Vom Aztlan Rottweilers is located in the City of Whittier in Los Angeles County, 12 miles southeast of the City of Los Angeles, California.
We are CODE of ETHICS breeders. We are members of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK), United States Rottweiler Club (USRC), United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA), American Rottweiler Club (ARC) and current president of our local breed club Inland Empire Rottweiler Club (IERC).
vom Aztlan Rottweilers is committed to the complete show and working Rottweiler that shines in the dogs we produce, our on-going involvement in dog sports, and the unique relationships we build with our puppy buyers.
Our passion and devotion is for Rottweilers. Breeding for us is an enjoyable hobby that drives us to strive for perfection. We invest all we can into our dogs to make sure they receive the fullest amount in care, consideration and have the ability to grow appropriately. Our Rottweilers are selected specifically to ensure that they meet ADRK standards for temperament, character, and working ability. Ruben's beliefs in breeding and training working Rottweilers have played a pivotal role in challenging other breeders, trainers and competitors alike to "raise the bar". Their influence can be seen throughout the US. The vom Aztlan dogs are truly well-rounded without sacrificing any of the extreme drive and working ability the best Rottweilers are known for.
We breed type to type vs. trying to make type. Our dogs have dominant faces filled with power and strength. They are fit and muscular, with extreme cheekbone. Their features consist of short muzzles, powerful hind quarters, extreme fill under the eyes, and powerful necks and shoulders. Their faces are large with full and defined features.
We are a very proud and active member of the ADRK. In addition to shouldering the responsibility for maintaining the breed and its integrity in Germany, the ADRK serves as the breed warden for the Rottweiler throughout the world. Having witnessed in Germany for years, we have participated in the dedication and commitment to the Rottweiler that the German people exude. In Germany, your Rottweiler is more than a pet, it is a working partner and a TRUE member of the household. The Rottweiler is welcome on the streets, in restaurants, on the train, and in friend's homes. In Germany, the Rottweiler is truly man's best friend.
The Ztp (Breed Suitability Test) is the Cornerstone of Rottweiler Breeding
The United States Rottweiler Club (USRC) calls the test the BST (Breed Suitability Test) and the ADRK calls the test the Ztp. The Ztp and BST are basically the same breed suitability test. Qualified ADRK judges evaluate the dogs and a written critique of the entire test is provided to the owner.
The German System for breeding has become an unrivaled system of identifying and promoting the absolute BEST breeding candidates. It has been this system that has allow the ADRK to continue to make strides in the advancement and betterment of the all-around Rottweiler. It goes without saying that the German commitment to schutzhund as a sport and as a true temperament test for the working ability of the dog is unparalleled! Being home to both the German Shephard Dog and the Rottweiler, Deutschland (as the Germans call it) is the motherland of Schutzhund, and their commitment to the sport is unmatched throughout the world.
For those new to the breed, we would like to offer a couple words. Please be aware that many breeders will tell you that European Rottweilers or European bloodlines are the same or equal to German bred Rottweilers. This is not correct. Only German born dogs have been bred by the strictest standards in the world. Most European countries do not have required breeding standards. In addition, beware of breeders who tell you they breed German Rottweilers. Most do not - they breed European and/or American lines with a few German dogs scattered in the pedigree. The importance of a dogs pedigree cannot be stressed enough.
Finally, when looking for a Rottweiler, please seek out a Code of Ethics breeder and make sure that BOTH parents have a ZtP/BST. The Ztp/BST is VERY important to the Rottweiler community as it requires that dogs being breed are truly worthy of the opportunity.
Inbreeding and linebreeding
What are inbreeding and linebreeding, and what effect do they have?
In genetic terminology, inbreeding is the breeding of two animals who are related to each other. In its opposite, outcrossing, the two parents are totally unrelated. Since all pure breeds of animal trace back to a relatively limited number of foundation dogs, all pure breeding is by this definition inbreeding, although the term is not generally used to refer to matings where a common ancestor does not occur behind sire and dam in a four or five generation pedigree.
