Let’s Talk Breed Education!
ROTTWEILERS History & Heritage
by Joan Klem (Rodsden Rottweilers, Reg.) & suzan guynn (Cammcastle Rottweilers)
I n the introduction to her 1984 book, The Complete Rottwei- ler, Ms. Muriel Freeman shares an ancient Plutarchian anecdote about a 5th Century B.C. Athenian gen- eral called Alcibiades who paid a fortune for a very handsome dog only to muti- late it for his own notoriety and political diversion. She poignantly wrote, “Man’s mentality has changed little in 2,500 years. There are still those who will pay an enormous price for a dog and then, either deliberately through guile or accidentally through ignorance, pro- ceed to pervert the nature of the ani- mal it took so very many generations to develop and for which they paid so high a price”—a fitting lead-in for her larger effort to impart “an appreciation of the Rottweiler’s great heritage, a desire to preserve that heritage and the knowl- edge necessary to pass it on to future generations.” Ms. Freeman’s prophetic illustration serves well as a siren to those who count themselves as true guardians of today’s Rottweiler and his remarkable story. Perhaps the most senior living guard- ian of the Rottweiler heritage is AKC and International Rottweiler Judge Joan Klem (see her included bio). She and her niece, AKC and International Judge Susan Rademacher, co-authored the 1996 book, The Rottweiler Experience, an extraordinary chronology of Rott- weiler heritage and lore. The following breed history is reproduced in portions from this researched publication. In the BegInnIng We surmise that the Rottweiler descends from one of the “work horses” of antiquity. When the Romans spread into Europe around 74 AD, they brought along the Molosser dogs —those formi- dable proto-Mastiffs which fought in the coliseums and then accompanied their masters over the Alps, herding and guarding the livestock. As sites of
civilization arose along the legions’ roads, so did various types of dogs. One road led to an army encampment on the Neckar River in what was to become the state of Swabia in southern Germany. This camp flourished as a trading cen- ter and was eventually called Rottweil (Rote Wil, after its red-tiled roofs). Here, a remarkable breed of dog developed which eventually became known as the Rottweiler. An often-repeated story in “Rott- weiler lore” holds that the butchers of medieval Rottweil depended on their dogs to assist with business. These butchers’ dogs, or Metzgerhunds, were first used to help the butchers herd cattle to market; then, after the cattle were slaughtered, the dogs pulled the butchers’ carts. Finally, when the meat was sold, the purses were tied around the dogs’ necks to keep the money from bandits or perhaps from any butchers who might spend too much time in the beer hall! This favorite yarn illustrates that the Rottweiler developed as a drover, draft dog and guard dog and that with these purposes came the necessary traits of endurance, strength, loyalty and above all, intelligence. Such a versatile dog kept busy in the manner described until about the mid-19th century, when rail- roads replaced droving for getting live- stock to market. And using dogs as draft animals was ultimately outlawed (due in part to abuses). Our helpmate, the Rottweiler, then fell on hard times as his customary jobs were being eliminated thanks to industrial progress. If instincts, or shall we say talents, are not used, will they be lost? Apparently not, at least in the case of the Rottweiler. More than a cen- tury after herding ceased to be a part of the Rottweiler’s professional rep- ertoire, American Rottweiler fanciers petitioned the American Kennel Club to allow the Rottweiler to compete in
AKC herding events based not only on the breed’s herding heritage, but pri- marily on documented proof in modern herding trials that the instinct remains strong in the breed. In 1994, the Ameri- can Kennel Club made the Rottweiler one of the rare exceptions to its rules and allowed a designated breed in the Working Group, the Rottweiler, to com- pete in herding trials usually restrict- ed to the designated breeds in the Herding Group. Herding ability didn’t save the breed in the late 1800s. Those traits mentioned previously—endurance, strength, loyalty and intelligence, were found to fit the requirements needed for guard dogs, and the Rottweiler’s talents were put to new uses with the police and military. With suitability for those tasks, the more modern Rottweiler was developed. The Rottweiler we recognize today really began with the formation of the first Rottweiler Club in Germany. We need to remember that the early Rott- weiler cubs were organized by practi- cal, hard-working tradesmen whose goal was to develop a similarly practi- cal, hard-working dog that would be fit to serve them in their livelihoods. Initially, function was stressed above everything else. The first Standard for the breed was written by the first club—a combined club for the Rottweiler and the Leon- berger in 1901. The Leonberger is a large, long-coated breed developed in Leonberg, Germany. The characteristic heavy mane in male Leonbergers is sup- posed to give the dog a lion-like appear- ance and reflect the city’s name. The Leonberger is also probably descended from Roman dogs, making them Swa- bian cousins of the Rottweiler. The first Rottweiler Standard was not too different from our present-day Standard. Where the original Stan- dard radically departs from its current
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With a name and a Standard, the Rottweiler could compete in dog shows, and an interesting story is told of a par- ticularly fine specimen that was exhib- ited at the Heidelberg Kennel Club in 1905. So admired was this dog that fan- ciers determined to establish a system- atic approach to reproducing this dog’s exceptional qualities. Because our mod- ern lines descend from the breedings following the Heidelberg show, one could say, perhaps, that Heidelberg is the true birthplace of our modern Rott- weiler.The name Heidelberger, howev- er, just doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as well as the name Rottweiler! The Rottweiler-Leonberger Club, founded in 1899, had a short duration. It was followed by the German Rottwei- ler Club in 1907, and then by a South German Rottweiler Club in the same year. These two clubs were followed by an International Rottweiler Club, which absorbed the South German Rottweiler Club at about the time that another South German Rottweiler Club was formed in 1919. All these clubs kept stud books, which likely occasioned a great deal of confusion within the Fan- cy. However, the goal of all the clubs was similar—to locate dogs that were of “Rottweiler type,” and concentrate on them to establish a Standard of perfec- tion to be aimed for in selective breed- ing based on ideals for appearance and performance. For the Rottweiler breed there remained only the necessity of establishing one strong club that could be entrusted with the responsibility of progressing and improving the breed. This one club had to be invested with a discipline that gave it control over breeding and registration and the estab- lishment of breeding rules for the pro- tection and preservation of the breed. Enter the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK) in 1921, whose motto became “The Breeding of Rottweilers is the Breeding of Working Dog.” Following negotiations in 1920, the Rottweiler clubs that existed in Ger- many all united into the ADRK with reg- istrations of about 3,000 Rottweilers. This change was an incredible accom- plishment, especially when one appre- ciates that the various stud books were kept through a World War and that the ADRK began its life at a time when Ger- many was suffering horrible inflation and the after-effects of losing a long and devastating conflict.
