Character of the Rottweiler
living creature is enmeshed in the totality of its relationships, possessing
qualities which it requires for self-assertion"
the wild forbears of our dogs not only the physical, but also the mental and
spiritual powers which they needed in the struggle for existence. With
domestication the urge and the occasions for the use of these powers grew less,
under the influence of the human will. This unquestionably brought about a
change in the mental attributes of the dog in the course of many thousands of
years; the basic elements have remained the same, but their character and their
functional capacity and intensity have been altered in a greater or lesser
degree. For example, the instinct of flight was immensely more important among
the primitive ancestors of the dog than it is today among breeds in which for a
long time other instincts, e.g. the fight instinct, have been preferred. Another
example is offered by our hunting dogs, which possess characteristics which are
in part quite contrary to those of their forbears which hunted for their living.
The nature of the dog was formed, stabilized and up to a certain point made
uniform, according to the wishes and needs of man, by breeding, selection, and
rejection. We may therefore speak rightly of the specific qualities of character
of a breed by which they are more or less distinguished from other breeds.
The account given here of the character of the Rottweiler in its essential
features is based upon many observations and comparisons in every kind of
situation, upon exchanges of experience and opinion with those best qualified to
judge, and last, but by no means least, in the knowledge that there are always
gaps between those qualities which are generally present and the ideal, which is
the aim of responsible and conscious breeding to close so far as possible. For
it is upon the preservation of his good character that the Rottweiler must
depend if he is to retain his circle of faithful adherents. His place is where
mere external, elegant, or grotesque exaggeration of form do not set the
standard, but when a dog with particularly well-marked qualities of character is
desired and esteemed. This is not only nor in the first place a question of the
use of the Rottweiler as a working dog, but also and above all, the question of
the dog as a domestic pet in the home, in business, and in the workshop - the
watchdog, companion and guard dog. To this sphere the Rottweiler, as a result of
long domestication, brings a great measure of trustfulness, loyalty, and
adaptability, qualities which greatly ease his absorption into the course of
domestic life, his adaptation to the customs and procedures of business, etc.
Distrust is a quality which is not very strongly marked in the character of the
Rottweiler as with all courageous dogs. He remains, however, always reserved and
watchful towards all newcomers and strangers, though mostly not to an excessive
degree and without unnecessary barking. His ability to learn and especially his
capacity for adapting himself to his environment is very great and is much prized
by professional dog handlers. That a breed which has so long been bred for use,
possesses an exceptional willingness to work is as self-evident as the
Rottweiler's capacity to retain what he has learned in the course of training.
It is not for nothing that trainers who are familiar with other breeds are often
heard to say, "When the Rottweiler has once grasped a thing, it sticks." A
quality which is particularly striking in such robust and courageous dogs is
their tractability both in and out of doors, generally combined with patience
and with cheerfulness which is hardly ever disturbed. He is, so to speak, always
in a good mood. Consider for example, the way in which this strong and valiant
fellow puts up with children or how tolerantly he lives with other domestic
animals once he knows them.
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 behavior. 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.
The diminution of certain instincts as a consequence of domestication is in many
ways a good thing, but it has it's limits, e.g. good nature should not
degenerate into stupidity and lack of resolution; calmness and peaceful
temperament should not change into laziness and undue love of comfort. The
decline of the tracking instinct must also be avoided in the interests of the
working qualities of the dog and the preservation of a harmonious character. The
Rottweiler still possesses exceptional powers of scent and often gives proof by
his ability to track. The preservation of these valuable qualities undiminished
must be the task of breeding, supported by practical work and careful judgment
of each animal.
