Rottweilers, affectionately known as Rotties, hold a special place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts in the United States. Renowned for their strength, protectiveness, and loyalty, they are celebrated for their innate guarding instincts. However, beneath their robust exterior lies a wealth of history and attributes that make Rottweilers truly exceptional. Here, we delve into the lesser-known aspects of these remarkable dogs.
The Ancestral Legacy: Rottweilers and Ancient Rome
Although the precise origin of Rottweilers remains undocumented, popular belief suggests that this breed can trace its roots back to the herding dogs of ancient Rome. Throughout their extensive history, Rottweilers have played diverse roles, showcasing their adaptability.
Guardians of Livestock: The Rottweiler’s Historical Duty
In the annals of the Roman Empire, Rottweilers served as “drovers,” safeguarding cattle and other livestock. These loyal dogs herded animals and accompanied the Roman armies, ensuring a steady supply of food—a necessity during a time when refrigeration was yet to be invented. Today, Rottweilers continue to participate in herding events, demonstrating their agility alongside sheepdogs and shepherds.
Protecting More Than Just Livestock: Rottweilers and Currency
Rottweilers’ guarding instincts extended beyond livestock. These dogs also served as protectors of cattle owners’ money. Money would be secured in a bag and tied around the dog’s neck, a place deemed too perilous for thieves to approach. Interestingly, Rottweilers earned the moniker “Metzgerhund,” which translates to “butcher’s dog,” signifying their role in safeguarding butchers’ earnings during travels to market.
The Joy of Work: Rottweilers as Multifaceted Canines
Rottweilers find immense happiness in having a purpose. Their intelligence, tirelessness, and eagerness to please make them versatile dogs. They excel as service dogs, therapy dogs, obedience competitors, guide dogs, customs inspectors, draft and cart dogs, and, above all, as devoted companions.
The Revival: Rottweilers in Law Enforcement
In the mid-1800s, Rottweilers fell out of favor as the need for dog carts waned and cattle droving became illegal. Their resurgence occurred in the early 1900s when they gained recognition as effective police dogs.
The Rottweiler’s Unique Leaning Habit
Rottweilers share a unique trait with breeds like Great Danes and Mastiffs—they enjoy leaning their substantial bodies against their human companions. This behavior traces back to their herding heritage when they used their bodies to guide cattle.
Award-Winning Therapy Dogs: A Testament to Their Gentle Nature
Rottweilers can be award-winning therapy dogs. Wynd, a therapy dog owned by Renice Zimmerman, earned the Award for Canine Excellence in Therapy in 2015. Wynd’s contributions as a therapy dog extended to The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Hampton Veterans Hospital, and Suffolk Humane Society’s BARKS reading program.
Advocating for Veterans: Rottweilers and Disabled Veterans
Dieter, a Rottweiler service dog, partners with Vietnam Veteran Neil Williams, providing mobility assistance, door holding, and wheelchair support. Beyond their personal bond, Williams and Dieter have traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for the rights of disabled veterans, as part of the board of directors of the New England chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Beyond Reputation: The True Nature of Rottweilers
Rottweilers often carry a reputation as ferocious attack dogs, leading some municipalities to ban them and some insurance companies to decline coverage for Rottweiler owners. However, this reputation does not define them entirely. Proper training and socialization can transform a Rottweiler into a gentle and loving companion. Their temperament is a testament to the power of responsible ownership.