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Rottweilers are physically powerful dogs with one of the most impressive barks out there. However, you may wonder whether this appearance is deceiving and if Rottweilers really are good guard dogs or if they’re all bark and no bite.
So are Rottweilers good guard dogs?
Rottweilers are some of the best guard dogs of any breed. They have been bred to be guardians throughout their history and most have a strong natural instinct to guard. This, paired with their high intelligence, bravery, and physical strength, makes them superb guard dogs that often require minimal training to perform well.
Here’s everything you need to know about why Rottweilers make great guard dogs, some tips for training your Rottweiler to be the best guard dog they can be, and what you need to know about handling your Rottweiler guard dog.
Why Rottweilers are Such Good Guard Dogs
Rottweilers may be the best guard dogs out there. From their instincts, to their intelligence, to their intimidating bark and appearance, these dogs have a lot going for them as your choice in a guard dog.
Rottweilers typically have natural protection instincts. While not every Rottweiler will be instinctually driven to protect their people, many will be. Protection drive is considered a typical breed characteristic and should be expected in the majority of Rottweilers.
Most Rottweilers begin to show protection instincts by maturity, typically around a year or two years of age. However, some Rottweilers begin showing these instincts when they are still quite young, as young as four or six months old. Rottweilers have developed this powerful protection instinct over many years of breeding.
They were originally bred by the Roman Empire from Asian mastiffs (as were other bully breeds). Early Rottweilers drove livestock as the Romans traveled across the world. They may also have served as war dogs during this time. Once the Roman Empire fell, Rottweilers found a new place as herding and farming dogs in ancient Germany.
Not only did they herd livestock, but they also protected the livestock from bandits and wild animals when the herds were driven to market. They needed strong protection instincts to recognize and bravely face down potential threats to their herds. As time went on, Rottweilers became popular as police dogs, personal protectors, and cart pullers.
In these jobs, their natural protection incidents were further honed. Today’s Rottweiler is a natural protector of their family, property, other pets, and livestock.
A good guard dog needs to be discerning. Guard dogs must be able to differentiate between friends and family of the home and potential threats. Rottweilers have the intelligence to do this job well. When properly socialized, most Rottweilers learn to make a clear distinction between when they’re on the job and when they’re off the clock.
They can accompany you on walks and throughout your daily life without showing aggression but be very intimidating and attack if necessary if anyone tries to come onto your property. Most Rottweilers do not bite without significant provocation. Rather, their instinct is to corner and draw attention to potential Intruders so that the owner can address the problem.
That said, no Rottweiler should ever be trusted to make up their own mind about whether a stranger is a threat that needs to be handled by biting or not. If you know that you need to have a stranger come onto your property, your Rottweiler should be safely contained.
However, a Rottweiler may be less likely to bite indiscriminately than some other breeds. When trained properly, Rottweilers can show incredible discrimination, able to accompany even a small child and not bite a stranger who interacts with them unless they behave aggressively by grabbing the child.
Physical Ability and Intimidating Bark
The Rottweiler is an incredibly powerful dog. They can weigh 100 lb or more and are extremely muscular. Rottweilers have a big head and huge jaws that give them one of the most powerful bites in the dog world. The black and tan coloration can also be helpful in presenting an intimidating appearance to potential threats.
Rottweilers who are actively guarding sound more like they are roaring than barking. Some people believe they sound more like a lion or bear than they do like a dog. This intense bark leaves no question in a potential intruder’s mind as to what will happen if they continue to break onto a property.
If someone does proceed to take on a fight with a Rottweiler, they’re unlikely to come out on top. These powerful dogs are well able to take down even a very physically fit assailant. They have powerful haunches that can launch them into the air and strong, hard nails that dig into the earth, offering a superior grip to help propel them forward.
However, Rottweilers are not so heavy that they are slowed down by their weight. These aren’t the fastest dogs in the world, but they are much faster than a person. A Rottweiler would have no trouble chasing down an assailant who was trying to run from them.
Rottweilers tend to be very confident, fearless dogs that are unlikely to back down from any threat. This is one of the reasons they have been so effective as police and military dogs. A Rottweilers will charge into loud noises like bombs or gunfire that may frighten other breeds without a second thought.
They are extremely unlikely to be intimidated into backing down by a person trying to scare them off. Even a young, untrained Rottweiler may have the bravery to attack if needed.
