Showsight Presents The Rottweiler

ROTTWEILER Q&A

What is the biggest misconception about my breed? Unfortu- nately, most people think the Rottweiler is inherently aggressive: they are man-eaters, killers, and dog aggressive. So many people also think these dogs were originally bred for personal protection. True, Rottweilers require training and proper socialization. Rott- weilers are intelligent and generally more independent than other breeds. They are also impressive in appearance and they possess a lot of power. However, when bred and raised correctly, the Rott- weiler is slow to aggression, able to make self sufficient decisions about encounters with people and animals alike. Any dog can be bred and trained to be aggressive. Even a Rottweiler with the most stable, gregarious in-born temperament can be raised improperly, even accidentally by an uneducated owner, and grow into an aggres- sive dog. But the Rottweiler is not inherently aggressive. Does the average person recognize my breed? Surprisingly, yes! Before the Internet made interaction between strangers so easy, people relied on the media for information about the breed, and the media, seeing a very cool looking, impressive and powerful dog, slipped the breed into the role they could easily fit into. Of course they did! Rottweilers are trainable, big, impressive, and they gener- ally get along well with a variety of people in a public setting when trained to do so! They are perfect for movie sets! The media and movies depicting Rottweilers being aggressive dogs were the pri- mary source of information for people about the breed. Then the Rottweiler got more popular. People got more educated about them. The Internet opened up an avenue for people to communicate more freely and made it easier for the general population to find events like dog shows to get out and see the reality of the breed. And the Rottweiler fell out of favor with the media. All of these forces com- bined to allow the average individual to see the Rottweiler as a large, powerful dog, which is not always aggressive. That said, there is still a large percentage of the population who do not seek out edification on the breed. Those are the people who are stuck seeing the Rott- weiler as the media chooses to portray it. What special challenges do breeders face? The mental, emotion- al, and financial cost of breeding properly, compounded by the stig- ma of breeding propagated by animal rights extremists, and general lack of support from most veterinary professionals concerning keep- ing dogs in tact and being used for breeding purposes. We breeders need to show rescue groups, animal welfare advocates, and veteri- narians inundated with unwanted dogs that our goals are the same and we all dislike unscrupulous breeders. We need to show that our breeding dogs do not add to an overpopulation problem. Whether every dog in a pedigree has titles or not, we need to be breeding with a purpose. We need to show the purpose behind our breeding deci- sions. The best way to show purpose behind our breeding decisions is to work towards titles. If we never prove our dogs are worthy of being bred, prove these dogs possess the characteristics we purport to emphasize, we are merely adding to the overpopulation problem, not actually preserving the characteristics of this breed we so love, and proving the naysayers correct. However, proving the worthiness of breeding is expensive both monetarily and in the time invested in training and traveling to the show venues. These costs are incurred because we love our dogs, we love the breed, but also because we are trying to preserve the breed and continue these characteristics into the next generation. We incur significant costs of health clear- ances to make sure these dogs we so love and propagate will not produce a puppy with health problems that will cause heartbreak to the owners. Then there are the costs incurred by actually breeding and raising a litter. The average owner has no concept of the blood, sweat, tears, and emotional and financial investment of each and every litter produced. It is very frustrating to fight with everyone on all sides, and then have a puppy person say they only want a pet, so none of what I do to prove worthiness of breeding is significant.

But that is our job: we educate and show anyone who will listen why we do what we do; why we charge what we charge; how we help prevent dogs from ending up in shelters; why we are needed to keep these majestic dogs true to their history. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? This really depends on the line. Some lines of Rottweilers mature quickly and can show well by six months of age while others will not be competitive in a show ring until three or four years of age. This is also extremely dependent on which venue a dog is meant to show in: herding, shutzhund, competition obedience, agility, and conforma- tion will all show characteristics at different times. Some of these venues must have an inborn behavioral component that can never be taught, while some can be finessed with some time and training. The most important thing about my breed for a new judge to keep in mind? This is a Working breed and form follows function. A dog who makes a pretty picture when stacked, but cannot move properly should never be rewarded. Breed type is so important, but not the only thing to judge. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Through inclusion, kindness, education, and encourage- ment; allow an enthusiastic newcomer to take pick or second pick puppy and mentor them along to help them achieve success! Success allows a newcomer to get bitten by the bug. Also, realizing not all newcomers will enjoy this crazy world, and that is okay too! My ultimate goal for my breed? To maintain the awesome ver- satility of this wonderful breed without sacrificing the powerful beauty and grace of the dog. I love that my dogs are all game to do whatever I want, and they are all physically and mentally capable of keeping up with me! Be it hiking in the mountains, swimming in the lake, trail riding with the horses, rollerblading or bicycling, jogging with me, or laying at my feet for weeks on end as I studied in school, my Rottweilers have always been there. I hope we do not lose that ability to fit into life so well. My favorite dog show memory? I am fairly new to the competi- tion obedience world. I started in Novice A in February 2016. By the Medallion Rottweiler Club Specialty in October 2016, we were competing for a Utility title. We had tried and NQ’ed at several trials prior to the MRC. We NQ’ed out of the Utility class on the first day of the MRC. When we finally Q’ed in Utility on the sec- ond day, everyone ringside erupted in cheers! We didn’t even score very well! But man, it was so nice to have people rooting for us as neophytes to such a difficult sport! I felt like I belonged. I felt like everyone who celebrated such a small success with me was a friend who understood how hard it was to get to that point. JOAN ROSEMIER I was born in Oregon and lived all over the states, from Oregon to Washington, to Utah, to Texas, to Pennsylvania, to Kentucky, to South Carolina, and will probably be in Arkansas from now on. I’ve been grooming for 35 years and still enjoy going to work. I’ve been married to my best friend, Richard, for 36 years. I started barn hunting with my dogs in 2015 and this past winter became a barn hunt judge. I’m anxiously waiting to start my newest puppy soon. I have four Rottweilers now. I’m also the obedience show chair for the Hot Springs Kennel Club’s annual all-breed/obedience show. I live in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I don’t really do much “outside of dogs.” I’ve been a groomer for 35 years and going strong. Do I hope my breed’s ranking will change? I actually would like to see our AKC popularity ranking drop. They became so popular that their health and temperaments have suffered.

180 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2020

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