Owning any animal that can one day be over 100 pounds and has the potential to do harm is a big responsibility, and the Rottweiler is no exception. A Rottweiler is not the right choice for everyone. Please take a few moments to know what you are getting into before you decide to purchase one. Rottweilers are medium to large dogs that require plenty of exercise and proper discipline. They can be strong minded and stubborn and require a decisive alpha leader.
Owning a dog is a big commitment. A healthy large breed dog can live 10+ years. Make sure that you are willing to dedicate the next decade of your life to this dog. There is considerable expense involved as well. A good quality feed will run you about $45.00+ a month. Your puppy will need to complete his immunizations, and then need yearly vet exams. If your home is not fenced and you do not plan on installing a fence or adding an underground containment system, you need to make the commitment to take daily walks of at least 20 minutes with your dog rain or shine in hot and freezing weather.
There is nothing more charming than an adorable little fuzzy Rottweiler puppy. But he will not stay little very long at all. He will accomplish most of his physical growing in the first 24 months of life. Then he will be a very large dog that is not always cognizant of his size. He will try to crawl in your lap as though he were still a 15 pound puppy, and I have had my feet stepped on plenty enough times barefoot to tell you exactly what 124 pounds feels like!
If you are wanting a calm, well behaved, house broken, and already trained dog, then you do not want a puppy. Your puppy will need to be trained daily for the first 3 years of life. A puppy is considered a “baby” for the first 8 months, then an “adolescent” until the age of three. Just like human babies, the first 2 years of your Rottweiler’s life are the most important for physical and psychological development. Getting a Rottweiler from a puppy has many rewards. You get to be there for all the “firsts”, you will have a much stronger bond, and you will get to know your Rottweiler as intimately as she will you. You will have the opportunity to raise that dog the way you want, and train him to do what you want. But just like being a parent, you will be the single greatest factor on what kind of dog your puppy will grow up to be. There are no puppies ever born as destructive or dangerous dogs, but every puppy born of every breed has that potential.
At Guardian Rottweilers, we carefully research the pedigrees and temperaments of the dogs we breed. We do not simply look at a photo of a dog and decide to breed to it. Not only is a photo NEVER the best judge of conformation as you cannot see movement, pigmentation, tail carriage, etc., but equally important, a photo will never give you the character of the dog. We physically go to Germany and Europe to handle in watch working every single dog we are considering using for our breeding program. The conformation and character of parents, siblings and offspring are also important and a good breeder does not mind a bit of travel to ensure the best decision is made. All our dogs and bitches are Alpha type personalities. This is the most stable, as they are confident and self assured. The worst state of mind for a dog is that of fear. Most dog bites for any breed occur out of fear rather than aggression. A fearful dog is unpredictable and unstable.
Although proper training can correct most temperament and behavioral issues, the best remedy is always prevention. Proper training from day one is essential. The character qualities that we find most appealing in a Rottweiler–it’s protective instinct, it’s confidence, it’s fearlessness, it’s devotion–can also be the Rottweiler’s downfall. Just as you cannot hand a 3 year old car keys and tell him to drive, an untrained Rottweiler can be just as destructive. If this is your first Rottweiler, TRAINING CLASSES FOR YOU AND THE DOG ARE ESSENTIAL.
All dogs are pack animals. The Rottweiler goes even a step further. What makes him such an unfailing companion and so unconditionally faithful can also cause SEPARATION ANXIETY. Once your Rottweiler has decided that you are his pack leader, or even a member of his pack, that is where his heart is. In the wild, the wolf/dog pack is vary social. They do everything together and go everywhere together. Usually when a member separates, it is for something serious and often to die. So when you leave to go to the grocery store, all your rottie sees is that you have abandoned him and life as he knows it is over. This can lead to anxiety so severe that the dogs gets diarrhea, or it can lead to destructive behavior out of frustration. This can range from chewing, to urinating uncharacteristically. This is called separation anxiety. Because of how emotionally attached Rottweilers usually become to their family, separation anxiety runs high in this breed. I recommend crating dogs with separation anxiety until it is controlled. (See my Puppy Tips page for crate training.)
Another common factor for destructive behavior is boredom. Just like leaving a child alone without any constructive activities, a dog that does not get enough exercise will decide to entertain himself. This could mean finding out exactly what the inside of your sofa is made of or whether or not it really is possible to dig to China. If your dog is exhibiting destructive behavior is it more than likely due to separation anxiety or boredom, both which can be corrected with increased activity and giving your dog a job. Rottweilers are working dogs and need to feel like they have a purpose. Even if it is as simple as bringing you the paper or carrying his own food and water in a dog backpack when he goes on a walk.
From the first day you bring your puppy home, you must make it clear that you are the Alpha dog in your pack. If you do not take this roll, your dog will. Small things that might not mean much to you are very important to your dog:
• When it is time to feed your dog, make him sit and behave before you put the bowl down for him. It must be clear that you are in charge of the feeding, not simply his servant bringing him food as he demands.
• Never allow your dog to walk thru a doorway or entrance ahead of you. You are the pack leader, not him. Also do not allow him to push past you on the stairway, etc. In the dog world, he has just disrespected you and you have allowed it.
• It is also suggested that they do not get the privilege of the best seats in the house (not sharing the couch with you, your bed, etc.). My male Diesel almost always sleeps with me, and my other dogs share beds with my children. But they have been taught their place from day one. It is only at my invitation that they are allowed on the furniture, and any challenge to my authority is unacceptable and not even permitted as a possibility. If you are having dominance issues, this is one of the privileges I would eliminate if you have not already done so. The privilege can always be earned back once the dog has learned his or her place in your pack
If you allow dominance issues to go unchecked while he is a cute little puppy, you will soon have an incorrigible dog that is much larger and harder to correct. Like with most bad habits, the earlier they are dealt with the easier they are to break.