The early stud books are full of amus- ing entries, not the least of which are the dogs’ names. Imagine having to write Laskar v.d. Politzeidirektion on every dog show entry! There apparently were no limits to the number of letters that could be used in a dog’s name. A short name that appeared quite frequently was “Stumper” (pronounced Schtoom- per), which no doubt refers to the dog’s short, or stumpy tail. The first Standard mentioned that dogs can be born with naturally short tails, although most “are not.” Today, we rarely hear of a litter with “stumpers,” but our experience has been that the short tail is still long enough to require docking to meet the current Standard. In 1924, the ADRK published its breed Standard along with its first stud book. In introducing the Standard, the ADRK wrote: The Rottweiler is an excellent police, protection, companion and guard dog. We try to achieve a power- ful dog (literally: bursting with energy!) of square build, with beautiful red and yellow markings, who is noble as well The dog shows high intelligence, excellent faithfulness, willingness to work, obedience and incorruptibility, as well as great power and stamina. The first look at him reveals naturalness and courage. His quiet gaze expresses good nature and unchangeable faith- fulness. The gaze does not show any restlessness, hastiness or foolishness. Meanness or falseness are never among his properties. Here then was the “basic” Rott- weiler, not all that different nearly ninety years ago from the Rottweiler of today. (Note: Under its strict Breed Warden system, the ADRK would nev- er have come to waver from its devel- opment of the Rottweiler as a docked breed but for the imposed and unin- vited ban on docking and cropping, as the docked tail of the Rottweiler was and continues to be an essential breed characteristic.) In the late 1920s, the ADRK was busy refining the Rottweiler while keeping the policy of “performance first, beauty second” well in mind. Membership in the club had increased to 312 members by 1930. Little did these as powerful in appearance. And the generAl descrIptIon stAted
counterpart is that colors other than black were allowed as a base. The 1901 Standard stated regarding color: “Pref- erably and most commonly black with russet or yellowish markings over the eyes, at the lips, and on the inner and under side of the legs as well as on the bottom. Alternatively, black stripes on an ash-gray background with yellow markings, plain red with black nose, or dark wolf-gray with black head and sad- dle, but always with yellow markings. White markings on the chest and legs occur very frequently and are admis- sible if they are not too extensive.” The Rottweiler would have been a truly colorful breed had the early fan- ciers not decided that while allowing the registrations of Rottweilers of many colors, they would primarily breed only from those with our present day black and mahogany pattern (one wonders if this chosen pattern has anything to do with black and brown being the state colors of Swabia). So ingrained is this popular color scheme that in the fifty years we have been involved with Rott- weilers, we have never seen any pure- bred Rottweiler in any other color. In fact, our current Standard states that any base color other than black is a dis- qualification. In discussing this with fel- low fanciers in Germany, we were told that there have been no colors other than the black with mahogany appear- ing in over 100 generations in the Ger- man stud books. While the success in eliminating strange base colors is recognized, the mention of white markings in the 1901 Standard is interesting because we still see white hairs in dogs being bred today. This venerable genetic marker is a reminder that the Rottweiler is related to other descendants of Roman cattle dogs, the Swiss Sennenhunds. The most popular member of this family in the United States is the Bernese Mountain Dog, but the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is probably more closely related to the Rottweiler.
