Interested in adopting a Rottweiler?
You “must” be or you wouldn’t be reading this. You’ve already heard how wonderful Rottweilers are. Well, I think you should also hear, before it’s too late, that Rottweilers ARE NOT THE PERFECT BREED FOR EVERYONE. As a breed they have a few features that some people find charming, but that some people find mildly unpleasant and some people find downright intolerable.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you are attracted to the breed chiefly because of it’s reputation as a protective dog.
While a Rottweiler is a large, impressive breed, true protection is only obtained through a lifetime of training. Even if you do not choose to train in protection, a Rottweiler requires many hours of obedience training and socialization, and can be expected at some point in his/her life to challenge it’s owner. Some Rottweilers are also slow to bark, coming into their voice at two to three years of age – do not expect your Rottweiler puppy to instinctively warn you of an approaching stranger.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you are unwilling to share your house and your life with your dog.
Rottweilers were bred to share in many aspects of a family’s daily life, as protective guardians, willing workers, and happy playmates. They thrive on companionship and they want to be wherever you are. They are happiest living with you in your house and going with you when you go out. While they usually tolerate being kenneled for short periods of time, or crated inside the house by themselves, they need human contact and socialization in order to remain well-rounded. A Rottweiler who does not receive adequate socialization and attention is likely to grow up to be unsociable (fearful and/or aggressive), unruly, and unhappy. He may well develop pastimes, such as digging or barking, that will displease you and/or your neighbors. If you don’t prefer to have your dog’s companionship as much as possible, enjoy having him sleep in your bedroom at night and sharing many of your activities by day, you should choose a breed less oriented to human companionship.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you don’t intend to educate (train) your dog.
Basic obedience and household rules training is NOT optional for the Rottweiler. As an absolute minimum, you must teach him to reliably respond to commands to come, to lie down, to stay, and to walk at your side, on or off leash and regardless of temptations. You must also teach him to respect your household rules: e.g. is he allowed to get on the furniture? Is he allowed to beg at the table? What you allow or forbid is unimportant; but it is *critical* that you, not the dog, make these choices and that you enforce your rules consistently.
You must commit yourself to attending an 8 to 10 week series of weekly lessons at a local obedience club or professional trainer and to doing one or two short (5 to 20 minutes) homework sessions per day. As commands are learned, they must be integrated into your daily life by being used whenever appropriate and enforced consistently.
Young Rottweiler puppies are relatively easy to train: they are eager to please, intelligent, and calm-natured, with a relatively good attention span. Once a Rottweiler has learned something, he tends to retain it well.
Your cute, sweet little Rottweiler puppy will grow up to be a large, powerful dog with a highly self-assertive personality, and the determination to finish whatever he starts. If he has grown up respecting you and your rules, then all his physical and mental strength will work for you. But if he has grown up without rules and guidance from you, surely he will make his own rules and his physical and mental powers will often act in opposition to your needs and desires. For example: he may tow you down the street as if competing in a sled-dog race; he may grab food off the table; he may forbid your guests entry to his home. This training cannot be delegated to someone else, e.g. by sending the dog away to “boarding school”, because the relationship of respect and obedience is personal between the dog and the individual who does the training.
While you definitely may want the help of an experienced trainer to teach you how to train your dog, you yourself must actually train your Rottweiler. As each lesson is well learned, then the rest of the household (except very young children) must also work with the dog. Many of the Rottweilers that are rescued from Pounds and Shelters show clearly that they have received little or no basic training, neither in obedience nor in household deportment; yet these same dogs respond well to such training by the rescuer or the adopter. It seems likely that a failure to train the dog is a significant cause of Rottweiler abandonment.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you don’t value constant companionship and sometimes physical affection
A Rottweiler becomes deeply attached and devoted to his own family, and will show this affection in a variety of ways. Some Rottweilers are noticeably reserved, however most are more outgoing, and a few may be exuberantly demonstrative of their affections. They like to be near you, usually in the same room, an almost always with a head or paw in your lap. They will follow you from room to room, and if you are standing still, will lean against your leg. They have been known to upend morning coffee cups by deciding that it’s time your hand touched their heads. They are emotionally sensitive to their favorite people: when you are joyful, proud, angry, or grief-stricken, your Rotti will immediately perceive it and may respond to your mood. As puppies, of course, they will be more dependent, clownish, and given to testing the limits of their surroundings.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you dislike daily physical exercise.
Rottweilers need exercise to maintain the health of heart and lungs, and to maintain muscle tone. Because of his mellow, laid-back, often lazy, disposition, your Rottweiler will not give himself enough exercise unless you accompany him or play with him. An adult Rottweiler should have a morning outing of a mile or more, as you walk briskly, jog, or bicycle beside him, and a similar evening outing. For puppies, shorter and slower walks, several times a day are preferred for exercise and housebreaking.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you believe that dogs should run ‘free’.
Whether you live in town or country, no dog can safely be left to run “free” outside your fenced property and without your direct supervision and control. The price of such “freedom” is inevitably injury or death: from dogfights, from automobiles, from the pound or from justifiably irate neighbors. Even though Rottis are home-loving and less inclined to roam than most breeds, an unfenced Rotti is destined for disaster. Like other breeds developed for livestock herding, most Rottis have inherited a substantial amount of “herding instinct”, which is a strengthened and slightly modified instinct to chase and capture suitable large prey. The unfenced country-living Rotti will sooner or later discover the neighbor’s livestock (sheep, cattle, horses, poultry) and respond to his genetic urge to chase and harass such stock. Provincial law almost always gives the livestock owner the legal right to kill any dog chasing or “worrying” his stock and almost all livestock owners are quick to act on this! The unfenced city Rotti is likely to exercise his inherited herding instinct on joggers, bicyclists, and automobiles. A thoroughly obedience-trained Rottweiler can enjoy the limited and supervised freedom of off-leash walks with you in appropriately chosen areas.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you can’t afford to buy, feed and provide healthcare for one
Rottweilers are not a cheap breed to own. Being large dogs, Rottis eat relatively large meals. (Need I add that what goes in one end must eventually come out the other?) A large dog tends to have larger veterinary bills, as the amount of anesthesia and of most medications is proportional to body weight. Spaying or neutering, which costs more for larger dogs, is an essential expense for virtually all pet Rottweilers, as it “takes the worry out of being close”, prevents serious health problems in later life, and makes the dog a more pleasant companion. All dogs leaving our care will be altered.
Don’t adopt a Rottweiler if you are not willing to commit yourself for the dog’s entire lifetime
No dog deserves to be cast out because his owners want to move to a no-pet apartment or because he is no longer a cute puppy or didn’t grow up to be a beauty contest winner or because his owners through lack of leadership and training have allowed him to become an unruly juvenile delinquent, with a repertoire of undesirable behaviors. The life span of a Rottweiler is from 9 to 12 years. If that seems too long a time for you to give an unequivocal loyalty to your Rottweiler, then please do not get one!
If all the preceding “bad news” about Rottweilers hasn’t turned you away from the breed, then by all means DO get a Rottweiler! They are every bit as wonderful as you have heard!