The layman is inclined to believe, owing to it's name, that the Rottweiler originated in Germany and there
are those who will try to tell you it is descended from the Dobermen Pinscher. Neither of these theories
is fact. History tells us that, although the rottweiler as we know the breed today is a product of germany,
the origin of the breed actually was in the Ancient Roman Empire. Behind our modern Rottweiler stands
a type of short coated or bristle coated herding dogs known in Ancient ROme. Today's Rottweiler bears
a strong resemblance to this early ancestor; the dogs, through the ages, have shown only moderate
changes in general appearance. The Progenitors of the Rottweiler were reliable drover dogs, sometimes
used as war dogs in battle, and we have read that the Emperor Nero always kept a number of them
around his palace to discourage intruders. The drover dogs behind the rottweiler breed served an
important function in accompanying Roman troops during their invasions of other european countries.
First of all, they were needed for their proficiency at herding , for how else but "on the hoof" could food
be transported for the troops in those pre-refrigeration and pre-food preservative days? A large herd for
extended invasions was essential, and to guard the herd and prevent loss, so was the drover dog. These
dogs probably performed other useful duties , too, on their travels across the european continent.
Undoubtedly, theirs was a role of major importance in the success of these forays, due to their
intelligence, stamina and powerful strength. Through the St. Gotthard Pass over the Alps and into
Southern Germany came the invaders with their dogs, into the Wurttemberg area where Rottweil is
located. The city itself is the seat of the district bearing this same name; it stands on a hill on the left
bank of the Neckar River, centrally located in the lush agricultural area. It is said that Rottweiler was so
named around the period of 700a.d., at the time that a christian church was erected where roman baths
had formerly been. During the excavation, red tiles of an earlier Roman Villa were unearthed, and soon
the area became known as "das Rote Wil" or "the red tile". Some of the drover dogs remained in this
area when the troops moved on . Owing to it's central location. Rottweil became an important trading
center and market place to which farmers and cattlemen brought produce for sale. Here again, strong
intelligent working dogs of stamina and good "lasting ability" were needed not only to transport cattle,
which sometimes traveled considerable distances, but for the protection of the traders themselves. On
the return journey, their money bags were far safer tied to the collar of a formidable dog than in their own
hands should thieves be encountered on these lonely trails. The butchers, farmers, and cattle dealers
came in steadily increasing numbers to the Rottweil  area as its popularity as a trading center flourished
and cultural interests increased.  Visitors , as well as those native to the area, noticed the merits of the
"butcher dogs"and the practice began to purposely breed them  to improve and increase their type.
Soon a brisk trade developed with people anxious to purchase these fine animals to take home. In
respect for their superiority over the  other types of local dogs, the roman Drover dogs were given the
name ROTTWEILER to associate them forever with the area in which they had been so well accepted
and appreciated. Thus it is that the descendants of the original Roman Drover dogs, as the germans
bred and developed them, we now know as the Rottweiler. Very quickly a competitive spirit was aroused
among owners of these Rottweilers as to who might possess the best and finest dogs, and even as
today an especially outstanding one in looks, temperament and working ability could bring a sizeable
price. One  of their attributes as herding dogs has always been their ability to work calmly and without
excitement , avoiding any disturbance of the cattle or disquieting behavior as they  firmly keep the herd
moving along together. Another job the breed handled well was pulling a cart. despite all their attributes ,
however, a time came when the new railroads and resulting regulations resulted in a different form of
cattle transportation and the job of pulling milk carts was switched to donkeys instead of dogs., thereby
depriving the Rottweiler dogs of their two principal forms of usefulness. Happily, there were some loyal
owners who retained their dogs as guards for their homes and property. A great surge of renewed
interest in the breed began in Northern Germany rather than in their original home area. {we understand
that in 1905 there was only one Rottweiler bitch to be found in all of rottweil}. This took place early in the
20th century because  the breed at the time had been discovered for police work. The amusing story we
have heard of how this began has to do with the brawl one night in a waterfront saloon in Hamburg.
Fourteen very drunken sailors were carrying on a dispute over the favors of a member of the  opposite
A Passing policeman who was a rottweiler owner was out walking with his dog, came upon the scene
and felt that he should take some action. Of course he immediately became the target of the mob, and
the rottweiler was the hero of the situation, in almost no time at all several of the sailors were thrown to
the ground and the others were beating a hasty retreat. It is interesting to find  descriptions of the early
Rottweilers as they developed in Germany prior to the 20th century. In general conformation and head
shape there is said to have been little change: the massive substance, aura of power, and assured self
confidence has been present right along. A working man rather than a dandy! Two separate strains were
developed in those days, we gather from our research : the bigger , more muscular dogs for work with
cars: the smaller, more agile and less bulky were deemed more suitable for herding. This difference was
due to three considerations; the largest dogs were perhaps too heavily built for lasting stamina on the
road ; their extra weight might cause accidents in jumping; and their additional height could cause a
tendency to nip cattle in the shoulder or buttocks rather than on the hocks as they herded resulting in
damaged stock that would bring down its value. The two size categories were bred as separate strains.
Performance alone was sought in the smaller dogs with little concern about their looks. In fact it was in
this strain that the "OFF" coloring by present standards  existed, dogs with white collars, white chest,
white spots or feet, or even red dogs with black stripes down their back, or light colored markings were
known and accepted, while the larger strain was always scrupulously correct in color as we know it today
The Rottweiler History