The Rottweiler is ‘one of those dogs.’
You know the type: big, fierce, mean, and dangerous, right? At least, that’s what we’ve been led to believe! However, if you’ve ever had the privilege to have one in your life, you’ll know that there’s a different story to be told.
So, are Rottweilers dangerous?
Let’s examine the evidence to discover the truth!
Are Rottweilers Dangerous Dogs?
The answer depends on what you mean by dangerous.
A car can be dangerous. So can a sharp knife, a pen, an apple, or a staircase! There are thousands of potential hazards around us each and every day. However, we learn to be aware of the dangers and reduce the risk as far as possible. It all comes down to how we handle each of these things.
As for Rottweilers, the honest answer is that they can be dangerous, though it doesn’t mean they necessarily will be.
It’s only fair to give this dog a chance before we condemn it out of hand, so let’s learn a bit about the breed.
Where Are Rottweilers From?
The Rottweiler breed is one of the oldest dog breeds, believed to have been around in Roman times, descended from the Mastiff.
In the form that we recognize them now, these medium-to-large dogs originate from the town called Rottweil in southwest Germany, from where they take their name.
They are working dogs, known to the locals as Rottweil Metzgerhund (Rotteweiller Butcher’s dog) because they were used to haul carts loaded with butchered meat to nearby markets.
However, their primary purpose was to herd and protect livestock and guard their owners and property.
As their role involved guarding duties, they were expected to display a certain amount of aggressive behavior. These dogs needed to fend off attacks from wolves, bears, and big cats!
German Rottweiler Vs. American Rottweiler
Did you know there were two different types – the German Rottweiler and the American Rottweiler?
Not many people do! As has happened with other breeds, Rottweilers imported into the US soon began to develop different characteristics as people adapted them to suit their own needs.
Even so, there isn’t a massive amount of difference between them, though the German version is larger and heavier.
One significant difference is in the tail: German Rottweilers will usually have one, whereas the American version will probably have had its tail cut off.
All forward-thinking countries, breed clubs, and kennel clubs have embraced the policy of allowing dogs to keep their tails. However, the AKC still insists that the Rottie’s tail be amputated.
This could contribute to incidents of aggression, as the dog is unable to communicate effectively, leading to a misunderstanding that escalates into an attack or a fight.
For this reason, it’s more likely that an American Rottweiler will be aggressive or dangerous.
What Are Rottweilers Good For?
Although a few are still used for herding, Rottweilers have a long history of being police dogs, service dogs, guard dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
They need special training for these roles, and aggression is sometimes a necessary tool in some cases. This is an interesting point, as the dog’s training teaches it to use aggression when the command is given. So, this dog is dangerous if you are a suspected intruder or a criminal fleeing from the police!
Those that aren’t working dogs make excellent family dogs, but only for the right family. These big dogs need a firm hand that they respect as the pack leader. You need to be assertive and in control at all times.
So, Rotties are great in a variety of roles, but they can also be your best friend!
Are Rottweilers Dangerous To Their Owners?
On the whole, no.
There is no reason why a dog owner should be any more at risk from a Rottweiler than a Golden Retriever!
It all depends on the individual dog, where it came from, and how it has been treated.
Each dog has its own personality, aside from the general breed characteristics. Breeding goes a long way to producing a good dog, and poor breeding methods contribute to dogs with behavioral problems.
People who buy Rottweiler puppies from reputable breeders are far less likely to encounter any problems than those buying from backyard breeders and puppy mills. Some of these poor-quality breeding lines are used to supply the despicable ‘sport’ of dogfighting, so these dogs will be bred for aggression.
What Makes Rottweilers Dangerous?
Rottweiler puppies that receive proper training and socialization from an early age are far less likely to show any violent or aggressive tendencies when they are adults. Obedience training is a must for all Rottie pups!
Male Rottweilers, in particular, need an assertive owner who will impress their authority on the dog from the very start. They will respect this and always strive to please you.
A Rottie with little or no training and socialization (especially if bought cheaply from a backyard breeder) has a very good chance of being a danger, not just to its owners but to strangers and other dogs.
If you add mistreatment or neglect into the mix, you’ll have one very dangerous dog. Some dog owners don’t feed their pets enough or use poor-quality food. Others hit their dogs or treat them harshly, or leave them chained up in the backyard all day. Some people leave the dogs at home on their own and wonder why they trash the house.
Even the best dog in the world can develop behavioral problems if mistreated! And that includes being left home alone for long periods or not given enough exercise and mental stimulation.
So, are Rottweilers dangerous to their owners? Not if they come from a good breeder and are treated well!
Can A Rottweiler Kill A Human?
To be blunt, yes: an adult Rottweiler dog is fully capable of killing a human.
But then, so are many other dog breeds! Insurance companies often use dog bite and fatal dog attack statistics to set the premiums for pet insurance policies. Certain other parties also use this data as evidence in favor of banning or restricting specific breeds.
This kind of thinking has led to breed-specific legislation in some states, some of which include the Rottweiler.
It’s essential to look into this data concerning our question, are Rottweilers dangerous?
The Rottweiler breed appears in these lists, though it’s clear that the number of Rottweiler attacks is well down on what it was in the late 1990s.
If you look at the number of deaths caused by dogs (between 30 and 50 per year in the US), it makes for grim reading. The trouble with most of these statistics is that it is too easy to take them out of context.
