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“The Rottweiler” by A. Pienkoss

The Character of the Rottweiler

“Every living creature is enmeshed in the totality of its relationships, possessing qualities which it requires for self-assertion” —

Hermann Keyserling

Nature gave the wild forbears of our dogs not only the physical, but also the mental and spiritual powers which they needed in the struggle for existence. With domestication the urge and the occasions for the use of these powers grew less, under the influence of the human will. This unquestionably brought about a change in the mental attributes of the dog in the course of many thousands of years; the basic elements have remained the same, but their character and their functional capacity and intensity have been altered in a greater or lesser degree. For example, the instinct of flight was immensely more important among the primitive ancestors of the dog than it is today among breeds in which for a long time other instincts, e.g. the fight instinct, have been preferred. Another example is offered by our hunting dogs, which possess characteristics which are in part quite contrary to those of their forbears which hunted for their living. The nature of the dog was formed, stabilized and up to a certain point made uniform, according to the wishes and needs of man, by breeding, selection, and rejection. We may therefore speak rightly of the specific qualities of character of a breed by which they are more or less distinguished from other breeds.

The account given here of the character of the Rottweiler in its essential features is based upon many observations and comparisons in every kind of situation, upon exchanges of experience and opinion with those best qualified to judge, and last, but by no means least, in the knowledge that there are always gaps between those qualities which are generally present and the ideal, which is the aim of responsible and conscious breeding to close so far as possible.For it is upon the preservation of his good character that the Rottweiler must depend if he is to retain his circle of faithful adherents. His place is where mere external, elegant, or grotesque exaggeration of form do not set the standard, but when a dog with particularly well-marked qualities of character is desired and esteemed. 

This is not only nor in the first place a question of the use of the Rottweiler as a working dog, but also and above all, the question of the dog as a domestic pet in the home, in business, and in the workshop – the watchdog, companion and guard dog. To this sphere the Rottweiler, as a result of long domestication, brings a great measure of trustfulness, loyalty, and adaptability, qualities which greatly ease his absorption into the course of domestic life, his adaptation to the customs and procedures of business, etc. Distrust is a quality which is not very strongly marked in the character of the Rottweiler as with all courageous dogs. He remains, however, always reserved and watchful towards all newcomers and strangers, though mostly not to an excessive degree and without unnecessary barking. His ability to learn and especially his capacity for adapting himself to his environment is very great and is much prized by professional dog handlers. That a breed which has so long been bred for use, possesses an exceptional willingness to work is as self-evident as the Rottweiler’s capacity to retain what he has learned in the course of training. It is not for nothing that trainers who are familiar with other breeds are often heard to say, “When the Rottweiler has once grasped a thing, it sticks.” A quality which is particularly striking in such robust and courageous dogs is their tractability both in and out of doors, generally combined with patience and with cheerfulness which is hardly ever disturbed. He is, so to speak, always in a good mood. Consider for example, the way in which this strong and valiant fellow puts up with children or how tolerantly he lives with other domestic animals once he knows them.

The Rottweiler is a tough dog. This applies not only to his physical needs, but also to his mental disposition. By a tough dog we mean one that soon forgets unpleasant or painful experiences and does not allow himself to be influenced by them in his subsequent behavior. Despite this toughness, most Rottweilers are very tractable, i.e., they easily subordinate themselves and are exceptionally obedient. The Rottweiler’s reaction to external stimuli is generally deliberate and seldom hasty. He has a certain moderation of temperament, a quality which is both desirable for a working dog and for a pet. Nothing can cause more disturbance or annoyance, if not serious danger, than a dog with a very highly strung or excitable temperament. The Rottweiler behaves calmly and peacefully in the family, at home, in public and in traffic. He does not bark on every insignificant occasion and when left alone readily accepts the inevitable. He does not need an undue amount of exercise and for this reason he is a quite good dog to keep, even in a town. Moreover, he is easily house trained and does not push himself forward or make a fuss. Where there is an opportunity to let him run about free, one need have no hesitation in allowing him this pleasure, because when let out alone he has little inclination to fight, pays little or no attention to what goes on around him, and is not much given to chasing things.

