Ancient Roman Drover Dog

The Rottweiler is a strong and powerful dog breed whose temperament had to support their primary purpose of driving cattle and protecting their owners. These dogs were among the first police dogs ever used, and it is easy to see why. Rottweilers are alert and intense; these dogs are certainly not for everyone.

Inexperienced dog owners might have difficulties controlling and developing the temperament of these dogs. To truly understand what kind of dogs they are, we need to take a closer look at their temperaments.

If you are looking to get one of these beautiful dogs, here is a list of six things you should know about the Rottweiler’s temperament.

1. Original instinct

To completely understand the Rottweiler’s temperament, we must understand where these dogs come from and who their ancestors are. These powerful dogs are descendants of the mighty Molossus dogs.  The Molussus were an essential component to the Roman army’s success.  These dogs herded and guarded the cattle, and other livestock, that provided essential food for the vast Roman legions, travelling across continents.  They pulled carts filled with goods, while the legions marched, and during mighty battles, actually FOUGHT along-side their human comrades.  Yes, the dogs were actually trained by the Romans to fight in battle.  Amazing!

The Molossus dogs bred with native dogs wherever they went, and during their settling of the area we now know as southern Germany, they bred with Rottweilers’ first ancestors. Significant parts of their temperaments Rottweilers inherited from their Molossus ancestors, who were large, muscular, fearless, and impressive dogs that weren’t only used for cattle protection, but war efforts and missions.

2. Protection

The Rottweiler’s temperament was heavily influenced by their original purpose and tasks, which were driving the cattle, pulling loads, and protecting the owners. Mellow or scared dogs wouldn’t be able to do these jobs, at least not particularly successful. That is why these dogs had to be robust and brave. Muscular bodies enabled these dogs to pull heavy carts loaded with meat and other goods. Their bravery was essential for guarding the cattle against predators and owners against thieves.

Most Rottweiler owners were merchants that sold meat, even their original name, Rottweiler Metzgerhund, is translated as “Butcher’s dog from Rottweil.” When their owners finished their day at the meat market, they needed to get home safe with their hard-earned money. They used to tie pouches with coins around their dogs’ neck and let the dog carry it home!

3. Temperament influenced by different things

Different breeds have different temperaments. Some of their traits are inherited and traits that the whole breed shares. When it comes to the Rottweiler’s temperament, it can be influenced by different things.

Breeding quality is one of the most important things. Dogs with a good pedigree most of the time have temperaments that are very stable and constant. Dogs with questionable breeding can become unstable, even aggressive.

Socialization is the second important thing. Make sure your dog experiences different situations while they are still young. That way, your dog can learn how to react in different situations. Experienced dogs will rarely react aggressively, if there is no reason for it.

Training is crucial for every dog breed, and the Rottweiler is no different. Dogs that are properly trained and raised are calmer, more confident, and obedient. Even if the dog wrongly assesses the situation, they are likely to obey your command to “Stay” or “No,” if they are trained and obedient.

4. Possible aggression

These dogs can develop aggressive behavior, but there is almost always a reason behind it. They are no different from any other dog, that if not properly raised and trained, will develop issues.

Rottweilers’ temperament had to be protective for them to perform their duties successfully. Still, when two dogs with unstable characters are bred, there is a high probability that their offspring will have an unsafe and potentially dangerous temperament.

5. Temperament traits

The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that Rottweilers are really intelligent dogs … REALLY intelligent! These dogs can easily be trained, and they can perform different functions. Only intelligent dog breeds can serve police and military functions, and Rotties are one of those breeds.

A well-bred Rottweiler’s temperament is that of a loyal, alert watchdog who will protect their family at all costs. They are especially good with kids and will tolerate all of their ideas, even if those ideas include “torturing” the dog. Well-bred Rotties are affectionate, loving, watchful, alert, a bit needy, and adaptable. These dogs are incredibly cautious, which people often mistake for “dogs being mean.”  

6. Rotties as house pets

If you are a true fan of the breed and would like to get one of these dogs, you should be aware of their “pet” temperament. A strong protective instinct will remain with them, even if the dog is not specially trained for protection. They will be territorial, and only the family will be free to roam in what they consider as their territory. Strangers and guests should be properly introduced and accompanied to your apartment or house.

If you get a Rottweiler that will live inside with the family, you will notice how affectionate these dogs can be. They are calm and docile with their humans and can even come out as being needy and in constant demand for their owner’s attention. They are also fairly active, so leashed walks at least two times a day will be the bare minimum. Ideally, three walks a day, a training session, and some playtime will make them the happiest dogs.  Rotties are particularly “vocal” dogs, and very often (and regularly) “talk” to their humans and guests.  Some folks may misinterpret this as some form of growling, but it’s only vocalization … the breed is known for this (actually, Rottie owners love this trait and think its super cool).

The Rottweiler is an impressive breed, and if you are unsure of getting a strong, dominant, and powerful breed, maybe take a different path. However, if you are the kind of person who can train and be the leader of this dog, you will get a loving protector loyal to you until the day they die!