Getting to nose you: Rottweilers start to overcome their bad rap

December 13, 2009 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

It’s quick and dirty today, people. I can make this look and sound pretty or I can get all my errands done. You decide which happened.

Rottweiler registrations soared in the 1990s. The breed was in the top 10 of AKC-registered dogs for several years and for two years was ranked second. That bigstockphoto_Rottweiler_5015467popularity did a number on the breed, wreaking havoc on its temperament and health. At the AKC Eukanuba National Championship yesterday, I talked to my dog writer friend Jill Kessler Miller, president of the Golden State Rottweiler Club and co-founder of Rottweiler Rescue of Los Angeles, as well as her friend Peter Piusz, the American Rottweiler Club’s AKC delegate. Here’s what they had to say about what’s happening in the breed. Jill’s first.

Interest in the breed has greatly reduced in the last 10 years, which has been to its benefit. People often come by and say, ‘Oh, I had a Rottweiler, but I won’t have another one.’ That’s fine. For people who are interested in the breed, I give them real information. I’m not just somebody who’s trying to sell them a dog. We have our best and friendliest Rottweilers here, and I make it a point to say to people, ‘You’re meeting a really nice dog here that has been highly socialized and well bred. Do not think you can just go out and get one from the Pennysaver or the Recycler or go to the shelter and get one like you see here at the show.’ This is a wonderful place for people to come. I tell everybody about this show every year because I want them to see all the different breeds so they can make the right decision on the right breed for them, versus getting the wrong breed and then trying to fix it. Which as a trainer, that’s what I end up doing more often than not. The joy is when you get somebody who has done their research and they have the right dog for them.

Peter Piusz jumps in.

The biggest thing is to be face to face with the public and dispel some of the myths and misconceptions of what a Rottweiler is. For instance, the Rottweiler is more of an aloof dog than an in-your-face dog. The dog is happy being by itself. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t want contact with people, but it wants contact with people on its own terms.

JKM: Or with its own family. They’re very, very loving with their family.

PP: Some people believe the Rottweiler is innately a guard dog. It is not. It has to be highly trained to think in those terms. The dog’s first reaction is to step back and look at a situation. It has to be taught to step forward in situations.

JKM: They are a thinking dog. They are not a reactive dog. I tell people all the time, ‘If you have a Rottweiler that’s barking, you need to go look, because they’re not a barky breed.’ They will step back and you will see them watching and observing. They’re not afraid. They’re thinking. It’s a really different kind of dog.

Some of the things I also tell people about the breed is that they love their own children; they do not necessarily love other people’s children. And they do not tolerate fools and drunks. They don’t like when people are being stupid with them or around their families or especially around their children. They will protect. And that can be a problem.

The problem here in Southern California is you can’t get homeowner’s insurance. The only two homeowner’s insurance companies that will cover the Rottweiler and some of the other blacklisted breeds are State Farm and Farmer’s. This is a big problem. There was a period when we were getting a lot of rescue dogs, not because of anything the dogs had done but because their owners’ insurance had been canceled. It brings with it a lot of responsibility: financially, logistically, fencing, housing, emotionally, dealing with the public. It’s a dog that brings a lot of burden with it, but we love them.

I expect there to be several thousand people walking through here. Last year, we had people come who really wanted to see the Rottweilers and pet them and yet they would say to me, ‘I can’t have one, it’s not the right breed for me, but I love them.’ I’m thrilled when people say that because it means that as a rescuer I’m not going to have to pick up their dog. That always works for me.

Gratuitous Greyhound blogging: Wow, a Greyhound went Group 1: Ch. Grandcru Clos Erasmus. And I believe Rocky the Cavalier went Group 2. That is all.…

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