Let's Talk... About Rottweiler History

From ancient Rome to
America's #2 most popular dog breed

Their Roman ancestors

There's actually not a lot of recorded data on early Rottweiler history.

However it's widely believed that Rottie's originate from ancient Roman times, and are a derivative of the Mastiff-type dog.

What do we know for sure?

For sure the dog we know today originates from, and flourished in a town called Rottweil, in Southern Germany.

Rottweil Germany was conquered by the Romans around 74AD, and of course they brought their dogs with them. The dogs that drove the cattle and other livestock as the Roman legions marched through territories were called Drover dogs.

The Romans turned this region into a very important and thriving trading center in Europe, and at the time it was known as Arae Flaviae.

Their beginning's in Germany

The Romans lost control of the area around 260 AD, and the town eventually became known as Rote Will, which means "Red Tile." It took on this name because of the red tiles used to build the Roman bath houses that were discovered during excavations.

The area continued to develop into a very thriving trading center for cattle and such. Cattle dealers would drive their cattle from far away places such as Hungary, France and Switzerland.

The name eventually morphed into Rottweil, which it's still called today.  Over time, the people of this area developed various dogs that would meet their needs. The ancestors of these dogs were both Drover dog's and butcher dogs, used to drive cattle, pull carts, and protect.

As the breed further developed, they became well known as the "Rottweiler Metzerhund" which means Rottweil's Butcher Dog. During that time period they not only drove the butcher's cattle to market, but also protected them from predators.

The Rottweiler also protected their master and the money bags which were tied around their necks from marauders and thieves on the long trek home.

From hard working to obsolete

In the late Nineteenth century, cattle driving became obsolete. The herding or drover dogs were replaced by trains, and cart pulling jobs were replaced by horses and donkey's.

The Rottie of the day was in danger of extinction and in fact it's rumored in unofficial Rottweiler history that only one female remained in the area of Rottweil.

We definitely owe many thanks to these early German breeders for working hard to preserve the Rottweiler simply for the love of the breed, and not just for work purposes.

From obsolete back to work

Around 1905, a Rottweiler was selected to be presented to the President of a dog show event, organized by the Association of the Friends of Dogs in Heidelberg, Germany.

The Rottie was described as "a fine dog of unusual breed and irreproachable character." That statement totally sums up the Rottweiler.

Their character is just so unique compared to other dog breeds.

They were still relatively obscure until 1910, when the German Police Dog Association officially recognized the Rottweiler as the 4th breed to serve them. The other 3 dog breeds were:

  • German Shephard
  • Dobermann Pinscher
  • Airdale Terrier

Their work on the German Police force, and of course through World War I, really helped make the Rottweiler world renowned.

20th Century Rottweiler History - The first breed specific clubs

The first club that included the Rottweiler, started in 1899 called The International Rottweiler and Leonberger Club. Obviously this club wasn't solely devoted to the Rottie.

The only claim to fame this club has is that it published the first Breed Standard in 1901, which was written by Albert Kull in 1883. A lot of the standards of today can be found in his original writing.

It wasn't until January, 1907 that the first Rottweiler only club started in Heidelberg, Germany. It was called Deutsche Rottweiler Klub (DRK), and was founded by Albert Graf and Karl Knauf.

About 4 months later, a second club was started called the South German Rottweiler Club, but they didn't have very much success. A third breed club was formed called the International Rottweiler Club (IRC), which obsorbed the South Rottweiler Club.

The two existing clubs had similar breed standards, but differing opinions on size and undercoat, and so they each had their own breed books.

The German Police force had a huge impact on how the Rottweiler ended up being the dog we know today. The Deutsche Rottweiler Klub (DRK) was actually associated with the German Police Association, and the International Rottweiler Club (IRC) chairman from 1912 to 1915 was the Frankfurt Police Commissioner.

The DRK worked for development of the working ability as apposed to looks, while the IRC worked to develop a dog that would win in the show ring.

Both clubs existed until 1921, when they agreed to merge and became the Allgemeiner Deutcher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK). This club still controls the breed in Germany to this day.

Common Spelling errors & Synonyms

When you're searching for information it will help to know these common spelling errors such as Rotweiler, Rottweiller, or Rotwiler. Some common synonyms are Rottie and Rott

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