In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

It was years before I became a trainer and behavior specialist when I met my first Rottweiler. I came to the front door of my friend’s house and her Rotti greeted me. She was a big dog, maybe 125 pounds, and her head and jaws were enormously intimidating. My friend had told me that she was nice but when you have heard the stereotypes and see just how big the dog is, it makes you step back and think. As walked through the front door, the dog took my hand gently in her mouth.

“What is she doing?” I asked my friend, unable to hide my fear and afraid to pull my hand away.

“She’s showing you her toys,” my friend laughed, ignoring my reaction because she knew her dog would never hurt me.

Sure enough, this sweet and gentle dog wanted me to play with her. She led me to her basket of toys, picked one out, dropped it at my feet, and we played. This dog was nicer than my miniature Poodle I had as a kid!

The Rottweiler breed unfortunately gained the bad reputation as being aggressive killers, somewhere around the same time that Dobermans did. Big black dogs have been unjustifiably maligned for decades – movies, TV shows, and other media stereotyped them that way.

Did you know that Rottweilers can be traced back to the first century AD in Rome? They were originally herding dogs, used to tend the herds of the Roman army, following them into Germany and Switzerland. The name Rottweiler comes from a small town in southern Germany called Rottweil which means red villas because the homes had red tiled roofs. The original Rottweilers were probably interbred with local dogs such as the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Swiss Mountain Dog.

Throughout the years, Rottis were used as bear hunters and to pull carts for butchers. They became a member of the American Kennel Club in 1901 and haven’t changed much over the years.

The temperament of the Rottweiler is typically calm, confident, very devoted to family, wary of strangers, and protective of his territory and people he considers to be in his pack. They are very alert and make great watch dogs. The combination of being good watch dogs, their tendency to be cautious of strangers, and their physical size and strength can make the Rottweiler a dangerous dog if they are not properly trained and socialized at a young age. Early obedience training, good leadership and socialization to people and other animals when they are pups are very important. Rottweilers need owners who know how to be consistent leaders, showing the dog benevolent yet firm parenting.

Because Rottweilers are working dogs and are intelligent, they do benefit from having a job or something to do to work their smart brains. They love games such as agility, lure coursing and of course, herding, but also enjoy simply playing with you and their toys. Regular obedience training helps to keep them engaged and well-behaved.

A Rottweiler is not recommended for the first time dog owner. They need experienced dog people in order to deal with their strong personalities and physical strength as well. Young Rottis can be difficult. They can be mouthy and will jump on people. If not properly trained, the mouthiness can turn into biting. Jumping on people can be dangerous simply because of their size and strength. Small children can be unintentionally hurt if the dog tries to herd them or jumps. Young Rottis are also very smart and will test his owner by trying to be in charge. An in-charge Rotti will be trouble if not properly trained.

Just like Pit Bulls lately, Rottis will have a bad reputation if not properly trained or trained to be aggressive by people with bad intentions. Some apartment complexes and neighborhoods have banned them. Rottis are incredible dogs when owned by people who understand them and do the right things for them. If considering a Rottweiler, please be sure you are prepared to take on this kind of dog: Early socialization and training, and be sure to use consistent positive reinforcement methods of training and no punishment. Punishment will make any dog aggressive.