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Genetics and Dog Shows Share Centuries of History
A s you know, genetic research didn’t start at Embark Veterinary. It started with the fathers of evolution and genetics. During the 19th century, an era of curios- ity about nature, animals, and scientific discoveries blossomed. In 1859, Charles Darwin published Origins of Species about his theory of evolution using natural selection. A few years later, Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel discovered through his experimentation with pea plants that characteristics can be passed down through generations. Mendel, considered by many to be the father of genetics, also defined t he words “recessive” a nd “ domi- nant” in his 1866 paper explaining how invisible factors (geno- types) can predictably produce visible traits (phenotypes). Following Mendel’s discoveries, Friedrich Miescher, a Swiss physiological chemist, discovered what he called “nuclein” or the nuclei of human white blood cells. What he actually discovered became known as deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. Despite these revolutionary discoveries, the scientific community took decades to embrace them. Meanwhile, for centuries, dog breeders had been selectively breeding purpose-bred dogs. But around the 1850s, breeding programs (starting with English Foxhound packs) began to be recorded. In 1873, the Kennel Club in England started the first purebred dog registry and published official breed studbooks. Across the Atlantic, American dog fanciers were just as keen as their British Isle counterparts in holding field trials and dog shows. By 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club held its first dog show. In 1884, the American Kennel Club became the governing body of the sport of purebred dogs through its dog show rules, registry, and breed studbooks. Westminster was its first member club. Around 1900, British biologist William Bateson brought Mendel’s theories back to the forefront of the scientific community. Savvy dog breed- ers began to follow Mendelian inheritance when planning their breeding programs, with a new understanding of visible and invis- ible traits. Selective breeding of purebred dogs with closed gene pools would advance canine genetic research in the future. As more dog breeds emerged at the turn of the 20th century, dog shows began classifying them by type into Sporting, Non- Sporting, Terrier, Toy, and Working Groups. In 1944, Oswald Avery identified DNA as the substance responsible for heredity and, in 1950, Erwin Chargaff continued that research with his discovery that DNA was species specific. Genetic discoveries con- tinued with Rosalind Franklin’s work in 1951 on X-ray diffraction studies, which set the groundwork for the discovery of DNA’s dou- ble helix structure by James Watson and Francis Clark in 1953. By 1983, not only did the Herding Group debut at Westminster but Huntington’s became the first mapped human genetic disease. In 1999, Narcolepsy became the first mapped canine genetic disease by a team of researchers at Stanford University. During the 21st century, the human genome was sequenced in 2003, followed by the canine genome in 2005 with “Tasha” the Boxer. In 2008, “Uno” the Beagle became the first Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner to donate DNA to research. His contribution helped to launch the first ever canine SNP array.
Courtesy of The Westminster Kennel Club.
By 2015, Embark Veterinary founders Ryan and Adam Boyko’s DNA research contributed to the understanding of the origins of the domestic dog. Their love of dogs and science, guided by their mission to improve the life and longevity of all dogs and end pre- ventable diseases, evolved into the founding of Embark Veterinary. In 2019, Embark Veterinary was selected as the official Dog DNA Test of the Westminster Kennel Club. In 2021, Embark scientists published their roan gene discovery. This was followed by the red intensity gene research article in May. Embark Veterinary may have a short history compared to that of the Westminster Kennel Club. However, the contributions of Embark’s founders, Ryan and Adam Boyko, have been felt across the canine world thanks to their research into the origin, over 15,000 years ago, of domesticated dogs. Ryan and Adam have spent the last decade learning everything they can about dogs and genetics. Meanwhile, The Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of dogs. The West- minster Kennel Club Dog Show is the second longest continu- ously held sporting event in the US and, since 1948, is the longest nationally televised live dog show. The club has spent more than a century enhancing the lives of all dogs. A partnership between the two organizations was simply a natural fit. In June 2021, Embark and Westminster will team up again at the 145th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York, on June 11th-13th. Embark will have an on-site swabbing station for exhibitors and award every Best of Breed winner an Embark for Breeders DNA Kit. Embark will also donate $10,000 toward canine health research in honor of the Best in Show winner. It’s evident that genetics and dog shows have shared a long history over the centuries, coming together today with a shared love of purebred dogs.
dedicated fanciers realize that when three of their members emigrated to the United States in 1928, the history and for- tunes of the Rottweiler breed would be forever changed... Otto Denny, Fred Kolb and August Knecht all settled on the East Coast of the United States. Denny’s bitch, Zilly v.d. Steinlach, whelped a litter in 1930, but because the breed was not yet rec- ognized by the American Kennel Club, the litter was registered in Germany with the ADRK. It is interesting that an American-born litter was allowed to be registered by the ADRK. It is good to remember that throughout the breed’s infancy in the United States and, in fact, through what we feel was the “Golden Age of Rottweilers,” the ADRK and its fellow European fanciers were a source of invaluable guidance for American enthusiasts. The first Rottweiler registered by the AKC was Stina vom Felsenmeer, owned by August Knecht, in 1931. The AKC apparently had confidence in the ADRK as it allowed Stina and her contempo- raries to be registered four years before adopting a breed Standard in 1935. On January 26th, 1931, Stina whelped the first litter of Rottweilers registered by the AKC. This litter was also registered with the ADRK... The first Rottweiler to be published as having earned an Obedience degree was Gero v. Rabenhorst. Gero earned his Companion Dog (CD) degree in 1939, his Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) degree in 1940 and his Utility Dog (DD) title in 1941. It is especially appropriate that the first titles award- ed to a Rottweiler were working titles because, even today, more Rottweilers earn working titles each year than earn championships. Ours is still a breed of function! By the mid and late 1940s, Rottwei- lers were found across the country. Our family, of course, is most familiar with the early dogs of the Midwest. In 1945, Perrin G. (Pat) Rademacher (the late brother of Author Joan Klem) acquired his first Rottweiler, August der Grosse, from a first-generation breeding. In looking for a bitch to be bred to August der Gross, Pat brought home (along with two bitches, a male Erwin,) a splendid example of the breed at that time (who) had an indomitable character. A favorite family story tells how Erwin and some members of the
