The breed is black with clearly defined tan markings on the cheeks, muzzle, chest, legs, and eyebrows. The markings on the chest should form two distinct upside-down triangles; a tiny patch of white in between is acceptable, although undesirable. The cheeks should have clearly defined spots that should be separate from the muzzle tan. The muzzle tan should continue over the throat. Each eyebrow should have a spot. Markings on the legs should not be above a third of the leg. On each toe should be a black 'pencil' mark. Underneath the tail should also be tan.
Nails are black. Inside the mouth, the cheeks may have black patches, although the tongue is pink. The skull is typically massive, but without excessive jowls. The forehead is wrinkly when the Rottweiler is alert.
The Rottie's eyes are a warm, dark brown—any other colour is never acceptable. The expression should be calm, intelligent, alert, and fearless. The ears are small drop ears that lie flat to the head. 'Flying' ears are undesirable.
The coat is medium length and consists of a waterproof undercoat and a coarse top coat. It is low maintenance, although experiences shedding during certain periods of the year. Rottweilers are not naturally without tails. The tail was orginally removed to prevent breakage and infection that would occur when the tail became caked with mud and other derbris collected from pastures and livestock. Today, many owners decide to have the tails removed soon after the puppies' birth for purely cosmetic reasons. The tail is usually docked to the first joint. The chest is deep and should reach the Rottie's elbows, giving tremendous lung capacity. The back should be straight; never sloping. The Rottweiler stands 25 to 27 inches (63-68 cm) at the withers for males, and 23 to 25 inches (58-63 cm) for females. Weight is usually between 90 and 110 lb (41-50 kg) but can be even higher.
The breed is an ancient one, and its history stretches back to the Roman Empire. In those times, the legions travelled with their meat on the hoof and required the assistance of working dogs to herd the cattle. One route the army travelled was through Württemberg and on to the small market town of Rottweil.
This region eventually became an important cattle area, and the descendants of the Roman cattle dogs proved their worth in both droving and protecting the cattlemen from robbers and wild animals. It would be a brave villain who would try and remove the purse around the neck of a Rottweiler Metzgershund (Butcher's Dog of Rottweil).
However, by the end of the 19th Century, the breed had declined so much that in 1900 there was only one female to be found in the town of Rottweil. But the build up to the World War I saw a great demand for "police dogs," and that led to a revival in interest for the Rottweiler. Its enormous strength, its intelligence, and its ability to take orders made it a natural weapon of war.
From that time, it has become popular with dog owners, and in 1935 the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. In 1936, Rottweilers were exhibited in Britain at Crufts. In 1966, a separate register was opened for the breed.
A well-trained and responsive Rottie can provide the right owner with a great deal of exercise and loving companionship. They are usually quick to learn and have a desire to please their owners. They are too intelligent to be left to their own devices and are happier when mentally active. Despite bad press, this is a calm breed—however, they are normally ready to play at the first sign of fun. Rotties need attention from their owners and are naturally playful and active; if a Rottie has been neglected for a time period, it usually will strive to creatively get the owner's attention.
The Rottie is not usually a barker: he is a silent watcher who notices everything. Before attacking, he tends to go very still, and there is no warning growl—it is this that gives them the reputation of being unreliable. However, this is not the case; the owner will always be able to recognise when the Rottie perceives a threat. When a Rottie barks, it is more of a sign of annoyance with external factors (such as cats or other disturbances) rather than threats.
The Rottie is an entirely suitable playmate for children and even toddlers, although no dog should be left with children without supervision. He knows just how hard to play without hurting anyone. But he does need to be kept under control, as if he senses a threat, he might want to act on his initiative if no guidance is forthcoming.