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Rottweiler: History and Appearance
The Rottweiler, though well known, is a breed with an uncertain history. It is believed that the Rottweiler may be a descendant of some of the dogs of Ancient Rome, though there is no actual proof. There are only descriptions a “mastiff like” herding breed that was strong, willing, and able.
At some point in Roman history, this herding breed transitioned into a military dog, as it was used to guard the herds and supplies on long marches and campaigns. This is how the Rottweiler came to be found in Europe. As the Roman Empire worked toward conquering Europe, its troops, and consequently, dogs, made their way across the Alps into what is now known as Germany. It was then that the Roman herding dog came to reside in Germany.
The breed continued to work as a driving and guard dog and it evolved over the centuries. Eventually, it earned the name Rottweiller Metzgerhund, or “Butcher Dog” from the specific location where its work began to be most valued. In 700 A.D., when a church was being constructed, the red tiles from the ruins of a Roman bath were excavated. The area was named Rote Wil, and later, Rottweil. As the new town sprung up, the trade in livestock increased, and the former Roman driving dog became much in demand in that area, thus earning it the new name.
Germany outlawed cattle driving in the 19th century, and the breed soon became on the verge of extinction. In a country that was mostly rural, dogs were not kept as pets. They were expected to work and be of use. With no work left to do, the Rottweiler lost its value.
The breed is mentioned as showing only one poor specimen in a dog show in 1886, and then there is little history of the dog until 1901. In 1901, a short lived breed club was formed. Though the club did not last, a standard for the Rottweiler was formed, and the breed began to make a slow come back.
The breed found favor as a police dog, and later, as a military service dog during both World Wars. Despite its usefulness, the wars were hard on the Rottweiler, as they were the majority of German dog breeds. The Rottweiler works in a variety of jobs today, including guard dog, police dog, search and rescue dog, and herding dog.
The Rottweiler became a part of the American Kennel Club in 1935. The breed won an obedience title in 1939, and the Rottweiler was quick to win a championship in 1948.
The Rottweiler is a medium to large dog. Males range from 23 to 27 inches tall and females range from 22 to 25 inches tall. Regardless of height, the dog’s body should appear balanced and in proportion. Overall, the Rottweiler is sturdy, muscular, and athletic in appearance. The dog should appear able-bodies and extremely strong.
The Rottweiler’s head is medium sized, with some wrinkling in the forehead. The eyes are almond shaped and deep set. They should be dark brown. The Rottweiler’s ears are medium, triangular, and hang forward close to the head. The muzzle is straight and broad. It tapers a bit at the tip, but not so much that it is pointed or “snipy.” The Rottweiler should have a noticeable chin, and a broad, black nose. Teeth should meet in a scissors bite and number at exactly 20 upper teeth and 22 lower teeth.
The Rottweiler’s body should show defined muscles, powerful features, and strong bones. The back is level, and the chest is broad and deep. The abdomen should features a slight tuck up. The shoulders and hindquarters should be muscular and sturdy. The legs should be straight, with well-developed joints. The feet are round with thick padding. The tail is close to the body, and docked short enough to leave only one or two tail vertebrae. The tail is set horizontal, but may lift up when the dog is alert.
The Rottweiler has a double coat. The thickness of the undercoat depends upon the climate, though it should not show through the outer coat. The outer coat consists of rough, dense medium length hairs that lie flat to the skin. The coat is glossy and lends to the Rottweiler’s well defined appearance.
The Rottweiler should always be black with mahogany or rust colored markings. The markings should be in high contrast to the black coloring. Markings should include a spot on the cheeks, over each eye, o the throat, and in a strip on the muzzle. Markings will also appear on the forelegs, inside of rear legs, and under the tail. Markings should be specific in location and should not exceed more than 10% of the dog’s coloring. The undercoat is always gray, tan, or black.
The Rottweiler should move at trot. The movement should be confident and clean. It should not be jerky or unbalanced. When in show, the Rottweiler is expected to have a self-assured demeanor. The dog should be confident and alert.
Showing a Rottweiler
With the Rottweiler, there is a great deal of focus on the appearance of strength and balance. Dogs with features that are not in proportion to one another or bodies that are undersized or oversized are considered to have serious faults.
Other serious faults include eyes that are overly large or small, yellow, or any color other than dark brown. Creased ears, or ears held away from the head are also faulted. The Rottweiler should not have curly or overly short hair, nor should it be trimmed in any way. Rottweilers that have markings any color other than rust or mahogany or white markings in any spot are considered at fault.
Disqualifications include Rottweilers with missing teeth and overshot or undershot bites. A Rottweiler with long hair will also be disqualified, as will Rottweilers without markings or with a base color other than black. Aggression, viciousness, or shyness will cause disqualification as well.