The Rottweiler is a very imposing looking dog breed! These dogs are adorable as little puppies, but they grow up to be enormous, powerful adult dogs.
The Rottweiler is currently the ninth most popular pick for a companion canine in the United States today (out of nearly 200 dog breeds). Why do you think they are so popular?
There are a number of reasons, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The Rottweiler is loyal, loving, affectionate, and protective.
This dog breed has come from a long and noble lineage of working dogs bred to protect livestock and people from a wide variety of threats. Whether you are single or caring for a family, it can feel good to know you have a personal protection dog at your side!
But where many new and first-time Rottweiler owners can run into trouble is when someone comes to visit. Are Rottweilers friendly with strangers? Why or why not? How can you make sure your Rottie gets along with your guests? Let’s find out now!
The Rottweiler Dog Breed History: A Brief Overview
The first step towards understanding why your Rottweiler might or might not be friendly towards strangers is to learn more about the breed history.
This short YouTube video shares a great brief breed history.
As the UK Rottweiler Club explains, the Rottweiler dog breed actually dates all the way back to the time of the Roman Empire!
This dog, which can weigh up to 135 pounds fully grown, was developed by strategically crossbreeding Asian mastiffs to produce the dog you know today. The Roman armies used Rottweilers first as military dogs and personal protection dogs.
Later, Rottweilers became known for their skills as drovers, dogs that could herd large livestock such as cattle and defend them from large predators.
When livestock dogs were no longer in high demand, Rottweilers returned to military and police work, later finding a complementary home in service work – most notably as guide dogs to the blind.
Today, the Rottweiler is also a beloved companion canine for individuals and families. People who love Rottweilers cannot imagine owning any other dog breed because these dogs are so loyal and loving towards their people.
But training and socializing a huge, powerful guard and protection dog is not always an easy task, especially when strangers are around.
Are Rottweilers Friendly With Strangers?
The question of whether Rottweilers are friendly with strangers can change from puppyhood to adulthood.
Rottweilers don’t have a long lifespan – on average, they live less than 10 years. But like so many large and giant breed dogs, Rotties have an extended puppyhood.
Because they are so big and have a lot of growing to do, it can take up to three years before a Rottweiler puppy is fully grown in body and in the brain. During puppyhood, you may see a lot of erratic behavior because there is so much going on inside your dog.
This can also make training Rottweiler a good lesson in patience. As adults, Rottweilers are steady, focused, hard-working dogs. But Rottweiler puppies are rambunctious and rowdy and all over the place.
This includes their behavior with strangers. As Zooplus Magazine outlines, Rottweilers will display behavior that is in keeping with their training – or lack of training.
In general, a well-trained adult Rottweiler will be reservedly friendly towards strangers until circumstances may indicate they should behave otherwise.
Rottweilers that are openly hostile to strangers without provocation have not been trained or have been poorly trained.
Where first-time Rottweiler owners often get confused is when they think that if their Rottie is friendly to strangers this means their dog won’t protect them from threats.
A well-trained, properly socialized Rottweiler will be able to distinguish between a guest who is visiting or a neutral unknown person or dog approaching them on the street and an active threat situation.
In fact, a well-trained and socialized Rottweiler will look to their owner for cues in every situation, including when a potential threat may be occurring.
These dogs are known to be highly attuned to their owners in every way and this can be a great aid during training.
Why You Need to Train Your Rottweiler to Be Friendly With Strangers
Here is an example from VetStreet of the kind of behavior your Rottweiler will need your help understanding.
Let’s say you have children and their friends from down the street come over to play. Everyone decides to play-wrestle as your Rottie stands by watchfully.
What will help your dog tell the difference between friendly play-wrestling and a potential threat to your children? Only your supervision and training will be able to keep this innocent situation from potentially turning deadly.
As this experienced Rottweiler breeder explains, training and socializing a Rottweiler dog can easily turn into a part-time job for the first few years of your life together, and this is non-optional for your safety and the safety of everyone you meet.
Rottweilers that are neglected, abused, left alone, trained poorly, or not trained can easily become dangerous. It just goes with the territory when a dog is this big and powerful and has been bred to work in the types of jobs Rottweilers are used for.
The breeder recommends setting aside a minimum of two time periods each day for training. Each time period should be up to 20 minutes. The earlier you start training the faster your puppy will learn and build on what they learn.
It is a lot easier to train a Rottweiler puppy than to untrain and retrain a Rottweiler adult. While your Rottie puppy will have gotten some early training and socialization while still with their litter, you will want to immediately build on this.
Simple Steps to Socialize Your Rottweiler
King Rottweilers Kennel outlines some simple steps you can take as soon as you bring your Rottweiler puppy home with you.
1. Start by making sure each family member spends equal time with the puppy
By making sure each member of your family spends quality time with your puppy each day, your dog learns early and well who is in their “herd.”
2. Introduce your Rottweiler puppy to neighbors while you are outside and on walks
The next step is to have casual meet-and-greets with near neighbors when you are outside with your puppy and just walking around the neighborhood.
This is a good way to show your dog what you look, sound, and act like when you are having friendly interactions with other people. This will be a cue your dog can use later to decide whether to be friendly or protective.
3. Organize play dates with other well-trained, friendly dogs
In addition to allowing your Rottweiler puppy to have friendly casual “meets” with other dogs while out on walks, organizing play dates can help your dog learn to enjoy the company of other friendly dogs who pose no threat.
As a side perk, organizing play dates can also tire your energetic puppy out so you won’t have to take endless walks together!
4. Teach common commands and drill them in new and unfamiliar situations
A well-trained and socialized Rottweiler will look to their owner for cues as to how to behave and respond to new people and animals.
You can help your dog by teaching common commands and drilling them when you are out and about meeting new people and animals. It is one thing for your Rottie to “stay” or “drop it” when you are at home.
It is another thing to teach your Rottie to obey these commands instantly when you have a play date with another dog or a strange person approaches.
When your Rottweiler is behaving well with strange people and animals outside the home on a consistent basis, this is when you know your dog is ready for the ultimate challenge – being friendly to strangers who visit your home.
That is why this is the last stage of training because it is the one likely to cause the most provocation in your protective dog.
Start by having people over that your dog has already met outside the home. Next, you can invite new people that your dog has never met before. Finally, you can invite a new person with a new animal.
By starting to train your dog right from puppyhood and staging your Rottweiler’s training to increase the challenge one step at a time, you stand the best chance of success in your training efforts.
A well-trained and confident Rottweiler will naturally be a friendly Rottweiler because these dogs understand the difference between friendly interaction and a genuine threat to their people and home.
By teaching your dog the difference from day one, you protect others and also give yourself the gift of a great guard dog.