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Rottweilers are not typically the go-to dog when to comes to a police unit’s four-pawed officers. Police departments search out dogs that are highly intelligent, eager to please, brave, and naturally protective. So why not Rottweilers?
Simply put, Rottweilers have a different build than the more commonly-used German Shepherds. They have a more powerful bite, they are larger in size, and they don’t have the same endurance and agility as some of the breeds used in police forces.
These are just a few of the reasons why Rottweilers may not be as commonly sought-after for police dog work as other breeds like German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois. Let’s explore a few more ins and outs of the Rottweiler breed—and why they aren’t commonly used as police dogs—below.
Reason 1: Rottweilers Are Built Differently.
If you own a Rottweiler, you know that they are large doggos. A fully-grown male can weigh up to 130 pounds! (Just wait until they try to lay on your lap.)
When they’re in good shape, Rotts are very muscular. Their big frames and heavy bone structure means they aren’t able to run quite as fast as German Shepherds; Rottweilers typically max out at about 25 miles per hour, while German Shepherds can run as fast as 30 miles per hour.
Also because of their large size, they may not be quite as agile—or have the same endurance—as other police dogs on the force.
Rotts also rank high on the list of dogs with the most powerful bites. As police dogs, this could potentially be a problem if they’re given the command to take down a suspect. A bite from a Rottweiler could inflict significantly more damage than intended.
Reason 2: Rottweilers Have a Shorter Lifespan and a Longer Maturity Rate.
Compared to other breeds, even breeds in the same size category, Rottweilers have a fairly short lifespan, typically ranging from 9 to 12 years. Police dogs are usually trained under the age of 3, and will oftentimes work until they are 11 or 12 before retiring.
However, Rotts would most likely have to retire as a working dog long before that age. Training a police dog is time-consuming and expensive, and it makes more sense to train dogs who can work for more years.
Rottweilers also take a bit longer to grow up than other breeds. A good rule that usually holds true is that the larger the dog breed, the longer they will take to fully mature. All canines have to go through certain developmental stages. A delay in those stages for Rotties could mean a delay in training.
Reason 3: They May Not Be As Accurate When It Comes to Sniffing Out Danger.
Although Rotties definitely have decent noses and can be trained to search for specific smells, they may not be as accurate. When it comes to sniffing out things like drugs, bombs, or even people German Shepherds hold the record for MVP.
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. They have on average over 300 million receptors for smell (compared to a human’s mere 5 million), which makes them a valuable asset for their noses. Since noses are probably the number one sense most used by police dogs, a weaker sense of smell could potentially be a problem for our Rotts in training.
Reason 4: Rotties Have Gotten a Bad Rap.
It’s no secret that over the years, Rottweilers have unfortunately become known as the bad boys of dog breeds. They’ve been accused of over-aggression, unpredictable temperaments, and mean personalities.
Rottweilers have sadly been bred and used in the past as fighting dogs, which may contribute to the pessimistic public opinion.
However, like any dog breed, if you provide for their needs, train them up well from when they are young, and introduce them slowly to new situations (especially kids), they will turn into one of the most loyal, brave, and kind-hearted dogs you could own.
Despite this, the reputation of Rottweilers may hinder their participation in police dog work. People will argue that police dogs should not be naturally aggressive, opting instead for rather a trained and targeted aggression. The (often misunderstood) reputation of Rotties being overly aggressive could lead people to protest that they don’t belong in a police force that exists to protect.
So Have Rottweilers Ever Served in Police Forces?
Yes! They’ve actually served in police forces around the world for over a century.
When World War I hit, Rottweilers served with German police officers, becoming the fourth dog breed to be officially recognized as a police dog.
Around this same time, Rotts came to be recognized as official military dogs. This opened up other doors for Rotties in working positions. They even became one of the first dog breeds to be trained as guide dogs for blind people.
Although most Rotts today live their lives as pets, we do still occasionally see Rotties as police dogs. They can serve in any capacity, including search and rescue, military, guard dogs, border patrol, and in K-9 units.
Have Rottweilers Ever Been Working Dogs Outside of Police Forces?
Rottweilers were actually originally bred as working dogs, used in Germany for herding cattle, pulling carts, and as guard dogs. They were widely admired for their bravery, loyalty, and intelligence.
Unfortunately, the onset of railroads at the end of the 19th century put working Rotties out of a job. That’s when dog-loving breeders stepped in to advance the breed anyways.
When choosing their next canine partners, police departments typically pass over Rottweilers in favor of breeds like German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois. This is in part thanks to the slightly larger, stockier build of Rottweilers, as well as their little-deserved reputation of being a more aggressive breed.
Although they may not be the modern-day first choice police dog, Rottweilers have a rich history of being working dogs, and all the best traits that made them hard workers—their loyalty, bravery, and protectiveness—make them some of the best pets to have today.