Is the Rottweiler the right dog for me?
The Rottweiler is the current “fad” guard/macho dog of the moment. For four years running, it has been the second most-popular AKC registered breed. Don’t be swept up by the hype, or the fact that your neighbor, aunt, sister, or best friend has one. The Rottweiler is a large, powerful dog, and along with ownership comes much responsibility. Rottweilers require extensive socialization from an early age. Are you willing to carry your puppy for several months, (he shouldn’t be walking in public places until he is fully immunized at around 16-20 weeks), exposing him to the sights, sounds, and people he will encounter as an adult? Because of their size and strength, obedience training for your Rottweiler is a must. Weekly group classes for 6 to 12 months are generally considered a minimum. Rottweilers are “people” dogs.
They want to be with their masters. As a working breed, the Rottweiler requires daily exercise, a good romp twice a day at least. Left alone or with inadequate exercise for long periods they may become unruly and destructive.
How are they with children?
A properly bred Rottweiler who receives adequate socialization and training will generally get along fine with children, but tolerance will vary from dog to dog. He must be taught early on what is acceptable behavior and what is not, as should the child. Because of their large size and inherent desire to “herd”, Rottweilers should always be supervised around children. A minor “bump” can cause serious injury to a small child. Also, some Rottweilers have a high degree of “prey” drive (the instinct to chase moving objects), therefore should never be left alone with children, who naturally will want to run and play. Some breeders recommend waiting until the children are at least school age before introducing a Rottweiler into the home. The amount of space in your home, the age of your children, and the amount of time the dog will be in contact with the children should be part of your decision.
Are they vicious?
A properly bred, socialized, and trained Rottweiler is not inherently vicious. The rapid rise in popularity of the breed has attracted many irresponsible breeders who are only interested in making a profit and don’t care what damage is done to the breed in the process.
Are they good with other pets?
Problems should be minimal when a Rottweiler is raised from puppyhood with other pets. Introducing a new pet when there is an adult Rottweiler in the household should be done slowly and with care. Dog-to-dog aggression is influenced by the early socialization of puppies, their bloodlines, and sex; males are less tolerant of other males than they are of females. Bitches may also be intolerant of other dogs. The Rottweiler is highly intelligent and trainable, and with perseverance, should be able to learn to co-exist peacefully with any pet you wish to introduce.
What kind of training do they require?
The Rottweiler has been developed for its working ability and often blooms when given a chance to work with its master, although there are occasional exceptions. It is very necessary to establish your control of the animal and obedience training is often the easiest and most rewarding way to do so. Your breeder should be able to provide you with guidance in the selection of a training class, however, avoid the very rough trainer, no matter how highly recommended. Rottweilers can often be controlled using verbal reprimands alone, and while they occasionally require strong physical corrections, some trainers tend to be much rougher on Rottweilers than is necessary. Women have been very successful with the dogs in obedience training. Physical mastery of the dog is generally less important than sensitive, patient, and positive training methods. Patience is an important factor in training a Rottweiler.
What about discipline?
The Rottweiler is a sensitive, intelligent, and loyal animal and usually wants to please its owner. Occasionally, it can be quite stubborn though and requires more attention. It is imperative that discipline is consistent and firm without being overly rough. A harsh word will often suffice, although sharper corrections are sometimes necessary. Ownership isn’t for the timid or very busy person who cannot or is not inclined towards careful supervision of his/her pet.
Do they require much exercise?
The Rottweiler is a working breed. He is generally not happy sitting around doing nothing all day. A large yard with a six-foot-high fence is ideal, but adult Rottweilers have been kept successfully in large apartments. The yard is essential if a puppy or young dog is being acquired; it will help to keep the dog exercised and reduce boredom which in turn may prevent destructive behavior. If you don’t have the space, consider a smaller or less active breed. Personal commitment on the part of the owner is the most important thing. People willing to walk their dog on a regular basis will find a more personal and bonding relationship developing than just letting them run by themselves in the yard. Your Rottweiler will require a minimum of two good walks each day (10 to 20 minutes each). Adequate exercise is necessary to maintain the good health of your Rottweiler, as they have a tendency to gain weight without proper exercise.
Do they shed?
The Rottweiler is a double-coated breed, with a medium-length outer coat and a soft downy undercoat. They do shed, more than one would think by looking at their appearance. The amount of shedding will vary with climatic conditions. They generally tend to “blow out” their undercoats twice a year, in spring and fall.
Are they noisy?
Rottweilers will bark to announce the arrival of people on the property, and at animals and birds in the yard, but they generally don’t bark without reason.
Which sex makes the best pet?
Opinions vary on this topic. Most breeders would generally recommend a female, especially for first-time owners. Females are smaller and easier to control, somewhat less dominant, and usually more affectionate. Males are stronger, more powerful, and dominant, and therefore somewhat harder to train and control.
Where should I buy my Rottweiler puppy?
