The Rottweiler


Ives v. Eulenspiegel, whelped 1973-09-13The history of the Rottweiler is not a documented record. There is the likelihood that the Rottweiler is descended from drover dogs indigenous to ancient Rome. These drover dogs were described as being of the Mastiff type, with great intelligence, rugged, dependable, willing to work and with a strong guarding instinct. The transition from Roman herding dog to the dog we know today can be attributed to the ambitious Roman Emperors wanting to conquer Europe. As very large armies were required for these expeditions, the logistics of feeding such a large number became a major factor. As there was no form of refrigeration, it meant that the meat accompanied the armies "on the hoof". This meant a dog capable of keeping the herd together during the long marches was needed. The "Mastiff type" was well suited to this task as well as shouldering the extra responsibility of guarding the supply dumps at night.

The butchers of Rottweil depended on their dogs to herd cattle to market; then once the cattle were slaughtered, the dogs pulled the butcher's carts. When the meat was sold, the money purses were tied around the dogs' necks to keep the money safe from bandits.

As sites of civilization arose along the legions' roads, so did various types of dogs. One such road led to an army encampment on the Meckar River in what became the state of Swabia in Southern Germany. It flourished as a trading center and was eventually called Rottweil (Rote Wil-"red tiled roofs"). Here, the breed became known as the Rottweiler. "Lore" has it that the butchers of Rottweil depended on their dogs to herd cattle to market; then once the cattle were slaughtered, the dogs pulled the butcher's carts. When the meat was sold, the money purses were tied around the dogs' necks to keep the money safe from bandits.

The Rottweiler was kept busy until the mid-19th century when railroads replaced droving for getting livestock to market and using dogs as draft animals was outlawed (due partially to abuses). As the Rottweiler's customary jobs were eliminated due to industrial progress, he fell on hard times. Thanks to the breeds' traits of endurance, strength, loyalty and intelligence, he found a new niche as a guard dog and the Rottweiler's talents were put to new uses with the police and military. It was toward suitability for those tasks that the modern Rottweiler was developed. In 1910 the Rottweiler was officially recognized by the German Police Dog Association as the fourth police dog breed. The period from 1882 to 1910 saw the breed go from obscurity to national acclaim.

Rottweiler memorial in Rottweil, GermanyThe large leap for Rottweilers is assumably due to some very hard work and skillful breeding by their owners and breeders. The Rottweiler was fortunate that the "dog fancier", a person who loved the breed for its own sake, had arrived on the scene. Dog breeding was no longer done solely for the purpose of producing a working animal. Breeders set out to preserve their chosen breed in the form in which it had been handed down to them, while at the same time they also set out to refine and improve it when they felt this was necessary. One of the milestones was being accepted as a working police dog. To have achieved this success, the comparatively nondescript and unknown dog of the late 1800's must have changed considerably. In 1905 the Rottweiler was selected as a "fine dog of unusual breed and irreproachable character" to be presented to the President of a dog show, organized by the Association of the Friends of Dogs in Heidelberg, Germany. We assume from this that the breed was recognized and settled, more or less, in its present form, though not well known. It is also reasonably safe to assume that the Rottweiler was already showing the exemplary character that we have grown to admire today.

The Standard

TRANSLATION : Mrs. Chris Seidler.

ORIGIN : Germany.


UTILIZATION : Companion, service and working dog.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY : The Rottweiler is considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds. Its origin goes back to Roman times. These dogs were kept as herder or driving dogs. They marched over the Alps with the Roman legions, protecting the humans and driving their cattle. In the region of Rottweil, these dogs met and mixed with the native dogs in a natural crossing. The main task of the Rottweiler now became the driving and guarding of the herds of cattle and the defence of their masters and their property. This breed acquired its name from the old free city of Rottweil and was known as the « Rottweil butcher’s dog’ ». The butchers bred this type of dog purely for performance and usefulness. In due course, a first rate watch and driving dog evolved which could also be used as a draught dog. When, at the beginning of the twentieth century, various breeds were needed for police service, the Rottweiler was amongst those tested. It soon became evident that the breed was highly suitable for the tasks set by police service and therefore they were officially recognized as police dogs in 1910.

