Why Do Rottweilers Have A Bad Reputation?

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Anyone that has had a Rottweiler knows that people tend to keep a safe distance between you and your dog.

Rottweilers are courageous, loyal dogs who will defend their family if required, but when raised and socialized well, they are rarely aggressive and can be one of the most stable, steadfast dogs around.

Then why do Rottweilers have a bad reputation?

It may simply be that their size and strength make them seem more intimidating than other breeds, or it may boil down to simple misunderstandings and fear of the unfamiliar.

By Adeline Ee.

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My Rotties

I personally used to own Rottweilers and try as I might, I couldn’t get many strangers to pet my dogs, or give them any attention, which is an important part of socialization.

If I had a dollar for every time someone jumped out of the way or crossed the road when they saw us coming!

I had to resort to tying a pretty little pink bow around my Rottie girl’s neck and giving my boy a snazzy bandana to try to soften up their appearance so that they get some lovin’.

And still, all the attention in pet shops, parks, and cafes I frequent with my dogs goes to the floppy-eared Golden Retrievers and adorable little toy dogs.

The truth is that Rottweilers are actually sensitive and docile animals, with a strong desire to please their owners.

I would trust a well-socialized and trained Rottie over a Chihuahua any day!

Media Portrayal of the Rottweiler

When you watch a movie that has a scary dog lunging on a chain, chasing an intruder, or owned by an unsavory character, chances are, that dog is a Pit Bull or a Rottweiler and highly unlikely a Cocker Spaniel or Chihuahua, two of the top 10 breeds most likely to bite.

The media is a powerful force. It has led us to believe that Poodles are pretty lapdogs with fancy hairdos and Chihuahuas are adorable dogs that fit in bags.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Poodles are athletic dogs originally bred for hunting, and Chihuahuas are frequent visitors to the top 3 “most likely to bite” dog breeds.

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Rottweilers Often Have Unsuitable Owners

The Rottweiler is an imposing, intimidating-looking breed.

To this day, Rotties are frequently used for guarding and protection by many individuals that shouldn’t be allowed to own any dog in the first place, much less a Rottie.

Owners That Want To Intimidate

Many owners that want a Rottie purely for intimidation or deterrence often don’t take the time to socialize their dogs and raise them right.

Many irresponsible owners have used Rottweilers as guard dogs or backyard defenders, often without any regard or dedication to their training.

If the public interacts with improperly raised or unsocialized Rottweilers, they are more likely to be dealing with more serious and aggressive dogs than other breeds.

Inexperienced Owners

The Rottweiler is NOT a dog breed for the weak, or first-time dog owner.

Inexperienced owners may underestimate the importance of appropriately responding to a Rottweiler’s challenges throughout puppyhood.

When Rottweilers become more persistent in their challenges in adolescence, inexperienced or insecure owners may be at a loss for what to do.

Rottweilers will test you their entire lives, with the most mischief happening during the adolescent years between 1 and 3.

If their unwanted behaviors are not nipped in the bud with 100% consistency, a Rottweiler’s boldness and fearlessness can lead to a variety of misbehaviors such as aggression toward both humans and other animals.

Breed Specific Legislation

Breed-specific legislation (BSL), according to the ASPCA, is “a broad phrase for laws that limit or prohibit certain dog breeds to reduce canine attacks on humans and other animals.”

Many cities, towns, and even countries have banned Rottweilers or placed additional restrictions on owning one.

The reality is that BSL does not work for several key reasons.

First and foremost, bans on certain breeds do not take into account an individual dog’s behavior.

As a result, dogs who display aggressive tendencies but do not happen to share the genetic characteristics of the targeted breeds are punished along with dogs of those breeds who have never displayed any aggression at all.

Additionally, many experts agree that it is not the breed itself but rather poor socialization and owner neglect that leads to aggressive behavior.

In short, BSL may seem like a simple solution to the problem of dog aggression.

But in truth, it has proven ineffective and even counter-productive time and time again.

Intimidating Physique

Rottweilers frequently weigh more than 100 pounds, with a stocky, compact body, massive skulls, and huge jaws, which all contribute to a rather threatening image if you weren’t familiar with the breed.

It takes way more time to encourage someone to pat my Rotties and yet those same people shower my Golden Retriever with loads of attention!

My poor Rottie girl was a sensitive, soft soul.

She always wondered why her golden-haired brother got more attention than her.

High Prey Drive

Rottweilers, like all working dogs, have a high prey drive.

Originally bred to herd and guard cattle, they sure like to chase stuff, and being chased by a 100 lb Rottie is no laughing matter.

If the prey drive is not satisfied by exercise and proper training, including socialization with smaller animals and children, Rotties, like any breed, can develop a predatory instinct that and because of their size, can result in disastrous consequences.

Final Thoughts

Like any dog, sure, Rottweilers can bite. However, their image as uncontrolled attack dogs is undeserved.

The Rottweiler was bred to be stable, even-tempered dogs that make excellent working and service dogs.

However, they do require a firm, consistent hand, and will not suit inexperienced owners.

Just let me tell you one thing – if you ever choose a Rottweiler as your new best friend, you’re in for some of the best years of your life!

Photo by Vladyslav.