by Susan Harvey

Pets | Dogs: The Rottweiler: Your Family's Best Friend

The muscular Rottweiler dog breed is a loyal family pet, as long as you choose and raise yours well, this breeder explains

The Rottweiler is said to be descended from the drover dogs of ancient Rome. These mastiff-type, medium-large dogs accompanied the Roman legions across the Alps, herding their cattle and guarding their camps.

It's no wonder the Romans found these robust, powerful dogs to be invaluable. They are stunning in appearance too, with an always-black coat and defined tan-to-rust markings gracing their cheeks, muzzle, chest, legs and both brows.

If you have kids, you might be most familiar with Rottweilers through the Carl books, since a Rottweiler plays a starring role in these kids' books. Rottweilers make loyal family pets, as long as you get your puppy from a reputable breeder who is dedicated to matching puppies with the right prospective owners. I recommend a female versus a male puppy for families with young children and for first-time dog owners, because the females tend to be smaller and less dominating. You always want a human family member -- no matter how little -- to be the alpha pack leader.

Obedience Training and Socialization Are Musts

Even with a good-natured puppy, children need to be instructed about training their new pet. For example, let's say your puppy growls when your child tries to remove an object from its mouth. The puppy is treating your child as an equal, a littermate if you will, and the puppy needs to learn this behavior won't be tolerated. A gentle but firm corrective "No" command from an adult or the child will go a long way toward building a strong family foundation.

Your adorable Rottweiler puppy will grow to be a large, powerful dog. Males can tip the scales at 135 pounds, and females typically weigh 100 pounds. When you own a dog this big and strong, you're morally (if not legally) obligated to commit time to obedience training and socialization. The more, the better.

Fortunately, this breed is highly intelligent, sensitive and eager to please. Search for a reputable trainer, preferably one who knows and likes this breed, as soon as your puppy has enough vaccinations to safely be exposed to different people, animals and places. Going to group training classes is a good idea, because your puppy will learn how to interact with other dogs and people. He'll learn to focus on you, even with distractions going on around him.

Any puppy, not just a Rottweiler, should be well-bred and healthy before you adopt him or her into your family. Likewise, young children should always be supervised when playing with any breed of puppy. And don't forget the training! Set the stage correctly, and you'll have a loving and loyal friend for the next decade or more.



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Dogs: The Rottweiler: Your Family's Best Friend