How to Train Your Rottweiler to be a Good Guard Dog
Rottweilers have a natural instinct to defend their home and family, but in order to have a family pet that is trustworthy with the family, out on walks and on other family activities but also have a good protection dog, a fair amount of training is desirable. Here are some tips for how to train your Rottweiler to excel as a guard dog:
It may seem counterintuitive to socialize a dog that you want to show aggression, but in fact extensive socialization is extremely important to train your Rottweiler when aggression is appropriate and when it isn’t. You’re Rottie shouldn’t only be socialized with your friends and family, but they should be taken out on walks regularly and socialized with all kinds of different people and other dogs.
Socialization should begin when your Rottweiler is a very young puppy and continue throughout their life. There are dozens of studies supporting the value of early socialization and the positive impact it can have on your adult dog.
Make sure you socialize your Rottweiler with people of different races, physical appearances, ages, and both men and women. It’s a good idea to teach your Rottweiler a word to indicate that they should meet a new person. Enlist the help of anyone who would like to interact with your Rottweiler to give them positive interactions and even treats. This will give your Rottweiler a strong positive connotation with being around strangers.
Obedience training is important for any powerful dog such as the Rottweiler, but it is even more important if you would like your Rottweiler to be a good and safe guard dog. Self-control obedience such as asking a dog to stay for extended periods is even more important. Excellent recall is also essential.
Clicker training works very well for Rottweilers. You can also use a cue word in place of a clicker if you would rather not be dependent on a device. Alternate rewards of food, a good game of tug, and affection.
Most Rottweilers are extremely affectionate with their family and many consider a good scratch on the rump to be as good a reward as a high-value treat. Alternating different types of rewards means that your Rottweiler never knows what’s coming and therefore is more likely to behave as desired in order to get what they consider to be the most high-value reward.
Never train your Rottweiler with harsh discipline or a strong hand. Some Rottweilers will challenge their owners, and firm leadership is important, but a Rottweiler that is treated harshly is much more likely to display aggression towards their family or be unpredictable in their guarding duties.
Make it clear to your Rottweiler that they must comply with your commands, but never become angry, yell, or strike your dog.
Practice Guarding Situations
You will likely see your Rottweiler begin to show guarding behavior as they mature. When your Rottweiler displays aggression to somebody approaching your property, you can reward your Rottweiler with your clicker or positive cue, and then call them to you and ask them to stay with you as you continue to reward them.
Your Rottweiler should learn that it is appropriate to display aggressive behavior when somebody approaches your property but that they should turn this behavior off as soon as you are there to handle the situation. You can also attach a command to the aggression to further encourage it when it is desired.
If you would like to train your Rottweiler to guard you or your family when you’re out on a walk, training must be somewhat more sophisticated. It’s a very good idea to enlist the help of a professional trainer at this stage so that you can practice using a sleeve.
This kind of training involves teaching your Rottweiler when they ought to attack either because you have given them a command or because an assailant has made an aggressive move. A helper with a sleeve is extremely useful during this training because it allows your dog to actually practice attacking and biting as well as releasing without anybody getting hurt.
Keep Practicing, Preferably With A Sleeve
It is important to continue working with your dog in guarding situations as they mature and throughout their lives. To be confident that your dog really will attack if necessary, enlisting the help of a trainer with a sleeve is a very good idea.
The trainer can enter your property uninvited and give your Rottweiler the opportunity to corner them. The trainer can then try to push past the Rottweiler to get to your house so that you can see whether your Rottweiler will behave by biting them as is appropriate or not.
The trainer with the sleeve can also pretend to attack you when you are out on a walk so that you can see whether your Rottweiler will reliably protect you in this situation as well. Not every dog that barks aggressively and seems aggressive will actually respond with biting when it is called for, so practice with the sleeve is the only way to know for sure whether your Rottweiler really will take protection to the next level or not.
How to Handle Your Rottweiler Guard Dog
A Rottweiler guard dog must be a family pet first and a guard dog second. These are not dogs that can be left alone in a yard to offer protection without having family engagement. Rottweilers are extremely affectionate and loving with their families. Most people find their Rottweiler to be goofy, clownish, and a consistent velcro dog at home.
These dogs typically love everybody in the family and can also be very affectionate with family friends that they get to know well. They absolutely adore affection. Many Rottweilers will work hard just for a good rump scratch. Rottweilers have a medium energy level and are typically very calm and well-behaved within the home.
