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Rottweilers are beloved by their fans. They’re goofy and whimsical with their owners as well as being highly intelligent and trainable. They’re also one of the few breeds with the physical and mental capabilities to protect you and your home.
That said, they certainly aren’t for every owner- but what about first time owners?
Are Rottweilers good for a first time owner?
Rottweilers are generally not considered to be good for first-time owners because they are big, powerful dogs with a strong instinct to protect the home and family. That instinct can cause Rotties to get in trouble and makes them a better choice for experienced owners.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a very successful relationship with a Rottweiler even if they are your first dog!
Here’s what you need to know about why Rottweilers aren’t always recommended for first-time owners along with some tips to succeed in living this breed even if you are new to dog ownership.
Why Rottweilers May Not Be Ideal For First-Time Owners
Most Rottweiler experts do not recommend them to first-time owners. While it can be frustrating to be told that you should not get your breed of choice, it’s very important to consider the reasons why before you decide to go ahead and get a Rottweiler anyways.
Many breeders and rescue organizations will not adopt a Rottweiler out to a family who is not experienced with dogs.
However, with enough research, you’ll likely be able to find a breeder or rescue willing to adopt a Rottweiler out to you, especially if you can prove to them that you have considered the reasons why Rottweilers aren’t recommended to first-time dog owners and how you intend to overcome these potential burdens.
Big and Powerful
When you are first learning about having a dog and figuring out how to handle a dog physically, it’s helpful to choose a smaller breed. Rottweilers are some of the biggest dogs available, weighing in at around 100 pounds.
Many people may struggle to control a mature Rottweiler, which means they aren’t necessarily a good option if you are choosing this breed without knowing much about how to control a dog in general.
Control not only means proper training and communication but in some cases you may just need to be able to get a strong grip on the leash. That can be much more difficult if the dog weighs only a little less than you do! A proper Rottweiler collar as well as a sturdy leash that’s ready for big Rotties can make a world of difference here but won’t substitute for proper training.
Furthermore, because Rottweilers are so big and strong, they can be intimidating which is just another factor to manage.
The last thing that you want is to feel intimidated by your dog. You also don’t want other people to feel intimidated if they get the impression that you can’t handle your dog well.
A Reputation for Aggression
Whether your dog is at all aggressive or the biggest cuddle bug you’ve ever met, unfortunately, the people who you encounter out in the world are very likely to assume that your dog is aggressive.
Because of their strong protective instincts and their history as personal protection and military dogs, Rottweilers tend to have a reputation for being dangerous to people. It’s also just part of the stigma around bully breeds.
It can be a lot harder to properly socialize and raise a dog that people are afraid of. Your dog will sense that other people are frightened of them, and may react by being fearful towards people.
This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which people’s assumption that your Rottweiler is aggressive can actually cause your dog to become aggressive. This is something better managed by an owner who is accustomed to handling dogs and people’s attitudes towards their dog.
Instincts for Protectiveness
Rottweilers are naturally protective of their people and property. This is one of the characteristics that is most beloved in the breed and it may be the reason you are considering this dog.
However, a protective instinct can also be very dangerous if it’s not properly managed.
Of course, you want your Rottweiler to protect you from an intruder, but you probably don’t want them to protect you from friends, family, and significant others.
Unfortunately, many Rottweilers have a hard time learning the difference between the people who they need to protect you from and the people that they don’t need to worry about. It takes some significant training and experience with dogs to train your Rottweiler when it is appropriate for them to act on their protective instincts and when they can relax around other people.
But it is entirely possible.
Here’s a Rottie whose protective instincts have been structured with training:
Some Tendency for Dog Aggression
Not all Rottweilers will be aggressive towards other dogs but some will be. It’s difficult to completely understand how your Rottie will interact with other dogs until they’re sexually mature.
Your Rottie may get along very well with all the dogs until they are six months or a year old and then suddenly begin showing selectiveness towards some dogs or aggression towards all dogs.
As is the case with most dogs, Rottweilers can be more likely to be aggressive towards the same gender but some may develop aggression towards all strange dogs or even dogs within the household. Managing a very large, powerful dog with any level of dog aggression, even if it’s primarily leash aggression, can be difficult for any owner but especially a new dog owner.
Understanding dog-to-dog body language and especially your own Rottweilers body language can help give new owners a leg up on preventing these issues before they become a problem.
Can be Strong-Willed
Rottweilers can tend to test their owners. Some Rottweilers can be very strong-willed. Some may growl or bite at their owners in order to get their own way. Others may simply seem to be stubborn or refuse to answer commands.
While most of the time Rotties are very intelligent and trainable, as your Rottweiler gets older and gets to know you better, there may be occasions in which they will test your authority.
Responding to these instances by giving in or being too harsh with your Rottweiler can result in serious problems or even aggression of your dog towards you. Rottweilers require a confident and consistent owner to guide them towards the appropriate behavior.
