hi! love your blog and i wanted to ask some qu…

hi! love your blog and i wanted to ask some questions: what's the hardest thing about owning a rottie and would you recommend them to first time dog owners? and i just wanted to say i love floyd, he's so precious.

Thank you!! He’s a real sweetie boy and I’m sure he will love to hear this when I tell him.

Based on my own experience with a Rottweiler, and by talking to breeders, owners, and show people (showers…?), the biggest hurdle with the breed is their intelligence combined with their “stubborn” streak.

I put “stubborn” in quotes because I don’t believe dogs are stubborn, and when we use this term to describe dogs, we almost always mean to refer to a dogs level of biddability, their independence, and their handler orientation. Breeds like Shar Pei, Rottweilers, Terriers, Huskies, and Malamutes are all said to be “stubborn” dog breeds.

What motivates a dog and his desire to please or follow commands is different from one dog to the next. Some breeds like Labradors are highly biddable dogs who are very handler-oriented, they don’t often get this label of being “stubborn”.

While a Lab would probably rob a bank for a belly rub, a Rottweiler would probably sit and weigh the effort versus the payout. “What do I get from this? Is robbing that bank really worth a belly rub?”. They’re very smart dogs (contrary to how they’ve often been labeled by dog people and society) and can have that independent streak.

Due to this independent streak, they also fall into the pit of old fashioned dog trainers insisting you need to use harsh corrections to get the point across to them. This is also in part due to their historical and current use in physical activities like personal protection, police work, and guard work.

They’re very intelligent dogs, and I see this playing out time and time again with Floyd.. his most recent trick is actually very impressive. When I put his toys away when I go to sleep, I’ll usually sneak and put them on top of his crate so he won’t rip out the stuffing at night. At some point he must have noticed that the crate is where I hide his toys, because he knows where they are now. He will go into my room, stand on my bed and look on top of the crate (it’s pretty tall, maybe 4 feet high). If he sees his toys, he’ll go into my laundry basket and steal my socks, parade them out into the living room and lay down. He will only give them up when I trade them for his toys on his crate.

I wouldn’t recommend them to first time dog owners because many first time dog owners have never trained dogs before or are just starting to get interest in getting their own dog, when they grew up with a family-raised dog.

What makes a good dog for a first time dog owner is one who is highly biddable, lower drive, lower energy (typically), and easily “repaired”…. a Rottweiler only fits one of these criteria – biddability, if you make it worth their while.

Many first time dog owners tend to gravitate to breeds like Labs or Goldens because they’re typically “safe” dogs in that you can afford to make a few mistakes when raising the dog, and these issues can be fixed pretty easily with more training. In a dog like a Rottweiler, a slip-up or neglect in early socialization or training can result in a frustrated dog owner who winds up in over their heads, and a dog who becomes a dangerous liability.
They’re large, strong dogs who want what they want and they’ll get what they want. Many first time dog owners can feel overwhelmed with a dog like this.

For someone who has never independently trained or owned a dog before, I would not recommend a Rottweiler. I would probably recommend a dog like a Lab, Poodle, Golden, or a retired/rescue Greyhound.