Left outside without plenty of family interaction and affection, Rottweilers can become aggressive towards the family, neurotic, and depressed. Rottweilers can be left to guard the family home and property when you are going somewhere for the day and don’t want to take your dog with you, but they need at least several hours of family time and engagement every day
Protect People from Your Dog
It is important to realize that a Rottweiler trained to protect their home and family cannot be expected to understand that service people or household help are invited guests. Rottweilers typically only accept people that they understand to be a part of the family unit or very close friends of the family.
All other people will need to be introduced to the Rottweiler and accompanied inside by a family member. Therefore, if you need to have people come and go to work on your home or yard, it is very important to keep your Rottweiler in a secure space in your home or in a crate.
The kennel must be completely foolproof because being prevented from getting to what your Rottweiler perceives to be an intruder will be frustrating for your dog and make it even more likely that they will behave with significant aggression if they manage to get out of their containment.
Ideally, you will be able to crate your Rottweiler indoors in a room away from the activity to reduce frustration for your dog.
Guard Dog Liability
If you are going to have a Rottweiler as your guard dog, it is extremely important that you have homeowner insurance that will cover a potential bite. Many insurance providers will charge more to cover you if you have a dog that is trained to be a guard dog or even simply because you have a Rottweiler breed.
You can also check your local legislation to see the laws governing guard dogs. Sometimes you will be held liable anytime your dog bites someone regardless of the situation. In other places, a dog that is provoked, such as in the case of a criminal invading your home uninvited, liability will be lifted.
It is important to understand the laws before you choose to have a Rottweiler as a guard dog since you may be held liable for extensive charges even if someone has entered your property inappropriately.
In some cases, your dog may also be in danger of being taken away from you and euthanized even if they behaved appropriately. In rare cases, dog owners can even be charged with second-degree murder or manslaughter if it can be proved that they knew their dog was a risk to other people and did not control them appropriately.
Are Two Rottweilers Better Than One for Guarding?
If you want to have a dog that can guard your family or property, you may wonder whether it is better to train two dogs or even more rather than just one. After all, even if one dog fails to perform the duty or is injured by an assailant, the second or third dogs may be able to follow through on the job.
And while Rottweilers can do well alone, many enjoy the company of other dogs.
An intruder may be much less likely to enter your property if you have more than one Rottweiler even if they might be bold enough to try to take on one dog. You can absolutely train more than one Rottweiler to protect your home or your person. Rottweilers are very intelligent dogs that can also learn from each other, so after one dog is trained you may find that they can assist you in training the second dog.
Generally, you will find that it is better to get one dog at a time and make sure the first is fully trained before you get the second. Training two or more untrained dogs at a time has significant challenges and will require that you train each separately, which can be much more time-consuming for you.
Rottweilers are not known to be particularly dog aggressive, but some can be dog selective. It is perfectly normal for a Rottweiler to protect you or your home from strange dogs the same way they would protect it from strange people.
In general, Rottweilers of opposite genders may tend to get along better than Rottweilers of the same gender. If you have a male and female Rottweiler, you may find that your male Rottweiler displays aggression towards other dogs or even people in the household when the female Rottweiler goes into heat, so it may be best to spay and neuter or to at least spay the female dog.
Can You Keep a Rottweiler Guard Dog in an Apartment?
Considering a Rottweiler’s size, many people may assume that these are not good apartment dogs. In fact, Rottweilers have a medium energy level. When they’re provided sufficient exercise in the form of long walks or jobs or time to run off leash in a fenced-in area like a dog park, many Rottweilers can do very well in apartments.
If you need a dog that can protect you if someone tries to break into your apartment and can also protect you when you are walking around an urban area, the Rottweiler can be a superb choice.
These dogs are a good balance of lower energy level that allows them to do much better in an apartment than some other breeds like a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois but still have the stamina and heat tolerance to accompany you on walks, which may not be true of some of the Mastiff breeds.
If you are going to keep a Rottweiler in your apartment, it is very important that you choose a secure kennel in case somebody needs to come into your apartment, especially if you won’t be there.
Feel Safer With a Rottweiler
If you are concerned about your personal safety or the security of your home, a Rottweiler can do a lot to help. These powerful dogs are superb guardians of home and family, as well as being wonderful highly trainable pets with affectionate and goofy personalities.
Choosing any breed as a guard dog comes with some inherent responsibilities and the Rottweiler is no exception, so it is very important to know exactly what you are getting into when you choose to train your Rottweiler as a guard dog. However, if you are looking for a great guard dog, there is no reason to look further than the Rottweiler.