I have links on my website that can direct you to more literature on training dominant dogs.
As you may know, for centuries, the Rottweilers’ main job was that of a cattle herding dog. Although the Rottweiler has had no need to perform these tasks for many generations, it is still hardwired into their genes. Many Rottweilers have a high “prey drive” which is simply the desire to chase moving objects. Sometimes this is also referred to as “high ball drive” or just “high drive.” When you have a pup or dog with higher drive, THIS DOES NOT MEAN THEY HAVE A GREATER DESIRE TO CATCH/CHASE small animals, HOWEVER, if they are not trained and socialized it can lead to this habit. Just as a bored child simply needs a constructive outlet, it is the same with a drivey puppy. Teach it to play ball or Frisbee, etc. and not only will you have a highly focused, hard working dog, but you will also have a dog that has learned that not all moving objects are for chasing, just the ones he/she has been taught to chase- like teaching your budding Piccaso that not all surfaces need to be colored on, just those designated. By socializing your pup at a young age with small dogs, cats, and any other small animal you have access to, you also teach the dog that these are other members of the pack and not toys. Just like a cat that catches mice and birds for sport (the cat does not sit there blood thirsty waiting on its next kill, it just feels compelled to chase and catch the moving objects) a dog also chases for sport. They do not “hate” cats, squirrels, etc. but rather see them as great fun. But with proper socialization at a young age, you teach the dog that kongs, balls, etc are toys, not kitties! Another necessary trait was the ability to herd which was accomplished by “bumping” into the ones that got away, or herding them to a desired location. For some Rottweilers more than others these character traits are stronger and must be corrected in order for them to be safe and gentle with small children or the elderly. A Rottweiler puppy must be taught proper etiquette from the beginning. Again, just like teaching a child that we do not jump and tackle grandma for hugs the same way we do daddy or that baby brother is not a couch, bed, or trampoline!
Just as dominance will vary from dog to dog and depend greatly on the owner, so will aggression. Often aggression is dominance that has gone unchecked, and now the dog believes that since he is in charge and it is up to him to discipline. This problem, just like dominance, is easily prevented through early obedience training, and can be corrected through proper training (usually more of the owner than the dog!) and consistency. The worst type of aggression is fear aggression, and this is a serious issue that must be addressed immediately. If the fear aggression is not a core character component of the Rottweiler, and has been brought on by an event, the specific issue will need to be addressed. If the fear aggression is because of lack of confidence in the dog, then the confidence of the dog will need to be addressed and assisted as well as correct socialization to boost the dog’s comfort with his environment. THE WORST THING TO DO WITH ANY BEHAVIOR ISSUE IS TO IGNORE IT!!
Rottweilers are often purchased for this specific task only for the owner to realize too late the responsibility both morally and legally. Again, just as with dominance and aggression, the degree of protectiveness varies with each individual dog. Understand that your Rottweiler might not be able to distinguish between a boisterous bear hug and an actual attack. And again, correct training and socialization is needed in the beginning to help your puppy understand what is acceptable behavior. Although a Rottweiler will rarely bite without provocation or warning, often, just being cornered by one can be a very unnerving experience. I already know that Diesel will not hesitate in the protection of his children, so because of this, I usually put him up when a repair man will be over and in the area where “his” children are playing. He is supposed to make an intruder feel uncomfortable, that is his job. But that does not mean I need to force the cable guy to have a 120 pound Rottweiler follow him all over the house. Sometimes there is as much common sense involved as actual training.
I do NOT recommend putting your Rottweiler up EVERY TIME you have a visitor. Without training, discipline and socializing, your dog will never learn what is expected of him. Putting a dog up that was never taught as a puppy not to jump on people will not correct the behavior of jumping on people. This must be addressed to be corrected. However, if your dog is not lacking is social skills or training and is simply doing his “job” of keeping a close eye on a repairman that is wondering around the house, then putting the dog up will give peace of mind to the poor repair man.
As I mentioned before, character traits vary from dog to dog, and what is an excellent temperament for a family with small children and cats will be different than the temperament the military would prefer. These dogs, however, might be siblings or even littermates. At Guardian Rottweilers, our puppies are handled regularly by all our children and family members from the time they are three days old. They are further socialized with all our other pets to include all other adult rotties, 2 pot belly pigs and 2 kitties from the time they are four weeks. Because of our interaction with our puppies, we can start to see personalities, and try to help guide you to the perfect puppy for your situation. NO BREEDER CAN GUARANTEE WHAT A PUPPY WILL LOOK LIKE OR ACT LIKE AS AN ADULT. That having been said, we can start to see personality develop as early as four weeks. Although strong bloodlines and good breeding have an influence on your puppy, THE SINGLE GREATEST DETERMINING FACTOR IN HOW YOUR DOG WILL TURN OUT IS YOU. We carefully scrutinize our breedings and placement of our pups, but we can not take credit for all of our success stories. These dogs have all been raised with love, affection, patience, and most importantly, discipline. Or as Cesar says “exercise, discipline affection!”
Owning a Rottweiler carries a lot of responsibility and requires a big commitment of time and patience, but can bring rewards that could never be measured. I still firmly believe that a good Rottweiler, well bred and raised properly, is the best companion available to anyone of any age. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with many dogs breeds, and none compare to the Rottie. They are funny, intelligent, affectionate, loyal, and of course adorable. They love unconditionally and will lay down their life in protection of their family without hesitation. At least 80% of our customers are previous Rottweiler owners, because as one gentleman put “everything else is just a dog.”