How stands it with the Rottweiler in regard to the quality called sharpness, a
quality of the working dog which even today is often misunderstood and wrongly
interpreted? By sharpness we mean (Following the definition of Dr. Menzel) the
constant readiness of the dog to react most rapidly and in a hostile way to
external stimuli. If one reflects upon this definition, one is led to the
conclusion that in working dogs, whatever the purpose for which they are used, a
very high or exaggerated degree of sharpness is not a desirable thing. Jean Sir,
the well known expert on working dogs, considered for example, that a guard dog
should possess normal sharpness and that this, as far as practicable, should not
be exceeded. This requirement, the validity of which has been demonstrated a
thousand times in practice, is fully satisfied by the Rottweiler. Dogs which are
too sharp can easily cause uproar and danger without any serious reason. Such
dogs often possess little or no courage; they flare up, but do not stand their
ground in the face of danger.
The courageous dog is one which meets resolutely and without fear the dangers
which threaten it and its human companions. Courage is a quality which is
unmistakable in the Rottweiler. This fact is of inestimable value for only a
courageous dog possesses the true instinct to guard, i.e. readiness to protect
his master against dangers without being compelled and without regard for his
own safety. The firmer a dog's courage is, the more pronounced is his instinct
to guard and the more reliable his performance as a guard dog.
Now we often observe dogs whose qualities of courage and sharpness cannot be
denied, but which only show moderate readiness to guard and ward off danger.
These dogs lack the impetus to attack: the fight instinct. A dog with strong
fighting instinct takes up the fight without regard for pain and danger and sees
it through whatever may befall. The Rottweiler is well endowed with the fighting
instinct; without this valuable quality he could not have survived or have been
able to fulfill his tasks, which were often connected with fighting. The
important task of preserving and strengthening the established nature of the
Rottweiler was fortunately recognized at an early stage by breeders. The
qualities of character are taken fully into consideration and no Rottweiler is
used for breeding unless he has been thoroughly tested.
Let us once again sum up the character of the Rottweiler and it's principal
features: He is a faithful and obedient dog, loyal to home and master,
possessing medium temperament and sharpness; a bold and fearless dog who keeps
the peace for a long time, but in case of need attacks swiftly and without
regard for consequences, who combines joy in battle with readiness to guard, but
soon changes to a peaceful mood and possesses firmness of nerves in all
situations, that is the Rottweiler.
There is one thing that he is not: he is not a dog to be kept in captivity or on
a chain. Naturally one can occasionally keep even a Rottweiler in captivity or
tie him up for a short time, but if this is done all the time his character will
be ruined. The more he can be in the company of men, the more intimate the
family relationship, the more firmly does he attach himself to man, and the more
do the good, useful and amiable sides of his character reveal themselves. Thus
there arises as Paul Eipper has so well expressed it, "A beautiful relationship
based on reciprocity which may grow and deepen in an unimaginable degree."
Type and Performance
of the Rottweiler
By Adolf Peinkoss
(Translated from the German by J.H. MacPhail)
Rottweiler breeding aims at a vigorous dog
which, though powerful in general appearance, is not lacking in refinement and
is particularly suitable as a companion, guard and utility dog.
It is above middle size, sturdy, slightly elongated, stocky and powerfully
built. The body length should exceed the height at the withers by 15% at most.
That corresponds to a ratio of 10:9.1 and 10:8.7. In the case of a dog 65cm high
at the withers that represents a length of 71.5 to 74.5 cm.
The Rottweiler is a trotter. In motion the back remains firm and relatively
still. The course of motion is harmonious, secure, powerful and unchecked with a
good length of stride.
The body of the dog is adapted in its construction to forward motion, for which
reason the centre of gravity of the whole body lies in the front half of the
trunk. Trotting is the kind of gait in which the centre of gravity of the body
is supported exclusively by diagonal pairs of limbs and these always move
synchronously, ie. are approximately in the same phase at each moment in the
course of motion. In trotting the trunk is propelled forward by powerful
muscular contraction, whereby motion experiences considerable acceleration. In
this the musculature of the trunk, and especially of the back and neck, play an
essential part by tightening the spinal column, which is flexible in the dog,
and taking part in the synchronous interaction of the diagonal limits. As the
latter throws the centre of gravity constantly forward in a straight line,
sideways swinging movements of the trunk are absent in trotting, while the back
remains relatively still.
