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Whether you have children or you’re just inviting your friend’s kids over for the evening, knowing if your dog’s breed is good with children can be literally lifesaving. While any dog can bite, it’s well-known that certain breeds take to children more easily than others.
You may look at a big, intimidating Rottweiler and think that there’s no way you should let them within 10 feet of a child. But despite their appearance, Rottie owners and dog experts alike argue that the gentle giants can even be excellent with small children.
Which is it then? Are Rottweilers good with kids? Or is putting a Rottie with children an invitation for disaster?
Due to their gentle, affectionate, and loyal nature, Rottweilers are excellent with children as long as they are properly socialized with them. An unsocialized Rottweiler can be dangerous when it feels threatened, so small children should always be monitored with them.
Of course, any large dog can be a potential danger to children, so what makes Rottweilers different than other breeds? This article will go over why Rottweilers are great with children and a few reasons they might not be. Additionally, this article will cover how to train your pup to socialize with kids and tips to keep them safe.
Why Rottweilers Are Good With Kids
Whether or not a dog is good with children comes down to many factors, with a key component being the breed itself. Surprisingly, Rottweilers are generally considered to be excellent with children for many reasons. These include their natural temperament and physical build.
Rottweilers Were Bred To Be Gentle And Protective
With their large jaws and stocky bodies, plenty of people think of Rottweilers as born and bred attack dogs. Rottweilers are common guard dogs, but not because aggression is in their blood. Instead, their ability to loyally defend is based on being bred for a different job entirely.
As one of the oldest dog breeds alive, Rottweilers have a pretty long resume. Ancestors of the modern Rottweiler (known as Molussus) were used in Ancient Rome to drive and herd animals through the Alps. These large dogs eventually migrated to the town of Rottweil, Germany, where they interbred with native breeds. Interestingly, many bully breeds can trace their history back to the Molussus dogs.
Originally known as Rottweiler Metzgerhund or “Rottweiler butchers’ dogs”, the Rottweiler breed was quickly chosen by local butchers to drive and guard their cattle. They were even used to pull carts of meat!
Although Rottweilers nowadays are mostly bred to be household companions, breed standards still emphasize a protective yet peaceful nature.
As a breed designed to protect rather than attack, a Rottweiler is made to prioritize the safety of every member of its pack.
Rottweilers Are Obedient
On top of being loyal dogs, Rottweilers are incredibly trainable and obedient. Rottweilers were placed in the top ten most intelligent breeds by canine psychologist Stanley Coren in his book The Intelligence of Dogs (which you can get here for a fascinating read!), meaning they can easily pick up and obey commands.
Accordingly, Rottweilers have been used for a number of jobs, such as farm work or search and rescue. This natural desire to please and obey is not only useful in the field but also in family life.
A well-trained Rottie will easily listen to commands such as “lay” or “gentle,” which can make early interactions go smoothly. If a child expresses happiness or discomfort, a Rottweiler is likely to change their behavior in response.
Older children have a rewarding learning and bonding opportunity by training a Rottweiler in basic obedience or flashy tricks!
Rottweilers Are Playful
Intelligent and athletic, Rottweilers make the perfect playmate for kids. Whether a child is very young or older, a Rottweiler will learn how to “scale” their activity accordingly. With smaller children, Rottweilers will happily serve as a gentle guardian and occasional napping buddy. As children get older, Rottweilers can keep up with high running speeds and long playtimes.
This adorable video shows a toddler’s favorite way to play with her best furry friend!
Rottweilers Are Resilient
For as sweet as kids can be, they certainly know how to rough-house. Rough-and-tumble-play is normal and healthy behavior for a child, and they’ll probably try to incorporate it with their best friend whether you want them to or not.
It’s always important to stress being gentle to children around any sort of animal, no matter its size. But on the occasion that your Rottie does end up as a child’s designated wrestling partner, this tough breed can withstand quite a bit of rowdiness without complaining or getting injured.
Even a tender child can clumsily pet a dog or burrow into them for nap time. Compared to smaller or more fragile breeds, a Rottweiler is much less likely to be injured by a well-intentioned child.
Reasons Rottweilers may not be good with kids
After reading all of this, you may think that anyone who claims Rottweilers and children shouldn’t be around one another is spouting hogwash. While we’re the first to say how misunderstood this amazing breed is, it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge that Rottweilers can be dangerous under certain circumstances. There are a few reasons why Rottweilers can pose a threat, and each is avoidable.
An Aggressive Rottweiler Can Be Dangerous
In 2005-2017, Rottweilers were involved in 45 fatal attacks, many of them children. In addition to their large size, unsocialized Rottweilers pose a significant threat due to their head shapes. A 2009 study revealed exactly why: large dogs with brachycephalic heads (that is, short heads that are roughly 80% as wide as they are long) have the strongest bite force.
Contrary to common belief, Rottweilers do not have locking jaws, but their strong bite force in addition to their weight can still do noteworthy damage.
That said, dogs associated with fatal attacks are often improperly cared for. 77.9% of fatal attacks involved dogs with owners that failed to spay or neuter them. 70.4% were kept as resident dogs rather than pets, and 20.6% were outright abused or neglected by their owners. Chances are if you’re reading this article, you’re a much more responsible owner!
They Are Large
When it comes to dog safety around children, it’s easy to forget that even a sweet dog can be dangerous. The kindest of Rotties can pose a threat, but not for the reason you may think. As a breed that can surpass 90 or 100 lbs, an excited Rottie can easily knock down a small child and injure them.
Per the AKC, Rottweilers belong to the working group of dogs alongside breeds such as German Shepherds and huskies. Although they aren’t specifically be classified as herding dogs, Rotties still have strong herding tendencies. This means they are often fans of leaning on or herding family and friends. At their whopping size, a Rottie may cause a small child to fall over or knock into something.
