Of course, much as I adore them, Rottweilers aren’t for everyone. They’re not Labradors or Golden Retrievers. Considering that they’re natural guardians, that’s really not so surprising! Rottweilers aren’t bullies, and they shouldn’t show indiscriminate aggression. Sometimes irresponsible breeding has produced dogs with just such characteristics, but poor breeding of any type of dog is likely to produce pups with poor physical and emotional health.
Rottweiler puppies should never growl or bite (with the obvious exception of normal puppy mouthing/nipping and play-growling). You should never encourage your Rottie to guard anything or anyone. Becoming guardians and developing protective and territorial behaviour is something that will come naturally to them as they mature, however it should always be appropriate and not random.
Luckily Rottweilers generally don’t want to fight, and won’t bite when a bark or growl will do. In spite of their huge physical presence and their courageous personalities, Rottweiler dogs are surprisingly sensitive. They need to be with ‘their’ people, and thrive in a close relationship with humans. Rotties are very smart dogs and are eager to please. There is no need to shout or use harsh voices or punishment when training your dog. Always use positive training techniques and lots of praise – tasty treats are always greeted enthusiastically too!
The Rottweiler dog is classed as a ‘Working Dog’, and their skills in this area are clearly seen in their heritage. Many still retain the herding instinct of the early drovers dogs, and Rotties generally have a strong ‘prey drive’. This often translates into a strong ‘ball drive’. They excel at obedience and tracking and there are many activities that you can enjoy with your Rottie if you don’t actually have a ‘job’ for him to do (such as herding your cattle or guarding your jewels). Rottweiler dogs can ‘do it all’, and I hope you have enjoyed learning a little about this amazing and wonderful breed.
Years spent owning, training and loving these amazing dogs has taught me a lot about them. I hope these Rottweiler facts will help you to get a feel for the real Rottweiler, because he/she is definitely worth getting to know!
Rottweilers are slow to mature, and aren’t usually considered adult until around 2 years of age. (I have had a male who didn’t reach his full adult size until he was almost 3).
The average life expectancy for a Rottweiler is somewhere between 8 and 12 years.
Many Rotties ‘talk’. It’s a low, grumbling sort of sound – not to be confused with growling. I love it when mine do this, and it seems to me that it’s a bit like a cat purring!
Rottweilers shed – They may have a short coat that looks like it’s wash-n-wear, but don’t let that fool you. You’ll need to groom your Rottie regularly and loose dog hair will become a part of your life.
The Rottweiler tendency to lean against people is a throw-back to the days when they were cattle drovers. They used to lean against the cattle to get them to move in a particular direction.
Between the 12th and 29th Centuries the Rottweiler was also known as the ‘Metzgerhund’ or ‘Butchers Dog’ as he was used to protect the Butchers’ money on trips to and from markets.
Rotties are working dogs, and they’re happiest when they have a job to do. Some activities that your dog can excel at include obedience, tracking, carting, and Schutzhund (a mixture of advanced obedience, protection and tracking. Rottweilers make great service dogs and many of them work as Police, Search & Rescue, Customs, Guide or Therapy dogs.
Rottweilers are very loving, affectionate dogs. They prefer to be ‘where the action is’ and are only really happy when they’re a part of the family. Your pup/dog will probably want to stay close to you whenever possible, and will bond closely with ‘his/her’ humans. No matter how big your ‘baby’ gets, climbing into your lap for a cuddle will always seem perfectly reasonable to her!
One aspect of Rottweiler behaviour that’s often misinterpreted as ‘growling’, is their habit of ‘rumbling’ down deep in their throat. Although rumbling is the best way I know to describe the sound, it’s definitely not an expression of discontent – quite the opposite! Rotties make this noise sort of the way cats purr. They most often do it when they’re being petted, or they’re happy, or just as a way of communicating with their people. I love the sound, and it’s a rumbling, grunting sort of noise that is so endearing.
BUT people unfamiliar with the breed, and who may be nervous around them due to their ‘reputation’, often think the dog is growling at them or threatening them. If your new puppy makes this sort of noise don’t worry about it, it just means that he’s happy. Growling is quite different, and is usually accompanied by body language that shows fear or aggression such as lip curling, snarling, ears back, hackles raised and so on. You will probably recognize this quite easily!
Of course, being natural guardians, Rottweilers are a protective and territorial breed. No matter how calm and gentle your dog is with the people he knows and trusts, he will undoubtedly use his considerable strength and abilities to protect ‘his’ people if he feels that they are in danger or being threatened. This is normal Rottie behaviour, but it can translate into a dog who refuses to let anyone they don’t know set foot in ‘their’ yard or home, or who tries to protect family members from threats that aren’t really there.
