A courageous dog with self-assurance and lots of confidence, the Rottweiler is popular all over the world today. Here in South Africa the breed has been on the Kennel Union of Southern Africa’s top 10 most registered breeds list for years. This powerful, but devoted dog has much going for him. With his affectionate, playful and fun-loving nature, it is easy to see why the Rottweiler is often called the Peter Pan of the canine world.
A breed of great antiquity, the Rottweiler’s history starts in the Middle Ages, when this robust dog was used to hunt boar. So prized were they that their owners often kitted them out in chain-mail coats to protect them from the boar’s tusks. In later years they became cattle dogs, for which they are perhaps best known.
The Rottie, as he is affectionately known, was ideally suited to droving, as this occupation demanded a fit, courageous and devoted dog. The animal had to guard the herd at night from predators, prevent any cattle from straying and drive them, over long distances, during the day. Often the dog would carry his master’s purse around his neck, as it was a brave soul who ventured to steal a purse from such a dog. The powerfully built dog with the steady temperament that had been established for this work stood the Rottie in good stead when it came to the planned breeding programmes that were started in the early 20th century.
When cattle driving became unnecessary with the coming of the railways, the breed became a draught dog, pulling small carts. Some Rotties today still carry out this duty, participating in carting competitions here in South Africa with great enjoyment and success.
At the beginning of the 20th century the breed was in danger of dying out, but in 1907 devotees in Heidelberg, Germany, founded the first breed club. In 1910, when the police chose the Rottweiler as one of the four breeds used for police work, the breed’s future was ensured. It was not until the middle of the 1930s that the first Rottweilers were registered in South Africa with the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA).
Temperament and lifestyle
A Rottweiler needs to be a part of the home, a member of the family, and that means wherever you are he needs to be. He will not thrive locked away in the backyard. He is a truly magnificent dog who is bold, curious, protective and a devoted family member. Eager to please, a Rottie loves working as well as having fun with the family. There is nothing better than having a bond with this dog and seeing that twinkle in his eyes when he has pleased you.
The Rottweiler is an intelligent and vigorous breed who benefits immensely from training and exercise. Training provides mental stimulation and provided the training is done in a non-confrontational manner with positive reinforcement, Rottweilers respond very well and are often among the top achievers in training classes.
While temperaments do differ in the breed, a common trait is a courageous nature coupled with self-assurance and confidence. With consistent and positive training methods, your Rottweiler will thrive and you will be rewarded with an obedient, loyal companion.
The potential for reactivity to other dogs is high, so early socialisation is a must with this breed. Ensuring that fair boundaries which never compromise the dog’s sense of wellbeing are put into place, will also go a long way towards maximising the Rottie’s excellent potential for training. Exercise is important too. However, the Rottweiler is a slow-maturing breed and care should be taken not to overdo exercise during adolescence, which could possibly contribute to orthopaedic problems in later life.
A bored Rottie can be destructive, so exercise and mental stimulation are essential for him. A daily walk is ideal, but he will also adapt to a walk two or three times per week, with regular opportunities for vigorous, free running – something he will enjoy immensely!
Your Rottie will also love water and will certainly enjoy a dip in the family pool, but always under your watchful eye. He often excels in obedience and tracking disciplines.
His coat needs minimal grooming – a brush a few times a week is adequate, with a bath every two months or so. Extra brushing may be required when he sheds his coat seasonally, twice each year.
For further information on the breed or to find breeders visit www.animalchannel.co.za or see the Animaltalk classified advertisements, Animaltalk Breeders’ Gallery or the Dog Directory 2015.
Text: Roxy Greyling. The full article appears in the August issue of Animaltalk.