Rademacher family were visiting a sta- ble when a stallion broke out of his stall and came charging down the aisle of the barn straight for the family. Erwin stood his ground, and the horse veered off into a stall just yards before reaching the startled people. You could say that, but for Erwin, you wouldn’t be reading this [book] for one of the authors was a startled, small child in that horse’s path. If we hadn’t understood what indomi- table spirit meant before this incident, we did afterward. There were impressive imports to follow, and their contribution to the American Rottweiler gene pool illustrat- ed how close we still were to the bosom of the ADRK. But the 1950s were a tran- sitional period, as American dogs with American kennel names were begin- ning to gain notice. Along with Town- view, Panamint, Srigo and Rodsden, we include “von Stahl.” The von Stahl list of champions included Ch. Gerhardt von Stahl. Gerhardt, the twentieth AKC champion, would have been famous if for no other reason than he was the first Rottweiler champion owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Freeman and was the beginning of Freeger Rottweilers. The late Muriel Freeman, a foremost AKC breeder-judge and our first American Rottweiler Club delegate to the AKC, was a vital force in the breed since the early 60s. She tried, perhaps harder than anyone, to educate American fan- ciers on the responsibilities of owning and breeding a dog that the Germans had so carefully developed. We feel that the years between 1960-1980 were the Golden Age of Rottweilers. So what defines a Golden Age? To begin, it was a period in which outstanding dogs made their appear- ance, a time of many “firsts” for the breed and an era of tremendous opti- mism about the future of the breed. All this against the backdrop of the establishment and growth of American Rottweiler clubs. Without the American clubs, the “firsts” would not have been possible. The first American club, organized
under the AKC, was the Rottweiler Club of America—an ambitious name for a club mostly on the West Coast that lasted from 1948 to the late 1960s and which really predates the Golden Age. One notable accomplishment was that using the name made it impos- sible for any later National club to use the same name! More importantly, it held the first AKC-sanctioned matches in 1948-49 and the first Rottweiler Spe- cialty in conjunction with the Oakland Kennel Club in 1950. The first Golden Age American Rottweiler club was the Colonial Rottweiler Club (CRC), formed in 1956 with a membership on the East Coast, primarily centered in the Philadelphia area. Within the framework of the Spe- cialty clubs and their members, the Golden Age saw the importation of dogs whose influence on the breed dur- ing that era was undeniable. One such dog was Int. Ch. Harras vom Sofien- busch, SchH I, Bundessieger. In 1963, Rodsden Kennels (kennel of author Joan Klem), through the help of ADRK Head Breed Warden Friedrich Berger, imported Harras. “The great dog,” as he was being called with some fondness by the Germans, was almost seven years old and beyond his prime, but was still being trotted around to German shows on exhibition. Harras should be remem- bered as one of the truly great Rottwei- ler phenotypes. There were many, many notable dogs (that arrived in the United States during this period): Harras, Dux (Ch. Dux v. Hungerbuhl, SchH I), Falco (Ch. Falco V.H. Brabantpark) and Eppo (Ch. Eppo vd Keizerslanden, CDX, BH, Canadian CD) whose achievements, descendents, and owners defined (the Rottweiler experience) during the Golden Age. As we have learned, it was the ADRK in Germany that developed, nurtured and wrote the first “modern” Standard for the Rottweiler. You might call it the original parent club. Through wisdom and discipline, a marvelous working dog was developed for the world to enjoy.— The Rottweiler Experience
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rottweIler hIstory todAy In the MAkIng While on countless fronts the world has become a battle for “mindshare” (a corporate term referring to the use of every available avenue for obtaining a space in one’s mind) the dog world has moved accordingly, rendering with this age a tug of war between those who as true guardians strive to respect and protect the Rottweiler heritage given to us by the ADRK in the 1920s (and preceding generations)—and those who demand “choice” as it relates to conventional or convenient standard modifications and not so differently as that accomplished in the indulgent spirit of self as demonstrated by the Athenian general in the ancient Greek story. It is a battle between “rights” and “responsi- bilities,” with internet and online chats having “gone live” with Rottweiler history in the making as commentary, debate, and reflection salt and divide the once unified spirit of the Rottweiler fancy. Dedicated breeders and exhibi- tors have raised thousands to protect and defend the standard in face of efforts by a small few in political seats who seek to revoke the Rottweiler’s status as a docked breed. The major- ity continue to lovingly showcase the breed not only in conformation, but in performance and working events, parades, therapy, and carting, among others, while simultaneously push- ing back against detractors and oppo- nents who seek to target the Rottweiler and undermine the heritage through regulatory, anti-dog, and breed spe- cific legislation. It is a significant and challenging period in the history of the Rottweiler. In their co-authored work, Joan Klem and Susan Rademacher cite the historical essence of the Rottweiler spirit as described by Hans Korn (1939 Rottweiler Expert and author of Der Rottweiler ): “a dog with unfailing good humor... with willingness to forget unpleasant events”—or, alternatively, in the words of Herr Pienkoss (former ADRK President and Founder of the IFR, International Foundation of Rott- weilerfriends) as he notes the breed’s “refinement”: “Refinement implies in the dog, descent from forbearers which rose above the average in form and working performance. A dog with refinement is also one which is beauti- ful, noble and proud looking. Size is not