The diminution of certain instincts as a consequence of domestication is in many ways a good thing, but it has it’s limits, e.g. good nature should not degenerate into stupidity and lack of resolution; calmness and peaceful temperament should not change into laziness and undue love of comfort. The decline of the tracking instinct must also be avoided in the interests of the working qualities of the dog and the preservation of a harmonious character. The Rottweiler still possesses exceptional powers of scent and often gives proof by his ability to track. The preservation of these valuable qualities undiminished must be the task of breeding, supported by practical work and careful judgment of each animal.

How stands it with the Rottweiler in regard to the quality called sharpness, a quality of the working dog which even today is often misunderstood and wrongly interpreted? By sharpness we mean (Following the definition of Dr. Menzel) the constant readiness of the dog to react most rapidly and in a hostile way to external stimuli. If one reflects upon this definition, one is led to the conclusion that in working dogs, whatever the purpose for which they are used, a very high or exaggerated degree of sharpness is not a desirable thing. Jean Sir, the well known expert on working dogs, considered for example, that a guard dog should possess normal sharpness and that this, as far as practicable, should not be exceeded. 

This requirement, the validity of which has been demonstrated a thousand times in practice, is fully satisfied by the Rottweiler. Dogs which are too sharp can easily cause uproar and danger without any serious reason. Such dogs often possess little or no courage; they flare up, but do not stand their ground in the face of danger.

The courageous dog is one which meets resolutely and without fear the dangers which threaten it and its human companions. Courage is a quality which is unmistakable in the Rottweiler. This fact is of inestimable value for only a courageous dog possesses the true instinct to guard, i.e. readiness to protect his master against dangers without being compelled and without regard for his own safety. The firmer a dog’s courage is, the more pronounced is his instinct to guard and the more reliable his performance as a guard dog.

Now we often observe dogs whose qualities of courage and sharpness cannot be denied, but which only show moderate readiness to guard and ward off danger. These dogs lack the impetus to attack: the fight instinct. A dog with strong fighting instinct takes up the fight without regard for pain and danger and sees it through whatever may befall. The Rottweiler is well endowed with the fighting instinct; without this valuable quality he could not have survived or have been able to fulfill his tasks, which were often connected with fighting. The important task of preserving and strengthening the established nature of the Rottweiler was fortunately recognized at an early stage by breeders. The qualities of character are taken fully into consideration and no Rottweiler is used for breeding unless he has been thoroughly tested.

Let us once again sum up the character of the Rottweiler and it’s principal features: He is a faithful and obedient dog, loyal to home and master, possessing medium temperament and sharpness; a bold and fearless dog who keeps the peace for a long time, but in case of need attacks swiftly and without regard for consequences, who combines joy in battle with readiness to guard, but soon changes to a peaceful mood and possesses firmness of nerves in all situations, that is the Rottweiler.

There is one thing that he is not: he is not a dog to be kept in captivity or on a chain. Naturally one can occasionally keep even a Rottweiler in captivity or tie him up for a short time, but if this is done all the time his character will be ruined. The more he can be in the company of men, the more intimate the family relationship, the more firmly does he attach himself to man, and the more do the good, useful and amiable sides of his character reveal themselves. Thus there arises as Paul Eipper has so well expressed it, “A beautiful relationship based on reciprocity which may grow and deepen in an unimaginable degree.”

Type and Performance of the Rottweiler

By Adolf Peinkoss
(Translated from the German by J.H. MacPhail)

Rottweiler breeding aims at a vigorous dog which, though powerful in general appearance, is not lacking in refinement and is particularly suitable as a companion, guard and utility dog.

It is above middle size, sturdy, slightly elongated, stocky and powerfully built. The body length should exceed the height at the withers by 15% at most. That corresponds to a ratio of 10:9.1 and 10:8.7. In the case of a dog 65cm high at the withers that represents a length of 71.5 to 74.5 cm.

