again. In the 1930s Rottweilers were exported to both Britain and the United States.The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1935 and in 1936, Rottweilers were exhibited in Britain at Crufts. It was not until 1966 that the breed was recognized by the Kennel Club in London, though. The dominant popularity of the Rottweiler's spin-off, the Doberman Pinscher, somewhat delayed the Rottweiler's popularity in the United States, but today both the United States and Germany boast master races of superiorly bred Rottweilers.
In recent years, the breed has received a lot of bad press. Unscrupulous breeders have produced dogs with highly aggressive tendencies and some owners have used the dogs to boost their macho images. Potential owners are encouraged to seek a proven, reliable breeder to avoid getting an ill-bred specimen with a potentially unstable temperament.
Despite the media's fascination with Rottweilers who run afoul of canine behavioural standards, people who have experience with well-socialized examples of the breed can attest to the Rottweiler's friendliness and often clownish nature. In fact, the FCI standard calls for a dog that is fond of children. Nevertheless, this breed is not for the inexperienced or uninvolved dog owner. Read more about the Rottweiler's behavior, temperament and appearance:
The cattle-dealers swept the country around Rottweil, buying cattle and driving them to market. Their dogs not only had to possess excellent driving abilities, but they also had to be intimidating to protect their owner from thieves and bandits that infested the region. The dogs were so trusted that it was common practice to attach the moneybags required for trade to the collars of the dogs and it was said that the neck of a Rottweiler was safer than any bank vault.
Photos, unless otherwise stated, courtesy of Camilla, Yengol's Rottweiler, Sweden.
© C. Marien-de Luca for Bulldog Information 2003-2005. All rights reserved.
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