Can Rottweilers Do Agility?

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Rottweilers are well known for their impressive physique, their dedication to their humans, and their fearlessness. For some reason, these dogs have a reputation for being lazy but that couldn’t be further from the truth and Rottweilers have filled dozens of roles over the years from all-around farm dogs to even acting as therapy dogs in some cases.  

But can Rottweilers do agility?

Rottweilers can do very well in agility thanks to their intelligence, trainability, powerful build, fearlessness, and background in herding and carting. However, they may not be the fastest dog in agility because of their heavy build and medium energy level. Regardless, you can have a lot of fun doing agility with your Rottweiler.

Here’s what you need to know about why Rottweilers do well in agility and why they may be held back in a couple of ways, as well as some tips to help your Rottweiler succeed. 

Why Rottweilers May Excel in Agility

Rottweilers are highly versatile dogs, able to do well in a wide variety of areas. Agility is one of the many fields in which Rottweilers can excel. Here are some of the reasons that Rottweilers may do exceptionally well in this sport.

Intelligent and Trainable

Rottweilers are highly intelligent dogs that are known for being exceptionally trainable. Rottweilers have had an extremely variable history in which they have needed to excel in a wide array of different tasks from pulling carts and protecting to herding cattle. They’re highly focused on their handler and smart enough to pick up on cues quickly. 

You’re likely to find that your Rottweiler understands what you want from them in agility very easily. They can learn even more difficult obstacles like the weave poles surprisingly quickly. Because Rottweilers are able to focus on their trainer for longer periods than some other breeds, you may also find that you can extend agility training sessions for longer than you may otherwise be able to so that your Rottweiler will learn agility even more rapidly.

A Background In Herding Means They Tend To Be Agile

One of the tasks that Rottweilers were initially bred for is herding. Herding requires that Rottweilers be able to turn on a dime, run quickly, and leap into the air to push around stubborn livestock. All of these skills can easily translate into success in agility. 

In fact, many of the dogs that do best in agility training are herding breeds, like the stereotypical agility master the Border Collie. Rottweilers have large paws with strong, hard nails that are designed to grip the ground and give them the ability to turn on a dime, an essential skill for herding that is also extremely handy in agility.

Powerfully Built

Rottweilers are some of the most powerfully built dogs of any breed. They are sturdy, muscular, and strong. They’ve needed this powerful build both to herd large livestock and to take on assailants as police, military, and personal protection dogs. This powerful build can also serve them very well in agility. Rottweilers can sail over their jumps without hardly any effort at all and easily scale A-frames and other obstacles.

It is unlikely that you will find any obstacle in the agility field that Rottweilers find physically challenging. This is actually a problem for some Rottie owners as it can be hard to find a fence that can’t be easily jumped by your Rottweiler

Fearless

Throughout their long history, Rottweilers have had many jobs, but one thing that has remained relatively consistent throughout all of the work that Rottweilers do is that they have needed to be relatively fearless. Rottweilers take on livestock that is much bigger than them, leap into danger to tackle aggressive human assailants, and stick by their owner’s side regardless of the situation. 

This fearlessness means that Rottweilers are unlikely to be put off by any of the obstacles in the agility field that other dogs may find intimidating. Your Rottweiler is likely to fly through tunnels without a second thought, scale A-frames without a worry at all about the height, and generally take on the field without concern. Your Rottweiler is also unlikely to be put off by crowds cheering in the stands, other dogs barking, or anything else that they encounter in the course of agility.

Focused

Rottweilers tend to have great self-control and are highly focused on their handler and the job at hand. They needed this kind of focus to excel in protection work and herding, but have also needed exceptional focus in order to be effective cart pulling dogs. If a Rottweiler with a cart behind them became distracted, the result could be disastrous. 

Therefore, over the years Rottweilers have been bred to be highly focused on the task at hand and able to execute self-control in the face of distractions. This ability makes them very good at agility, even when there are lots of potential distractions in the stands.

For an example of how all these qualities come together check out a very handsome Rottie named Wizard as he makes quick work of the agility course:

Why Rottweilers May Not Do As Well In Agility

There are all kinds of reasons that Rottweilers excel in agility, but they aren’t usually the breed that you see taking home the winner’s spot in agility trials. Here are a few of the reasons that Rottweilers may not do quite as well in agility as some other breeds.

Heavy

A Rottweiler’s powerful build can propel them over jumps and other obstacles, but it also can weigh them down and make them slower. It is rare that a Rottweiler will beat the time of a more slightly built dog like a Belgian Malinois or Border Collie. While Rottweilers can be very fast and are excellent at making tight turns, they just don’t tend to be quite as quick as more lightly built dogs.

Medium Energy Level

Rottweilers have plenty of energy to do the jobs they’ve been bred to do, but they are generally considered to be a medium energy level dog. These are dogs that are just as happy to hang out on the couch with you as they are to get out and do something. This sets them apart from some of the breeds that tend to excel in agility, which are often extremely high-energy dogs. 

These high-energy dogs come onto the field yapping in the excitement of running the course and absolutely need something to do or they will get a little bit crazy and be very hard to live with. While Rottweilers can absolutely be highly dedicated to running an agility course, they are unlikely to be quite as passionate about the activity as some other breeds.

Can be Prone to Hip Problems and Arthritis

Not every Rottweiler will suffer from these issues, but some Rotties do tend to suffer from arthritis and hip issues, especially as they get older. These problems will slow your Rottweiler down and make them less likely to do well in agility.

How to Train Your Rottweiler in Agility

Agility can be a great activity for you to do with your Rottweiler. It’s a good form of exercise for your dog, gives dogs that tend to have more drive an outlet and something that they feel that they are working towards, and of course, it can also be a lot of fun. Here are a few tips to help you train your Rottweiler to do well in agility:

  • Train basic obedience. Your Rottweiler needs to have self-control and focus on you to do well in agility, so the first step is teaching them basic obedience. Training involving self-control like a rock solid stay is especially important.
  • Socialize your Rottweiler. Your Rottie will need to be around lots of other dogs when they do agility, so it’s important that they are well-socialized and comfortable being surrounded by other dogs before you enter them in agility courses.
  • Train agility commands. You don’t want to start asking your Rottweiler to do significant agility like jumps until they are physically mature, but you can still teach these commands. Teach your Rottweiler commands like “over” and ask them to jump over a small obstacle. You can also begin working on weave pole training, which is often the most challenging.
  • Expose your Rottweiler to obstacles. Once your dog has basic obedience, understands some basic agility commands, and is physically mature, it’s time to expose them to some basic agility obstacles. You can easily build jumps in your yard, buy collapsible tunnels, or even use fallen trees or obstacles on your walk. You can even find entire agility kits including weave poles to set up in your backyard. You may also be able to find tunnels and A-frames at your local dog park.
  • Join in agility club. Whether you want to join a breed-specific club and find agility options through them or you want to join a multi-breed agility club, it’s a good idea to find one of these clubs so you’ll have access to real-world competitive environments in which to train your dog and also receive help from a professional trainer.
  • Enter in an agility contest. The day will come when you are ready to begin having your Rottweiler compete. Early-level contests typically don’t have more difficult obstacles like the weave poles, so as long as your dog has mastered the basics of agility they will probably be able to compete very well. These early contests help your Rottweiler to get comfortable with this competitive environment.

Have Fun Doing Agility With Your Rottweiler

Rottweilers may not be made for agility in the way as some other breeds seem to be, but they can certainly do very well with this activity. Besides, it’s a great way to get your dog out, active, and having fun.