Breeders of purebred livestock have introduced a term, linebreeding, to cover the milder forms of inbreeding. Exactly what the difference is between linebreeding and inbreeding tends to be defined differently for each species and often for each breed within the species. On this definition, inbreeding at its most restrictive applies to what would be considered unquestioned incest in human beings - parent to offspring or a mating between full siblings. Uncle-niece, aunt-nephew, half sibling matings, and first cousin matings are called inbreeding by some people and linebreeding by others.
What does inbreeding (in the genetic sense) do? Basically, it increase the probability that the two copies of any given gene will be identical and derived from the same ancestor. Technically, the animal is homozygous for that gene. The heterozygous animal has some differences in the two copies of the gene Remember that each animal (or plant, for that matter) has two copies of any given gene (two alleles at each locus, if you want to get technical), one derived from the father and one from the mother. If the father and mother are related, there is a chance that the two genes in the offspring are both identical copies contributed by the common ancestor. This is neither good nor bad in itself. Consider, for instance, the gene for PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), which causes progressive blindness. Carriers have normal vision, but if one is mated to another carrier, one in four of the puppies will have PRA and go blind. Inbreeding will increase both the number of affected dogs (bad) and the number of genetically normal dogs (good) at the expense of carriers. Inbreeding can thus bring these undesirable recessive genes to the surface, where they can be removed from the breeding pool.
Unfortunately, we cannot breed animals based on a single gene - the genes come as a package. We may inbreed and rigorously remove pups with PRA or even their parents and littermates from the breeding pool. But remember inbreeding tends to make all genes more homozygous. In at least one breed, an effort to remove the PRA-causing gene resulted in the surfacing of a completely different and previously unsuspected health problem. It is easier and faster to lose genes (sometimes very desirable genes) from the breeding pool when inbreeding is practiced than when a more open breeding system is used. In other words, inbreeding will tend to produce more nearly homozygous animals, but generally some of the homozygous pairs will be "good" and others will be "bad".
Furthermore, there may be genes where heterozygosity is an advantage. There are several variant hemoglobin types in human beings, for instance, where one homozygote suffers from some type of illness, the other homozygote is vulnerable to malaria, and the heterozygote is generally malaria-resistant with little or no negative health impacts from a single copy of the non-standard hemoglobin gene. A more widespread case is the so-called major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a group of genes where heterozygosity seems to improve disease resistance.
Is there a way of measuring inbreeding? Wright developed what is called the inbreeding coefficient. This is related to the probability that both copies of any given gene are derived from the same ancestor. A cold outcross (in dogs, probably a first-generation cross between two purebreds of different, unrelated breeds would be the best approximation) would have an inbreeding coefficient of 0. Note that this dog would not be heterozygous at every locus. There are genes shared with every multicellular organism, genes shared with all animals, genes shared with all animals with backbones, genes shared with all four-limbed animals (including most fish and all amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and with all mammals. Although the DNA might differ slightly, the proteins produced would be functionally the same. Further, the chances are that our dogs with inbreeding coefficient = 0 would still be homozygous for some genes shared by all dogs. The inbreeding coefficient thus specifically refers to those genes that are variable (more than one possible form) in the species and even the breed being considered.
An inbreeding coefficient of 1 (rare in mammals) would result if the only matings practiced over many generations were between full brother and full sister.
The figure shows how the inbreeding coefficient chages with generations of brother-sister matings. As a general rule, this type of mating in domestic animals cannot be kept up beyond 8-10 generations, as by that time the rate of breeding success is very low. However, the rare survivors may go on to found genetically uniform populations.
This has been done in laboratory rodents, producing inbred strains of mice and rats so similar genetically that they easily tolerate skin or organ grafts from other animals from the same inbred strain. However, the process of inbreeding used to create these strains generally results in loss of fertility (first seen in these mammals as a reduction in litter size) which actually kills off the majority of the strains between 8 and 12 generations of this extent of inbreeding. A handful of the initial strains survive this bottleneck, and these are the inbred laboratory strains. However, very little selection other than for viability and fertility is possible during this process. You wind up with animals homozygous for a more or less random selection of whatever genes happened to be in the strains that survived, all of which derive from the parents of the initial pair.
