Having lived with a vast array of breeds and working with many more, here at Gainshaus, we have settled with the Rottweiler as the primary breed with which we share our home (we do also have other dogs of different breeds living alongside them). There are pro’s and con’s possibly in equal measure. In the home, they tend to be quiet and steady when nothing is going on (when suitably exercised et al); they are not noisy by nature. They will however guard their territory very well should a threat (or perceived threat) present itself. Naturally, this needs to be managed and under your control.
The reputation of the breed goes before it and as such people have views on your dogs before they even meet them. These dogs are very strong – not only physically, but psychologically and as such the owner needs to be equally as strong psychologically (they are certainly not a breed for the faint-hearted).
In our experience there are three ‘types’ of people in this regard. Those that have heard about Rottweilers and think they are dangerous, untrustworthy and to be feared, those who believe that there are ‘no bad dogs, just bad owners’, those that believe that Rottweilers are actually just big ‘Teddy Bears’ (despite regular negative international news). None of these are correct and none are completely wrong.
They can be big ‘teddy bears’ with their own family group (some through genetics and individuality are described as Labradors in Drag and some (particularly individual females) are crazy social with everyone), they can be dangerous (simply due to the inherent nature, innate guarding instincts and sheer physical power). Typically the Rottweiler is an honest dog who is friendly and social, but they often do not tolerate over handling and tactility from strangers and they will tell you so through a stiffening of the body and a black look across their face. That is why it is important that the Rottweiler owner is as strong and honest as the dog, because sometimes you may need to tell people not to touch your dog or to leave them alone (which is often less than easy!). Equally a good standard of obedience with the dog is required to enable you to control him/her regardless of what may be going on at that time.
When walking Rottweilers in public places, people can be fearful; some can be completely nonchalant or on occasion can be quite rude and antagonistic. Naturally, this is dependent on the area in which you live and socioeconomic environment and of course to some degree how your dog behaves.
One may not see too many Rottweilers (or any at all) running free in public parks. There may be a reason for that. They are a specialist breed and owning a walking a dog of this type is not quite the same as most other dogs breeds. Even when exceptionally well socialised during the critical periods of temperament formation, they most often will not tolerate ‘rudeness’, over-familiarity or confrontation from other dogs or people once they arrive at sexual maturity (particularly males).
This is a dog for those with a keen interest in the breed and in dogs and training in general. The males particularly are not your average ‘pet’ dog and formal obedience training is not optional. One could argue, that despite their wonderful attributes, that they are not pet dogs at all.
New owners have to embrace the inherent spirit, physical and psychological needs, physical and psychological power of the dog and be prepared for a different (more magical), more responsible, more respectful type of dog ownership.