Faults of appearance can blur and distort the image typical of the breed. Such
faults include a general appearance which is light and lacking in substance, and
a body which too long, too short or too narrow. There should not be a lack of
refinement. Refinement implies in the dog, descent from forebears which rose
above the average in form and working performance. A dog with refinement is also
one which is beautiful, noble and proud looking. Size is not the main feature of
the refined dog, but beautiful clear outlines and a harmoniously proportioned
body. Refinement does not express itself only in the form, but also in posture
and character. Temperament without pushiness, courage without wildness,
friendliness with a touch of reserve.
The results of breeding are presented at shows, and taken together, they reflect
the status of the breed. Here we find that within the range of variations among
the top animals, the type leans more towards the upper limit so far as substance
is concerned. It is often massiveness that strikes one. Body weight approaches
the limit where pleasure in work, agility, endurance and finally health as well
as character attributes are unfavorably affected.
Fig. 1: Shows a dog that lies at the upper limit of his substance. Excessive
weight of the bones and the associated heavy bundles of muscles with fat are a
burden which not only limits mobility and endurance but also the internal
organs, particularly the heart and lungs can hardly cater for this mass in
Fig. 2: Against the dog that is too heavy we have the type that is too light.
Because of the insufficient body weight this is often lacking in assertiveness.
The necessary depth of chest and muscle power are often absent. Such dogs are
mostly temperamental and uncontrolled.
Fig. 3: For the Rottweiler the golden mean should be aimed at this.
This dog corresponds most closely to the requirements of the standard. In this
desirable working type there is a good relationship between the weight and the
strength of the bones. The appearance conveys an impression of proportion, size,
substance and strength. A powerful deep chest, not flat-ribbed, a well arched
thorax provides a good base for the front limbs and sufficient room for the
internal organs to carry out their vital function.
For persistent running at the trot the build of a trotter is needed. Here the
relationship of power and substance is significant for the desired bouncing and
striding motion. The most important thing is a solid structural skeleton which
gives support to the body.
Fig. 4: To the structural skeleton belong:
7 neck vertebrae (A)
13 sternal vertebrae (B) with thorax,
7 lumbar vertebrae (C)
3 back vertebrae (D)
and a varying number of tail vertebrae (E)
In the rear part the structures with the backbone, consisting of three ossified
back vertebrae, is firmly linked with the pelvic girdle and is supported by the
While the base (lumbar vertebrae, backbone, pelvis) represents an unshakeable
combination, the structure is only supported by muscles between the two shoulder
(The next paragraph, comparing the role of the front and rear extremities,
(G) & (F), has not been translated as it contains a number of anatomical terms
which are not in the ordinary dictionaries)
Fig. 5: Shows the trotting Rottweiler at the moment when the pair of limbs 2 and
4 have stopped pressing down and are about to rise. The rise and descent of the
limits do not take place quite simultaneously, the direction of the two
corresponding actions however occurs more or less in parallel and works either
against or from the skeleton. The direction is determined by the foot and its
undersurface on the one hand and by the support point of the skeleton on the
E-D = action line (press) - movement phase 1
2-B = action line (lift) - movement phase 2
E-A = action line (lift) - movement phase 3
3-C = action line (press) - movement phase 4
Fig. 6: The forces are thought of as being in the medium plane. No account is
taken of the rotary effect.
G to C = action line - movement phase 1
2 to F = action line - movement phase 2
G to D = action line - movement phase 4
A to F = action line - movement phase 3
H = resultant pressing force - movement phases 1 and 3
I = resultant lifting force - movement phases 2 and 4
The resultant forces of H and I yield the thrust force. The resultant I of the
two lifting forces and the resultant H of the two pressing forces interseat
approximately in the middle of the skeleton. The effect of I and H yield and
almost horizontal thrust force. It will be seen that the dynamic effect operates
as in the case of a bridge. As a trotter the Rottweiler is required to achieve a
maximum of endurance through the economical expenditure of forces.
