One of the most common questions I am asked is: If I get a Rottweiler, will it bite my child/children? My first thought is usually, a Jack Russell, a Poodle, a Ridgeback, a Chihuahua, a Yorkie or a Spaniel MIGHT also bite your child/children, depending on the circumstances and the individual dog and children involved.
Somewhere in the world at this very moment there are thousands of Rottweilers being trained, cuddled, played with and adored by their human families of all ages, children included. Elsewhere in the world at this very moment there are thousands of Rottweilers chained up or banished to back yards whilst the children of the family pull the Rottweiler ears, hit it with sticks or smack it in the face with no adult supervision. It is in this elsewhere in the world scenario, that a child will inevitably be bitten within the next few hours.
Rottweilers are in fact extremely fond of children, and the series of books by Alexandra Day, titled Good Dog Carl, about a little boy and his Rottweiler certainly reflect the Rottweiler in his true light, that of being a wonderful companion for a child IN THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES and with the correct ADULT supervision and guidance.
The 90’s played a huge role in the demonising of the Rottweiler, due to a huge increase in the popularity of the breed, and the rise of unscrupulous and negligent breeders (otherwise known as GREEDERS). An increase in the sheer numbers of Rottweilers (many poorly bred with weak and out of standard temperament) quite obviously led to a rise in Rottweiler reported bite incidents. This led to the usual wave of hysteria, and myth making that continues to linger to this day.
That said, the answer to the question, will my children be safe around a Rottweiler is not as simple OR clear cut as what one would think. It is not a YES or NO answer. What has always concerned me is that the perception of Rottweilers as biting/face ripping, IS STILL very much alive in the domain of public opinion.
I am going to try and answer the question re: Rottweilers and Children as clearly and concisely as possible. I will be incredibly honest in terms of the type of home a Rottweiler should ideally be placed in. This is especially true when it comes to Rottweilers bred from seriously strong and well documented German working lines.
This image perfectly reflects the content to follow:
Children and Rotties
Formal obedience training becomes essential from 6 months of age; however, basic obedience training should be taking place in the home each and every day. Your children will have to be involved with this, and the ENTIRE family has to be on board and committed to the process. If there is inconsistency or a difference of opinions; the Rottweiler will simply take charge himself. Being supremely intelligent, the Rottweiler is extremely biddable and will do whatever you need him to do, as long as he understands what that IS. If you do not allow your Rottweiler to climb on the couch, but your children do, problem. If you allow your children to physically assault the Rottweiler, yet you apply positive reinforcement methods, problem. If you are unable to cater to the physical and mental stimulation requirements of a dog like the Rottweiler, problem. He will find his own job to do, and make his own decisions about how he treats various people, your children included. If you allow him to share your life, within boundaries of course (BUT: those boundaries must be clear to the dog, he will not automatically know they exist) If you DO NOT allow the Rottweiler to form part of your family and leave him alienated in a back yard 24/7, problem.
*It is important to add that children in GENERAL should be educated about never approaching and petting ANY strange dog, regardless of breed and where the dog is. Never allow your children to rush up to a dog out walking with its owner/walking on the beach or walking past your home on a lead. There are many reasons that certain dogs will NOT enjoy this, and could react. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon/bandana around its neck, keep your children away full stop, because the owner of this dog is STATING, via an international Yellow Ribbon campaign, that their dog MUST NOT BE APPROACHED*
Mutual Respect Between Child and Rottweiler
Contrary to popular belief, a Rottweiler will obey 8 year olds commands just as readily as commands from an adult IF the dog respects the child, and knows that the child is higher up in the rankings. If the child remains calm and assertive without resorting to teasing/harassing/physically harming the dog, yet shows that he/she is in control (regardless of age) the Rottweiler will respect this.
Remember: the child will treat the Rottweiler in the manner the ADULTS allow. The responsibility for a strong foundation and bond between Rottweiler and child rests FIRMLY on the shoulders of the adults and OLDER children within the home. Younger children and the young Rottweiler will learn from those who call the shots, the adults. Rottweilers do well when there are clear and defined rules, boundaries and jobs, whereas chaos, confusion, blurred lines and unclear boundaries simply encourage Rottweilers to appoint themselves as Commanders in Chief.
Respecting the personal space of a Rottweiler is essential. In the same way the Rottweiler must be trained to respect the personal space of his humans, so must the humans (especially children) be taught to return the favour. The place a dog sleeps and eats is his space and everyone in the home should understand and respect that.