Rottie History

History of the Rottweiler


Ask any knowledgeable Rottweiler breeder about the history of the breed and chances are you will be told the Rottweiler originates from the Roman drover dogs, dating back to 74AD. Or, you might be told that the modern Rottweiler originates from Germany. No one will argue the fact that Germans did an excellent job in saving the Rottweiler from extinction and developing the first breed standard. If it weren’t for the dedication of German breeders preserving this wonderful breed, there would be no Rottweilers to talk about today.

On the other hand, there’s no consensus with respect to the Roman drover dog connection. This part of the rottie history is at best, educated speculation. The Roman drover dog connection could very well be true but then again there is no way to prove it conclusively. Furthermore, there is another plausible theory about the rottweiler origins that warrants consideration. Around 1928, a book entitled, “German Dogs in Word and Picture” by E. Von Otto Bensheim, talked about a possible Swiss connection concerning the Rottweiler origins. He believed the rottweiler is connected to the Swiss cowherd dogs that were used to bring cattle down from Switzerland into the town of Rottweil. It was also believed that the Bernese Mountain dog shared some common ancestry.

In 1939 a well known expert on the Rottweiler (Hans Korn) wrote about the possibility of the Bullenbeiser dog (ancestor to the Boxer) being introduced to the Rottweiler line. He believed this would account for the broad mouth feature the rottweiler had. The Bullenbeiser also had tiger strips (black stripes on an ash grey background, a colour scheme permitted in the first Rottweiler standard of 1901, which was written 18 years prior in 1883. The Bullenbeiser eventually became extinct by crossbreeding. Like the Rottweiler, the Bullenbeiser was intelligent and also used as a butcher’s dog. If you are looking for a good book about Rottweilers then try The Ultimate Rottweiler.


Overshot, undership or wry bite, any missing tooth. Long coat, any base colour other than black, total absence of markings.


In order to undertake genealogy research for people, you start with yourself and work back every generation, until the trail goes cold. If you are lucky, you are able to trace back 400 years or so, unless you are from royalty. If human genealogy is difficult to trace back beyond 400 years, you can easily understand why it is difficult to trace the Rottweilers genealogy back to 74AD.

Another way of undertaking human genealogy is by tracing your ancestors using DNA. The DNA Ancestry Project using your personal DNA to determine your deep ancestral roots, going back thousands of years. This type of DNA research would be an excellent tool to use in determining where the Rottweiler originates from.  A recent DNA project identified 14 ancient breeds as being closest to the wolf. They also report that the Rottweiler is related in heritage and appearance to the Mastiff, Bulldog, Boxer, Bullmastiff, French Bulldog, Miniature Bull Terrier, Perro do Presa Canario, Newfoundland and Bernese Mountain dog. You could see this report at: Britain Hill: (Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog” by Parker et alii in the journal Science [1], Volume 304 (May 21, 2004) Needless to say, this report is not without controversy.

The Rottweiler’s history from the early 1900’s to present day is not in dispute, but beyond the 1900’s it becomes clouded in Folk Lore and mystery. In the meantime let’s look at what we have, staring from present time and working back.  This article was written by Richard Laplante from Elswick Rottweilers

2004: DNA research: Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog” by Parker et alii in the journal Science

1931:  The first Rottweiler was admitted to the AKC Stud Book.

1926: Two types of Rottweilers existed and they were kept separated and not bred with each other. The smaller rottweiler was used for herding stock while the heavier and bigger rottweiler was used for draft work.

1921: The Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK), was formed in Germany, by amalgamating the two remaining Rottweiler Cubs in Germany.

1921: Rottweiler modified

1913: Standard published by the International Rottweiler Club.

1914: Rottweiler standard modified

1907: The International Rottweiler Club formed and amalgamated with the South German Rottweiler Club.

1907: South German Rottweiler Club formed

1907: Deutsche Rottweiler Club was formed.

Early 1900: Rottweiler was used for police work and the breed was revived and became popular.

1905: Only one Rottweiler is believed to be living in the town or Rottweil. There had to have been other rotties around for a breeding foundation.

1901: The firsts Rottweiler Standard was published but was written in 1883 by Albert Kull – The International Rottweiler and Leonberger Club. This club was short lived. The standard called for: “Preferably and most commonly black with russet or yellow markings over the eyes, at the lips and on the inner and underside of the legs as well as on the bottom. Alternatively, black stripes on an ash grey background with yellow markings, plain red with black nose, or dark wolf grey with black head and saddle, but always with yellow markings. White markings on the chest and legs occur very frequently and are admissible if they are not too extensive.”

1899: The International Rottweiler and Leonberger Club was formed. The rottie coat at that time was usually thick and long.

19th Century: Rail transportation became popular and the need for Rottweiler greatly diminished.

19th Century: Was used as a herding and droving dog for farmers. Also known as the butcher’s dog.

260AD: Romans lost control of Rottweil, then known as Arae Flaviae. The town was renamed to Rot Will, meaning red bricks and tiles. The name then evolved to Rottweil. Rottweil was the hub for cattle markets and was active in commerce. Farmers from neighboring countries brought their cattle to Rottweil for trade, and of course their cattle dogs.

74AD: Romans set up shop in Rottweil and name the town Arae Flaviae. There drover dogs accompanied them to Arae Flaviae.


Town or Rottweil