Rottweilers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are extremely intelligent dogs that are loving and loyal to their families. However, sensationalism by the media has given them quite a bad rep!
Dog bite fatalities featuring breeds like Rottweilers and pit bulls are put under the spotlight more than any other dog breed. Some insurance companies even deny you homeowners’ insurance if you own a Rottweiler.
The stigma surrounding this breed is so widespread that these dogs often languish in shelters. People are afraid of bringing a Rottweiler home because they fear it might attack them.
Rottweilers can trace their origins back to the Roman Empire. Their Roman ancestors traveled the world and helped their masters conquer every inch of it. This is how they ended up in the German town of Rottweil.
In Rottweil, these dogs worked as farm dogs and assisted in herding cattle. Over the years they’ve adapted themselves to perform various roles including police dogs, guide dogs for the blind and even search-and-rescue dogs.
Rottweilers are intelligent dogs that are easy to train with the right kind of reinforcements. This is why they do well in police and military service. They were originally working dogs, so they are quite athletic and love exercise.
They are very protective dogs who are loyal to their families. If they are not trained and socialized properly this protective instinct can translate into aggressive behavior towards strangers.
Despite their reputation as aggressive dogs, they are quite sensitive dogs. They get attached to their families and are susceptible to separation anxiety.
Common Misconceptions about Bully Breeds
‘Bully dog’ is the name given to a group of dogs that descended from certain large dogs in Greece called the Molosser. They got the title bully because they were used in blood sports like bull baiting in later years. Rottweilers also come under the list of bully dogs that have descended from Molossers.
People have a lot of misconceptions about bully dogs. It is mistakenly assumed that these dogs have jaws equipped with locking capabilities. People think that once these dogs bite you it’s hard to make them release their hold.
Bully dogs are considered inherently vicious breeds because of their bloody history. Dogs become vicious based on the treatment they have received, it is not an heirloom characteristic passed down over generations.
Another common misconception is that dogs like Rottweilers have a bite force of 2,000 pounds. This is an insanely high number as that much force can crush a small car. This misinformation might be a result of people getting their biting force measurement units mixed up.
What Is Bite Force?
The bite force is the measure of a dog’s biting power and the strength of its jaw. There are many myths surrounding the bite force of a Rottweiler. The fact is, measuring bite force is not a simple process. You have to consider a lot of variables before you can decide what an animal’s bite force is.
Scientific studies that measure bite force often use unnatural methods—like drugging the animal—to test out its biting power. You should always use natural methods to ensure you get accurate results.
Dr. Brady Barr, from National Geographic, used natural bite pressure tests to figure out the bite force of different animals. He used a bite sleeve with a specialized computer instrument to measure bite force.
Methods to Measure Bite Force
Bite force can be measured in two ways—pounds per square inch (psi) and newtons.
The bite force is commonly measured in pounds per square inch. It is a measure of pressure in which you calculate the resulting pressure of a bite on one square inch of area.
Rottweilers can have a bite force ranging from 170 psi to 450 psi. This is an above-average bite force when it comes to dogs.
One newton comes to around 0.22 pounds of bite force. This means that 2,000 newtons equal 450 psi.
The common misconception that Rottweilers have a bite force of 2,000 pounds could stem from the fact that people are getting their units mixed up.
Factors That Determine Bite Force
In real life, dogs do not bite with the same force all the time. The amount of force used depends on the circumstances. Some of the variables that can affect the bite force include:
- Age: The age of the Rottweiler will affect its bite force. Very small puppies and older dogs will have a lesser bite force. Adult Rotties will give the worst—or best (depending on how you look at it)—bites.
- Shape and Size of Head and Jaw: The bigger the head and the jaw the worse the bite will be.
- Size of the Animal: Larger dogs will have a higher biting force than smaller dogs.
- Intention: Dogs can get nippy when they are in a playful mood. These are not harmful bites. Bites with the intention of protecting their owner can become aggressive and cause real damage.
- Item Being Bitten: The hardness of the item will affect the bite force. A softer item will be bitten with lesser force than a harder item.
