Celebrating 1 year of living with the SLRrottie
No one can prepare you for the life with a Rottweiler. And I read all the big and famous books and watched all the great YouTubers. In my case, getting a dog and specifically a Rottweiler was a well-educated choice.
Getting a dog - whether it's a toy breed or a giant breed - is a serious commitment. I don’t recommend getting one unless you're ready to put in the work and the time that come with the dog ownership. Not to mention that the price for the puppy is just the initial payment, the real bills are coming in the second you bring the puppy home.
Get your puppy from reputable breeders, who do health tests and can provide you with a pedigree and they meet either AKC or FCI standards. I also believe that the preservation of the breeds should be more important than providing a home for all the dogs in the world. Therefore I’ll always choose to shop and support the good breeding practices.
I understand that the Rottweiler is not an obvious choice in Europe. I witness this every week when we go to her socialisation classes - lots of shiba inus, corgis, labradoodles, poodles … and me with a Rott. She’s currently the only Rottweiler in the group, so this tells you a lot.
West is from a show line, which means her physique and temperament are as close as possible to the breed standard. This means also she’s genetically predisposed to be friendly and any type of unwanted aggression has been eliminated thanks to the carefully selected breeding. There are also working line Rottweilers and if you have the time to work with one, I recommend them over the show line simply because the genetics are more pure and you can witness the true prowess of the breed. The working line Rottweiler is unfortunately too powerful and too energetic for almost anyone and therefore the show line has taken over. The working line Rottweilers are still used by the police and the army in some countries like Columbia, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Mexico, USA, etc. But due to their powerful jaws and blocky build, they’re getting replaced by the Belgian shepherd in other countries.
So what’s like living with one? (From my own experience)
This is a serious and intense dog. Powerful enough to crush bones with no effort at all. Still very much an OG guard dog. Listen, if this dog senses that you, your family or your property is at risk, it won’t think twice. Their loyalty means they’ll happily sacrifice their lives for you, because that's what they're bred to do. They’ll gladly take a bullet for you. So, even if you think your Rottie is a cute baby, never ever underestimate its guarding instincts and the best thing to do is to train those instincts. You need to teach a Rottweiler when it’s ok to be in a protection mode and when it’s totally not ok. Otherwise you’ll end up with a 40+ kg uncontrollable beast that can inflict a severe damage and you will contribute to the already bad rep of breed.
This is a dominant breed. And a Rottweiler will fight for the alpha spot until its last day - you’ll have no rest. This dog is smart enough to manipulate you and the second you show any sign of weakness - it’s game over. It’ll constantly test the limits, so this can be exhausting for most people. This is the type of dog that will make you earn its respect and you really have to work for it. They’re also incredibly stubborn and determined, so you’re going to need tons of patience during the training.
This dog is independent. They’re no-nonsense dogs. Don’t expect cuddles on the couch and dress-up games. They show they care by guarding you and patrolling your property. You can’t expect it to sit still and watch TV with you while it has a job to do! The “sense of purpose” is very strong in them, so you need to find them a job! Unfortunately, thanks to their independence and intelligence, they’re capable of judging situations on their own and act accordingly. It’s very important to lead them and show them you’re still in charge and you make the calls.
The elephant in the room - this is a mean-looking dog. It’s big, black and powerful. The intimidation factor can’t be any higher. Thanks to bad Rottweiler owners, this amazing breed has earned some negative points. The media also loves them, but not in a positive way. They rush to announce every Rottweiler - related accident (same with Pit Bulls), but when it comes to other breeds, they somehow forget to mention the breed. You have to live with the stigma and with the looks some people will give you. Some will even ask you why. Others will cross the street the second they see you walking your majestic Rottweiler.
The Rottweiler has a heart of gold. They’re loving and they won’t hesitate to show you how soft they are on the inside, when no one is watching of course. They’re capable circus performers and will try to get your attention by any means, including jumping on 2 legs. From my experience, this is a sensitive and a gentle breed. They want to be treated with respect, but also you need to show them some emotion and it has to be genuine. They will most definitely sense, if you’re insincere.
They’re easy to train, but it’s a lifelong process. I believe my Rottweiler is smarter than some people. She’s demonstrated her intelligence to judge people and situations multiple times. When it comes to her training - she’s the most stubborn dog in the training class. She knows her commands in 4 languages, she can switch from one command to another within a second, but she needs a motivation to do so. And in the Rottweiler’s world that motivation is food. In some way this shows they’re smart asses - not willing to work for free. And while we’re at it - training is non-negotiable. I’ve been taking West to school two times a week for the last 8 months, sometimes even 3 times a week. You can’t take shortcuts when it comes to the training and the socialisation.
They’re like house cats. It’s so hard to explain to people with small and vocal breeds that my dog is just minding its own business and you won’t even notice there’s a 40+ kg dog in the house most of the time. They sleep a lot and they’ll remind you of their existence when it’s time for the walks by patiently waiting next to the door. The Rottweiler is only vocal when it has to alarm you or when it has to keep people, cars or other animals off your property. Take the Rottie bark as a warning to leave and leave the property alone.
Which leads to : they’re highly territorial. I feel like they’re more protective of the territory, rather than their people. This probably comes from their history as a herding dog. But even if you have the biggest yard, the Rottweiler will prefer to live indoors with you. They’re people dogs and it’s wrong to make them live outside alone.
The Rottweiler can be a wonderful companion. Their undercoat allows them be outside at -30 Celsius without the need for clothes! If you love traveling, hiking, or if you like to switch the scenery very often - the Rottweiler won’t mind. They’re very adaptable and adventurous, they’ll gladly accompany you to wherever you decide to go next.
They’re expensive. Some purebred German Rottweilers can cost up to 20.000 EUR. The average price for a purebred Rottweiler in Europe is around 2000-4000 EUR. That’s the cost just to acquire one. They eat a lot and they need high-quality food, so food will be a permanent cost throughout their lives. The training alone will cost you a lot as well. The toys in the pet stores are not made for their strong jaws, so there goes another expense - tough, durable toys. The same goes for the collars and the leashes - you need to invest in those as well. Another factor you need to consider is whether you have a suitable car for a Rottweiler. They’re compact for their size, but a small car will not suit them nonetheless. So, you might have to buy a car just for your dog.
One year of a Rottweiler ownership has changed me completely. She was wanted and the timing was also right. She made my transition back to my home country worth it and the fact that now I have some sort of a routine that doesn't include only me, I believe this has made me a better person overall and brought in some refreshing views on my past lifestyle. I also don’t have to go to the gym anymore, because training with a 40+kg Rottweiler is already plenty of an exercise. I don’t recommend this breed or any other breed, unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a responsibility and a commitment that will outlast the cute puppy stage. And, please, don’t get a dog just because you feel lonely or you want one. Get dogs only if you can offer them a good life. It’s not a toy, it’s a living animal with needs.