Rottweiler breeders aim at a dog of abundant strength, black coated with clearly defined rich tan markings, whose powerful appearance does not lack nobility and which is exceptionally well suited to being a companion, service and working dog.

GENERAL APPEARANCE : The Rottweiler is a medium to large size, stalwart dog, neither heavy nor light and neither leggy nor weedy. His correctly proportioned, compact and powerful build leads to the conclusion of great strength, agility and endurance.

IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS : The length of the body, measured from the point of the sternum (breast-bone) to the ischiatic tuberosity, should not exceed the height at the withers by, at most, 15 %.

BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT : Good-natured, placid in basic disposition and fond of children, very devoted, obedient, biddable and eager to work. His appearance is natural and rustic, his behaviour self-assured, steady and fearless. He reacts to his surroundings with great alertness.


Skull : Of medium length, broad between the ears. Forehead line moderately arched as seen from the side. Occipital bone well developed without being conspicuous.
Stop : Well defined.

Nose : Well developed, more broad than round with relatively large nostrils, always black. Muzzle : The foreface should appear neither elongated nor shortened in relation to the cranial region. Straight nasal bridge, broad at base, moderately tapered.
Lips : Black, close fitting, corner of the mouth not visible, gum as dark as possible.
Jaws/Teeth : Upper and lower jaw strong and broad. Strong, complete dentition (42 teeth) with scissor bite, the upper incisors closely overlapping the lower incisors.
Cheeks : Zygomatic arches pronounced.
Eyes : Of medium size, almond-shaped, dark brown in colour. Eyelids close fitting.
Ears : Medium-sized, pendant, triangular, wide apart, set on high. With the ears laid forward close to the head, the skull appears o be broadened.

NECK : Strong, of fair length, well muscled, slightly arched, clean, free from throatiness, without dewlap.

Back : Straight, strong, firm.
Loins : Short, strong and deep.
Croup : Broad, of medium length, slightly rounded. Neither flat nor falling away.
Chest : Roomy, broad and deep (approximately 50 % of the shoulder height) with well developed forechest and well sprung ribs.
Belly : Flanks not tucked up.

TAIL : In natural condition, level in extension of the upper line; at ease may be hanging.


FOREQUARTERS : Seen from the front, the front legs are straight and not placed too closely to each other. The forearm, seen from the side, stands straight and vertical. The slope of the shoulder blade is about 45 degrees to the horizontal.
Shoulders : Well laid back.
Upper arm : Close fitting to the body.
Forearm : Strongly developed and muscular.
Pasterns : Slightly springy, strong, not steep.
Front feet : Round, tight and well arched; pads hard; nails short, black and strong.

HINDQUARTERS : Seen from behind, legs straight and not too close together. When standing free, obtuse angles are formed between the dog’s upper thigh and the hip bone, the upper thigh and the lower thigh, and the lower thigh and metatarsal.
Upper thigh : Moderately long, broad and strongly muscled.
Lower thigh : Long, strongly and broadly muscled, sinewy.
Hocks : Sturdy, well angulated hocks; not steep.
Hindfeet : Slightly longer than the front feet. Toes strong, arched, as tight as front feet.

GAIT : The Rottweiler is a trotting dog. In movement the back remains firm and relatively stable. Movement harmonious, steady, full of energy and unrestricted, with good stride.

SKIN : Skin on the head : overall tight fitting. When the dog is alert, the forehead may be slightly wrinkled.


HAIR : The coat consists of a top coat and an undercoat. The top coat is of medium length, coarse, dense and flat. The undercoat must not show through the top coat. The hair is a little longer on the hindlegs.

COLOUR : Black with clearly defined markings of a rich tan on the cheeks, muzzle, throat, chest and legs, as well as over both eyes and under the base of the tail.

