There are different ways to approach the topic of the Roman Rottweiler. Is this a new or different dog breed from the familiar Rottweiler that is so popular today? Or is this just a new nickname for the same dog you know and love?
It might not sound like it, but calling a Rottweiler a Roman Rottweiler versus an American Rottweiler or German Rottweiler can be a controversial topic. People feel very strongly about it and opinions on the subject are diverse!
In this article, we will explain how the Roman Rottweiler got their start as well as why some Rottweiler dogs are called Roman Rottweilers and other Rottweilers are not. Read on now to learn all about the Roman Rottweiler.
The Roman Rottweiler was more like a mastiff crossed with a cattle dog than the modern Rottweiler.
Before the Rottweiler was known as a German dog, Rottweilers traveled with the Roman legions, fighting side by side, hauling heavy loads, herding livestock, and protecting people and animals from predators.
Learn About Different Types of Rottweilers
Many people don’t realize there is more than one type, or breed line, in the Rottweiler dog breed.
This YouTube video explains more about the different breed lines of Rottweilers.
In the video, you will learn about this important topic from two experienced Rottweiler breeders and a very experienced Rottweiler owner.
A History of the Roman Rottweiler
As German Culture explains, the modern Rottweiler was first documented in the little town of Rottweil, Germany.
But long before that dog, there was the larger, mastiff-like dog that accompanied Roman soldiers into battle. In around 47 A.D., when the Roman armies rode into southern Germany, they brought the ancient Rottweiler with them.
Ownership of that land changed hands over time, and it was only later that the town of Rottweil was given its name.
By then, it seemed only natural that the large, tireless, brave, and loyal dogs that were so closely associated with Rottweil would be named for their home. Back then, they were known as Rottweiler Metzgerhunds. This translates as “Rottweil butcher dogs.”
The name refers to the Rottweiler’s principal job at the time, which was herding livestock and guarding them against thieves, poachers, and potential predators.
From Ancient to Modern Roman Rottweiler
So how did the ancient mastiff cross cattle dog Roman Rottweiler come to be known as the Rottweiler today? How did these dogs become known outside of their native home in Rottweil, Germany?
According to Britannica, from the early second century (C.E.) through the middle ages and into the early 20th century, the Rottweiler dog pretty much stayed put in Rottweil, Germany.
These dogs were kept busy accompanying butchers back and forth from livestock markets, guarding their money pouches and the animals they were buying or selling.
Roman Rottweilers were also useful because their strength made it easy for them to pull heavy loads of belongings, goods, and wares to and from markets.
With the rise of the railroad, drover dogs like the Roman Rottweiler were no longer needed, so this was a fortuitous shift of fortunes for the Rottweiler dog. Suddenly the breed went into decline and only swift action from a handful of breeders saved them.
Starting around the early 20th century, the Roman Rottweiler also began serving as a police dog. As King Rottweilers breeder explains, the demand for Rottweilers in this role only increased during the first World War.
From this point forward, Rottweilers became much better known for their bravery, strength, and intelligence in police and military K-9 work than as herding and droving dogs.
The Roman Rottweiler in America
The Rottweiler dog was not really known outside of Germany and Europe until the first World War.
As the Marine Corps University explains, Rottweilers were a top pick for military K-9s starting in World War I.
This gave the Rottweiler breed their first exposure outside of Europe. But it wasn’t until 1931 that the Rottweiler dog breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) registry.
Today, the Rottweiler is the eighth most popular purebred dog breed in America, according to the annual AKC breed popularity list (out of 197 registered breeds).
The Roman Rottweiler As a Family Pet
Does the Roman Rottweiler of today make a good family pet?
If the breed is so popular, you would think the answer would be a solid “yes.” But there is a lot that goes into helping a working dog like the Rottweiler settle into the life of a companion canine.
What is interesting to note is that Rottweilers are a true working dog breed that was never developed to be a family pet. Most working dog breeds are dogs with very high energy levels that really need to stay active.
One way to help these energetic dogs stay busy so they don’t develop problem behaviors is to get them involved in canine sports.
Modern Roman Rottweilers, with their strength and intelligence, are peerless canine athletes who excel in all kinds of different canine sports, as the American Rottweiler Club points out.
