It wasn’t until my spouse and I were searching for a new apartment complex last year that I realized the extent of breed bans and restrictions. As soon as we announced that we had a four-legged child who would (obviously) be coming to live with us, we were hit with banned lists and high fees, most commonly for pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers.
Anyone who has a Rottie as a member of their family knows that these dogs are brave, loving, intelligent, and protective of their owners. With so many good traits, why in the world are these dogs so commonly banned?
The bans against Rottweilers are primarily in place because of public opinion. Many people believe Rottweilers are aggressive, bred to attack, and that they should not be household pets. Unfortunately, this lack of education about the breed leads to city, state, and even country-wide bans.
Although these bans may be unfair, they are a reality for many Rottweiler owners. Here’s why.
Reason 1: People are fearful of them.
There are several dog breeds—including pit bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers—that people seem to be consistently fearful of.
This fear may not be entirely misplaced. These dogs have been commonly portrayed in the media as the more dangerous breeds out of all our four-legged friends.
Additionally, owners who may not be well-educated about their Rotties could perpetuate this misconception. An owner who doesn’t understand the needs of their dog or who doesn’t put their dog through the proper training could be setting their dog up for an out-of-control situation later on.
Rotties get pegged as a breed that is violent, dangerous, and threatening towards humans. To be fair, Rottweilers can look rather intimidating when they want to. Males can easily weigh 130 pounds, they have thick necks, and they have a fairly dense-muscular build. This intimidating look doesn’t help when it comes to people’s fear of Rotties.
Although much of this fear may be misplaced, it leads to public bans throughout many cities in the U.S.
Reason 2: People believe that they are naturally aggressive and bred to attack.
To fully understand this reasoning, we need to take a quick look at the history of Rottweilers.
Rotties were originally bred as working dogs, trained to herd cattle and be guard dogs. Both of those jobs require a certain degree of aggression. So yes, aggression would have been initially encouraged back when the breed was first developed.
To top that, infamous dog fighters have for years unfortunately used Rottweilers, along with many other breeds, for dogfighting purposes.
However, the breed has evolved and changed over the decades, and much of that natural aggression has been lost. Now, as long as Rottweilers are properly trained from the time they are puppies, there’s no reason that Rottweilers would be more prone to aggression or attacks than any other dog.
Reason 3: People may not be well-educated about the breed.
Partially thanks to what we see on TV and in the news, Rottweilers get a bad rap. We see all the bad situations, and none of the good. If this is all the education someone receives about Rotties, of course they will think of Rotties as violent, aggressive dogs.
We’re working to change that.
Thanks to an increase in banned breed awareness, condemnation for abusive or neglectful situations, and wider availability of resources, true education about Rottweilers –and other banned breeds—is getting better.
With that being said, the number one person who needs to be educated is a Rottweiler owner. Poorly trained or mistreated Rottweilers contribute to the public fear of these dogs, so it’s vital that people do their research before choosing to add a Rottweiler to the family.
Rottweilers are working dogs—so give them a job to do. Rottweilers love attention—so give it to them. Rottweilers can react strongly by instinct—so introduce them to new situations (like children) slowly and calmly.
Education about Rotts will go a long way to minimizing the public fear of this breed.
How do these bans work anyways?
The technical term for these bans (or any other restrictive law) is called breed-specific legislation (BSL). BSL can include everything from outright bans to laws that restrict or regulate certain breeds, such as Rottweilers.
In U.S. and around the world, we see a number of different bans and restrictions surrounding breeds like Rottweilers. Let’s take a look at a few different kinds:
Which Countries Have Banned Rottwielers?
Sometimes, entire countries will ban having Rottweilers as pets. Ecuador is one of those countries. Other places put country-wide restrictions on Rottweilers in place, including but not limited to Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Which US States Have Banned Rottweilers?
Although no states currently have a complete ban on Rottweilers, many states could have restrictions in place such as muzzling in public, spaying/neutering requirement, containment in a specific kennel, leash restrictions, making the dog wear certain tags, hanging warning signs, or purchasing liability insurance.
Here are the states where we see these restrictions on certain breeds (including Rotties) enforced:
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Do Some Cities Ban Rottweilers?
Bans by city occur much more frequently than bans by state or country. Over 900 cities in the U.S. have some sort of breed-specific legislation. Although there have been court cases challenging these laws, in most cases the laws are found constitutional.
Some cities put these bans in place, but have trouble enforcing. It typically falls to the city police department to enforce the laws.
Do Individual Hosing Complexes Ban Rotties?
Although your city and state may not enforce breed restrictions, many housing complexes and landlords may. They see breeds such as Rottweilers as a liability and a risk they’re not willing to take.
Even if housing complexes do accept all breeds of dogs, there could be elevated rates and fees for owning a pet and more specifically owning a breed such as Rotts. Residents could also be required to sign extra paperwork or take out pet liability insurance in case of an incident.
Dogs can also be banned by size, weight, or age restrictions, so if you’re looking into moving soon, make sure you do your research ahead of time so that you can find a home that welcomes both you and your furry family member.
History of Bans
Bans like the ones we’ve just discussed have been around for years. Studies done in the early 20th century pointed to heredity as a factor in dog aggression, calling out breeds like Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Dobermans specifically.
The image of these dogs as violent aggressors was only increased after images of Dobermans guarding concentration camps surfaced after World War II. Since then, media has deemed these types of breeds as “devil dogs.”
The first ban on record in modern history was actually against pit bulls in 1984. A town in New Mexico fully banned pit bulls. Officials were allowed to forcibly removed and euthanize the dogs if necessary in order to enforce the ban.
Since that time, breed bans have become more and more accepted. There are rarely exceptions to these breed bans, even if the dog is a working dog or a service dog.
Does BSL even work?
Unfortunately, BSL tends to be treated as a “quick-fix” for dealing with potentially dangerous dogs. It ignores the larger problems at stake, it rarely works, and it is unfair to these dog breeds and their owners.
BSL is typically put in place with the goal of keeping people safe. Thanks to the misinformation about these breeds, people believe that limiting who can own these dogs or where these dogs are allowed to live will keep people safe from them.
However, not only is BSL discriminatory and unfair, it also may be based on inaccurate data. Those expected to enforce BSL have trouble identifying mixed dog breeds, and the data that is gathered about dog bites is oftentimes incorrect.
Finally, BSL ignores the root of the problem when it comes to dog attacks. Dog attacks can be triggered by any number of factors, including things like improper training, abuse, or neglect. When that’s the case, these dog attacks could possibly even have been prevented. Simply putting some legislation in place after the attack has already happened is not being proactive.
These days, many people argue that the best way to limit dog aggression and attacks is simply to educate and properly train. Putting mass breed bans or restrictions in place does not address the root of the problem, nor is it fair to these dogs or their owners.
If you’re the owner of a loving Rottie, you can help to end BSL. Introduce your dog (safely) to your neighbors. Share resources (and positive news stories!) to help educate others. And above all, make sure your Rott is well-trained and accommodated in the lifestyle they need.