Showsight Presents The Rottweiler

rottweiler Q&A WITH KAREN BANG, DAVIANN MITCHELL, LEW OLSON, TOM WOODWARD PHA, & DIANE VOSS

In today’s society, we cannot afford to have any of these extremes. Breeders must recognize and take responsibil- ity for the temperaments of their dogs, breed for proper temperament, sound health and place their puppies accordingly. We must all breed for a balance of working drive, willingness to please, and a friendly and stable dog, not a dog with so much drive it is not safe with the average pet owner or family, or so sharp or shy, that they are potentially dangerous if placed in the wrong home. LO: I wish that anyone who owns Rottweilers, would do some form of performance with them. I feel this helps keep good Rottweiler temperament and character. This could include obedience, schutzhund, tracking, rally, carting, herding or any work that involves mental and physical activity. Our breed is a working breed, and needs to be mentally challenged and have good physical conditioning to continue our breeds legacy. It is not a breed meant to live on a couch, or worse, in a kennel run with no mental stimulation or physical conditioning. TW: My biggest concern is probably true for most breeds, the lack of honesty among stud dog owners and breed- ers. So Many dogs currently in the Top rankings have either not had health testing done, or have not chosen to disclose the non passing results. The only way we can improve the breed is to make good decisions in breeding and this is done through sharing and honesty of what has been produced or is in the genetics of each dog. DV: My biggest concern with the Rottweiler, at the pres- ent time, is a fairly high rate of cancer. This is an issue I take very seriously considering my veterinary practice and knowledge of these issues. I always try my best not to breed to these known problems whenever feasible. Although I do line-breed, I will not do so if health issues are discovered in that particular line that could be com- pounded by line breeding. 3. The biggest problem facing you as a breeder. KB: I think one of the biggest problems facing breeders today is finding enough responsible show and pet homes for future litters. With a working breed like a Rottweiler, matching the right puppy to the right family who will dedicate the time to train and socialize them can some- times be a challenge. DM: Finding the right homes with owners willing to listen and learn and raise their puppies to be good citizens in today’s society. I also try to emphasize to new owners the benefits of participating in dog sports on some level and the joy only you will know for you and your dog when you train and accomplish your goals together whether it be conformation, obedience, rally, agility or any other dog sport. Any owner can obtain a Canine Good Citizen certificate or do Trick Dog and it is fun for all. LO: Consistency. I find this breed is hard to get consistency in litters, or even find much consistency in the breed ring. Some of this might have to do with Popular Stud Dog Syndrome, or may be due to people not really being able to evaluate their bitch, and search for the best stud dog to complement their female. Large to small doesn’t begat medium size. Over angulated to under angulated

clubs’ public education and breeders’ emphasis on breed- ing sound minds has greatly improved temperaments. While our breed is a guarding breed, they are first and foremost family pets and must act appropriately under all situations and personal and public safety is critical. In conclusion, I think we are moving in a positive direc- tion in our breed both physically and mentally. LO: I find that hard to evaluate at times, because I am con- stantly working at learning more about dog structure, type and genetics. So I find sometimes I am ‘harder’ on how dogs look and are constructed as I was years ago. The Rottweiler is a very hard to breed consistent type. It takes some knowledge in genetics, and knowing the background of the sire and dam (phenotype and geno- type) to keep consistency. I think in the days where breeders could own more of one breed and breed more often, better quality was obtained. That is hard to do in today’s world, and people get criticized if they have ‘too many dogs’. So it is important for breeders of any breed to truly understand the background of the dogs in their breeding program and have a good understanding of genetics, in what is recessive, what is dominant and what are the hardest traits to obtain and keep. This is so impor- tant if you only have one or two breeding bitches. TW: I feel like the quality of our breed remains pretty consis- tent at the shows with a few good ones, a lot of mediocre ones and a few not so worthy of points. Unfortunately, the sport of showing and competing with Rottweilers is declining in general. In the 80s and 90s every show I went to on the West Coast had an average of 60-90 Rott- weilers competing on any given weekend. Now it only takes a handful to make a major and big entries are few and far between even when Specialties are offered. DV: I appreciate being asked to give my opinions on the breed. I feel that overall the quality of dogs in this coun- try is still good, though outstanding specimens are not as common as they once were. 2. The biggest concern you have about your breed, be it medical, structural, temperament-wise, or what. KB: One of the main concerns I have about Rottweilers is that we continue to produce dogs of sound temperament, health, and structure. DM: My biggest concern as it would be for any breed is breeding to the extreme. Whether it be in type or tem- perament or a particular stud dog. If we continue down the path of the “popular” type which often includes extreme heads and structure, we end up with heads that resemble a cross between a Bullmastiff, Pug and Rottwei- ler where the dog’s ability to breathe and perform under physical stress is greatly diminished, thus jeopardizing the dog’s health and longevity. This serves no purpose and hurts our breed in every way possible. If we breed extreme temperaments, we risk either having a potentially dangerous dog if in the wrong home, an unsound temperament, or we can end up with a dog so soft that they are potentially dangerous because of shy- ness and they often become fear biters.

328 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2018

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