the main feature of the refined dog, but beautiful, clear outlines and a harmoni- ously proportioned body. Refinement does not express itself only in the form, but also in posture and character. Tem- perament without pushiness, courage without wildness, friendliness with a touch of reserve.” Heritage boasts an intrinsic value based on a promise and a tradition transferred across successive genera- tions. It does not automatically confer value, but it creates the necessary foun- dations to do so. One can not adopt a shortsighted perspective on the Rott- weiler’s history. His heritage is not only what sets him apart from others; it is his essence and his splendor, fitting for this generation and the next—to be guarded by those who appreciate the breed’s proud lineage. ABout the Authors Suzan Guynn, Cammcastle Rottweilers Suzan Guynn,
Rodsden “A” litter, out of Astrid of Rodsden, a gift from her brother Pat on her graduation from Northwestern University School of Speech. She per- sonally trained and competed in con- formation, obedience and tracking with her dogs. She shared the love of the Rottweiler with her husband, Dick Klem, who served as Medallion Rott- weiler Club (MRC) President in 1962. Their three sons were raised with Rott- weilers, and her granddaughter Chan- dra earned MRC Best Junior Handler, followed by her great granddaughter Brianna winning BJH in 2008, and her granddaughter, Jacalyn Joan win- ning BJH in 2011! She co-owned the registered ken- nel name “Rodsden” with her brother Pat (MRC President 1961) and does so currently with his daughter, AKC Judge Susan Rademacher. She has co-authored five books on the breed with Pat and Susan; the first in 1964, “How to Raise and Train a Rottwei- ler” and the last, “The Rottweiler Handbook” in 2001. She has written, produced and narrated two videos on the breed. “Let’s Talk about Rott- weilers” won the 1990 Dog Writers Association of America Prize for the Best Video, Education/Entertainment as presented to her at Westminster KC show. As an AKC/lnternational Judge, she has judged the Rottweiler in 16 countries. A Charter Member of the MRC, she served as President for 12 years, Trea- surer and Director; Public Education Coordinator, Judges Education Chair and President of the MRC Schutzhund Verein for five years. She served as Spe- cialty Chair for the first Independent and the “Rottweiler Super Bowl” Spe- cialty and many in between. She was the fourth President of the IFR and Coordinator of the 1997 Conference held in Wheaton, IL sponsored by the ARC and MRC, and she was a Charter Member of ARC, MRC’s founding del- egate to ARC, first Treasurer, Director, ARC Education Coordinator and Head Presenter and ARC nominee for AKC Lifetime Achievement Award. She was chosen to judge Best in Specialty Show at the 50th Anniversary of the Medal- lion Rottweiler Club. She indicates that there has hardly been a day in the last fifty years that she and her family have not thought about the breed and the MRC.
operating under the AKC regis- tered kennel name Cammcastle, has been breeding and exhibiting Rottwei-
lers for over 25 years. Cammcastle has bred and/or owned over 75 AKC Rott- weiler champions including multiple top ten dogs and bitches, multiple Best in Show winners, multiple Best in Spe- cialty Show winners, three American Rottweiler Club Top Twenty winners, and a nationally ranked #2 Work- ing Group Rottweiler. Suzan credits her dogs’ successes to the diverse and exceptional people owned by these dogs, people who routinely dedicate themselves to their dogs’ health, train- ing and general well-being—and who enthusiastically participate in oppor- tunities to showcase the results. More- over, she credits her husband Doug for his patience with and support of this ever demanding avocation—and her children, for not only the walks, baths and mock Rottweiler shows they con- duct with their friends, but the many positive baseball and soccer sideline encounters they have facilitated for Cammcastle puppies. Joan Klem, Rodsden Rottweilers Joan Klem registered her first lit- ter of Rottweilers in 1949 from the
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Rottweiler Breed Type &Movement BOTH ARE VALUED BY THE BREEDER-JUDGE BY LEW OLSON
I am often asked if I value breed type or movement when judg- ing Rottweilers. My answer is—both. The two important characteristics of the Rottweiler are its essential breed type, and its athletic, powerful, and balanced movement. This is a breed that needs to be athletic enough to have the endurance to trot all day in the field. When I am judging Rottweilers in the ring, the first thing I do is move them around the ring; twice, if possible. This gives the dogs a chance to relax, and to notice me and the other dogs, while giving me the ability to assess their movement. The individual exams allow a closer inspection of each dog, to assess breed type. The Rottweiler is 9-to-10 in proportion, which should look square when standing. The front and rear angulation should be equal. All this equates to balance and strength, which provides balanced and strong movement. When I examine the head, I look for the correct proportion of 60/40 head-to-muzzle, with a well-developed stop. The muzzle should be strong and only slightly tapering to the tip. The eyes should be dark and almond-shaped. The ears are level with the top of the head and lay close to the head. The characteristic expression comes from the dark, almond eyes, well-developed zygomatic arch, and the correctly proportioned skull and muzzle, which denote strength and power. The appearance is of a medium-large dog that is compact, athletic, and robust. It is each of these attributes, put together, that gives the Rottweiler the appearance of nobility and strength. Most of the questions asked about examining the Rottweiler are about checking dentition. This includes checking for a scissors bite and counting the teeth. I generally recommend looking at the teeth first in the exam as Rottweilers can be aloof, and examining the bite is easier at the beginning. I check the front for a scissors bite (level is a fault, over and undershot are a DQ), then look at P1-P3, the larger molars, and the M3 (or the tiny set of teeth in the lower back) last. Rottweilers can have no more than one missing tooth. One missing tooth is a severe fault, two or more is a DQ. Remember, proper den- tition and teeth are what helps to keep the head type and strength! The rest of the exam requires a light hand on the dog, with- out bending over or crowding the dog. After I check the bite, I simply run my hand down the back, look OVER the back from the rear (to check for rib spring), and check the testicles. It is not easy to hide structural faults on this breed; most can be observed during movement.