Of course, if you lead an active lifestyle and you like to spend time outdoors with your dog, you may also be able to provide your Rottweiler with enough exercise without having to enroll in formal canine athletic contests.
Whether you do it on your own or as part of an organized canine sports club, it is important to recognize that Rottweilers have a drive and need to work and stay busy – and this instinct is very, very ancient.
When you choose a modern Roman Rottweiler, you are choosing the descendant of the dogs that herded and guarded livestock against poachers and ferocious wild predators. You are choosing a dog that fought alongside Roman soldiers and in two world wars.
Learn About the Modern Roman Rottweiler Dog
Today, there is one Rottweiler dog breed. But there is a lot of confusion about this, especially with labels like Roman Rottweiler, American Rottweiler, and German Rottweiler.
What is different about these three Rottweiler dogs? Or is there anything different?
There is one main difference that is important to know about when you go to pick out your Rottweiler puppy. That difference is the breed lineage. Breed lineage refers to where a puppy’s parents were bred.
German Rottweiler breed lineage
For instance, some American Rottweiler breeders will import their parent dogs from Germany.
So an American breeder may advertise German Rottweiler puppies for sale. This is because the puppies’ parents are German-bred and born.
American Rottweiler breed lineage
In other cases, the breeder might purchase breeding stock from an American Rottweiler breeder whose dogs are several generations removed and altered from the traditional German Rottweiler line.
In this case, the puppies are called American Rottweilers and their parents and breed lineage is essentially American.
Roman Rottweiler breed lineage
In the classical sense of the term, the Roman Rottweiler and the German Rottweilers are one and the same.
Technically speaking, there actually is no such animal as a Roman Rottweiler today – there is only the German Rottweiler.
This is why sometimes the terms Roman Rottweiler and German Rottweiler are used interchangeably.
(And if this isn’t already confusing enough, Mississippi Rottweilers breeder points out that German Rottweilers are sometimes called Serbian Rottweilers.)
For general purposes, the German or Roman Rottweiler is considered to be a larger, stronger dog than the American Rottweiler. Here, the differences have to do with an emphasis on show Rottweilers versus working Rottweilers.
Show Roman Rottweiler versus Working Roman Rottweiler
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that the different breed lines of modern Rottweiler dogs can generate some controversy.
The controversy boils down to a difference of opinion about what represents a classic Roman Rottweiler. If you go back to the ancient origins of the Roman Rottweiler, what you find is a pure working dog breed.
In other words, Roman Rottweilers were bred for one purpose only – to work. These dogs always had jobs to do. No one kept a Roman Rottweiler just for a family pet.
Today, things are very different. Many people want a Rottweiler for a family pet, a family guard dog, or a personal protection dog.
While some Rottweiler owners really care about finding a dog that perfectly matches the Rottweiler breed standard, most Rottweiler owners just want a healthy, happy, loving puppy. They don’t care if the dog looks “perfect” by the breed standard’s definition.
And some Rottweiler owners just want a working Rottweiler dog to provide protection, guard the home or workplace, be a service or therapy dog, work as a K-9 professional or assist with ranching or herding duties.
These owners don’t care nearly as much about the Rottweiler dog’s looks as they do about their new dog’s working abilities.
This is where the different breed lines of Rottweiler start to become more important to understand. In the section to follow we will explain why.
How to Pick a Healthy Roman Rottweiler Puppy
Some less knowledgable or ethical Rottweiler breeders may use these terms purely as a marketing ploy to charge higher prices for puppies.
You want to be sure you can verify any claims made by a breeder about their Rottweiler lineage as well as breed health. Don’t just take a breeder’s word for it that their puppies come from a certain Rottweiler breed line – ask for proof.
What kind of proof do you need to see?
First, you need proof of the parent dogs’ own parents. You also want to see their registration papers. You should ask to see the results of all canine health pre-screening tests to be sure the breeder is working with healthy dogs.
Any reputable Rottweiler breeder will also give you several validations of Rottweiler puppy health.
You will get proof of all required vaccinations and pest treatments. You will get an initial guarantee of good health. You will get a requirement to spay/neuter, especially if you are buying a pet quality Rottweiler and you do not plan to show your dog.
Most importantly, your Rottweiler breeder should give you a lifetime take-back open door policy. These are all the signs of a high-quality Roman Rottweiler.