The Rottweiler is a trotter. In motion the back remains firm and relatively still. The course of motion is harmonious, secure, powerful and unchecked with a good length of stride.

The body of the dog is adapted in its construction to forward motion, for which reason the centre of gravity of the whole body lies in the front half of the trunk. Trotting is the kind of gait in which the centre of gravity of the body is supported exclusively by diagonal pairs of limbs and these always move synchronously, ie. are approximately in the same phase at each moment in the course of motion. In trotting the trunk is propelled forward by powerful muscular contraction, whereby motion experiences considerable acceleration. In this the musculature of the trunk, and especially of the back and neck, play an essential part by tightening the spinal column, which is flexible in the dog, and taking part in the synchronous interaction of the diagonal limits. As the latter throws the centre of gravity constantly forward in a straight line, sideways swinging movements of the trunk are absent in trotting, while the back remains relatively still.

Faults of appearance can blur and distort the image typical of the breed. Such faults include a general appearance which is light and lacking in substance, and a body which too long, too short or too narrow. There should not be a lack of refinement. Refinement implies in the dog, descent from forebears which rose above the average in form and working performance. A dog with refinement is also one which is beautiful, noble and proud looking. Size is not the main feature of the refined dog, but beautiful clear outlines and a harmoniously proportioned body. Refinement does not express itself only in the form, but also in posture and character. Temperament without pushiness, courage without wildness, friendliness with a touch of reserve.

The results of breeding are presented at shows, and taken together, they reflect the status of the breed. Here we find that within the range of variations among the top animals, the type leans more towards the upper limit so far as substance is concerned. It is often massiveness that strikes one. Body weight approaches the limit where pleasure in work, agility, endurance and finally health as well as character attributes are unfavorably affected.

Fig. 1:

 Shows a dog that lies at the upper limit of his substance. Excessive weight of the bones and the associated heavy bundles of muscles with fat are a burden which not only limits mobility and endurance but also the internal organs, particularly the heart and lungs can hardly cater for this mass in necessary way.

Fig. 2:

Against the dog that is too heavy we have the type that is too light. Because of the insufficient body weight this is often lacking in assertiveness. The necessary depth of chest and muscle power are often absent. Such dogs are mostly temperamental and uncontrolled.

Fig. 3: For the Rottweiler the golden mean should be aimed at this.

This dog corresponds most closely to the requirements of the standard. In this desirable working type there is a good relationship between the weight and the strength of the bones. The appearance conveys an impression of proportion, size, substance and strength. A powerful deep chest, not flat-ribbed, a well arched thorax provides a good base for the front limbs and sufficient room for the internal organs to carry out their vital function.

For persistent running at the trot the build of a trotter is needed. Here the relationship of power and substance is significant for the desired bouncing and striding motion. The most important thing is a solid structural skeleton which gives support to the body.

Fig. 4: To the structural skeleton belong:

7 neck vertebrae (A)

13 sternal vertebrae (B) with thorax,

7 lumbar vertebrae (C)

3 back vertebrae (D)

And a varying number of tail vertebrae (E)

In the rear part the structures with the backbone, consisting of three ossified back vertebrae, is firmly linked with the pelvic girdle and is supported by the hind extremities.

While the base (lumbar vertebrae, backbone, pelvis) represents an unshakeable combination, the structure is only supported by muscles between the two shoulder blades.

(The next paragraph, comparing the role of the front and rear extremities, (G) & (F), has not been translated as it contains a number of anatomical terms which are not in the ordinary dictionaries)

Fig. 5:

Shows the trotting Rottweiler at the moment when the pair of limbs 2 and 4 have stopped pressing down and are about to rise. The rise and descent of the limits do not take place quite simultaneously, the direction of the two corresponding actions however occurs more or less in parallel and works either against or from the skeleton. The direction is determined by the foot and its undersurface on the one hand and by the support point of the skeleton on the other hand.

