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Rottweilers: Are They Truly Big, Aggressive, Scary Dogs?

Posted by Dominique Marciano on

No, having a Rottweiler is not like it's portrayed in the movies. When I got Harley after doing months of research on the breed and seeing Rottweiler's portrayed in the media my whole life, I was expecting a serious, calm, confident, powerful, reserved, loyal, protective, guard dog. Yes, Rottweilers fit most of that description but, let me tell you, Rottweilers have so much more to their personalities than just that! And serious? That is one word I would NOT use to describe Rottweilers! This is probably the kind of image that comes to mind for a lot of people when they imagine a Rottweiler: 

Yes, Rottweilers can have the above personality traits but almost every single Rottie owner will tell you that their Rottweiler is a big gentle giant who is goofy, wild, loving, affectionate, needy, attentive, intuitive, derpy and hilarious. They have the ability to turn on those stereotypical "Rottweiler" traits if they are in a threatening position to defend or protect those they love, but those traits don't define a Rottweiler. 

One of my favorite things about my Rottweiler Harley, is how she can turn on the big, scary, protective instincts when she feels someone is threatening us or our property, but truthfully, 99% of the time, she is the biggest goofball. Because of the socialization work we did while she was a puppy, she loves greeting strangers. Unfortunately, due to the very one dimensional portrayal of Rotties that is seen in the media, Harley is feared by some people who are unfamiliar with the breed. So, I actually had to get her a bandana that says, "I'm friendly, please ask to pet me!" She thrives off of human love and connection, which many Rottweilers relate to, making them great service, emotional support or therapy dogs. 

Something that really shocked me when I got Harley was her herding behavior. I was always under the impression that Rotties were only bred to guard and protect. It wasn't until I got Harley that I found out they were also bred to herd livestock and pull carts. As they evolved, they also became guide dogs and search and rescue workers. This breed is meant to have a job and finds true happiness while working. Harley's high drive and desire to learn is one of my favorite things about her. Rottweilers are eager to please and easily trainable if given proper motivation.


What's funny to me however, is that if you research Rottweilers, most sites will say that Rottweilers require about an hour or so of exercise everyday. I truly wonder if those people have ever met a Rottie! Getting Harley was a huge lifestyle adjustment for me because of how active she is. She needs at least an hour of exercise in the morning, an hour in the afternoon with playtime, and an hour at night. Those times are based on her being two and a half years old now. As a puppy? This girl did not have an off switch! She was constantly on the go and needing to find something to physically and mentally stimulate her. Since this breed is smart, they need not only physically exhaustive activities to engage in but also mentally challenging activities and structured lives to be well rounded.


The most important part of having a powerful breed that can outweigh you, is training them and properly socializing them. Rottweilers are a breed that need a strong owner who can provide clear direction and structure to balance out the fun and active lifestyle they crave and require. This breed is unique in that it needs constant training for the duration of their lives. Rottweilers are a huge responsibility and commitment. They also are one of the most negatively stereotyped breeds, which make their actions and reactions hold more weight than those of other breeds. 


I remember walking Harley when she was about six months old and having a Pomeranian growl, lunge, snarl and bark incessantly at her from across the road. Can you guess the response to this situation by those witnessing it? It went along the lines of, "how funny is that! That tiny dog thinks he's the Rottweiler!" Now that Harley is older, she has developed leash reactivity, which is common amongst all breeds, and we are not met with the same casual reaction from people passing by. Instead, we get judgmental looks, people crossing the road and even mean comments about Harley being "vicious." It is important to realize that having a Rottweiler comes with more responsibility than most other breeds. 

When getting any breed, but especially working breeds like Rottweilers, no amount of research can prepare you for the real life experience of having one. Rottweilers have so much more to give than just the one dimensional "protective, guard dog" label that is used to define them. It is imperative that you can commit and adjust your life to accommodate and train this breed. If you do this, you will find a goofy, unique, quirky, loving, charismatic, loyal, intuitive, smart, powerful and yes, protective and inherently on-guard best friend that will prioritize, love and protect you every day of their life.



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