What do you think of when you think of a movie with a scary guard dog in it? What color is that dog? What breed of dog is it? I’ll be honest and say that the first thing that comes to mind for me is a black and tan dog; either a German Shepherd, a Doberman Pinscher or a Rottweiler. The latter breed is very well known for its guarding nature, but it may surprise many to learn that it was in fact developed to be a livestock guarding dog and a dog that hauled butcher meat in carts to the market in Germany. Though its roots are interesting, it serves a very different role in today’s society.
The dog is originally descended from Mastiff-type dogs that traveled with Roman armies and guarded their cattle. These armies eventually made their way to Germany, where the dogs ended up being used to guard cattle in the region of Rottweil in Southern Germany. Their popularity fluctuated throughout the years but eventually gained a hold in society around World War 1 when the need and interest in police dogs and working dogs increased. An official club was made in the early 1900s, and this resulted in other clubs that had varied focuses such as working ability and/or conformation. The most recent American Kennel Club Most Popular Breeds List ranked the Rottweiler as the 8th most popular breed in the US.
With so many uses and so much elapsed time since the inception of the breed, it is impressive that the temperament and physical stature of the Rottweiler has changed relatively little over time. It is a well-muscled dog that hardly has limitations on what it can physically accomplish. Unfortunately, this impressive physical ability has been tainted by the media by the frequent portrayal of these dogs as aggressive attack or guard dogs. This is by no means the nature of every Rottweiler as they are perfectly capable of being safe and friendly family dogs. For many people that live with Rottweilers and other black and tan dogs, the black and tan colors are not to be feared but represent a family member and companion. Hopefully, someday, this will be the predominant idea surrounding black and tan dogs.