E-D = action line (press) - movement phase 1

2-B = action line (lift) - movement phase 2

E-A = action line (lift) - movement phase 3

3-C = action line (press) - movement phase 4

Fig. 6:

The forces are thought of as being in the medium plane. No account is taken of the rotary effect.

G to C = action line - movement phase 1

2 to F = action line - movement phase 2

G to D = action line - movement phase 4

A to F = action line - movement phase 3

H = resultant pressing force - movement phases 1 and 3

I = resultant lifting force - movement phases 2 and 4

The resultant forces of H and I yield the thrust force. The resultant I of the two lifting forces and the resultant H of the two pressing forces interseat approximately in the middle of the skeleton. The effect of I and H yield and almost horizontal thrust force. It will be seen that the dynamic effect operates as in the case of a bridge. As a trotter the Rottweiler is required to achieve a maximum of endurance through the economical expenditure of forces.

The Intersection G is the turning point of the action lines of the movements phase 1 and 4 at the moment when the lateral support is at its weakest. If this turning point rises above ground level, the dog must proceed from the trot to the gallop, or else run at a constrained and tiring trot.

Observations show that square, well-angled dogs do not run at as demanding a trot as those of more extended build. The opening and closing of the joints proceed according to the laws of the minimum application of force. For that reason the dog that is too long cannot, in continuous trotting, bring his legs sufficiently under the trunk in relation to the length of his body.

The intersection G goes deeper under the ground. The result is that the dog presses down more than it bounces, and expends a great deal of force. Endurance is limited.

The centrifugal forces caused by movement will be saved according to the exercise of running energy. The best result follows when the intersection G, as represented in Fig. 5, lies close before the surface. This takes place when the ratio of length to height corresponds to 10:8.5 to 10:9.

This can only function, however, when the whole system is firmly enclosed within itself with good, strong musculation and precisely working joints. A machine with broken bearings and connecting rods will not run any more. It is clear why sound hips must be demanded.

The turn towards more mass than class, ever bigger and heavier, finds its limits when health, character, mobility and performance are restricted.

Reprinted with the permission of:
The Rottweiler Club of Great Britain

Golden Rules of Breeding

Reprinted with the permission of Clara Hurley (Powderhorn Press) from ‘The Rottweiler in Word and Picture’, published by the Allgemeine Deutsche Rottweiler Klub E.V. 1926.

The Chairman of the Verein fuer deutsche Schaeferhunde SV (German Shepherd Club), Captain von Stephanitz, has the undisputed honor to have contributed substantially to the phenomenal development of German dogs. We have his rich experience to thank for the following “Golden Rules of Breeding”.

Breed out of love for your dogs, for your happiness and pleasure, but never for profit, because then your accounts would not balance. Keep your breeding stock and the growing puppies around you all the time, give them your attention and room to exercise, work them and observe their physical and mental development. Only completely healthy, strong-nerved dogs serve the breed. But your dog only becomes what a Rottweiler should be and what we require of him, not when he is just another household servant, but when he is spiritually close to you. Only then will you really enjoy him and have earned the basis for a promising kennel and true working dogs.

Remember that Rottweiler breeding must be the breeding of working dogs, if it is to remain Rottweiler breeding. Keep our goal before you: a highly talented, capable dog with perfect working dog conformation.

Strive for the highest perfection within the framework of this goal, but do not exhaust your animals and the breed at the cost of health and working ability. Always think of the future, not of yourself.

Mass-produced, kennel, or city-bred dogs are never good breeders. Choose your bitch, the basis of future breeding, from a tough, healthy working stock, and select a stud dog for her accordingly. Show dogs and prize winners are not always the best and most dependable for breeding, especially not the bitches.

Pair your breeding animals - the stud dog need not be your own - according to bloodlines, constitution, build, character, training and capabilities. Weak nerved or shy animals are not breed worthy, nor are those who have had serious illness (distemper, rickets, etc.); the disposition for an illness can be inherited. Healthy, well-kept dogs also have a strong healthy bite, a close, tough coat, clear eyes and a spirited character.