Note that two very inbred parents can produce offspring that have very low inbreeding coefficients if the inbred parents do not have ancestors in common. This, however, assumes that mates are available who are not strongly inbred on a common ancestor. If the parents are related to each other, their own inbreeding coefficients will indeed increase the inbreeding coefficients of their offspring. The critical factor is the coefficient of kinship, which is the inbreeding coefficient of a hypothetical offspring of the two individuals.
Inbreeding has become an important consideration for wildlife conservationists. Many wild populations are in danger of extinction due to some combination of habitat destruction and hunting of the animals, either to protect humans or because the animal parts are considered valuable. (Examples are ivory, rhinorcerus horn, and infant apes for the pet trade, as well as meat hunting.) For some of these animals the only real hope of survival is captive breeding programs. But the number of animals available in such captive breeding programs, especially at a single zoo, is often limited. Biologists are concerned that the resulting inbred populations would not have all of the genes found in the wild populations, and thus lose some flexibility in responding to change. In reaction to this threat they have developed networks such that animals can be exchanged among captive breeding poplulations in such a way as to minimize the overall inbreeding of the captive population. The idea is to select pairs in such a way that the inbreeding coefficient of the offspring is kept as low as possible.
Most elementary genetics books have instructions for calculating the inbreeding coefficient from the pedigree. (For more information, see Dr. Armstrong's site, Significant Relationships.) However, these procedures have two major limitations. First, they are not really designed for cases where there are multiple common ancestors, though they can be used separately for each common ancestor and the results added. Second, they become impossibly complex as the length of the pedigree increases. It is by no means uncommon in dogs, for instance, to have pedigrees which can be researched in the AKC stud book and the KC Gazette and which go back to foundation dogs born around the turn of the century - perhaps 30 or even 40 generations earlier. With this type of long pedigree, foundation animals may appear a million times or more in the pedigree.
With this in mind, a computer program called GENES was developed by Dr. Robert Lacy for the calculation of the inbreeding coefficient, kinship coefficients among animals in the breeding pool, percent contributions of varying founding ancestors, and related output, assuming full pedigrees to the foundation stock were available for all animals currently in the breeding population. For captive breeding populations, the less inbreeding the better, and this is the way the program is used.
In purebred livestock the situtation is a little different - we want homozygosity for those genes which create a desirable similarity to the breed standard. Wright's defense of inbreeding was based on this fact. However, inbreeding tends to remove those heterozygotes which are beneficial (e.g., the MHC) as well as increasing undesirable as well as desirable homozygotes. The practice is most dangerous in the potential increase of homozygous health problems which are not obvious on inspection, but which shorten the life span or decrease the quality of life for the animal.
Dr. Armstrong for calculation of true inbreeding coefficients. This database was based on full pedigrees of all AKC dogs that had sired 10 or more breed champions (males) or produced 5 or more (females.) These top producing animals were set up as the current living population (a somewhat artifial assumption, as the dogs involved where whelped from 1930 to after 1990.) I would love to see some comparisons with other breeds.
|Bones Muscle Power
By Steve Wolfson
If one were to take a survey asking, “Why did you purchase a Rottweiler”, “Why this breed over others”, it would certainly elicit intriguing answers. I cannot say for sure what the attraction others had to the Rottweiler when first encountered, however for me, it was his raw masculine appeal, his unique head and the impressive musculature and power he exuded. From his appearance, one could easily understand that this was a serious dog! Not alone in this view, many other Rottweiler aficionados have recognized this hallmark of the breed and expressed a similar perspective as well. After all, is not the “look” of a dog that makes the first and lasting impression? Surely, his breed type is what makes the Rottweiler unique
The Germans understood the Rottweiler’s distinction when they came together to codify the standard at Heidelburg, Germany in 1907. They were deliberate when articulating and fixing the appearance of the Rottweiler, which is why the standard uses detailed language in its description of this essential aspect of breed type. The standard was modified since 1907, but the general appearance of the Rottweiler has not. Reading the current standard, one finds the word “powerful” written 6 times, “bone” mentioned 3 times and “muscle” mentioned 5 times. No other words have such repetition when describing the details.
