Many believe the Rottweiler to be a dog of antiquity, with records suggesting it developed in 74 AD with the settlement of the 11th Legion, a branch of the Roman Empire. Their arrival in the Wurttemberg region of Germany, later to become 'Rottweil' meant that their dogs were introduced to native breeds, resulting in the development of the heavy, working dog we recognise today. During the Middle Ages, the Rottweiler found employment as a bear hunter and cattle herder, serving to drive herds to market. With the advent of the railways in the 19th century, cattle herding was illegalised, meaning that the Rottweiler was no longer needed. As a result, breed numbers dropped significantly, however with the onset of WWI the Rottweiler regained its early popularity, being widely enlisted as a police, draught, guard and messenger dog. Following the War, the Rottweiler became the favoured breed choice of German butchers, who utilised the dog in pulling carts that delivered milk and meat. The Rottweiler was first recognised by the AKC in 1931.
Thought to be one of the oldest all-purpose herding breeds, the Rottweiler is not easily confused for any other. Muscular and powerful in appearance and structure, the Rottweiler boasts strong legs, a heavy torso, a broad and rounded head, a deep chest and a tail that is customarily docked. The distinctive coat is typically short and hard, and is coloured black, with mahogany, rust or brown markings. A red variety is also seen, although it is considered rare. Some suggest a difference between what is known as an American Rottweiler, and what is known as a German Rottweiler, although it is commonly accepted that there is no such variation. The modern Rottweiler is observed in police, customs and army work, with a large majority being seen in Search and Rescue in Norway.
Contrary to popular belief, the Rottweiler is far from the aggressive and unpredictable breed many assume it to be. Rather, it is one of the most trainable, intelligent and adaptable out there, possessing a calm and courageous temperament that renders it well suited to domestic life. Independent-minded, the Rottweiler does not mind its own company, although no dog should ever be left for long periods of time without human companionship. The average Rottweiler will be territorial and protective of its home and family, though never to the point of aggression, and will demonstrate a docile and easy demeanor that can be relied upon. A healthy, fully grown Rottweiler will weigh 38-60 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 8-10 years.
Despite being sturdy and resilient, the Rottweiler is susceptible to various health complaints, ranging from mild to more serious. These include optical disorders, including cataracts, entropion and progressive retinal atrophy, as well as hip dysplasia and association orthopedic complaints. More serious incidences of bloat and gastric tortion are commonly observed in the large breeds, and the Rottweiler is no exception. Other conditions include cancer, cardiac disease, and two rare disorders known as von Willebrand's Disease, a bleeding complaint, and Addison's Disease, a problem with the adrenal gland.