Breed on good blood, but do not overdo inbreeding; it is sufficient if the bitch has a common ancestor in the fourth or fifth generation. Leave close inbreeding to the experienced breeder who can tell whether an increase in the obvious good characteristics is to be expected from a mating, or whether hidden faults might show up, of which both parents are the carriers. If you do not yet know enough about bloodlines and breeding according to them, turn to the breeding supervisor of your local group.

Make sure that your animal carries the characteristics of its sex, not those of the opposite sex. Bitchy dogs and doggy bitches do not benefit breeding. Both partners should also match each other in size and bone structure. Do not breed with old nor with young animals; dogs are only mature at the end of their second year, bitches just a few months earlier, and should not be bred sooner. In about the eighth year - with bitches earlier - breeding capacity slows down significantly. But above all, don't chase after a "Sieger" just because he won a prize. He was the best in the ring, but that doesn't mean he is the best for the breed, or especially, that he is right for your bitch.

Choose the right stud for your bitch well ahead of time, not just when she comes into heat. And ask the dog's owner promptly whether he will make his dog available for your bitch. Arrange everything in writing ahead of time, observe the business arrangements precisely, and pay the stud fee promptly. Breeding does not mean being sloppy.

Keep a close watch for the first signs of heat in a bitch and keep her safely locked up until the end of the period, (long after the mating). "It's harder to guard a bitch in heat than a sack of fleas," says an Arab proverb. A "mismarriage" is possible at any time during heat; if it happens, there is nothing more to be done for this litter, but it will not hurt future litters. Above all, don't try to hush anything up. Our efforts depend upon honestly and trust, so be careful that trust does not become shaky because of you. Inform the breeding supervisor and the ADRK Stud Book Office of such eventualities. If the bitch was bred to a dog of another breed, the litter is not purebred and cannot be registered. But if a second Rottweiler has serviced your bitch, both dogs must be listed as fathers in the registration. Keep careful record of all events in your kennel, because you will often turn to it for advice later on.

Do not put off the mating too long in the belief that more male puppies will result. This is only a superstition which brings weaker puppies. The willingness and receptive period of your bitch can also lapse, and finally, we need good puppy bitches. But bring your bitch to a dog only when she is completely healthy and no contagious diseases such as distemper or mange are going around your kennel. Also be on the lookout for the presence of vaginal swelling, otherwise you are paying a stud fee for nothing. One mating is enough.

A weak or sickly bitch should absolutely not be bred; instead, skip that period. In contrast, a healthy, strong bitch can be bred during each heat, that is, twice a year; but let her raise fewer puppies. Bitches skipping a period gain weight easily, fat animals do not serve the breed, and such bitches often do not accept a dog.

Supervise your pregnant bitch - only around the fifth week does she show signs of a successful mating - give her plenty of exercise without tiring her out, do not allow boisterous hunting or fighting with other dogs, and no jumping or climbing. Feed her well and keep her well nourished; meat, dog meal, no broth, and gradually get her used to larger quantities of milk, don't forget calcium and phosphorous (lecithin), but don't overfeed her. The larger amounts of food should be divided into three or four meals, so as not to fill up the stomach and thereby harm the back too much. In high carriers the full uterus has already done the same thing. Before pregnancy and about two weeks before whelping, worm the mother-to-be, but don't do a quack's job with all sorts of advertised "sure cures." Instead, ask the veterinarian, who alone can measure out the correct effective, and harmless dose. Asthinol, the most effective cure for intestinal worms, can only be prescribed by a Vet. Take good care of the bitch's coat too; shortly before the whelping date she should be bathed carefully in a disinfection solution or treated with Cuprex, so that she will climb into the litter box free of vermin. Whelping usually occurs on the 62nd day.