According to these statistics, Rottweilers are responsible for around 30 fatalities in the last three decades. Now, that’s 30 deaths too many, but still, let’s put this into perspective: 450 people die each year in the US from falling out of bed, and around 6,000 in the US die every year from texting while driving!
Making Sense Of Fatal Dog Attack Statistics
Here are a few facts to keep in mind:
• The majority of victims were very young or pretty old (under ten years or over 75) and therefore more vulnerable. While this in no way excuses or justifies the tragic events, it makes death a more likely outcome from a purely cold and practical viewpoint.
• Other breeds of dogs appear on the list that you wouldn’t expect, including the Jack Russel, English Sheepdog, and Labrador Retriever!
• In 90% of cases, humans were to blame: many attacks involved dogs kept chained or tied up outside, children left alone in the home or backyard with dogs unsupervised, and some were not trained or socialized. Some dogs tested positive for substances like cocaine. Many were trained as guard dogs or deliberately taught to be aggressive.
• A large number of these attacks involve backyard breeders keeping poorly bred dogs in appalling conditions.
• The vast majority of attacks were by Pitbull-type dogs (and that’s a subject in itself!).
• Some deaths were due to secondary complications, such as heart attack, septicemia (blood poisoning), or rabies, rather than the actual attack.
• In several cases, the victims entered the dog’s territory, either intent on a criminal act or to retrieve something.
• A large proportion of cases involved packs of dogs that had escaped from their yards or cages or were never traced (they may have been strays or dogs living wild).
• Many attacks appear to have been triggered by fights or arguments involving humans.
Although these facts bring more context, the main point is that we need to learn from each tragic case: any dog can be dangerous in certain circumstances.
Dog owners must take more responsibility, and people need to be educated on raising and caring for dogs if we are to avoid these horrific incidents in the future.
Are Rottweilers Dangerous To Other Dogs?
They can be if they’re not well trained and socialized.
We can’t stress enough the importance of good socialization! When a puppy is exposed to various experiences, people, dogs, and animals at an early age, it prepares them for adulthood. They get used to these scenarios and learn to determine whether something is a real threat or not.
So, when they meet other dogs later in life, they are less likely to react in a hostile manner.
Like many breeds, the Rottweiler is protective of its family and property. You may find that they growl and bark to warn others to stay away, but this is rarely actual aggression.
Leash aggression and resource guarding (warning others away from food or toys) can be an issue, but this can be fixed through early socialization.
Dogs on leashes can feel forced into confrontation as they approach other dogs from an unnatural position (dogs naturally greet each other at an angle). They may also feel trapped and unable to escape in the event of any danger.
Leash training is essential (along with socialization) to overcome this.
Where Are Rottweilers Banned?
If you want to take your Rottie on a trip to the Bermuda Islands, or maybe to Ecuador, you’re out of luck! Both have banned Rottweilers on the grounds that they are too dangerous.
And if you head to Portugal, Ireland, Singapore, or Malaysia, you’ll find that this breed faces restrictions.
So far in the US, no state has issued an outright ban, though some have set strict rules regarding dangerous dogs. However, at least nine hundred US cities have total bans or restrictions that may include the Rottweiler.
It isn’t easy to get a complete list of which dogs are banned or restricted, so it’s best to check with your local authorities, especially when traveling to a different state. In most cases, it’s up to the police to enforce these rules, and frankly, most cops would rather be dealing with actual crime.
Restrictions may include:
• Muzzling the dog in public.
• Displaying warning signs outside your property.
• Buying a specific dog crate.
• Keeping your dog leashed at all times.
• Buying public liability insurance.
Why Are Rottweilers Dangerous?
In fairness, that should read – why do people believe that Rottweilers are dangerous?
It has to be said that the answer is primarily because of their appearance: Rotties look big and mean!
However, ask most Rottweiler owners, and they’ll tell you what big softies they are, for the most part.
TV shows and movies don’t help, as they like to sensationalize and exaggerate everything. Hence, the Rottie becomes the archetypal violent dog, protecting the villain’s lairs and snapping at the hero’s heels.
The same has happened to other breeds over the decades, including German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Pitbulls.
While it’s true that this dog’s size doesn’t make it look cuddly, they aren’t naturally aggressive dogs. In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards make it clear that aggression should not be part of their character, and instead, they should be courageous, calm, and confident.
Aloofness is acceptable, but that is very different from being aggressive!
As we found out earlier, a Rottweiler is only likely to be dangerous if it’s from a poor breeding line or is mistreated somehow.
Are Rottweilers Dangerous? Final Thoughts
Now we know more about these loveable dogs, we can say with confidence that the Rottweiler has the potential to be dangerous, just like any other medium or large dog.
However, they are generally loving and placid family pets. Statistics are thrown about to prove otherwise, but you’re more likely to be bitten by a Chihuahua or a Dachshund than a Rottie – it’s just that the Rottweiler would do more damage.
• To reduce this risk, here’s some common-sense advice to finish with:
• Teach people (especially kids) how to act around dogs.
• Never leave young children alone with any dog, no matter how short a time.
• Get your pup trained and socialized as soon as possible!
• Buy your puppy from a reputable breeder.
• Give your dog plenty of love, attention, exercise, and mental stimulation.
• Never leave them chained up all day in the yard.
• Feed them good quality dog food to ensure they stay healthy.
This isn’t rocket science, but it will help avoid unpleasant incidents and improve the Rottweilers image, which is undoubtedly what all dog lovers want.