Excerpts from the standard:
“The ideal Rottweiler is a medium large, robust and powerful dog - Dogs are characteristically more massive throughout with larger frame and heavier bone than bitches - His bone and muscle mass must be sufficient to balance his frame, giving a compact and very powerful appearance - Neck- Powerful, well muscled - Loin is short, deep and well muscled - Legs are strongly developed with straight, heavy bone - Upper thigh is fairly long, very broad and well muscled - Lower thigh is long, broad and powerful, with extensive muscling - His movement should be balanced, harmonious, sure, powerful and unhindered, with strong forereach and a powerful rear drive ”
Despite his distinctive breed type and the words used in the blueprint to describe it, a negative, subtle change has occurred over the years, which ultimately is disastrous to his appearance.
Currently in the US, which is observable both in the show-ring and out, is a great loss in the general power of the breed’s masculine design. Now, a rarity and an oddity, the once major factor in the breed’s appeal, its power and substance, were put on the “back burner” in many breeding programs. One must look carefully to find this trait; the breed has lost its distinction.
On the street, we encounter Rottweilers that are a poor representation of once was. They possess “pin heads”, narrow, snipey, muzzles, and spindly bones, no muscle mass and shallow frames. To the knowledgeable, these Rottweilers appear to be a mix breeding, although they are not. To the unknowledgeable, they appear to be correct!
In the show-ring, this problem has crossed the boundaries. One should expect poor examples of the breed on the street since they are comprised of non-show dogs. However, the show ring should be the exception. Presently, many exhibits share the same problem of their street cousins and are only a notch or two above. Many exhibits that enter the show-ring are constructed well but are also as weak in substance, spindly in bones and musculature as their pet counterparts are. Now, when a dog or bitch that is in the ring with correct breed type, exuding power and substance, it appears as the “odd man out”. A strong masculine dog or powerful bitch seems strange among exhibits with spindly frail bodies and Doberman-like heads. To the newbie's and unknowledgeable judges, it is untypical and put at the end of the line. Often, I have heard that a female, which possesses strong bones, muscle and a powerful head, is now deemed “too strong” and considered a “doggy bitch”. What was once correct and typical is now abnormal. The dogs, which should embody power and masculinity, are now so weak in type they can be considered “beautiful females”!
WHAT ARE CORRECT BONES AND MUSCLES?
The standard does not give a numerical value for the appropriate bone mass or muscle, only a verbal guide. Therefore, to state a formula, “Dog x must have y amount of bone and muscle to be correct is not possible.” To understand what is appropriate for the correct amount for these attributes, one must refer to the blueprint. From the standard: “His bone and muscle mass must be sufficient to balance his frame, giving a compact and very powerful appearance.”
A reasonable guide when assessing an exhibit, one should ask, “Does this exhibit exemplify a powerful appearance”? - “Is the bone and muscle mass substantial, so that its appearance exudes power”? One should be impressed with the overall appearance for power, muscle and bones.
A. BONE MASS
Bones mass should be thick enough in width so that it appears to support the frame of the dog in a substantial and powerful manner, without being refined, elegant, too massive or grotesque.
The place to visually assess the bone mass on a Rottweiler, correct or incorrect, is the thickness in the radius/ulna and humerus. When making an evaluation, the dog is presented “head on” so that the full width of the chest (from East to West) can be seen. If a numerical evaluation for the thickness of the bones is desired, it is measured by using a tape measure and wrapping it around the circumference of the pastern (see Fig.1). Here is where the least amount of skin, muscle and tendon can be found. Correct bone mass is correlated to the height. The taller the dog, the more bone mass it should possess, compared to dogs of lesser height. Additionally, bone mass should always be proportionate and balanced to the frame of the dog. “Out of balance” is not correct. Good examples of this are the extremes. They are exhibited when a tall dog possess long, fine bones of the radius/ulna and humerus, giving the appearance of spindles, or when a short dog possesses too strong bone mass appearing like “tree trunks”. These dogs are “out of balance”. The Rottweiler is not a St. Bernard or a Dobermann.
