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The History of the Rottweiler

The exact ancestry of the Rottweiler is not well known. Most ipistorians believe that this breed descends from drover dogs used by the Romans to move livestock many centuries ago. How the dog, often affectionately called a Rottie, transitioned from a herding dog to the animal so well known today is probably attributable to the Roman’s desire to conquer all of Europe. Vast armies were needed for this effort, and they had to bring their food sources on the hoof, as they were without the benefit of refrigeration. Herds and flocks required management by dogs of great strength and stamina that were also capable of guarding the soldiers and stock at night. The Roman drover dogs were perfectly suited to these tasks.

Sometime around 700 A.D., a local ruler ordered that a Christian church be built on the site of ancient Roman baths in southwestern Germany. During the excavation, red tiles from Roman villas were discovered, and the site was named “das Rote Wil,” meaning “the red tile”. This site is now called “

Rottweil.” It developed into a cultural trade center and hub, and was extensively fortified in the 12th century, which attracted even more commerce. Many cattlemen and butchers settled there, and they needed dogs to help them in their trades. These Roman drover dogs and their descendants worked cattle and drove them to market until well into the 19th century and became known as the Rottweiler Metzgerhund, or the Butcher’s Dog.

With the onset of the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, cattle driving by drover dogs became replaced by the railroad, causing a drastic decline in the need for and numbers of the Rottweiler. A Rottweiler was first shown at a dog show in Heilbronn in 1882.

In 1905 the Rottweiler was selected as a “fine dog of unusual breed and irreproachable character” to be presented to the President of a dog show, organized by the Association of the Friends of Dogs in Heidelberg, Germany. Not much was written about the breed until 1901, when a combined Rottweiler and Leonberger club was formed. The club created a written standard for the Rottie, addressing both physical type and temperament. During the first part of the 20th century, Rottweilers gained popularity as police dogs. The breed also was used by the German army during the First World War. A number of different breed clubs were founded in Germany after the war, with duplication, dissention and confusion. Eventually, in 1921, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK) was formed. It published its first studbook in 1924 and remains active to this date.

The American Kennel Club admitted the Rottweiler into its Stud Book in 1931. Through both World War I and II, the Rottweiler continued to gain in popularity in Germany. The official standard for the breed was approved in 1935, and the first Rottweiler earned an AKC conformation championship title in 1948. The American Rottweiler Club was formed in 1971 and is the parent club of the breed in the United States. The Kennel Club (England) recognized the breed in 1966. But the breed remained relatively unknown in the United States until the early 1980s, when its popularity skyrocketed — at one point becoming the second most popular breed. Since then, the Rottweiler has continued to enjoy popularity, now number thirteen in AKC registrations.

Health The average life span of the Rottweiler is 10 to 12 years.

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Unfortunately, some people have chosen to take advantage of the Rottweiler’s enthusiasm to learn and have trained them to be aggressive. This has resulted in a bad reputation for the breed that many Rottweiler owners desperately try to repair. With appropriate training, the Rottweiler can be a loving devoted member of the family.

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