There are various places where you may acquire a Rottweiler puppy, but only ONE place where you should – from a responsible breeder. Pet shops acquire their puppies from puppy mills, brokers, and backyard breeders. Their puppies are separated from their dames and litters at too early an age, they are not properly socialized and may well develop serious health problems.
Puppy mills, brokers, and backyard breeders have only one priority – to make a profit. They are not interested in the welfare of the puppies they breed. Beware of pet shops that advertise “we get our puppies from private breeders.” No responsible breeder would ever broker puppies to a pet shop. Don’t perpetuate the puppy mill problem – steer clear of pet shops.
What is a “Responsible” breeder?
This is a difficult category to define, but there are certain minimum standards that are accepted as “responsible” by most who are active in the dog fancy. Following are some of the things a responsible breeder will be doing:
- All breeding stock will be certified free of Hip Dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Elbows may also be certified as free of Elbow Dysplasia; this is a relatively new trend and some older dogs/bitches may not be certified. The breeder will be willing to supply you with copies of the OFA certificates. No bitch or dog will be bred before the age of two, (the minimum age for OFA certification). OFA does issue preliminary evaluations of hips and elbows, but actual certification will not be done before two years.
- Breeding stock will be certified free of inherited eye disease annually by a Board-certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist; the certificate is issued by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).
- Bitches and dogs used for breeding will have achieved certain competitive titles such as AKC Champion or an advanced obedience title (CDX, UD). Responsible breeders will usually not breed dogs and bitches whose quality has not been proven in competition, although under certain circumstances (injuries that prevent competition) they may.
- The Breeder will belong to one or more Rottweiler Clubs which require adherence to a “Code of Ethics” from all members (adherence to a certain level of responsibility in ownership and breeding). The largest of these clubs include the American Rottweiler Club, The Colonial Rottweiler Club, The Medallion Rottweiler Club, and the Gold Coast Rottweiler Club. There are numerous local Rottweiler clubs, some are “Code” clubs and some are not – ask. Code of Ethics clubs do not permit members to advertise puppy prices.
- The Breeder will be active in the sport of dogs, competing in conformation, obedience, tracking, or herding events.
- A responsible breeder will not give you a “hard-sell” routine when you call to inquire about his/her dogs. Usually, he/she will be trying everything they can to discourage you from buying a Rottweiler. A reputable breeder’s number one concern is that his/her puppies are placed in responsible homes where they will receive the same kind of care and training he/she gives his/her own dogs. Expect to be interviewed at length as to why you want to own a Rottweiler, and what your family and lifestyle is like. The reputable breeder will ask more questions of you than you will of him/her.
- A responsible breeder will try to steer you clear of rushing to buy a puppy this week or this month, but he/she will also not expect you to wait an unreasonable amount of time to buy one of his/her puppies. If he has no puppies available and has no breeding planned in the near future, he will recommend other breeders whose standards are as high as his own.
- A responsible breeder will be happy to have you meet the parents of the litter (at least the dam; frequently the sire will not belong to the breeder), as well as his/her other dogs. The dogs and puppies will be kept in a clean and healthy environment.
- A responsible breeder will only sell puppies with a signed, written contract. He/she will pass on accurate health, breeding, and registration records and pedigree records of at least three generations. They will require that any puppy not purchased as show and breeding stock be made incapable of reproducing, and require that limited registration “blue slips” be provided, or that registration papers be withheld until a veterinarian’s certificate is received as proof of sterilization.
What is the difference between pet and show quality?
“Show Quality” is a term that is often misunderstood and misused. It can mean something as simple as a puppy with no disqualifying faults (as listed in the breed standard) at the time of sale. The serious buyer looking for a potential winner or breeding stock had best spend time going to dog shows and talking to exhibitors as well as studying the standard for the breed. Serious and disqualifying faults to avoid include overshot or undershot bites, missing teeth, long or curly coats, light eyes, hip dysplasia, and unstable temperaments. All lines carry one or more of these traits, and a responsible breeder will be able to give you a candid description of what is in your animal’s genetic background. Be aware that the nicest puppy in the litter can mature into a very mediocre adult. Be prepared to critically evaluate your dog, because even if you paid a good price you may still end up with a pet.
“Pet Quality”: many times breeders will offer puppies with serious faults for lower prices than show quality. These faults are generally cosmetic (bad bites, white spots on the chest or belly, missing teeth, etc.) and will not affect the health or temperament of the dog. These animals are not for breeding because these are serious genetic faults. A responsible breeder will require that the animal be spayed, neutered, or vasectomized before releasing the AKC registration papers. Breeders may now sell their puppies on the new AKC Limited Registration Certificate, which allows the dog AKC privileges of obedience activities but will not allow showing in the conformation ring or use for breeding purposes. These dogs make good companions and often their faults are not detectable to any but the most experienced eyes.
How much can I expect to pay for a Rottweiler puppy?
Show-quality puppies will generally sell for $1,000 to $2,000, with pet prices approximately half the show price.