Now that the dogs have been observed moving, then again on individual exams with gaiting, it is time to look at the class one more time. At this point, I have determined which dogs in the class are the best moving and in balance, with reach and drive and level toplines. From this group, I will select those that exhibit the best type, in proportion 9/10 height-to-length (or almost square), with the breed-specific attributes of the head as described in the standard, along with appearing athletic, robust, and powerful. At this point, I often walk down the line to check head and structure one more time, and then move them again to assess side gait and how the toplines hold up during movement. ONCE AGAIN, TO RECAP, THE IMPORTANT ROTTWEILER BREED CHARACTERISTICS ARE:
• Overall Proportion, 9/10 Height-to-Length • Athletic, Strong and Robust, While Compact • Balanced Side Gait with a Strong Topline • Head Proportion 60/40, Skull-to-Muzzle • Skull Broad Between the Ears • Eyes Almond-Shaped and Dark Brown
• Ears Medium-Sized and Carried Level with Top of Skull The Rottweiler is a trotter. His movement should be balanced, harmonious, sure, powerful, and unhindered, with strong fore- reach and a powerful rear drive. The motion is effortless, efficient, and ground-covering. Watch the Rottweilers move, and select the best movers. From these, use the breed-specific descriptions to select from the best movers. In that light, you WILL be choosing the best dogs! DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: • Entropion, Ectropion; • Overshot, Undershot (When Incisors Do Not Touch or
Mesh); Wry Mouth; Two or More Missing Teeth; • Unilateral Cryptorchid or Cryptorchid Males; • Long Coat;
• Any Base Color Other than Black; Absence of All Markings; • A dog that in the Opinion of the Judge Attacks Any Person in the Ring. Please REWARD soundness and balance! Please AVOID dogs that are unbalanced or straight in the front and over-angulated in the rear. This does not make for balance or strength.
Heads of a Dog and Bitch (All images provided by the author.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lew Olson has owned and shown Rottweilers since 1978, She has bred over 100 AKC Champions under the Blackwood Kennel name. She has been an AKC judge since 2001 and judges the Working, Toy and Non-Sporting breeds. She has judged Rottweilers in Finland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Trinidad, and Jamaica and has had the honor of judging at the American Rottweiler Club National twice. Next year she will judge a Rottweiler Specialty in Adelaide, Australia. She has been a member of the American Rottweiler Club for 41 years and is the ARC Judges Education Chair. She has a PhD in Nutrition, has written two books on canine nutrition and has presented seminars on Canine Nutrition. Besides judging, she is still active in showing in conformation and performance events.
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GESTALT ROTTWEILER THE KEEPING THE ‘BIG PICTURE’
WHILE REMAINING FAITHFUL TO THE SMALL ATTRIBUTES
BY JILL KESSLER-MILLER & JEFF SHAVER (Photos provided by the authors.)
M ost articles written about a breed go over the same “big picture” points you hear over and over again… balance, pleasing, proportion. It’s unlikely anyone reading this article—in a show dog-centric magazine with a dedicated section on the Rottwei- ler—needs to hear about the “big points” again. Principles such as a 9-to-10 ratio are known. A well-angulated front and rear, scissors bite, and almond eye are a given. Easy. Learned it. Got it. But being faithful to small attributes is more difficult; dif- ficult to remember if you judge multiple breeds (for example, a light eye in a hunting dog may be normal, but it is unacceptable in the Rottweiler), and difficult to pay attention to those seem- ingly “cosmetic” aspects that are truly important to breeders and to breeding programs. So, rather than once again talk about the usual over-arching points, this article will expound upon the small, perhaps even dull, features that, when put together, truly add up to a superior specimen of the Rottweiler. (Adherence to small details won’t be bad for your judging reputation either.) DARK AND STEALTHY To begin with, remember this one word: Dark. Dark brown, almond-shaped eyes; dark black mouth, including gums and lips; dark mahogany markings (not straw or tan); dark body, not overtaken by excessively large or light-colored markings. (If the markings on the front legs go up and reach the underside, and connect with the chest markings and reach across the undercar- riage, touching the markings on the rear legs to form one large blot, the markings are too large. They are markings—separate markings on the legs, cheeks, muzzle, chest, and buttocks.) We are a dark and stealthy breed—not bright and noticeable. Hav- ing said that, markings are to be defined; markings that are miss- ing, difficult to discern or overly muddy are to be faulted. SCISSORS BITE AND FULL DENTITION Speaking of mouths, if the best dog you can find has missing teeth or malocclusion, look again. While our standard allows for one missing tooth, it is a serious fault. There was a time when missing teeth were more of the norm, but a lot of work has been done in favor of full dentition. Watch for wry bites too. A scissors bite with full dentition in a dark mouth, both lips and gums, is desired. (If you really want to see people sweat, ask the handler of a dog you like to lift the lips to look at gum color!)