B. MUSCLE MASS
The general muscle mass should be substantial, well defined and in proportion to the frame of the dog so that it exudes strength, masculinity and athleticism. The muscles should be apparent, yet not overpowering, like the Bull and Pit Bull Terriers’. The muscle groups that comprise this “appearance” are the muscles of the front and rear assembly.
In the front assembly, the muscles of the shoulders, the upper arm and forearm should be well developed and obvious. These muscle groups are the Deltoids, Biceps, Triceps and the Extensor muscles of the radius/ulna. In the rear assembly, the muscles of the Gluteus and Biceps Femoris should be well developed and defined. Viewing the rear muscles from the back, the depth and width of the Biceps Femoris and Gluteus should be full, supporting the Femur (see Fig.2). Here is where all forward locomotion begins.
C. THE CORRELATION OF MUSCLE AND BONE
With human body-building, the muscles can be developed, shaped and improved, with discipline, hard work, good nutrition and much sweat. However, improvement has limits, since body-building is dependent upon the size, mass of the muscle groups and bone substance. In essence, “you are what you inherited”. The thin framed, fine boned man or woman will always work harder and strain longer to build bulk and definition in the muscle tissue. With this body type, a major factor is bone mass! Strong bone mass is supported by thick muscles. The same principles hold true for the Rottweiler.
Dogs and bitches that are fine boned possess muscles, which are light in their mass and often show little or no definition. This type, will always work very hard to make strides improving and developing what it inherited from the pedigree. Conversely, there are those dogs/bitches, which impress us with their natural well-developed musculature and powerful bone mass. Their musculature is correlated to their robust bone mass.
BREED TYPE IS A STEPCHILD
Why is the great majority of Rottweilers here in the states, (especially in the show ring), not uniformly masculine in type with powerful muscle and bones, which is specified in the standard? Why have they become slight in bone, shallow in substance, and soft in appearance? The answer is breed type has become a stepchild.
In the US, the accent is on the best possible construction demonstrated by superior gait. Those dogs, which display this attribute, are the ones that win in the show-ring. Placing the accent on this attribute is both good and problematic. It is good since all concerned breeders have this as one of
their goals in mind when planning their next litter. Sound construction, in accordance with the breed standard is essential. All exhibitors want to win in the show-ring; therefore, many breeders make superior gait their only goal. With this as their prime directive, many breeders have made a detrimental detour; they traded breed type for locomotion. This is problematic.
Often, at ringside, one can hear spectators and breeders alike say, “Oh that dog moved beautifully with great reach and drive”, “It was well put together.” Yes, that could be said however, the dog looked more like a Doberman than a Rottweiler. Excellent construction with outstanding gait is not breed type. These two attributes are separate entities in a breeding program and are not mutually interchangeable or should be misconstrued for breed type.
Over the years, the masculinity of the Rottweiler, here in the states, has slowly eroded. Its masculine power and substance, clearly specified in the standard, has been oozing away. Spindly, fine bones with narrow long muzzles and smooth body lines have replaced broad top skulls, wide, short muzzles and powerful bones and muscles. Working character has also eroded and replaced with many Rottweilers that are shy and lack confidence in their temperament. This is a negative and detrimental trend. Once set in motion, it is extremely difficult to reverse. One only has to see our European and International counterparts by comparison to understand the differences in breed type and working temperament. In the international community, the accent is placed on breed type and working temperament.
Some would argue there is nothing to improve. All is well within the Rottweiler and breed type is where it should be. That is a myopic view. It is valuable and healthy for all concerned to step “out of the trenches” and obtain an international perspective by making comparisons with our domestic breeding program and our international counterparts. Exchanging ideas and methods to improve genetics and techniques will benefit all. Additionally, it is extremely important to promote and make available more breed seminars in all Rottweiler clubs. There, is where real progress is achievable in an open dialog exchanging opinions and ideas. The benefactor of this is the Rottweiler.