The Intersection G is the turning point of the action lines of the movements
phase 1 and 4 at the moment when the lateral support is at its weakest. If this
turning point rises above ground level, the dog must proceed from the trot to
the gallop, or else run at a constrained and tiring trot.
Observations show that square, well-angled dogs do not run at as demanding a
trot as those of more extended build. The opening and closing of the joints
proceed according to the laws of the minimum application of force. For that
reason the dog that is too long cannot, in continuous trotting, bring his legs
sufficiently under the trunk in relation to the length of his body.
The intersection G goes deeper under the ground. The result is that the dog
presses down more than it bounces, and expends a great deal of force. Endurance
The centrifugal forces caused by movement will be saved according to the
exercise of running energy. The best result follows when the intersection G, as
represented in Fig. 5, lies close before the surface. This takes place when the
ratio of length to height corresponds to 10:8.5 to 10:9.
This can only function, however, when the whole system is firmly enclosed within
itself with good, strong musculation and precisely working joints. A machine
with broken bearings and connecting rods will not run any more. It is clear why
sound hips must be demanded.
The turn towards more mass than class, ever bigger and heavier, finds its limits
when health, character, mobility and performance are restricted.
Reprinted with the
The Rottweiler Club of Great Britain
Rules of Breeding
Reprinted with the permission of Clara
Hurley (Powderhorn Press) from 'The Rottweiler in Word and Picture', published
by the Allgemeine Deutsche Rottweiler Klub E.V. 1926.
The Chairman of the Verein fuer deutsche Schaeferhunde SV (German Shepherd
Club), Captain von Stephanitz, has the undisputed honor to have contributed
substantially to the phenomenal development of German dogs. We have his rich
experience to thank for the following "Golden Rules of Breeding".
1. Breed out of love for your dogs, for your happiness and pleasure, but never
for profit, because then your accounts would not balance. Keep your breeding
stock and the growing puppies around you all the time, give them your attention
and room to exercise, work them and observe their physical and mental
development. Only completely healthy, strong-nerved dogs serve the breed. But
your dog only becomes what a Rottweiler should be and what we require of him,
not when he is just another household servant, but when he is spiritually close
to you. Only then will you really enjoy him and have earned the basis for a
promising kennel and true working dogs.
2. Remember that Rottweiler breeding must be the breeding of working dogs, if it
is to remain Rottweiler breeding. Keep our goal before you: a highly talented,
capable dog with perfect working dog conformation.
3. Strive for the highest perfection within the framework of this goal, but do
not exhaust your animals and the breed at the cost of health and working
ability. Always think of the future, not of yourself.
4. Breeding for a Sieger is not a worthy goal. Rather, we should strive to breed
working dogs who raise the breed average through maintaining, establishing and
perfecting the good, better or complete elimination of faults, so far as is
possible, for not every dog "must" be bred, only those dogs found breed worthy.
5. Mass-produced, kennel, or city-bred dogs are never good breeders. Choose your
bitch, the basis of future breeding, from a tough, healthy working stock, and
select a stud dog for her accordingly. Show dogs and prize winners are not
always the best and most dependable for breeding, especially not the bitches.
6. Pair your breeding animals - the stud dog need not be your own - according to
bloodlines, constitution, build, character, training and capabilities. Weak
nerved or shy animals are not breed worthy, nor are those who have had serious
illness (distemper, rickets, etc.); the disposition for an illness can be
inherited. Healthy, well-kept dogs also have a strong healthy bite, a close,
tough coat, clear eyes and a spirited character.
7. Breed on good blood, but do not overdo inbreeding; it is sufficient if the
bitch has a common ancestor in the fourth or fifth generation. Leave close
inbreeding to the experienced breeder who can tell whether an increase in the
obvious good characteristics is to be expected from a mating, or whether hidden
faults might show up, of which both parents are the carriers. If you do not yet
know enough about bloodlines and breeding according to them, turn to the
breeding supervisor of your local group.
