According to Rottweiler history, lore, and breed historians — the Rottweiler is said to be one of the oldest of the herding breeds.
Although one must question whether the dogs back then are really anything more than remotely related to the same dogs we love, today?
While nobody can doubt that these dogs have herding instinct (and even perform in stock dog trials, today!) they are far from a real farmer’s first choice; being too large and heavy to work cattle, sheep or even goats out on the hot and dusty trail for hours and hours. As a stock protection dog, however, they probably thrived.
According to Wiki, the history of these dogs stretches back to the Roman Empire. Driving cattle to market, one route the army traveled was through Württemberg and then to a market town named, “Rottweil”.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests that the Roman droving dogs mixed with local dogs from various towns– and that the offspring of these dogs were looked upon by the butchers in Rottweil who “concentrated in the area and inevitably more dogs were needed to drive the cattle to and from the markets,” and to provide security.Rottweilers were said to have been used by traveling butchers at markets during the middle ages to guard money pouches tied around their necks, according to Britannica.
Later in Rottweiler history, as railroads became the main method for moving stock to market during the 19th century, the breed had declined to the point that there was reportedly only one female to be found in the entire town, by 1900.
DRK (“Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub” — German Rottweiler Club) was formed on January 13, 1907 with 500 dogs, and then the SDRK (“Süddeutscher Rottweiler-Klub” — South German Rottweiler Club) in April of the same year with 3000 dogs.
The former placed a primary emphasis on the dogs’ workability, whereas the later bred for more of a “complete” dog which also factored in conformation. (Physical appearance and structure).
Eventually, they came together and created a new breed club, the: Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub – e.V (ADRK). The ADRK is now considered the primary breed club for the Rottweiler.
The Rottie saw a big rise in popularity as the demand for working dogs increased, as the country found itself going into World War I. Popularity increased abroad, too, and by 1935 the American Kennel Club recognized the breed.
In 1936, these dogs were exhibited in Britain at Crufts.
And the most current stage in Rottweiler history saw their popularity continued to rise amongst dog owners, and by the mid-90’s, peaked, as the most registered breed with the American Kennel Club. Fortunately, the breed’s popularity– while still remaining high– has waned somewhat. Which is thought by most to be a positive for the breed, as there are less puppy mill breeders targeting the Rottweiler and instead are now focusing on other breeds.