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THE ROTTWEILER GESTALT
ROUGH & READY The Rottweiler should not exude ele- gance or refinement. We are a rough and ready, working farm dog, cattle drover, predator aware, stranger questioning, child- loving, handler compliant, cart pulling, no-nonsense type of dog. We are called the “Noble Breed” for a reason—the Rottweiler doesn’t have to make a show of being pres- ent because he is better, smarter, and stron- ger than the others around him. The Rott- weiler is dignified, circumspect, and keeps close council. While Rottweilers are known for silliness and pranks with their families, they are never— never —to come across as stupid. Quiet confidence is the preferred mode. They should always appear as if they
are thinking—because they are. ATTENTIVE AND OBEDIENT
If an entry is making a big show with barking, lunging, spinning, or outward bel- ligerence, please excuse it. The Rottweiler is not to display behaviors that speak of inse- curity, being stimulated over its threshold or outright aggression towards humans (even if it’s displaced). The Rottweiler is attentive to his handler and obedient to direction, unless threatened. GROUND-COVERING AND EFFICIENT Difficulty in discerning correctness pres- ents itself when the Rottweiler moves. There are two common errors; 1.) being taken in by flashy movement or, 2.) a dog that is too long and elegant. “Flashy” movement refers to movement that is eye-catching and heart-quickening. These are usually dogs
that are straight in their front and rear angulation, causing the front legs to reach up rather than out from the shoulder, and the rear legs to cycle quickly underneath. This gives a lot of motion and it looks exciting—but it doesn’t cover ground efficiently, all the while burning a lot of energy while going nowhere. It’s understandable how thrill- ing it is to watch; after all, it’s a dog show, and it is showy! Crowds may love it, but it is, unfortunately, incorrect. There is no argument that smooth, elegant movement is awe-inspiring. Watching a beautiful Afghan or Setter go around the ring can cause you to catch your breath. Elegant movement usually equates to a longer back, and the Rottweiler standard specifically calls for a short, strong back. When presented with a graceful-moving dog, check yourself. Is everything else there as well? Is the back short? Are the body proportions correct and is the dog almost square? Are the rear feet reaching to the midline of the back, but not crossing over or to the side? Is the rear angulation harmonious with the front? Ground-covering, efficient movement (correct) can easily be confused with elegant movement (incorrect). STRONG, THICK, AND GROUNDED When you do see a dog that is straight in the front, you might also have a dog lacking in chest depth and width. Without shoulder layback, the dog is often narrow and shallow. This is a dog that will tire quickly, both from burning more energy to cover ground and from insufficient room for the heart and lungs. Speaking of narrow, our breed must have bone strength. Without it, the Rottweiler becomes weak-looking and spindly. We are strong, thick, and grounded. Weedy, spindly dogs are not to be awarded. MODERATE AND NOBLE The Rottweiler is moderate in head type. We are not short-muzzled like Bullmas- tiffs or Boxers. The Rottweiler must be able to breathe freely, without labor. The head is smooth all around, without excessive wrinkling, dewlaps, or open flews. Too large an ear or too high or low an ear set can make a Rottweiler look houndy, and frankly, clownish. (See photo left—demeanor and appearance is “Noble.”)
Outstanding example of beautiful, dark, almond- shaped eyes, black pigment in mouth, full dentition, deep mahogany color with appropriately sized and defined markings, with powerful bone, stance, and substance. Photo by Jill Wagner.
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THE ROTTWEILER GESTALT
NATURAL TAILS Now a brief mention of an issue that really is no longer much of an issue for most people—tails. Please don’t be afraid of tails on a Rottweiler—they are born with them. Contrary to the belief of many, the cropping and docking ban in Europe was not instigated by “animal rights” people. It was decided by the World Veterinary Organization, based on the science of pain, doing no harm to animals, and only performing surgical intervention (yes, tail docking is a surgical procedure) when medically necessary. The American Veterinary Medical Association stands in agreement with the WVO. For more infor- mation, see https: //www.avma.org/resources-tools /literature-reviews /welfare- implications-tail-docking-dogs or https: //www.academia.edu/38043016/Tail_ Docking_in_Dogs_Historical_Precedence_and_Modern_Views. Our standard may say “docked short,” but it does not state “must be docked.” It also states the set of the tail is more important than the length, which gives judges the option to put up the best dog, not the best docked dog. In 2017, 17% of all class entries at the American Rottweiler Club National were natural tailed. If you are presented with a tailed entry, ignore the tail and look at the overall dog—proportion, angulation, movement, muscling, condition, temperament, color and pigment. The Rottweiler has come a long way over the decades, with many admi- rable changes for the better. Help us keep the Rottweiler a working dog, one that loves to wake up every day to new tasks and challenges, always present with good nature and enthusiasm. By recognizing and awarding the best of our breed, you are part of our dedication to excellence. BY RECOGNIZING AND AWARDING THE BEST OF OUR BREED, YOU ARE PART OF OUR DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE.
The best part of this photo? You might think it’s the clean head, beautiful dark eyes and mouth, strong feet, or color and size of markings, but IMO it’s the ribbon for his tracking title. WORK is our most important breed trait!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jeff Shaver has owned Rottweilers for the last 37 years and has belonged to the American Rottweiler Club for 35 of those 37 years. He has served 14 years total as a director or officer of the American Rottweiler Club, including five years as President, and is currently the Vice President of the Parent Club. Having been on the 1990 American Rottweiler Club Standard Revision Committee as well as having co- bred numerous AKC champions, he has years of experience in the breed. Knowledgeable in conformation and performance events, his dogs have multiple advanced Obedience titles through Utility Dog level, as well as nine Champion Tracker dogs. He regularly judges tracking events for AKC. This year, Mr. Shaver judged the American Rottweiler Club Top 20 event at its National Specialty, and has judged numerous American Rottweiler Club approved Sweepstakes, including at the National Specialty on multiple occasions. He also currently serves as an officer for the Rottweiler Health Foundation and Rottweiler Rescue Foundation. Jill Kessler-Miller has been in Rottweilers for 35 years, being a Golden State Rottweiler Club member for the same number of years and an American Rottweiler Club member for 25 years. She was President of GSRC and Show Chair for approximately 20 years and has been on the Board of ARC since 2017. Jill started in Obedience, is a CCPDT certified trainer, and is active in Conformation, Agility, Rally, Scent Work, Nose Work and Barn Hunt. She is also a Chief Tester for ATTS, a recently minted Scent Work AKC judge, has judged the Rottweiler Sweepstakes, judges the breed for National Independent Rottweiler Klub, and often assists Jeff Shaver in Judge’s Education. Her website is www.QueansRottweilers.com.