Why Do Rottweilers Get Aggressive
While certain dog breeds have natural protective instincts that might cause them to display some aggression, no dog breed is inherently violent and vicious.
The personality of any dog depends on its upbringing, the personality of its parents and the training and socialization that the dog has been given.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why dogs get aggressive.
Lack of Training
More than 80% of dogs involved in fatal bites were not given proper obedience training. Rottweilers have a natural guarding instinct and if these dogs end up with an irresponsible or confused owner they might pick up a lot of negative behavior.
These dogs are easy to train and they do what they are trained to do. So if the owner ends up training them to display aggressive behavior or unknowingly encourages such traits, Rotties can do a lot of harm.
Lack of Socialization
A Rottie that has not been socialized from a young age will be scared of new experiences, new people and new animals. This fear might cause them to lash out and attack people.
Almost all dogs, irrespective of breed, lash out if they are provoked or physically abused. The only difference being, larger dogs will cause more fatal injuries.
When dogs are abused or provoked—especially if they have natural protective instincts like the Rottweiler—they attack or display aggression because they are scared.
Dogs that are always kept chained up or are kept in confined spaces will always display more aggression than dogs who are allowed to interact and run around freely.
Sex of the Dog
Male dogs are often more mischievous and prone to display aggression than female dogs. The chances of getting bitten by a male dog are higher than those of getting bitten by a female dog. Male dogs were 6.2 times more likely to bite people.
The sexual status of a dog also contributes to its behavior. Neutered dogs were seen to be less aggressive. Sexually intact dogs were 2.6 times more likely to bite people than neutered dogs.
How to Curb Aggressive Behavior
Rottweilers are gentle dogs. Although their protective nature makes them great watchdogs, they are not inherently vicious or violent. There are some steps that you can take to ensure that their protective traits don’t turn into aggressive behavior.
Whenever your dog starts displaying signs of agitation or aggression always keep your cool. Do not heighten the situation by shouting, yelling or hitting the dog.
Remain calm and try to ease their anxiety. Try to get your dog away from the threatening situation.
Identify the Source of Aggression
Your Rottweiler could be behaving aggressively for different reasons. It might be scared of new places or new people. It is important to keep an eye out for probable triggers.
Once you figure out what is causing your dog’s aggression, you need to take measures to eliminate these signs of stress.
Rotties are extremely loyal and protective dogs. If you don’t socialize them from a young age they might have difficulty adjusting to new environments.
They might behave aggressively towards visitors, this is just their protective instincts kicking in. So it is important to ensure that they learn how to interact with other people and pets from a young age.
Training your Rottweiler is something that you should never skip out on or neglect. They need proper attention and care during their growing years so that they don’t pick up aggressive behavior.
Rotties are extremely protective breeds and you need to teach them how to follow commands if you want to avoid nasty accidents.
Training won’t be a problem as they are intelligent dogs that are easy to train. Ensure that you get a Rottweiler only if you are ready to invest time in training them properly.
Dogs always respond to positive reinforcement when you are training them. They need to be shown that you approve of their behavior. This will calm the dog down and make them more receptive to your instructions and commands.
A confused and scared dog is likely to lash out and injure people.
Dogs that have been bred in horrific conditions in puppy mills that are run solely for profit will have a hard time getting used to the real world. They might have been abused and mistreated and this might have permanently scarred them.
Always ensure that you get your dog from a responsible, ethical and renowned breeder. If you are adopting from a shelter, always talk to the handlers and get to know your dog’s history and what possible triggers might result in aggressive behavior.
Just because they have been mistreated earlier doesn’t mean that some love and training won’t help in correcting such aggressive traits.
Related: Are Rottweilers Good with Kids?
The Bark Is Worse Than the Bite
While Rottweilers do have an above-average bite force, they do not go around biting everyone they meet. Rotties are actually gentle dogs. You only need to put in the time and effort to train and socialize them properly.
Rottweilers are a popular breed in the US because they are loyal and loving dogs. But many people are wary of getting Rottweilers because of their tarnished reputation. That being said, owning a Rottie is not for everyone.
Rottweilers need an owner who is a calm and stable leader. They respond well to good leadership and training and are the perfect blend of house dogs and protectors.