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Are Rottweilers Herding Dogs? Interesting Facts & Info

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By Nicole Cosgrove

rottweiler dog standing on grass

Rottweilers are strong dogs, both mentally and physically. They have a large following of owners that keep them for their love and loyalty, but they are also considered one of the best working dog breeds. They are regularly seen working as police dogs and guard dogs. They are also employed by the Armed Forces and used as search and rescue dogs.

But, originally, Rottweilers were drovers, which means that they were used to drive, or herd, livestock. They were also used to protect and guard livestock against thieves and predators, and their strong work ethic and love of having a job to do meant that they would fulfill a host of other roles on farms and ranches. They are used as working dogs today, including as herding dogs.

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Rottweiler History

The Rottweiler is originally descended from Roman drover dogs. After the Roman Empire’s collapse, the Mastiffs found work in the town of Rottweil, working with livestock and cattle. They were used to move the cattle from fields to the market while protecting the animals and the farmers from bandits and predators on the way. They were given the name Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which means “Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil.”

Although their utility as herding dogs died down in the 19th Century, with the introduction and widespread use of railroads, their strong work ethic, guarding nature, and their ease of handling saw them used as police dogs and guard dogs. They have also been used in search and rescue and for a host of other working roles. They were heavily utilized in search and rescue efforts at The World Trade Center and in Oklahoma.

rottweiler dog sitting on grass
Image Credit: Kevin Seibel, Pixabay

About Rottweilers

The Rottweiler has changed surprisingly little since its use driving cattle in Germany. As such, it is still used as a guard dog and in other hardworking roles. It has also become a very popular companion or pet breed. It is especially loved for its loyal nature and because it is generally very loving and affectionate with its human family.

However, the Rottie does need an experienced owner, somebody that can assume the role of pack leader. It also benefits from being given a working role and jobs to do and it does require plenty of exercise. The Rottweiler does well in canine sports, especially in those sports that require strength and concentration.

Is the Rottweiler Still Used As a Herding Dog?

Despite it being the breed’s original use and the Rottie still being a skilled working dog, it is not used as a herding dog or sheepdog as often as it once was. You are more likely to see one working as a guard dog or police dog rather than a herding dog. But, some farmers and livestock owners do still use the Rottie for this purpose.

rottweiller dog walking on grass
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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5 of the Best Herding Dogs

Herding dogs need to be calm and measured. They need to follow commands instantly but be independent enough to recognize potential threats. They need good stamina, and they need to form a bond with their handlers. The following are five breeds of dog that are considered among the best herding breeds:

1. Border Collie

border collie dog standing on the road
Image Credit: ForeverNaturalPhotography, Shutterstock

The Border Collie is the quintessential herding dog. It has the stamina to run all day, is widely considered the most intelligent of all the dog breeds, and enjoys the role of herding. It also gets on very well with people, although the breed does retain its herding instinct with family so owners might find their Border Collie attempting to round up children and other pets.

2. Australian Shepherd

red merle australian shepherd dog in the garden
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

Australian Shepherds actually originated in the Western United States. It is a medium-sized dog that is highly intelligent and rugged. It also has a lot of energy and stamina, which means that owners and handlers need to provide a lot of opportunities for the dog to burn off energy.

3. Old English Sheepdog

old english sheepdog in the field
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

The Old English Sheepdog is a long-haired sheepdog variant from England. It is sometimes called the “Dulux Dog” because it was heavily utilized in advertising campaigns for the Dulux brand of paint in the UK. It is bright and energetic, quick to learn, and is considered a lively and friendly dog.

4. Belgian Malinois

belgian malinois dog in the forest
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

The Belgian Malinois is another strong and muscular dog breed with a similar build to that of the Rottweiler. The breed is confident, enjoys working, and does have strong herding instincts which means, if one is being kept as a pet, it will need early training to discourage the desire to herd its family members.

5. German Shepherd

german shepherd dog standing on the grass
Image Credit: cvop, Pixabay

The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in the world, as a pet and as a working dog. Like the Rottweiler, it is less often used as a herding dog now, and more often used as a police dog or guard dog. It is also used in search and rescue and even as a bomb dog. The German Shepherd is highly intelligent and needs plenty of exercise.

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Is a Rottweiler a Good Family Dog?

The Rottweiler is loving and loyal and can be sweet and loving with its close family members. However, it does need a lot of early socialization and training. It is not considered an ideal pet for first-time dog owners and it does benefit from an experienced hand that can take on the role of pack leader.

What Do Working Rottweilers Do?

Working Rottweilers are used in a very wide variety of roles. They are still used as herding dogs, although rarely. They are more commonly used as police dogs and are used by armed forces around the world. They are heavily utilized in search and rescue efforts while also being deployed as guard dogs and watchdogs. The breed loves to be given a job to do, is easily trained in the right hands, and has the concentration and independence to be able to handle almost any role a dog can perform.

rottweiler service dog
Image Credit: Dmitriev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Is a Rottweiler Easy to Train?

Although they are not recommended for first-time owners, Rottweilers are easy to train by experienced handlers and owners. They will pick up new tasks and new commands quickly, but they need consistent training and prefer to be given jobs to do.

How Much Exercise Does a Rottweiler Need?

Rottweilers are muscular dogs with high levels of stamina. They need to be given a lot of exercise every day, and those that do not get enough exercise can be prone to putting on excess weight. You should provide at least 2 hours of exercise every day for your Rottie, and this can include intense exercise as well as walks. Consider signing up for some form of canine sports—not only does this provide good exercise but it offers socialization, training, and bonding. It also gives your Rottweiler a job, of sorts, to concentrate on.

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Rottweilers are popular dogs, although they do have something of a reputation for having the potential to be aggressive. This reputation likely stems from the dog’s use as a guard dog, but with socialization, training, and proper care, the Rottie can be a gentle and caring member of the family. It is a herding dog but while it is still occasionally used for this purpose, the breed is more likely to be used as a police or search and rescue dog, and may also still be used as a guard dog or watchdog.

Featured Image Credit: Shedara Weinsberg, Shutterstock

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