For the "nest," choose a litter box placed in a draft-free, dry spot. Also, a well conditioned Rottweiler can whelp in a suitably furnished dog house outdoors, even in winter. It is better to raise a hardy litter than spoiled weaklings. Get the bitch used to her box ahead of time; the first few days it should be empty of bedding.

During whelping do not disturb the bitch. Usually everything goes smoothly and you can hardly help anyway. If necessary, call the Vet. Above all, keep strangers, other dogs and cats away. A few hours later or in the morning take the mother away from the litter so she can relieve herself, and at this time check the litter. Weak or malformed puppies are to be killed, as are superfluous ones. A strong bitch who is bred only once a year should not be left more than five or six puppies, a bitch who is bred every season, about four, and for the first time mother, better only two or three. If no wet nurse is available, the extra puppies should be killed without the mother noticing it. The wet nurse has to be procured ahead of time, so she can make herself at home. She should have whelped about the same time as the mother, but the first milk (beastings) should come from the mother. Wet nursing is not always a success, but under no circumstances resort to a bottle. You certainly don't have the time required for careful artificial upbringing, nor does your wife, and at best there will be weaklings who will endanger their littermates with poor health. Too large a litter is also susceptible to disease from the first, because even the strongest mother cannot nourish a surplus well, so from the first, get rid of the extra puppies! Report the litter to your group supervisor, so that he can look it over and advise you.

Feed your bitch well while she is nursing, as much as she can hold: meat, good dog food (Phosphorous - Cod Liver Oil - Puppy Food), as well as rolled oats, oatmeal soup with milk and whole milk, calcium and phosphorous. No sudden changes in diet; the mother's nipples should be washed daily, and her and the puppies' elimination should be watched. As long as the mother is nursing, she will keep the litter box clean. Later on the breeder must do it. On the second or third day the box can be filled with straw. Keeping the box, the mother, and the puppies clean is necessary to keep them vermin-free. Negligence has a bitter revenge in the weakening of the puppies, who become underdeveloped and susceptible to disease. Cleanliness also prevents as far as possible the ingestion of roundworm eggs. For this reason too, the mother should relieve herself away from the litter room. On the second or third day, use a scissor to cut away any dewclaws on the hind legs. The tail should also be docked then. Cut it between the second and third tail vertebrae, pull the skin back over the second vertebra, cut this off too and draw the skin back together. A few drops of iodine tincture cause blood clotting and fast healing.

If the mother's milk supply wanes, you can begin to add finely grated raw meat at the end of the third week, otherwise wait until the fifth week for this. Besides the meat, lukewarm oatmeal gruel or thick meat broth with Phosphorous - Cod Liver Oil - Puppy Food (at first ground, then coarse) may be given. As long as the mother is nursing, no other milk. Toward the end of the sixth week the puppies should be completely weaned, five to six daily feedings, the mother at first only at night, then not brought to them at all for several days. Increase the amount of meat, gradually accustom them to cow or goat milk (whole, and not boiled), add minerals salts as above. So puppies weaned and made independent at the end of the eighth week, strong and ready to go it alone. Feed the mother lightly during the last days of weaning. Wash the nipples with vinegar water, and give her lots of exercise.

If such a well cared for litter or individual puppies do not gain weight (weigh them regularly!), if the coat is patchy, if they are tired or unspirited or whine a lot, get a veterinarian. Probably they have worms. If the litter is strong, wait with the first worming until the little fellows are a few weeks old. Don't be a quack with your own puppies. Only a professional (the Vet) can undertake the right treatment. Asthinol, the best remedy, can only be prescribed by a Vet. Beware of all "surefire" worm pills, distemper cures, etc. When the puppies can leave the box on their own, let them go. Air, light, sun, play and exercise do them good. Just see that the playground is firm and that they can rest in a dry spot, not in full sun. Begin their education by accustoming them to regularity (mealtimes) and cleanliness (after meals take them to a grassy place to relieve themselves). Above all, through your actions, develop in the growing puppies trust in the love and goodness of their master, and you will lay the foundations for a useful Rottweiler!

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