by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 6, 2009)
In the latter years of the "Golden Age" of sports, which ended about 1932, international dog salesmen began to bring in large numbers of Middle European dogs, chiefly of the working or shepherd dog type. Among these was the Rottweiler, a dog which has been "rescued" in Germany about 1900 when that country's own interest in working dogs suddenly expanded.
Dogs such as the German Shepherd and Doberman Pinscher have their origin in the mixture of various breeds, including shepherds. The Rottweiler served as one of the ancestral pillars for the Doberman Pinscher, and has lived to see his descendant become one of the most popular dogs in the world.
This is strange enough, considering that the Rottweiler is a very ancient type of dog. It is considered that he was originally a cattle drover and guard for the supply dumps of the Roman armies. It was the custom of the Roman armies to carry their food with them "on the hoof." This they did by employing dogs to drive their sheep and cattle.
The area about the town of Rottweil, which is on the Neckar River, in Wurttemburg, South Germany, was conquered by Rome some 1900 years ago. And the story has it that the Roman dogs were left there, where the breed has been kept ever since, and from whence it gets its name.
It is said by others that the Romans did not customarily eat beef, having the same prejudice against it as Americans have against horse meat. In any case, the Rottweiler is traditionally the Roman army camp dog, and he does fit the descriptions of these dogs fairly well.
During the Middle Ages, Rottweil was a livestock center. Butchers from Rottweil used to have to leave the walled town in order to go on buying expeditions through the country-side. Robbers were likely to be lying in wait in the forests, and the butchers had to have cash for their purchases. So it became the custom for the butchers to tie their money belts about the necks of their Rottweilers. They were then unmolested on the trip out. On the trip back, the dogs were used as drovers. For this reason, the dogs were often called Metzgerhunds,
Toward 1900 cattle driving in Germany was outlawed. The breed then might have gone out of existence had not it been selected as one suitable for army and police service. It was stated that, in 1905, only one female Rottweiler was still alive in Rottweil.
However, there were more in other parts of Germany. These were carefully put together, and a definite program to save and improve the breed was undertaken. A specialty club for the breed was established and this, together with the dog's success in army and police work, ensured its continued existence.
The resemblance of the Rottweiler to his relative, the Doberman Pinscher, is obvious. However, he is a heavier, slower dog than the Doberman, and less volatile. He is a dog of great power, steady disposition, and great self-reliance. While he lacks the Doberman's lithe, trim beauty, he makes up for it by his own appearance of power and his great dignity.
The Rottweiler is a good sized, strongly-built active dog. He is affectionate, intelligent, easily trained to work, naturally obedient, and extremely faithful. While not quarrelsome, he possesses great courage and makes a splendid guard. His demeanor is dignified and he is not excitable. The hair should be short, coarse and flat. The shoulder height for males is 23-3/4 to 27 inches, the females 21-3/4 to 25-3/4 inches.
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