The ideal Rottweiler is calm, confident, and courageous, never shy. He has a self-assured aloofness and doesn’t make friends with people immediately or indiscriminately. Instead, he takes a wait-and-see attitude with new people or situations. With his family, he’s affectionate, often following them around the house. This is not a highly excitable dog. He has an inherent desire to protect his family and property, but should never be aggressive toward people without cause. The Rottweiler is smart and adaptable with a strong work ethic.
You’ll see some differences between the sexes. Males are quiet but watchful, constantly assessing their surroundings for threats. Females are somewhat easier to control and may be more affectionate. Both are highly trainable but can be stubborn.
Rottweilers require firm, consistent but not harsh discipline. A sharp word is often a sufficient reprimand, but only if you’ve clearly established your leadership. If not, he may try to bully or bluff you. This is not a dog for people who lack assertiveness or don’t have time to devote to training and supervision. Earning a Rottweiler’s respect involves setting boundaries and teaching consequences for inappropriate behavior, both of which take time and patience.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, Rotties need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Rottweiler puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Rottweilers typically like children, especially if they’re raised with them. When around children, especially young ones, they should be supervised because they are so big and strong. Because of their cattle-driving heritage, they have a tendency to lean and push and can accidentally topple a toddler with a nudge.
They’re probably best suited to homes with older children who understand how to interact with dogs. It’s also important to supervise your Rottweiler any time your children have friends over. Rotties can be perturbed by loud or rough play between kids and may take steps to put a stop to it, not understanding that “his” children aren’t in danger. They may also chase young children who are running.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
When Rottweilers are raised with other dogs and cats, they generally get along well with them. They may have issues with strange dogs or adult dogs that are introduced into the home, being intolerant of same-sex dogs. With your training and guidance, however, they should accept new animals peaceably. Keep your Rottie on leash in public to prevent aggression or belligerence toward other dogs. The Rottie is not the best candidate for visiting off-leash dog parks.