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Rottweiler sitting by a lake

The essentials

  • Rottweilers are excellent farm dogs — These pups were known as “drover dogs,” keeping livestock safe for farmers with large properties.
  • Rotties have Roman roots — While the breed was finalized and established in Germany, these special dogs are thought to have originated from a Roman mastiff breed known as Molossus.
  • Rottweilers aren’t aggressive dogs — These pups are actually quite docile and sweet, enjoying the presence and company of pet parents and friends.

Known for their versatility and strength, and with a strong reputation as a rescue dog, Rottweilers are among one of the most popular breeds. Read on to learn more about the history of rottweilers, and finally answer the question: what were Rottweilers bred for?

Rottweilers were the companions and warriors of Roman Legions

Rottweilers (and the Rottweiler’s ancestors) were commonly used as warrior pups in Roman legions, working to support troops, offer companionship and fight alongside the most skilled battalions. They were known for their bravery and loyalty, running into the heat of battle and working tirelessly until the day was done.

Most famously, these dogs marched through the Rottweil region of Germany in the battles over Europe, eventually settling into the region as skilled herders and guardians of German cattle. Dedicated breeders took it upon themselves to perfect the Rottweiler breed standard as we know it today.

Rottweilers were commonly seen at butcher shops 

Rotties were commonly spotted at German butcher shops, acting both as a companion and a carrier. As a result, their nickname became Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which directly translates to “Rottweil butcher’s dog.” Butchers would commonly raise litters and bring them along to meat-buying events, often tying money or other trading goods around their neck and back.

Rottweilers enjoyed this process too, no doubt getting some extra treats and snacks over the course of a single event.

Rotties were (and are!) great guard dogs

Rottweilers have a long history of serving as police dogs, military dogs, and guard dogs. Known for their fierce-sounding bark and loyalty, these dogs rose to the challenge, offering defensive support to households, farms, and groups. While they aren’t aggressive by nature, they may be perceived that way due to their presentation with strangers or people who seem to be a threat.

This breed is highly trainable and very obedient, making them reliable guard dogs capable of adequate defense. Many pet parents choose to undergo extensive training with their Rottweiler, giving them the confidence and skills they need to react in the event of a real-world threat.

Rottweilers excel in search and rescue

When someone’s in trouble, chances are this special breed will be there to help. Rottweilers are used extensively in search and rescue operations, often being trained as puppies to perform athletically and intelligently. They’re one of the most popular dog breeds to see out in the field, alongside German shepherds and golden retrievers.

Rotties are incredibly strong, so they often get put to work  packing or hauling. They might also work as medical dogs, helping a team member quickly assess and support an injured or unconscious patient.

Additionally, Rottweilers can act as deterrents to wild animals or bad actors that could compromise a mission, all while serving as a loyal companion for the team members in and out of the field.

Rottweilers can be police dogs

While you’ll often see this title go to malinois or German shepherds, Rotts can also act as police dogs. In this role, they’re renowned for their strong, stocky builds and fierce appearance. However, it’s important to remember that they have the intelligence and maturity to act properly in a police situation.

Additionally, officers may gravitate to rottweilers due to their intimidation factor and loyal, sweet disposition to those it’s familiar with. Their naturally suspicious and wise nature make them excellent candidates for police dog training from puppyhood.

Frequently asked questions

Do Rottweilers have health problems?

Rottweilers are generally healthy dogs. However, they can be prone to genetic health conditions. Vitiligo, hip dysplasia, and “snow nose” are among the most common that you’ll see. Regular vet visits are the best way to keep your furry friend healthy.

Rhodesian ridgeback vs. Rottweiler: What are the differences?

While both dogs share a similar large build, the Rhodesian ridgeback is a bit more social and affectionate than your average rottie. Both of them share the same trainable, intelligent capabilities, and both excel in athletic events.

Are Rottweilers aggressive?

Rotties are not considered aggressive by nature. Any dog can be “made” or trained to be aggressive. Ongoing training from puppyhood and socialization can help make your ownership transition a success.

Do Rottweilers bark a lot?

Rottweilers are generally quiet dogs, only alerting to the presence of strangers or any perceived threats.

Are Rottweilers cuddly?

Rottweilers love to be big cuddle bugs, especially with those that they love and trust. They might think they’re a lap dog long after puppyhood is over!