The Rottweiler’s history is said to go back to the Roman period according to many sources. According to Wikipedia, the Rottweiler is a distant relative to Roman drover dogs. A drover dog would accompany the drover ( the dog owner) on foot for varying distances on dusty roads, and trails to market.
Perhaps the early Rottweiler was a drover dog assisting the Roman legions traveling great distances across Roman occupied lands. Were these dogs ancestors of the modern Rottweiler guarding livestock while on Roman occupied city roads? According to Janice Biniok’s book ……..The Rottweiler did not become a specific, or known dog breed until after the occupation of the region of Swabia in 73 A.D. Swabia is one of seven regions in Bavaria, Germany, almost dead center of Stuttgart and Freiburg.
The city of Swabia became a strategic location for the Romans, and was a renamed Arae Flaviae by the Romans. The city of Arae Flaviae would later become the city of Rottweil. We all can imagine how the Rottweiler got it’s name, but was the Rottweiler the same breed of dog known today? I think It would be safe to say that it probably was not the same dog, but a mixture of different dogs from surrounding areas of Germany bread over time, and eventually the result is the Rottweiler of today.
During the early period of the Rottweiler breed in Germany, the breed was known as the Rottweil metzgerhund, meaning “Rottweil butchers dog.” The Rottweiler was used during this era to help butchers move their cattle to slaughter, protect the cattle and owners from would be robbers while in transit with their goods and money.
In the early 1900s the Rottweiler would almost become extinct, if not for owners in Germany who used them for protection. During this period of German history, cattle and other cart transported goods would be moved via train. The Rottweiler population would see a rebound by the early 1900’s German Law Enforcement agencies began breeding programs, slowly adding to a dwindling Rottweiler population. Although the Rottweiler was once more employed to do what it was breed to do “Work,”the breed was only popular in the early 1900’s with law enforcement agencies, and not the public.
Thirty years later the Rottweiler would make its way to America, and was officially recognized as a working breed by the American Kennel club (AKC) in 1931. There was a total of 8 Rottweilers registered in the group 3 working breed ledgers. The Rottweiler was used for law enforcement jobs during this time, but still remained unpopular by dog lovers in America. In 1948 the AKC awarded the breed with its first championship, but this award did nothing for the popularity of Rottweilers here in America. The Rottweiler still remained low on the popularity scale, placing at number 80.
Not until the early 70’s would the Rottweiler gain popularity here in America, Lovers of Rottweilers here in America can thank the American Rottweiler Club (ARC) for making an impact, and interest in the breed during the 70’s era.
In 1985 the popularity of the Rottweiler became evident. The breed would move up to the top 20 placing, as the 16th most popular breed. The Rottweiler continued to move up in rankings by 1988, placing number seven on the AKC’s top ten most popular dog in America list.
Fast forward to the AKC websites most popular dog breed list of 2018, and the Rottweiler places number 8 out of 192 recognized dog breeds here in America.
The Rottweiler has a history of being misunderstood by the public due to irresponsible breeders, owners, and even media outlets.
Some breeders who lack any knowledge of the breed, produce Rottweilers which posses undesirable temperaments. In addition, these breeders lack knowledge in producing physically sound Rottweilers. These breeders produce Rottweilers with unsound temperament. A Rottweiler lacking good temperament can become a serious liability for the owner, and a safety concern for the public.
And Let’s not forget how the “Media” for years has influenced the opinions of the masses by portraying various dog breeds ( Rottweilers included ) as being dangerous, and bent on terrorizing anyone who comes in proximity.
Thanks to the loyalty, commitment, dedication and tireless work of Rottweiler owners, trainers abroad, and breed organizations, the breed has remained as one of the top ten most popular dogs in America. As a result, Rottweilers are still employed as police dogs, therapy dogs, contest dogs, protection dogs, and just a best friend.
Biniok, Janice Our Best Friends: The Rottweiler. Eldorado Ink , 2010.
“ American Kennel Club. “ Accessed December 7, 2019. https://www.akc.org/.
wikipedia. “Rottweiler.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.