Descended from ancient Molossian war dogges and Sylvan drovers brought to western Europe by the Romans who used them to accompany their troops and cattle across the Alps and guard their camps, the original Rottweil Mastiff was a larger and more ferocious dog than its modern incarnation. The breed is named after the town of Rottweil, even though its true home encompassed a wider area, stretching from Argovie in Switzerland to Wurtemburg, where it was developed through matings with local sheepdogs as a guardian of butcher shops, drover and protector of cattle, as well as a fierce property watchdog.
The Rottweiler Metzgerhund enjoyed popularity as a resilient working breed both in its home region and beyond its boundaries and was later instrumental in the development of a number of European baiting, fighting and hunting breeds, only to be influenced itself by the steady influx of those Bullenbeisser/Barrenbeisser bloodlines it helped create, most notably by the dogges from Brabant and early Boxers. As a result of these crossings, the Rottweiler has lost some of its size, but has also gained greater agility and drive in the process, enabling the breed to find new fanciers in the hunting communities, becoming a capable hunter of foxes, boars and wolves, as well as being employed as a fighting dog, while continuing to fulfill its traditional duties of helping butchers take their cattle to the markets. Swabian Rottweilers were also used to pull carts with milk, alcohol and food by their masters, who reportedly tied the purses carrying their earnings around their dogs' necks for safety. The first attempt to standardize the Rottweiler took place in 1883, although two main varieties still existed in the breed, with the fanciers of either the smaller or larger dogs proclaiming their types as being ideal. The arguments revolved around the inability of taller and heavier dogs to endure long voyages with livestock, while the smaller ones weren't seen as intimidating enough as guard dogs.
Unfortunately, with the advent of rail transportation and its subsequent use by the cattle merchants, the interest in the breed quickly diminished, with the number of dogs dropping to an all-time low by the early 1900's, when there were less than 20 dogs found, with reportedly only a single pure female among them, which was said to had come directly from Rottweil. However, the revival program was ultimately successful, thanks to the necessary outcrosses with other breeds which ensured its survival, but it had also resulted in yet another change in appearance and overall type. Some of the breeds used to revive the Rottweiler have never been disclosed, although the employment of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog would've been very likely. This new incarnation of the breed has served as the basis for the current Rottweiler, apart from initially allowing for a greater number of colorings, including the commonly seen black-n-tan, but also uniform black, tricolour, brindle, red and fawn specimens, as was the case with the original population of the breed.
Once these dogs proved themselves as outstanding workers when initially employed by the Police during occasional sailor brawls in harbours, the breed's numbers started growing and its fame was spreading quickly throughout the country. In a fairly short period of time, the Rottweiler gained many fanciers in Germany, where the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub was first set up in 1907 and then formally founded in 1919. Soon after, the breed became commonly seen in other European countries, as well as in America, where the AKC recognized it in 1931, with the UKC following suit in 1950, although the breed saw a true surge in popularity only some thirty years later. A magnificently impressive mastiff, the mighty Rottweiler is one of Germany's most recognizable working breeds. Trainable and very intelligent, this breed is a superb service dog, as well as a capable livestock herder and an excellent guardian. If bred properly, the Rottweiler should have an even temperament, seeming self-assured and protective, but not at all vicious or aggressive. Due to the immense popularity and over breeding of this great German dog, it's getting more difficult to find a good specimen with the proper personality and conformation, especially in the West.
There is a tendency among some modern breeders to create giant and aggressive dogs, which is not what a Rottie should be. Many bloodlines have questionable ancestry and problematic temperaments, but the breed remains extremely popular. It's rare to find a properly built Rottweiler these days, most of them are too tall and weak-boned. In the United States, this resulted in an impure breed off-shoot called the American Rottweiler. It could be said that the Rottie is, like so many other breeds, paying a price for its popularity. A powerful dog, this is a breed in need of firm handling and early socialization. Strong-willed and naturally territorial, it makes an excellent property protector. It should be supervised around other dogs, due to its confrontational nature. The tail has traditionally been docked, but most modern European specimens have full length tails, as per the official Standard change made in 2000.
The relatively tight short black coat must have clearly defined reddish-brown tan markings, especially on the face. Other than the ideal black-n-tan variant, there are also some red, brown-n-tan, tricolor, brindle, as well as blue merle specimens, considered to be genetic throwbacks to the the breed's Old Thuringin Cowdog heritage, although they're undesirable. There are even long-haired examples occasionally encountered, believed by some to show the original Rottweiler's Sylvan roots. The average height should be around 24 inches, but much larger dogs exist.