For example, if your child is screaming and laughing because someone is tickling her, your Rottie may think that she’s being hurt… and take measures to protect her. You can see how this could end, and it clearly demonstrates why proper socialization, training and ‘ground rules’ are so important when raising a Rottweiler puppy.
Socialization and interaction with a wide variety of people, places and situations helps a Rottweiler to learn to distinguish between ‘normal non-threatening’ people and behaviour, and the kind that spell danger.
They’re a surprisingly sensitive breed, and although they can be inclined to be dominant, Rotties readily recognize and respect authority when it is presented in a confident, fair and calm way.
Rottweilers are very slow to develop and mature, and they can’t be considered adult until at least 2 years of age. Some of the biggest (especially the males) may be anywhere up to 3 years of age before they’re finished growing! Never be tempted to try to make your puppy grow faster, or bigger, than comes naturally. This can lead to all sorts of problems including bone/joint conditions and heart problems.
It’s totally normal for an adolescent pup (anywhere between 12 weeks to 2 years) to look a bit ‘rangy or scrawny’ or out-of-proportion. A pup gains his full height quite a bit earlier than his full weight or muscle development, as long as he’s eating a premium puppy food, and getting enough exercise and proper veterinary care, then he will grow to fulfil his potential. Height, weight, bone size, colouring and so on are all determined by genetics and the biggest indicator of how big your pup will grow to be, and what he will look like in terms of conformation are his parents. He will likely grow be somewhere between them in terms of size/weight – with male pups tending to be closer to their dad’s size, and females to their mum’s.
It’s important to realize that all puppies are unique individuals and that they grow at different rates. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula for puppy growth – no matter what the breed!
I’ve put together a collection of photos that show an individual female Rottie pup (Jahna) at various ages/stages.
Rottweiler Training Guide
Are you struggling with training your Rottweiler, or thinking about getting a Rottweiler puppy? Does your Rottweiler ignore you or disobey your commands and you don’t know why? Here is some helpful advice. Whether your companion is a puppy or an adult, you not only need to use positive reinforcement, but you also need to learn the most important rule of dog training…PATIENCE!
Training is an ongoing commitment that you must continue to carry out every day. Just because he or she has learned the commands you have taught them this morning in your living room does not mean they will remember that command tonight or tomorrow, or when you take them to the park, or put them in the back yard.
It is very important to start your Rottweilers training at a young age. I would recommend starting training immediately. You will have the most success if you start training your puppy between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 months.
If your Rottweiler is older, it may take a little more time, effort, and patience on your part. But do not let this discourage you! The Rottweiler is known for being a very intelligent, obedient, and loyal companion. They want to make you happy, so don’t be discouraged if your Rottweiler is older and untrained. Positive Reinforcement training and proper dog communication can help you to train a dog of any age.
The idea of dominance based training is that we constantly establish rules that the dog will follow, in order to improve his behaviour. Dominance is a dog training term that is overused, and often misunderstood. We do not need to show dominance towards our dogs, just kind and careful understanding.
There are several things you can do to encourage good Rottweiler behaviour without being rough with the dog. You should never show aggression towards your dog. If you think that hitting your dog will prove your position and control to him or her, then you are going about training the wrong way.
Socialize Your Rottweiler
It is very important to make sure your Rottweiler is comfortable around other people as well as other dogs. This can be done by taking your puppy out for walks, to the park, over friends houses, and also invite your friends over to your house. If you want your puppy to be happy and comfortable, it is important to socialize them. Social contact with other dogs and people is exactly what will shape a puppy into the kind of dog he will become. Socialization in many ways is more important than dog training for the well-being of your Rottweiler.
Keep every social experience that, your dog has, nice and positive. These experiences are where he learns to be confident or afraid. Once your dog has learned some commands, you can also try using sit, or down, or paw to distract them. Dogs have a very short attention span, and a very short term memory, so these simple distractions can really help you establish good social behaviour.
Positive Reinforcement is training your dog by adding a reward to his actions, usually the ones you would like him to repeat. Training by reward is the best possible way that you can communicate with your dog. If you reward any behaviour which you would like to see him repeat then you are talking to him in a language that he understands. The Rottie doesn’t understand English, or even human very well, but he will soon learn which behaviour brings him a welcome reward.
A very effective form of dog training that works wonderfully during your training sessions is to make your training feel like a game. For this you can reward with treats, toys or praise. When you are trying to teach your Rottweiler a command and they perform the command to your liking, immediately give them their reward.
A note on food rewards – Rottweilers are notorious for being overweight, and since training can be a long process, you can accidentally give your dog too much food and he can become fat and unhealthy, so take care with high fat treats. We offer a lot of advice on healthy dog treats both here and in our guide to owning Rottweilers.
