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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