8. Make sure that your animal carries the characteristics of its sex, not those
of the opposite sex. Bitchy dogs and doggy bitches do not benefit breeding. Both
partners should also match each other in size and bone structure. Do not breed
with old nor with young animals; dogs are only mature at the end of their second
year, bitches just a few months earlier, and should not be bred sooner. In about
the eighth year - with bitches earlier - breeding capacity slows down
significantly. But above all, don't chase after a "Sieger" just because he won a
prize. He was the best in the ring, but that doesn't mean he is the best for the
breed, or especially, that he is right for your bitch.
9. Choose the right stud for your bitch well ahead of time, not just when she
comes into heat. And ask the dog's owner promptly whether he will make his dog
available for your bitch. Arrange everything in writing ahead of time, observe
the business arrangements precisely, and pay the stud fee promptly. Breeding
does not mean being sloppy.
10. Keep a close watch for the first signs of heat in a bitch and keep her
safely locked up until the end of the period, (long after the mating). "It's
harder to guard a bitch in heat than a sack of fleas," says an Arab proverb. A "mismarriage"
is possible at any time during heat; if it happens, there is nothing more to be
done for this litter, but it will not hurt future litters. Above all, don't try
to hush anything up. Our efforts depend upon honestly and trust, so be careful
that trust does not become shaky because of you. Inform the breeding supervisor
and the ADRK Stud Book Office of such eventualities. If the bitch was bred to a
dog of another breed, the litter is not purebred and cannot be registered. But
if a second Rottweiler has serviced your bitch, both dogs must be listed as
fathers in the registration. Keep careful record of all events in your kennel,
because you will often turn to it for advice later on.
11. Do not put off the mating too long in the belief that more male puppies will
result. This is only a superstition which brings weaker puppies. The willingness
and receptive period of your bitch can also lapse, and finally, we need good
puppy bitches. But bring your bitch to a dog only when she is completely healthy
and no contagious diseases such as distemper or mange are going around your
kennel. Also be on the lookout for the presence of vaginal swelling, otherwise
you are paying a stud fee for nothing. One mating is enough.
12. A weak or sickly bitch should absolutely not be bred; instead, skip that
period. In contrast, a healthy, strong bitch can be bred during each heat, that
is, twice a year; but let her raise fewer puppies. Bitches skipping a period
gain weight easily, fat animals do not serve the breed, and such bitches often
do not accept a dog.
13. Supervise your pregnant bitch - only around the fifth week does she show
signs of a successful mating - give her plenty of exercise without tiring her
out, do not allow boisterous hunting or fighting with other dogs, and no jumping
or climbing. Feed her well and keep her well nourished; meat, dog meal, no broth, and
gradually get her used to larger quantities of milk, don't forget calcium and
phosphorous (lecithin), but don't overfeed her. The larger amounts of food
should be divided into three or four meals, so as not to fill up the stomach and
thereby harm the back too much. In high carriers the full uterus has already
done the same thing. Before pregnancy and about two weeks before whelping, worm
the mother-to-be, but don't do a quack's job with all sorts of advertised "sure
cures." Instead, ask the veterinarian, who alone can measure out the correct
effective, and harmless dose. Asthinol, the most effective cure for intestinal
worms, can only be prescribed by a Vet. Take good care of the bitch's coat too;
shortly before the whelping date she should be bathed carefully in a
solution or treated with Cuprex, so that she will climb into the litter box free
of vermin. Whelping usually occurs on the 62nd day.
14. For the "nest," choose a litter box placed in a draft-free, dry spot. Also,
a well conditioned Rottweiler can whelp in a suitably furnished dog house
outdoors, even in winter. It is better to raise a hardy litter than spoiled
weaklings. Get the bitch used to her box ahead of time; the first few days it
should be empty of bedding.
