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Have you ever tried to race your dog on foot? Unless you have a Miniature Pomeranian or some other purse-sized pooch, your dog can probably outrun you by a mile.
Even your average dog is pretty athletic by human standards, but comparing breeds provides a very different picture. When you see how fast Greyhounds run, for instance, your Golden Retriver’s 50-yard dash doesn’t seem so quick anymore.
But athleticism is about more than just raw speed. It’s also about strength, power, stamina, and more.
As a loving Rottie parent, you know your dog’s impressive physical capabilities, their imposing size, and ability to pull you along on the leash with ease.
Your Rottie might be big and strong, but in the broader scope, are Rottweilers athletic?
Rottweilers are impressively built dogs with large, muscular physiques capable of generating great strength and power. In addition, Rottweilers have incredible stamina and endurance from generations of hard work. You might not think it, but Rotties are also rather agile and many even excel in agility competitions. So, yes, Rottweilers are definitely athletic.
To be certain about the Rottweiler’s status as an athletic breed, let’s take a closer look at what constitutes an athletic canine in the first place to see if Rottweilers meet the criteria.
While we’re at it, we’ll check out a few impressive feats of athleticism performed by Rottweilers to see what the breed is really capable of.
What Is an Athletic Dog?
Before we can truly determine whether Rotties are athletic dogs or not, we have to define what an athletic dog is.
If you search for the definition of athletic, you’ll find a few different answers. Dictionary.com has the two definitions that I think best encompass the term, so we’ll use them as our working definitions.
The first definition of athletic is “physically active and strong; good at athletics or sports.”
That’s a pretty straightforward definition, making the criteria clear to determine whether or not Rottweilers qualify. However, I don’t think it necessarily covers all of the connotations of the term.
So, let’s look at the second definition.
Definition two of athletic: “of or relating to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina.”
Great! Now we have a few specific traits we can look at to determine what makes a dog athletic.
For a dog to be athletic, they have to exhibit physical characteristics of strength, agility, and/or stamina, making them good at athletics or sports.
All we have to do now is determine whether Rottweilers meet these criteria, and we’ll know for sure if they’re an athletic breed or not.
Rottweiler Physical Traits
Now that we have a few categories to rate Rottweilers in, it’s time to take a closer look at the breed’s physical traits and see where they fit. If we can prove that Rotties are strong, agile, have great stamina, and excel at canine sports, then we can consider the breed to be athletic.
Though size isn’t technically one of our criteria, it’s certainly going to be a major factor in athleticism.
Bigger dogs are going to be capable of producing greater strength and power than a dog with a smaller frame.
Similarly, large dogs like Rotties will also have long strides, which can help them to cover ground more quickly.
On the other hand, all of that extra size and weight can be a bit more difficult to navigate around turns quickly, so you can generally expect a bigger, heavier dog to be less agile than a smaller one.
There are many good reasons why most working dogs tend to be on the larger side. You won’t find lots of 10-pound pooches out there doing the hard work.
For example, search and rescue dogs weigh between 30 and 100 pounds since dogs of this size are large enough to move quickly, have enough strength to aid in rescue efforts, yet are still small enough to be lifted by a handler and fit into tight areas that might be difficult for a human to squeeze into.
As it turns out, Rotties actually excel at search and rescue since they’re such physically gifted dogs and often land right at the higher end of that weight spectrum.
Of course, the biggest Rotties, which can weigh up to 135 pounds, are disqualified because of their large size, showing that even though size can be a help in regards to athleticism, it might also be a hindrance simultaneously.
Strength and Muscularity
All of that size might stop some Rottweilers from being qualified for search and rescue work, but it also contributes to making the breed one of the strongest on the planet.
Everyone knows that Rotties are covered in muscle. Now, imagine a full-size Rottweiler on the large end of the spectrum. This dog is 27 inches tall at the shoulders and weighs around 130 pounds of practically solid muscle.
That’s one seriously capable canine. You’d be hard-pressed to find many breeds that could compete with Rottweilers in a test of all-out strength, let alone best them!
But the impressive strength and size of the Rottie breed is no accident.
You see, the Rottweiler breed was created by the ancient Romans by mixing their massive Molosser dogs, which is why Rotties are considered a bully breed today. These early Rotties were used to guard livestock, and they were very good at it.
Guarding livestock might not sound like the most perilous of careers, but you have to remember that these dogs were responsible for fighting off predators such as wolves and bears, which we can all agree is no easy feat.
