Last Updated on March 6, 2022 by Marco C.
Rottweilers are one of the older dog breeds, popularly used by Romans, thousands of years ago, with many owners wondering what were Rottweilers bred for. At first glance, Rottweilers make great guard dogs, but they’re much more than that. In today’s article, we’ll be taking a dive into the history of the Rottweiler, what was the dog traditionally used for and what’s the current purpose of the breed.
Rottweilers Were Once War Dogs
The Rottweiler we know and love today can find its roots in ancient Rome, where it was used as a war dog by the Roman military. The Roman Rottweiler, a breed of dog now mostly extinct, is also known as the original Rottweiler. These dogs are a bit larger than your modern, German Rottweiler.
Their primary purpose was to defend the legion and carry supplies around. Because of their massive size, they were also useful for intimidation techniques, as no one in their right mind is going to try to wrestle a Rottweiler on the ground.
With time, Romans got to modern-day Germany, and their dogs came with them. There, the dogs became even more popular, especially in the town of Rottweil. The locals found an intricate use for the Rottweiler – they were not only great guard dogs, but they were very strong too.
The dog’s purpose quickly became twofold – they were used for their brute strength by butchers. Back in the day (the day meaning over half a millennia ago), butchers would prepare the meat in the shop and put it in the trolley.
Then, they’d attach the trolley to a Rottweiler who would pull the meat cart around. They were basically utilized as workhorses, but they still had the job of guarding the food. The meat was hard to come by at the time, and there were many thieves who would gladly get their hands on some tasty pieces.
The Rottweiler would have to bark them off, before continuing down the road.
This version of the Rottweiler is what we today know as the standard, German Rottweiler. The Roman Rottweiler is now extinct.
There are some breeders who have tried to breed a larger, stronger Rottweiler (essentially, they tried to bring back the Roman version), but these breeds are unofficial and they’re not up to the AKC standard. The Rottweiler we know is much more adapted to cold temperatures and it’s a bit thinner.
Some breeders also argue that the modern Rottweiler is also more intelligent than the Roman Rottweiler.
The Rottweilers we know and love today have soon lost their purpose as butcher’s dogs and became known as pets, but also as protectors of the estate and the family. Even though they’re not used in battle anymore, Rottweilers possess arguably the most well-developed defensive instincts in the entire dog world!
Combining that with their incredibly high intelligence, strength, speed, and endurance – and you have a prime home protector on your hands. Because of this, many people have started adopting and buying Rottweiler with two purposes – to be a pet for the home, as it became apparent that Rottweilers aren’t unnecessarily aggressive and they can get along with children just fine, and to be a protector.
These dogs are always vigilant and their alertness level is crazy high, meaning that the chance of someone sneaking up on them is minimal. All of these qualities combined to make them a formidable opponent for anyone who would try to get into their territory (i.e. the owner’s home).
Today, Rottweilers aren’t letting up, and owners are still utilizing these dogs for their defensive instincts. In the modern age, it’s become apparent that people see dogs as less of a home-defense mechanism and as more of a pet. This applies to Rottweilers too, as these dogs are incredibly loving and caring to their own family.
However, their defensive instincts aren’t letting up anytime soon, which is why anyone who buys a Rottweiler is getting a pet and a home security system, packed into one big ball of fluff.
Additionally, there are a few subspecies of the Rottweiler popular on today’s market. Although the only official breed of the Rottweiler is the standardized one, you can also find unofficial breeds such as the Roman or the Serbian Rottweiler. In both of these instances, it’s just an enlarged version of the standard Rottie, much more similar to the ancient dog.
Read more about: Would You Keep Rottweilers As Family Dogs?
What were Rottweilers originally bred for?
Originally, the purpose of the Rottweiler was to be a war dog. They were first used for this by Romans, over a millennia ago, before moving to Germany.
What two breeds make up the Rottweiler?
It's likely that the Rottweiler breed is a descendant of the Bernese Mountain Dog and another breed of large dog. This, however, can't be confirmed exactly as there's a lot we don't know about dog breeds two thousand years ago.
Are Rottweilers aggressive by nature?
No, quite the opposite, actually. Rottweilers are vigilant and they'll respond to every threat, but they're not the breed of dog to attack people or other dogs if they're not threatened by them.
Where do Rottweilers come from?
Modern Rottweilers come from Germany, where they were brought by the Romans. In Germany, they were used as guard dogs and worker dogs for butcher shops, while their name derives from the town of Rottweil.
Rottweilers have been around for much longer than most modern dog breeds. They were first introduced to the world by the Romans when they were used as war dogs. Then, the troops moved to modern-day Germany and brought the Rottweilers with them, where they settled and evolved into what we know as the standard Rottweiler.
There, they were used as butcher’s helpers and guard dogs, before finally becoming the pet and guard dog we know and love today. The Roman Rottweiler breed is now completely extinct. The modern German Rottweiler we know today is just as popular as a guard dog, in both professional and private terms, and as a loving home dog.