The Rottweiler is a medium/large size breed of domestic dog. The dogs were known as “Rottweil butchers’ dogs” (German: Rottweiler Metzgerhund) because they were used to herd livestock and pull carts laden with butchered meat and other products to market.
The Rottweiler was employed in its traditional roles until the mid-19th century when railways replaced droving for herding livestock to market. While still used in herding, Rottweilers are now used as search and rescue dogs, as guide dogs for the blind, as guard dogs or police dogs, and in other roles.
According to the FCI Standard, the Rottweiler is good-natured, placid in basic disposition, very devoted, obedient, biddable and eager to work. Their appearance is natural and rustic, their behaviour self-assured, steady and fearless. They react to their surroundings with great alertness.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Rottweiler has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making them especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog.
Rottweilers have a natural gathering style with a strong desire to control. They generally show a loose eye and have a great amount of force while working well off the stock. They make much use of their ability to intimidate.
In some cases, Rottweilers have begun herding cattle without any experience at all.
If worked on the same stock for any length of time, the Rottweiler tends to develop a bond with the stock and will become quite affectionate with them as long as they do as it directs.
Rottweilers are a powerful breed with well-developed genetic herding and guarding instincts. Potentially dangerous behaviour in Rottweilers usually results from irresponsible ownership, abuse, neglect, or lack of socialisation and training. However, the exceptional strength of the Rottweiler is an additional risk factor not to be neglected. It is for this reason that breed experts declare that formal training and extensive socialisation are essential for all Rottweilers. According to the AKC, Rottweilers love their owners and may behave in a clownish manner toward family and friends, but they are also protective of their territory and do not welcome strangers until properly introduced. Obedience training and socialisation are required.