Also, keep in mind the great size of the livestock that these dogs had to keep in line. Cattle weigh well in excess of 1,000 pounds. Even if you’re a 135-pound Rottweiler, bovine are much bigger.
Rottweilers proved to be so adept at guarding livestock that they soon began to be used for driving the livestock long distances, which required a completely different kind of strength and endurance.
After all, the livestock that they had to drive were all much larger than these Rotties were, and these drives could cover great distances and take a long time to complete.
Eventually, it was determined that these Rottweilers could be used for far more than just herding and driving livestock. Soon, they were also being used to pull carts full of meat, and the butchers that employed them even tied their money bags around their Rottie’s necks to keep them safe.
Stamina and Endurance
As you can imagine, driving livestock all day or pulling a cart full of meat takes a lot more than just size and strength. Equally important, possibly even more so, is the need for excellent endurance.
If you don’t have some top-tier stamina, you’re not going to survive an all-day cattle drive, let alone pulling that heavy meat cart around all day. That means they’re more than ready for a hike with you!
Incredible endurance is also a necessary trait for any search and rescue dog, and we’ve already established that Rotties excel at this type of work.
Search and rescue shifts can last for eight hours, and the work is extremely strenuous, taking place in rough environments such as snowy avalanche sites or flooded zones after a natural disaster.
Rottweilers have proven that they can easily handle these long and arduous workloads with ease. In reality, this is essentially what they were first bred for!
While their endurance also serves Rotties well in the water, their heavyweight does slow them down. So while they’re still more athletic than many dogs when it comes to the water, they’re not your quintessential water dog.
Knowing everything else we’ve already established about Rottweilers, it might be hard to imagine them as agile creatures.
So far, we’ve determined that Rotties are big, muscular canines with great strength and endurance. Usually, that doesn’t add up to the most agile of animals.
In the case of Rottweilers, however, things seemed to have worked out favorably.
Despite their large size, Rotties are far from lumbering and slow. They’re actually very quick with excellent reaction speed. Watching a Rottweiler perform on the agility course is surprising since they’re so swift and agile, even though they’re such big dogs.
This trait also comes in handy when working in search and rescue. As I’ve mentioned, search and rescue operations take place in some treacherous environments. There’s often a lot of loose rubble and other hazardous obstacles to navigate.
Surviving in such places requires quick thinking, fast reactions, and swift movements, which Rottweilers seem to manage with no problem.
So, Are Rottweilers Athletic?
At this point, we’ve established the traits that an athletic dog would possess. We’ve also discussed the physical traits of Rottweilers, which seem to line up quite nicely with our criteria for being considered athletic.
By that standard, Rottweilers certainly meet the definition of an athletic dog.
They’re incredibly strong thanks to their large size and muscular bodies. Moreover, they can use that strength all day long, showing that Rottweilers have first-rate endurance.
And surprisingly, Rotties can move all of that muscle and weight in a deceptively agile manner. Some Rottweilers have even excelled in canine agility, completing courses in impressive times and bringing home awards.
Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to simply take my word for it. There’s plenty of evidence regarding the accomplishments of Rottweilers, and we’re about to take a look at some definitive pieces of proof that will establish Rottweilers as a truly athletic breed.
Rottweilers in Canine Sports
Canine sports are the proving grounds for dog athletics. Dogs that compete in these sports are the cream of the crop, demonstrating the utmost in canine fitness.
It must be noted that there are many canine sports, and Rottweilers probably don’t excel at all of them.
They don’t have to though!
To prove their athleticism, we just need to see Rottweilers excelling at a few different dog sports that can show off their athletic abilities, and we certainly have that.
Carting is a canine sport that pays homage to the history of the Rottweiler by having them perform an activity they were used for hundreds of years ago: pulling carts.
Today, there probably aren’t many, if any, Rottweilers being used to pull carts on farms. Long ago, they were often used for such work, moving around farm equipment in the carts or pulling them to market when they were full of sellable goods like meat.
Of course, in the modern era, it makes far more sense to use machines for this type of work. Rottweilers still get to practice their cart-pulling though, in the sport of carting.
In carting races, also referred to as dryland mushing, dogs will pull carts that are packed with various items to add weight. These items can be just about anything. Often, they include farm equipment, camping gear, or even people!
Rottweilers are one of the popular breeds for carting sports, as evidenced by the multiple Rottweiler carting clubs around the country, such as the Mile High Rottweiler Club of Greater Denver.
The American Rottweiler Club (ARC) also recognizes carting as an integral part of Rottweiler history, and they recognize three levels of carting that Rotties can compete in.
