Descended from Roman drover dogs, which were used to drive and protect the cattle herds of Roman soldiers on the warpath, the Rottweiler maintains its herding and guarding instincts to this day, while also using its intelligence, size and athleticism to perform duties as varied as police dog, guide dog and search-and-rescue dog.
The Rottweiler was developed in the German town of Rottweil, where its continued use was as guardian and protector of cattle being pushed to market. They were also used by butchers as guard dogs, which earned them the nickname ‘butcher dogs.’
Two historic events played a huge role in the Rottweiler’s popularity. Technological advancements, specifically the railroad, nearly led the breed to extinction. As railroads could move goods to market faster, cattlemen began using the iron horses instead of driving them with dogs. Throughout history, many breeds have gone extinct when their primary purpose was supplanted by technological advances or social changes.
The two great World Wars also nearly led to the extinction of several breeds, but for the Rottweiler, it was a saving grace. The demand for police dogs grew exponentially with the wars, and that renewed interest in Rotties, which were used as draught ...