15. During whelping do not disturb the bitch. Usually everything goes smoothly
and you can hardly help anyway. If necessary, call the Vet. Above all, keep
strangers, other dogs and cats away. A few hours later or in the morning take
the mother away from the litter so she can relieve herself, and at this time
check the litter. Weak or malformed puppies are to be killed, as are superfluous
ones. A strong bitch who is bred only once a year should not be left more than
five or six puppies, a bitch who is bred every season, about four, and for the
first time mother, better only two or three. If no wet nurse is available, the
extra puppies should be killed without the mother noticing it. The wet nurse has
to be procured ahead of time, so she can make herself at home. She should have
whelped about the same time as the mother, but the first milk (beastings) should
come from the mother. Wet nursing is not always a success, but under no
circumstances resort to a bottle. You certainly don't have the time required for
careful artificial upbringing, nor does your wife, and at best there will be
weaklings who will endanger their littermates with poor health. Too large a
litter is also susceptible to disease from the first, because even the strongest
mother cannot nourish a surplus well, so from the first, get rid of the extra
puppies! Report the litter to your group supervisor, so that he can look it over
and advise you.
16. Feed your bitch well while she is nursing, as much as she can hold: meat,
good dog food (Phosphorous - Cod Liver Oil - Puppy Food), as well as rolled
oats, oatmeal soup with milk and whole milk, calcium and phosphorous. No sudden
changes in diet; the mother's nipples should be washed daily, and her and the
puppies' elimination should be watched. As long as the mother is nursing, she
will keep the litter box clean. Later on the breeder must do it. On the second
or third day the box can be filled with straw. Keeping the box, the mother, and
the puppies clean is necessary to keep them vermin-free. Negligence has a bitter
revenge in the weakening of the puppies, who become underdeveloped and
susceptible to disease. Cleanliness also prevents as far as possible the
ingestion of roundworm eggs. For this reason too, the mother should relieve
herself away from the litter room. On the second or third day, use a scissor to
cut away any dewclaws on the hind legs. The tail should also be docked then. Cut
it between the second and third tail vertebrae, pull the skin back over the
second vertebra, cut this off too and draw the skin back together. A few drops
of iodine tincture cause blood clotting and fast healing.
17. If the mother's milk supply wanes, you can begin to add finely grated raw
meat at the end of the third week, otherwise wait until the fifth week for this.
Besides the meat, lukewarm oatmeal gruel or thick meat broth with Phosphorous -
Cod Liver Oil - Puppy Food (at first ground, then coarse) may be given. As long
as the mother is nursing, no other milk. Toward the end of the sixth week the
puppies should be completely weaned, five to six daily feedings, the mother at
first only at night, then not brought to them at all for several days. Increase
the amount of meat, gradually accustom them to cow or goat milk (whole, and not
boiled), add minerals salts as above. So puppies weaned and made independent at
the end of the eighth week, strong and ready to go it alone. Feed the mother
lightly during the last days of weaning. Wash the nipples with vinegar water,
and give her lots of exercise.
18. If such a well cared for litter or individual puppies do not gain weight
(weigh them regularly!), if the coat is patchy, if they are tired or unspirited
or whine a lot, get a veterinarian. Probably they have worms. If the litter is
strong, wait with the first worming until the little fellows are a few weeks
old. Don't be a quack with your own puppies. Only a professional (the Vet) can
undertake the right treatment. Asthinol, the best remedy, can only be prescribed
by a Vet. Beware of all "surefire" worm pills, distemper cures, etc. When the
puppies can leave the box on their own, let them go. Air, light, sun, play and
exercise do them good. Just see that the playground is firm and that they can
rest in a dry spot, not in full sun. Begin their education by accustoming them
to regularity (mealtimes) and cleanliness (after meals take them to a grassy
place to relieve themselves). Above all, through your actions, develop in the
growing puppies trust in the love and goodness of their master, and you will lay
the foundations for a useful Rottweiler!