There’s no doubt that your pet Rottweiler is the softest, most placid teddy bear anyone could ever meet.
And yet, a little digging online and from listening to other dog lovers, you may have heard Rottweilers described as ‘Bully Breeds.’ What does this mean, and why is this term used?
The term ‘Bully Breed’ is used to describe a certain breed of dog, usually one like the American Pit Bull terrier or the Staffordshire Terrier. Bullies are usually large, stocky dogs with large heads.
These dogs are referred to as bullies not because of their temperaments but because of their links to bullbaiting, a cruel blood sport where dogs were forced to fight chained-up bears for human gambling games.
Bully Breeds: A Short History
There are many different breeds who can come under the Bully group.
- American Pit Bull Terriers
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers
- Bull Mastiffs
- Cane Corso Italianos
- French Bulldogs
- Great Danes
As you can see, these dogs aren’t all alike, nor are they the same breed. Some are terriers, others bulldogs. After all, very few lists will feature both a Great Dane and a Pug together!
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and there is some debate between dog lovers as to whether a breed of dog belongs on the Bully list or not. The connotation alone is enough for some breeders to want to distance themselves from such a title.
The general consensus is that they all have one common ancestor, an ancient Greek dog called the Molossus. Molossus dogs are now extinct, but there is a lot of evidence that tells us what they looked like.
These huge dogs greatly resembled the Mastiff of today, with their large heads, powerful build, and high levels of intelligence.
Does all this sound a little familiar? It should, because the Molossus was one of the closest relatives of the early Rottweiler, as the breed made its way around Europe.
Like Rottweilers, Molossus dogs were greatly prized by their owners and were used as working dogs.
Back in ancient times, there was less of a desire to domesticate dogs and instead, they were bred as having a use in the home and especially on the farm.
In later years, they were snapped up by army generals in both the Greek and Roman armies as these ancient dynasties marched their empires across Europe. They became hunting dogs and even fought in battle alongside the soldiers.
After that, they sadly slipped into a world of dogfighting, bear-baiting, and bullfighting, the last of which gave rise to the term ‘Bully’ breed: the dog that fights bulls.
It’s a shame that they’re extinct today, but the legacy of the Molossus, of whom even Aristotle was a fan, lives on in the generations of dogs that have followed, and this includes the Rottweiler.
Are All Bully Breeds Alike?
It would be very difficult to make a case for all Bully breeds being identical (case in point: I refer you back to the earlier comparison between the Great Dane and the Pug) but there are certain features of the group that are displayed across the board.
First and foremost, they have similar physical features, including their muscular build and large heads. They are also more likely to have short, pendant-shaped ears and shorter noses than other breeds.
Let’s take a look at some of these traits.
They All Have Tremendous Loyalty
Of course, the Rottweiler is possibly up there at the very top for loyalty, but all Bully breeds share a fierce loyal streak.
They adore their owners and live to please them, which makes them a delight to train. They’ll defend their owners and their homes to the death, and they stick to their families like glue. Literally.
They Have High Intelligence
Bully breeds are not only loyal but clever, too. Their brains are forever active, as they seek ways to be mentally challenged as much as possible.
This is great for those of us who just love to watch our dogs thrive and learn, but it’s bad news if you don’t have the time to dedicate to your dog.
Rottweilers, like other Bully breeds, can be destructive when they’re bored because they’re so intelligent that they need mental stimulation. Training, positive reinforcement, attention, and even tasks are all ways to serve their mental needs.
They Have High Energy Levels
Lovers of Rottweilers can vouch for their dog’s sheer hunger for exercise and walks. A Rottweiler will never say no to a walk. They love nothing more than being in the outdoors.
They need at least an hour of physical exercise a day, and this is in addition to the mental exercise mentioned above.
Bully dogs like the Rottweiler do especially well as working dogs, and they love to have a job or task of their own to complete.
They Make Wonderful Family Pets
With their loyalty, intelligence, high energy levels, and devotion to making their owners happy, Bully dogs are incredible family pets.
Their large size and ability to do quite severe damage when poorly socialized make them dangerous in the wrong hands, though, so it’s vital that you know how to train one of these breeds, such as a rottweiler before you even consider taking one on.
Owners of Rottweilers, Bull Terriers, and Great Danes will vouch for these dogs’ devotion to the whole family, especially to children.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are even known as ‘Nanny Dogs’ because of their calm and affectionate temperaments.
Why Do Bully Breeds Get Such a Bad Reputation?
The name alone insinuates that there’s something to fear.
It would be a great idea if we could group these dogs by another name. Granted, the term Bully is used because of its link to bullfighting and even cow herding, but all too often people presume that it means the dog bullies others, whether they’re other dogs or humans.
And, as you’ll know by now, these dogs are all very strong and have a fierce bite ratio. It means that if they want to do damage, they can. These breeds are most likely to be in the news for having seriously injured someone, or worse.
Bully breeds require a firm hand, consistent training based around positive reinforcement, and early socialization. Without these, Bully dogs could be a liability around humans and can even be deadly.
These dogs, sadly including Rottweilers, have been banned in some states. That’s why only responsible owners should be taking on such breeds, owners who have the dog’s best interests at heart, as opposed to using them as a tough-guy status symbol.
Bully by Name, Not by Nature
We might have to endure the moniker, but Bully breeds like the Rottweiler are nothing like the name they’ve been given.
Rather than bullying those around them, the Rottweiler instead spends its life seeking to protect, defend, accompany and comfort its family.
While they do need a firm hand thanks to their large stature and incredible strength, on the inside these dogs are the most loving and loyal companions you could ever wish for, and we believe that the Molossus would be proud to see its offspring today.