They Are Protective
As previously mentioned, Rottweilers are fiercely protective of their family. This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Rotties have been known to try and guide children away from anything they perceive as a danger.
But on the other hand, they aren’t afraid to step in and aggressively defend their family if they perceive some sort of threat. This can be in the form of a loud bark, growling, or even a bite. A small child might understandably be very frightened, and your Rottweiler can detect fear and may also get scared as a result.
They Have A Strong Prey Drive
Even though they picked up countless other jobs over the years, at the end of the day Rotties are still descended from a long line of herding and driving dogs. All dogs have some sort of prey drive, and in the case of the Rottweiler, it’s a pretty high one.
Anything running or making high-pitched noises can potentially trigger this instinct if your Rottweiler hasn’t been taught they it is a friend, not a food. In the case of small children, running and squealing are pretty common!
It is also not typically recommended for kids to walk a Rottweiler either. Even if your Rottie has been trained to walk on a leash properly, a random squirrel or cat can easily make your dog take off running. If they do, a child may not come out unscathed!
A responsible parent or owner should weigh all of these pros and cons before making a decision as to if they are comfortable taking responsibility for any future dogs.
Tips for Training Your Rottweiler To Be Around Children
Having a solid introduction with a child and your Rottweiler starts far before the two ever meet. There are two major ways your Rottweiler should be prepared to meet children, including proper socialization and training.
Socialize Your Rottie Early On
It’s important for your pup to meet a variety of people in its early years. The sooner your puppy can learn that strangers are safe and fun, the better. Exposure to men, women, children, and other dogs should all be on your socialization checklist so that your dog can become comfortable with all sorts of people
But don’t worry if your dog is already an adult– when it comes to socialization, even an old dog can learn new tricks! You should be especially cautious when it comes to your dog meeting new people if it is fully grown. Monitor it for signs of fear or aggression and take things very slowly if your dog shows these.
A bad experience with strangers can reinforce your dog’s fear of people, so the takeaway when meeting new people should always be positive.
It’s never a bad idea to consult a certified dog trainer or behavioral consultant to help you with this process.
Try Obedience Training
Not only can certain commands come in handy when introducing your Rottweiler to a kid, but establishing a healthy but dominant relationship with your dog is generally a good idea. Positive reinforcement training (especially with a clicker like this one, or a clicker and target stick like this ) can ensure your dog has a great relationship with obeying commands. Scolding or punishing may make your dog have a negative association with training and listening to instructions.
Specific commands you can emphasize for socializing are:
- heel (when on a leash)
It’s important to remember that consistent practice and reinforcement are simply part of maintaining a working relationship with your Rottweiler.
Tips for Introducing Your Rottweiler to A Child
When it comes down to the moment of truth, there are several great ways you can ensure your well-trained Rottie has the most optimal introduction with children. Some have to do with preparing your Rottweiler, and others involve preparing the actual child!
Educate the Child and Create Boundaries
Keeping interactions between dogs and children safe has just as much to do with training the dog as it does the child!
Rottweilers are considered a predictable breed that rarely bites out of nowhere, but bites are possible when provoked.
While we may see a dog with its teeth bared and know to stand back, not all children are able to intuitively read dog body language. It’s easy for a child to mistakenly approach a “smiling” dog or not realize that tail-wagging can actually be a sign of aggression.
Teaching a child to see signs of discomfort, fear, or aggression in animals is incredibly important for child-pet safety. Let your child know when your Rottweiler is showing that it is playful or if it is not in the mood for play.
It’s also a good idea to inform children what not to do when it comes to playing with a pup. Tail and ear pulling, hitting, and riding are strictly forbidden, as is running up to unacquainted dogs or petting without the owner’s permission.
Exercise Your Rottweiler in Advance
There’s one easy way to make sure your dog’s introduction can go smoothly– give them a nice workout! A worn-out Rottie is a calm Rottie, so the likelihood of jumping or overly aggressive playing is reduced if you’ve had some quality playtime ahead of time.
A long walk, game of fetch, swimming (with plenty of care since a Rottweiler isn’t quite made for playing in a pool) or a combination of all of the previous should do the trick.
First impressions are important, and not just with humans. An introduction is important to get right so that your dog is comfortable with children.
Of course, when a kid sees a big, lovable dog like a Rottie, they’ll want to run up to it and give it a hug! For most dogs, this strategy is far from a good idea. Instead, taking things in small steps and measuring your dog’s comfortability is recommended.
When your Rottweiler is first meeting anyone new, it’s a good idea to have it on a comfortable leash. Let the child know to get near enough for the dog to meet them, but let the dog approach them first. Make sure that the child avoids making prolonged eye contact, standing over the dog, or putting their face near it.
Ideally, the child should be able to gently pet the dog and even play over time. Let the dog make the first move for every step of the process and return to earlier steps if your dog shows any signs of fear or discomfort.
Are Rottweilers Good With Babies?
As with children, a Rottweiler can be a loving and tender guardian to infants. Of course, a baby is much more delicate than a child, and introductions should go incredibly slowly and be highly monitored.
Rottweilers can NEVER be left alone with babies, and adults should stay close by. If improperly taught to interact with children and babies, even a kind Rottweiler may accidentally injure a baby by attempting to play with it or paw at it.
As long as your Rottie has significant experience around a baby and has fully proven itself to know that it is gentle, it can grow to love and feel as protective of your child as if it were its own!
Hopefully, this article has sufficiently answered what you want to know about if Rottweilers are good with kids.
In short, Rottweilers are often excellent with kids due to their naturally sweet temperament. As large dogs, they require plenty of socialization, training, and care to safely interact with kids, but this is attainable for even new owners.
Let us know what you think and feel free to check out our other articles on Rotties.