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Rottweilers, also known affectionately as Rotties, are one of the most popular dogs in the United States. They are well known to be powerful, protective, and loyal, famous for their instinct for guarding.  But Rottweilers are also easily trained, making them loyal, loving, and confident guardians. Here are some things you might not know about Rottweilers:

1. Rottweilers descended from ancient Roman dogs.

Although there is no documentation of the Rottweiler’s origins, most people think the breed descended from the herding dogs of  ancient Rome. Throughout their long history, they’ve been used to perform many different jobs.

2. Rottweilers were originally “drovers,”  protecting cattle and other livestock. 

As the Roman empire expanded, it needed a way of feeding massive traveling armies of men. They used their dogs to herd livestock and march them along with the army. This was the only viable way for the soldiers to have a steady food supply without refrigeration. Today the Rottweiler participants in herding events, and can keep up with the sheepdogs and shepherds in the field.

3. They also guarded  money.

This is where Rottweilers’ guarding instincts come in. Not only did they protect the herd of cattle, they also protected the cattlemen’s money. The cattleman would put the money in a bag and tie it around the dog’s neck, where no thief would dare go near it. Do you know what a “Metzgerhund” is? If not, you’re not alone. It means “butcher’s dog.” Hundreds of years ago, Rotties were also used to protect a butcher’s money when he traveled to market.

4. Speaking of jobs… there is very little that makes a Rottweiler happier than having a job to do.

But they can do more than guard home and family. Because they are smart, tireless, and eager to please, Rottweilers can be service dogs, therapy dogs, obedience competitors, guide dogs, customs inspectors, drafting and carting dogs, and of course, devoted companions.

5. They gained popularity as police dogs.

By the mid-1800s, the Rottweiler had fallen out of favor. Dog carts had been replaced by donkey carts and then railroads, and cattle droving was outlawed, leaving Rottweilers with no work. The breed bounced back in the early 1900s when it gained popularity as a police dog.

Rottweiler laying down next to her puppy in the grass

6. Rottweilers are leaners.

A number of breeds, such as Great Danes and Mastiffs, enjoy leaning their big bodies up against their people. The Rottie does, too. This action is thought to originate from the breed’s need to move cattle, when they’d use their bodies to head the cows in the right direction.

7. They’re award-winning therapy dogs.

Wynd, a therapy dog owned by Renice Zimmerman, won the Award for Canine Excellence in Therapy in 2015. Wynd worked and served as a therapy dog with The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors as well as Hampton Veterans Hospital and Suffolk Humane Society’s BARKS reading program. Wynd passed away in December after a tough battle with osteosarcoma, but her legacy lives on.

“Wynd was an ambassador to her breed in places and areas few are allowed in,” Zimmerman said.

8. One Rottweiler advocated for the rights of disabled veterans.

Dieter is a Rottweiler service dog who works with Vietnam Veteran Neil Williams. Dieter helps Williams, who suffered a spinal injury in the war, with mobility, holding doors and assisting him in and out of his wheelchair. As a member of the board of directors of the New England chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America, Williams and Dieter have traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for the rights of disabled veterans.

9. Their reputation doesn’t define them.

Rottweilers have a reputation for being ferocious attack dogs. Some municipalities have outlawed them, and some insurance companies won’t cover Rottweiler owners. Rottweilers were originally bred to be guard dogs, so they do have the potential to be territorial, but they can also be extremely gentle and loving when they are properly trained and socialized. Training makes all the difference when it comes to a Rottweiler’s temperament.

Related article: How to Care for Your Large-Breed Dog
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