Avoid Physical Discipline and Yelling
Physical discipline should never be used during training. If you are teaching your Rottweiler a command and they do not perform the command you are asking of them, it is counterproductive to hit the dog or yell at the dog. This only causes them to be fearful, and even discourage them from learning the command altogether. If you feel frustrated walk away, do something else for a while and try again later. Yelling and losing your cool only frightens and confuses the dog.
Be Prompt With Your Reactions
Good dog training has perfect timing. The Rottweiler that is punished for toileting in the home three hours earlier has no idea what he has done. This dog should not be punished at all, because punishment will never work. It is an act used in dog training that is equally common and useless. If you would like to learn more about punishment and why it will never improve the behaviour of any dog please read the Rottweiler Owners Guide for everything you need to know. The Guide book also contains step by step advice for teaching all of the commands shown below.
If you reward your dog for sitting, just as he gets up and walks away, he will be very pleased. You have just rewarded him for walking away though and next time you ask him to sit, guess what, he is going to remember that and walk away again.
Teaching Simple Commands
Your Rottweiler, whether they are a puppy or an adult, must learn some simple commands to complete your training. These commands must be taught using the positive reinforcement exercises. With these basic commands, you will be well on your way to owning an obedient and well behaved Rottweiler.
The very first command you should teach your Rottweiler is “sit”. This command is essential in making your life easier. You teach them “sit” and tough tasks like feeding and grooming can become a whole lot easier.
To get your dog to sit, you first must make sure you have their attention. I prefer to use my hands over my voice because this teaches your dog to focus on you. Voices can be drowned out and ignored. If you get your dog to focus their attention on your hands, they will be more likely to pay attention to what you are asking them to do. But I would recommend also using short, one or two word commands along with the hand signals if you want them to also learn voice commands so they can also learn the command by listening as well.
This is a simple command that can make nail clipping easier for you to perform. This must not be taught until the dog is familiar with the “sit” command first because they must be sitting to execute this command.
This is a very important command to teach your dog. They need to understand when they are doing something wrong.
To teach “no” you must establish your disciplining voice. Use a firm and lower toned voice. It is also very important to remember not to overcomplicate things with words. Just say “no” or use another word you like, such as “stop” or “bad”. It is very important that you determine which word to use and to use that word only when disciplining or discouraging your dog.
Please remember you only use this command when you catch your dog in the act of doing something bad. Once you say “no” and he stops, go on with your business as normal. If they continue to be bad say “no” and remove them from the situation.
This can be a tricky command to teach. Remember to keep your commands simple. Just simply say the word “down” and use your hand in a downward motion, palm facing the ground. The motion of your hand moving down towards the ground will help the dog understand that you want them to lay down. This command should be taught after the dog understands sit.
Definitely the most frustrating command to teach. This one takes the most amount of patience. Your main job is to not get discouraged or aggravated.
As long as we have established the “sit” command, we can start to attempt “stay”. If you are far enough into your training where you have successfully taught your Rottweiler “down” then this may be even easier for you.
This command should be taught only after the dog has learned “stay”. This will be a fun command for your Rottweiler to learn because they are a breed that loves your company.
This may be the most important, as well as the hardest step in training your Rottweiler. Patience is the key. Always keep your cool and stay calm. Remember that your dog is your companion and they want to make you happy. If you are calm, they will be calm. The more patience we use the better results we will get.
Remember, when training your Rottweiler, you always want to make it as fun and simple as possible. No need to over complicate things, or yell, or get angry. It’s just a game to them, and they love to play, so if you keep it fun and use patience, you will be successful.
A dog is not trained overnight, nor does training ever really end. It is an on-going process that, as a pet owner, you are responsible for. Training does not have to be boring and tedious. You can make it as fun as you like. The more fun it is for you and your Rottweiler, the easier it will be to train them. And patience is the key. So, keep up the good work, and don’t get discouraged. Training your Rottweiler will make you both very happy.
A problem is with some Rottweilers is they are mostly bred for looks only… temperament and health are often not tested.
DO NOT encourage your Rottweiler to be aggressive. They are naturally protective of their home.
DO NOT allow your Rottweiler to roam free. No dog should be unaccompanied in public areas.
DO NOT chain or tie your Rottweiler. Dogs should be securely fenced when unattended.
DO NOT leave children in charge of your Rottweiler or vice-versa. Children should never be left unsupervised with dogs.
DO obedience train your Rottweiler. A well behaved dog is a source of pride and pleasure and appreciated by all, especially by you.
IF YOU CANNOT FULFIL YOUR OBLIGATIONS TO YOUR ROTTWEILER, I SUGGEST YOU CONSIDER PLACING IT WITH SOMEONE WHO WILL.