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1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, the Rottweiler is currently ranked #8 out of 195 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement? 3. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? 4. Can you speak to masculinity and femininity in the Rottweiler? 5. How much emphasis should be placed on head characteristics? 6. What is the biggest misconception about the Rottweiler? 7. Does the average person on the street recognize him for what he is? 8. What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? 9. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 10. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? 11. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport? 12. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 13. What is your favorite dog show memory? 14. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. PAMELA BOLES My husband, Drew Schroeder, and I breed under the “Raven- screst” prefix. I am an AKC Bronze Breeder of Merit and member of the ARC Club. To date, from limited breeding, I have bred or co- bred 21 AKC titled dogs, including 17 AKC Champions. A number of those dogs are BIS, BISS, HIT winners and/or attained top-ten rankings in conformation and/or performance. We purchased our first Rottweiler, “Khan,” in 1999. He was titled by us to become ’01 WCLG Sieger Multi V-1 Am. Can. UCI Nat’l and Int’l Ch. Ghengis Khan vom Eaglehaus HT TT CGC (CHIC). He was a multi AKC Specialty Best Veteran. MRC, RCC and CRRC Hall of Fame designate. #5 Top producing Rottweiler male in Canadian history. We purchased our foundation female, “Paris,” from George and Betty Chamberlin (Ironwoods) in 2001 and we titled her to become Jan and Sept. ’02 ARC Top Ten Multi V-1 Am. Can UCI Nat’l and Int’l Ch Ironwoods Paris of Diorr HT TT CGC (CHIC) ARC Bronze Producer, Kennel Review Top Producer, 2007 RCC National Specialty Best brood bitch. MRC, RCC and CRRC Hall of Fame, and we later acquired her littermate, “Timmy,” who was titled to become Multi V-1 Am and Can Ch Ironwoods Primetime RTD CD TT CGC. Dogs we’ve bred include; “Burton” aka 2007 AKC #2 Rottwei- ler all systems #13 AKC working dog, Multi BIS and Multi BISS Am Gr Ch and Can Ch Ravenscrest The Alchemist CD RE CA, CHIC, ARC Silver producer, National Specialty BISS, (co-owned by us) Westminster and Eukanuba AOM; and “Kobe” aka CRRC Sieger, Multi V-1 Select 1 Am and Can Ch Ravenscrest The Tal- isman CDX RE TD CX CGC TT HCT TDI ARC VX. Kobe was handled by me to Select and Best of Winners at the 2005 ARC National Specialty; and “Radar” aka BISS Am and Can Ch Ravenscrest The Navigator CDC TDI ARC Heroism Award recipi- ent, also #2 Rottweiler in Canada.
I am working towards my AKC permit status and have been fortunate to have judged Sweepstakes at the following AKC/ARC sanctioned Rottweiler specialties: 2017 ARC National Specialty, Carson City, Nevada (Puppy Dogs, Veterans Bitches and Best Vet- eran); 2019 ARC Specialty, hosted by Pacific Coast Rottweiler Per- formance Club; 2005 Rottweiler Club of Alaska Specialty, Palmer, Arkansas; Mile High Rottweiler Specialty, Greeley, Colorado; and 2007 AKC sanctioned Specialty Match, Columbia River Rottweiler Club at Canby, Oregon. In addition, I have judged the Rottweiler Club of Canada Spe- cialty Sweepstakes for both the Prairies Region and Ontario. I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, working as a trial lawyer. The Rottweiler is currently ranked #8, do I hope this will change? I have been tracking the popularity since 1999. It has declined a little, but they remain in the “Top Ten” from AKC which bases it on puppies registered in a given year, not import registra- tions or unregistered litters, so I suspect the number is higher. With this ranking there is a consistent need for owner education from puppyhood and beyond making ARC and all Rottweiler clubs piv- otal. In the 1980s, I started in Vizslas whose numbers were then modest, but have since grown in popularity tremendously, and have observed the remarkable transformation of that breed accordingly. Do these numbers help or hurt my breed? I am confident that many responsible breeders and owners say the numbers hurt the breed, and without the popularity perhaps we would not have disas- ters like the “Texas 200” and so many of our breed needing foster care and ending up in shelters. Can I speak to masculinity and femininity in my breed? Person- ally, I am attracted to what is referred to as the “doggy bitch,” but there is definitely a line that cannot be crossed in that regard. Gen- der character is not a facet of our breed that I would like to see lost. How much emphasis should be placed on head characteristics Unfortunately, various elements seem to change as a “style” almost as if in fashion. There have been individuals/lines with what I con- sider to be extreme and incorrect heads that have seen success and have developed a following. Muzzle length, when shortened, and proportion in some of the dogs cannot help but negatively impact the room for teeth and correct bites. What is the biggest misconception about my breed? Undoubt- edly that aggression is a hallmark of the breed’s temperament. Does the average person recognize my breed? Generally speak- ing I agree with this statement. Perhaps, and rightly so, due to sheer size there is a hesitancy on behalf of some members of the public to interact initially [with the breed]. This is soon put aside with positive interaction. What special challenges do breeders face currently? At present with COVID-19, we are facing challenges with access to reproduc- tive technology and face to face evaluations of prospective puppy owners. This will pass in time, but other challenges remain like the high costs of production of puppies and high costs of exhibiting. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? From my perspective, at six weeks. What is the most important thing about my breed for a new judge to keep in mind? To be respectful of the dogs and handlers, and to be gentle when examining the bite. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? For our breed to be “out and about,” and for knowledgeable breeders, owners and handlers to be inviting and non-judgmental when addressing inquiries from newcomers, and to follow-up with
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