Height at withers : For males is 61 - 68 cm.
61 - 62 cm is small, 63 - 64 cm medium height.
65 - 66 cm is large - correct height 67 - 68 cm very large.
Weight : 50 kg.

Height at withers : For bitches is 56 - 63 cm. 56 - 57 cm is small, 58 - 59 cm medium height.
60 - 61 cm is large - correct height 62 - 63 cm very large.
Weight : Approximately 42 kg.

FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

  • General appearance : Light, weedy, leggy appearance. Light in bone and muscle.
  • Head : Hound-type head. Narrow, light, too short, long or coarse head. Flat forehead (lack of stop or too little stop).
  • Foreface : Long or pointed muzzle; split nose; Roman nose (convex nasal bridge) or dish-faced (concave nasal bridge); acquiline nose; pale or spotted nose (butterfly nose).
  • Lips : Pendulous, pink or patchy; corner of lips visible.
  • Jaws : Narrow lower jaw.
  • Bite : Pincer bite.
  • Cheeks : Strongly protruding.
  • Eyes : Light, deep set. Also too full and round eyes; loose eyelids.
  • Ears : Set on too low, heavy, long, slack or turned backwards. Also flying ears or ears not carried symmetricaly.
  • Neck : Too long, thin, lacking muscle. Showing dewlap or throaty.
  • Body : Too long, too short or too narrow.
  • Back : Too long, weak; sway back or roach back.
  • Croup : Too sloping, too short, too flat or too long.
  • Chest : Flat-ribbed or barrel-shaped. Too narrow behind.
  • Tail : Set on too high or too low.
  • Forequarters : Narrow or crooked front legs. Steep shoulder placement. Loose or out at elbow. Too long, too short or too straight in upper arm. Weak or steep pastern. Splayed feet. Too flat or too arched toes. Deformed toes. Light coloured nails.
  • Hindquarters : Flat thighs, hocks too close, cow hocks or barrel hocks. Joints with too little or too much angulation. Dewclaws.
  • Skin : Wrinkles on head.
  • Coat : Soft, too short or long. Wavy coat; lack of undercoat.
  • Colour : Markings of incorrect colour, not clearly defined. Markings which are too spread out.


  • Behaviour : Anxious, shy, cowardly, gun-shy, vicious, excessively suspicious, nervous animals.
  • General : Distinct reversal of sexual type, i.e. feminine dogs or masculine bitches.
  • Teeth : Overshot or undershot bite, wry mouth; lack of one incisive tooth, one canine, one premolar or one molar.
  • Eyes : Entropion, ectropion, yellow eyes, different coloured eyes.
  • Tail : Kink tail, ring-tail, with strong lateral deviation.
  • Hair : Definitely long or wavy coat.
  • Colour : Dogs which do not show the typical Rottweiler colouring of black with tan markings. White markings.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.


Character of the Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is a tough dog. This applies not only to his physical needs, but also to his mental disposition. By a tough dog we mean one that soon forgets unpleasant or painful experiences and does not allow himself to be influenced by them in his subsequent behaviour. Despite this toughness, most Rottweilers are very tractable, i.e., they easily subordinate themselves and are exceptionally obedient. The Rottweiler's reaction to external stimuli is generally deliberate and seldom hasty. He has a certain moderation of temperament, a quality which is both desirable for a working dog and for a pet. Nothing can cause more disturbance or annoyance, if not serious danger, than a dog with a very highly strung or excitable temperament. The Rottweiler behaves calmly and peacefully in the family, at home, in public and in traffic. He does not bark on every insignificant occasion and when left alone readily accepts the inevitable. He does not need an undue amount of exercise and for this reason he is a quite good dog to keep, even in a town. Moreover, he is easily house trained and does not push himself forward or make a fuss. Where there is an opportunity to let him run about free, one need have no hesitation in allowing him this pleasure, because when let out alone he has little inclination to fight, pays little or no attention to what goes on around him, and is not much given to chasing things.