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Why Do Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation? History & Behavior

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on July 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Rottweiler dog on the grass

Why Do Rottweilers Have a Bad Reputation? History & Behavior

Rottweilers are a very divisive breed of dog. Despite the Rottweiler’s immense popularity, the breed has a bad reputation. Some think the dogs are naturally very aggressive and disloyal. But why is this the case?

What led to the Rottweiler’s bad reputation, and do they deserve it? We’ll take you through the most likely reasons the Rottweiler has a bad reputation.

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The History of The Rottweiler

The Rottweiler has a long and storied history, and this history is essential to understanding why it has a lousy reputation. The Rottweiler traces its origins back to the Roman Empire, and the breed was further developed in modern-day southern Germany. The Roman military used the ancestors of the Rottweiler to herd their cattle and as war dogs due to their loyalty, power, intelligence, and intimidating appearance.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the former Roman town of Rottweil was home to many ranchers and butchers who used Drover Dogs to move their cattle. The Drover would herd the cattle to the market, and butchers would use dogs to move the carts filled with beef to be sold; this earned the dog the nickname of The Butcher’s Dog. These dogs eventually became Rottweilers.

With the rise of industry, the Rottweiler became obsolete as a working dog. The breed reached near extinction before its revival in the early 20th century. The Rottweiler then began working as a police dog in Germany, as a military dog, guard dog, and seeing-eye dog in many other countries.

rottweiler standing
Image By: Ricantimages, Shutterstock

Black Dog Syndrome

The most prevalent reason the Rottweiler dog is viewed in a negative light is Black Dog Syndrome. Black Dog Syndrome is how some people view black dogs differently than other colorations. Despite how the dog may act, their color leads some to believe they’re more aggressive, vicious, or mean simply because of their color.

Shelters have noticed that this syndrome is quite prevalent. A black dog at a shelter is far less likely to be adopted than any other color.

Size and Power

The Rottweiler is a large and incredibly powerful dog; they typically weigh more than 100 pounds and have prominent facial features, including massive jaws. The Rottweiler is clearly a strong dog based on its appearance alone, and that makes it naturally scary.

Rottweiler dog in park
Image By: BidaOleksandr, Shutterstock

Loyalty and Instincts

The Rottweiler is an incredibly loyal dog, and that leads to aggression when it thinks its owners are being threatened. Couple that with the fact that the breed was bred as a guard dog, and you get dogs that can be easily made aggressive.

A Rottweiler that isn’t properly trained and socialized when it’s young is very suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive toward them if it believes its owner is in danger.

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Final Thoughts

The Rottweiler is not an evil dog, but its reputation would lead you to believe it is. The Rottweiler’s reputation stems from unethical owners and various misconceptions. When it’s trained and socialized properly, there’s no reason to fear the dog.

They are very powerful and intimidating dogs, but they are kind and loyal when cared for by loving owners.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: McCann Michelle, Shutterstock

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