That certainly doesn’t mean force and discipline for a Rottweiler is more about positive reinforcement than anything but it does take more work compared to some other breeds.
An owner who is scared, worried, or angry can result in an unbalanced and potentially dangerous Rottweiler. Since it takes time and experience to learn how to lead your Rottweiler well, it can be extremely difficult for a new owner to handle these situations appropriately.
Requires Exercise and Training
Rottweilers don’t need as much exercise as some other breeds of their size, but they do need a fair amount of exercise if they are to be expected to be calm in the home. Whether that’s taking your Rottie on the occasional run, hitting the pool or just a regular brisk walk around the neighborhood Rotties need regular exercise just like any other dog.
That also means a significant time commitment.
While you can give your Rottweiler toys to keep them entertained, there’s nothing quite like interactive play for dogs.
First-time dog owners often do not realize quite how much time and effort will need to go into their dog in order to result in a calm, well-behaved, and balanced companion.
It’s very important to look at your schedule and lifestyle and determine whether you have five or six hours a week or more to devote to your Rottweiler’s training and exercise routine. If not, this likely isn’t the right breed for you.
How to Set Yourself up for Success as a First Time Dog Owner With a Rottweiler
Just because there are reasons that Rottweilers aren’t recommended for first-time dog owners doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.
If you have your heart set on a Rottweiler and think you are up to the challenge, here are a few tips to help you find success in raising your Rottweiler well:
It’s easy to assume that raising a Rottweiler from a puppy is the best route for first-time dog owners. However, you may find that adopting is actually a better option. If you adopt a mature Rottweiler, you have a much better chance of knowing how they’ll interact with new people and new pets.
Besides the fact that you’re dealing with an adult Rottie with a known personality, you can also get a history from the shelter. A truly lost dog won’t have any extra information but Rotties that were brought in by a previous owner may have a lot of extra information about their behavior in their previous home.
No matter how much training and socialization you give a Rottweiler puppy, instincts for dog aggression or aggression towards strangers may still develop. Choosing an adult dog that is friendly with other dogs and/or new people makes it much more likely that that dog will remain friendly. This can save you from having to manage difficult behavioral tendencies as they come out.
When you adopt an adult Rottweiler, much of the work in training them may already have been done. It is a mistake to assume that just because a Rottweiler is up for adoption that they have not been raised well. Many people need to give up their Rotties for a number of reasons, from housing ordinances, to personal health, to changing family circumstances.
By getting in touch with a quality Rottweiler rescue organization and choosing a dog that has been in foster care so a lot is known about them, you can choose a Rottweiler that may be an excellent match for you as a first-time dog owner.
Find a Professional Trainer
You don’t want to take on the journey of raising a Rottweiler as a first-time dog owner all by yourself. Choose a professional trainer that uses science-based positive methods to help you train your dog. A trainer will be able to watch you interact with your dog and give you recommendations to help you train them better.
They will also be able to answer many of the questions that are sure to come up as you get to know your dog better and try new things. It’s a very good idea to find a good trainer for your dog as a puppy and stay with them as your dog gets older.
You are very likely to find that the expense is well worth the benefits of a quality trainer. There is no need to necessarily choose individualized training. Group classes are a great way to get all of the benefits of a well-qualified trainer at the same time as you have the opportunity to watch how your dog’s behavior changes over time when they are around other dogs.
Group training classes can also be a good place to find playmates for your Rottweiler in a structured way so that if your Rottweiler ends up being dog selective, they can still have dogs around them that they get along with.
Put the Time In
Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a Rottweiler as a first-time dog owner is to devote the time that is necessary to raise your dog well. The more time you spend exercising, training, and socializing your dog, the better the chances are that you will be very happy with your Rottweiler as a companion.
You may not have to put hours of work into your dog every day, but you will almost certainly need to put at least five or six hours into your dog every week. Many Rottweilers will require even more time, especially when you are getting to know one another.
It is best to train your Rottweiler continuously throughout your time together, rather than waiting for structured training sessions. Work training into every interaction, walk, feeding, and when guests come over. Remember that the better trained and exercised your Rottweiler is, the more likely they are to be a superb companion.
Thankfully, you’ll find that as long as you enjoy putting in time training and working with your Rottweiler, there are plenty of things to do together. Rottweilers excel at pulling, and with the right kind of harness, you can encourage them to pull weights, pull you on a skateboard or cart, or any number of other things. Rotties also enjoy jogging, swimming, herding, agility, competitive obedience, and much more. Some owners have even taught their Rottweilers to hunt!
Think Carefully About Rottweiler Ownership
While a first-time owner can have a wonderful relationship with a Rottweiler, this is not a breed that is typically best-suited to somebody who hasn’t owned a dog before. It is possible to make it work, but you should think very long and carefully before committing to owning this powerful and highly driven breed.
There are of course things to consider but at the end of the day, breed alone doesn’t make a bully and with a strong support system and careful preparation even a new owner can find success with a Rottweiler.