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A Breed a Day: Rottweiler


From: The Complete Dog Book, a publication of the American Kennel Club, copyright 1985

"Apparently, there is no documented record of the origins of the Rottweiler. It is likely, however, that he is descended from one of the drover dogs indigenous to ancient Rome. The drover dog has been described by various accredited sources as having been of the Mastiff type- a dependable, rugged, willing worker, possessed of great intelligence and a strong guarding instinct.

The transition from Roman herding dog to the dog we know today as the Rottweiler can be attributed to the ambitions of the Roman Emperors to conquer Europe. Very large armies were required for these expeditions and the logistics of feeding that number of men became a major consideration. No means of refrigeration existed which meant that the meat for the soldiers had to accompany the troops "on the hoof." The services of a dog capable of keeping the herd intact during the long march were needed. The above described "Mastiff type" was admirably suited to both that job and the additional responsibility of guarding the supply dumps at night.

About 700 A.D. the local Duke ordered a Christian church built on the site of the former Roman Baths. Excavations unearthed the red tiles of Roman villas. To distinguish the town from others, it was then named "das Rote Wil" (the red tile).

Rottweil's dominance as a cultural and trade center increased unabated and in the middle of the 12th Century further fame and fortune came to it. Increased commerce in cattle resulted in butchers concentrated in the area and inevitably, more dogs were needed to drive the cattle to and from the markets.

In the 19th Century, the driving of cattle was outlawed and the donkey and the railroad replaced the dog cart so the Rottweiler Metzgerhund (butcher dog), as he came to be called, fell on hard times. The number of Rottweilers declined so radically that in 1882 the dog show in Heilbronn, Germany reported just one poor example of the breed.

General Appearance - the ideal Rottweiler is a large, robust and powerful dog, black with clearly defined rust markings. His compact build denotes great strength, agility and endurance.