You may have heard scary headlines concerning Rottweilers from time to time, but you may have also heard claims from people who own them describing how friendly and loving they are. Is the Rottweiler a beast who eats kittens for breakfast or a friendly children's book character?
Equipped with an inherent desire to protect home and family, Rottweilers may take the guardian role very seriously, especially when left outdoors with the responsibility of protecting property. This may lead to territorial aggressive displays and legal liabilities; indeed, a Rottweiler in a car or behind a fence is "on duty" and should be taken very seriously. Rottweiler owners must properly introduce strangers before welcoming them into the home, according to the American Kennel Club. While this breed reacts to his surroundings with great alertness, the standard calls for a wait-and-see attitude; basically, Rottweilers should ideally "think" before reacting to stimuli in their environment.
There is a very good reason why Rottweilers are not for everyone. Equipped with an aloof attitude and protective instinct, this is a serious breed that requires loads of training and socialization so they can differentiate friend from foe. Without careful socialization, Rottweilers may become suspicious of everyone, dog trainer and author Michele Welton explains. By standard, a Rottweiler should be aloof and typically not lend himself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. However, many Rottweilers have minimal protective instincts and can be silly cuddle bugs who literally love everyone and are eager to "lick people to death."
Rottweilers can be at times party-poopers at the dog park. While some dogs love to party and mingle with other dogs, some Rottweilers prefer to be left alone and may not tolerate unruly behaviors by the average hyper Labrador or golden retriever. Several Rottweilers are not dog park material, and this holds for the most part true once they reach social maturity. Some may tolerate dogs of the opposite sex but may react aggressively to same-sex dogs. An aggressive or belligerent attitude towards other dogs in this breed should not be faulted, according to the American Kennel Club standard.
So are Rottweilers the vicious animals media headlines portray or are they happy, family dogs? Just as with any other breed of dogs, the predisposition towards aggression in Rottweilers boils down to genes and individual temperament. Many Rottweilers are blessed with an outstanding temperament and have proudly become service dogs and therapy dogs, while on a darker side, several have been ruined by indiscriminate breeders and neglectful owners. When bred by ethical breeders and placed in homes with owners willing to provide loads and socialization and training, a Rottweiler should adhere to the General German Rottweiler Club standard which calls for a "good-natured dog, placid in basic disposition and fond of children."
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.