The history of this breed goes a very long way back spanning across an unbelievable two thousand years. The first mention of this breed has been observed in Roman times, however, how the dog reached Rome remains unknown. At that time, the Rottweilers were not used as fighter dogs; rather they were used as cart pullers where they were carrying the food supplies (meat) of the legion.

The Romans used this dog to intimidate intruders, to battle enemies and herd their cattle, especially used as herding dogs for the cattle of the Roman legions as they invaded and conquered Europe. In many places, since the paths were impassable, driving the cattle was not possible. Hence, these cattle were left in the care of a few people who took care of it along with a pack of Roman dogs.

This is why these dogs had to be fierce and fearless, as they had to fight off wild animals, such as wolves and grizzly bears as well as humans who wanted to steal or destroy the cattle herds they were guarding. This is how the Rottweiler became so fiercely possessive and protective of its herd.

In modern times, this characteristic of the dog is what makes it dangerous, since it will guard with its life everything and everybody that he feels is coming under his territory. It is important here to point out that a Rottweiler will not attack unless it is relentlessly provoked or it feels that his herd is in danger. They are not ‘killer dogs” or “attack dogs” as they have been labeled by some, they are “protection dogs” who will react strongly only when they feel they have to protect their property.

Mixed History Produced Fierce Protector

Some cytologists put these dogs as a mix of the German shepherd, German mastiff (Boxer) Swiss Mountain dog, and the Bullenbeisser, which explains its physical appearance, instinct for herding and ability to fight. The broad shoulders, powerful head structure, and specifically the free elbow motion are all pointers to this aspect.

During the 17th and 18th Century these dogs were also known as the butcher’s dogs owing to the fact they belonged mostly to butchers who were raising cattle for meat. Their name comes from the city of Rottweil, which in turn derived its name from the red tiles (Rottweil means red tiles) on the roof of the houses that the Romans constructed during that time. The late 17th Century and the 18th Century was the time when these dogs were at the peak of their popularity.

Once the railway was established the importance of these dogs declined rapidly and so did their breed. Gradually their excellent characteristics brought them back into the limelight, this time as police dogs. Starting from 1905 there was a rapid regaining of lost ground for these dogs, in the police force.

In 1921 the many dog clubs formed to protect the Rottweiler were amalgamated into the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK) and ten years later, in 1931 the first Rottweiler was admitted in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Stud Book. In the US however, this dog became popular only at the end of the 1970s. The 1980s saw a great demand for this dog and by 1992 the Rottweiler dog was the second most popular dog breed registered in AKC.

That brings us to their adaptability as pets in the modern world of today and many say that the temperament of this dog is highly unpredictable and dangerous. However, is this true? Are the reported incidents of mauling and killing by Rottweilers a reflection on their real nature, or isolated cases blown out of proportion? What is the truth about the Rottweiler’s temperament and how can it be controlled.

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