Here are a few examples of Rotties pulling carts to show how good they are at it.
In this clip, you’ll see a Rottweiler that’s just getting started with training for carting. The Rottie is jogging along effortlessly while pulling a four-wheeled cart behind him as if it didn’t weigh anything at all!
They’ve even got a category where two dogs pull a cart together! This is called team carting, and here’s a video of two Rotties competing in the team carting division at the ARC Nationals!
Of course, carting doesn’t always have to be about winning competitions or proving your pooch’s prowess in sport. Sometimes, carting can just be about fun and physical activity! After all, it’s great exercise for your Rottie, and if they’re well-trained, it can also be a lot of fun for the rider, as you’ll see in this video!
Clearly, Rottweilers are naturally great cart pullers. In the last video, that Rottweiler was pulling a grown man without even trying! While most dogs are capable of pulling quite a bit of weight, it’s clear that Rotties are on another level.
That’s some undeniable proof of the athleticism that Rottweilers display. Pulling such a heavy load over distances with ease shows that Rottweilers possess impressive strength and stamina.
Agility is one of the more prominent canine sports. Even if you’ve never heard of carting before, you’ve almost certainly heard about agility sports.
In canine agility sports, dogs will complete an obstacle course as quickly as possible. These courses will contain a variety of unique challenges that the dog must successfully navigate.
Challenges in the course will test the dog’s ability to follow directions, react quickly, and maneuver swiftly. Since they’re timed, the entire course is a test of the dog’s overall speed and agility.
On the surface, Rottweilers don’t look like the type of dogs that would do well in agility sports, but looks can be deceiving.
As it turns out, Rotties are exceptionally agile given their size, and as a result, they do quite well in agility sports.
I’ve got two excellent examples for you.
In this first example, you’ll see a Rottweiler named Wizard crushing an agility course, barreling through it at breakneck speeds, performing a variety of jumps, turns, twists, and more. This run was good enough to earn Wizard the fastest time, beating the previous leader’s time by an incredible 27 seconds! Obviously, Rottweilers can hang with the best when it comes to agility.
In the second video, (which you can see here) you’ll see a two-year-old Rottweiler performing two first-place runs in back-to-back competitions, taking home two titles in the process! Keep in mind, these competitions feature dogs of all different breeds, so these wins really prove that Rotties can be top-level agility competitors, holding their own against practically any breed.
As these videos demonstrate, Rottweilers are very swift and agile, despite their imposing size. Just watching these Rottweilers dominate the agility course shows how athletic the breed truly is.
Cart pulling showed a little bit of the strength you’ll see in the Rottweiler breed, but if you want to truly understand their outrageous strength, you’ll have to look to weight pulling instead.
Weight pulling is a simple sport that’s exactly what it sounds like. A dog, in this case, a Rottweiler, gets harnessed to a heavy load and pulls it a specified distance.
Generally, the load is on wheels, making it possible to move. The dog will continue to pull heavier and heavier loads to determine the maximum amount of weight they’re able to pull.
If you’ve ever seen the World’s Strongest Man competition, then you’ve seen humans doing something similar. In these competitions, the biggest, strongest men in the world compete to see who’s the strongest.
One of the benchmark competitions is the weight pull, where contestants will pull incredible objects like automobiles and airplanes.
Weight pulling for dogs is the canine equivalent of the World’s Strongest Man competition, and in many cases, they’re pulling similar objects!
Don’t believe me? To get us started, here’s a short clip of a Rottie pulling a Volvo SUV behind them! It doesn’t even look like that dog is struggling, to be honest.
Not enough for you? Let’s graduate up a step. Here’s a Rottweiler, potentially the same one, pulling an airplane! What a beast of an animal!
Ok, those are definitely impressive, but they’re a bit difficult to judge since we don’t know the exact weight of the SUV or airplane.
So, I present to you a video of a Rottweiler pulling a weight that we do know: an unfathomable 15,168 pounds, to be exact! If that doesn’t prove how strong and athletic Rottweilers are, then nothing will.
I rest my case.
It’s pretty clear that Rottweilers are athletic dogs. In fact, they meet the requirements to fulfill both definitions of the word athletic.
Rotties possess all the important athletic traits. They’re strong, agile, and have impressive endurance. There’s a reason that Rotties have had so many different jobs over the centuries!
Moreover, Rottweilers have proven their physical prowess through sport, excelling in a variety of different canine sports aimed to test a dog’s athleticism.