Fiftieth Anniversary of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub, Powerhorn Press, 1978
American Rottweiler Club Standard, May 1990
Dog Anatomy-Illustrated, Way Robert VMD, MS Dreenan Press 1974
Der Rottweiler, Korn Hans 1939
The Rottweiler Pyramid
by Steve Wolfson Correct breed type is disappearing!
The powerful bone substance and definitive masculinity of the Rottweiler we once apprized is now hard to find. Replacing these traits are pinheads, fine bones, distilled facsimiles. Not only is breed type on the decline, so is correct working Rottweiler temperament. In its place we now have, shy, soft, little to no “willingness to work” temperaments. Few Rottweilers in the show-ring and outside it could make the transition from that to the working arena. At the conformation/working spectrum, with rare exception, what we encounter are the extremes; they are beautiful show specimens either with no working temperament or on the working side, great working temperaments with poor structure and marginal breed type. How did this happen?
When enthusiasts decide to purchase a new puppy or a breeder selects breeding partners for their future litters, they draw conclusions and evaluate their choice from a narrow perspective using only a specific aspect of the breed as their criteria. For example, some breeders only seek to use the construction of the Rottweiler as their mark of excellence. They demand only the best angulated, the most correct fronts and rears as their guide for breeding partners omitting other important aspects that comprise the whole picture. Some only use health certifications as their guide. They will only breed or keep dogs that have attained all the necessary certifications such as OFA, heart and CERF clearances, dismissing from the formula, breed type, construction and gait. From a long-term breed viewpoint, this single-aspect criterion is myopic and disastrous. Is there a guide to facilitate a comprehensive approach to the breed without sacrificing one aspect for another?
The answer is yes.
Euclid, the Greek mathematician, stated in his axiom, “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.” Despite this being of mathematical relevancy, we can apply this statement to help guide us in a more complete understanding and evaluation of the Rottweiler. By using a “Rottweiler Pyramid”, where each element of the Rottweiler is prioritized in a hierarchal order of importance, Breed Type, Temperament, Construction, Locomotion, one can view each part on its own merits. Once a thorough understanding of these related elements is achieved, a complete and balanced picture results. It should be the goal of every breeder to incorporate all of these aspects into a breeding program.
(Note: For this essay, I have distilled the topics down to their basic, large block ideas. I also have omitted health clearances from the pyramid, since they are a prerequisite for breeding, showing and training. It would be foolish to pursue a show/sport career with a dog that possessed dysplasia or other serious health issues further than as a personal companion)
1. Breed Type
Number one in the pyramid is Breed Type. The description of it comprises 85% of the standard, its major and defining aspect. Its correct understanding is the foundation of any breeding program, evaluation for judgments in the conformation ring and the first rung on the ladder for the complete understanding of the Rottweiler.
In this area, some prefer to take shortcuts by reinterpreting the standard and taking liberties with its translation, instead of traveling the more difficult path by reading and completely understanding its blueprint. Without a thorough and broad perspective about breed type (or any other segment of the standard), one can only build a house of understanding that is incomplete. This argument, that many do not understand or know what “correct” breed type is, can easily be proofed with the fine boned, narrow muzzles, pinhead, absence of masculinity exhibits we now encounter in the show ring and obviously on the street. An excellent and easy test for “knowledge of breed type” is asking the simple question, “What is Breed Type?” Many have great difficulty with the answer. When asked this question exhibitors and owners have articulated breed type as “excellent gait”. Some say it is “correct temperament”.
Yet others define it as “performance on the working field”. None are correct. Breed Type should be defined as “the essence of characteristics that distinguishes it from others."(1) In simpler terms, it is the appearance of the breed, which separates it from others. Is that not what first attracts us to the Rottweiler?
In the show ring, where we should see only the best examples of type, save for a small percentage that is not, we see the lack of correct breed type abundantly demonstrated. Currently here in the states, many exhibits do not possess the minimum essentials in head and body type. In fact, many heads and bodies are at best, only sufficiently correct and do not possess the implied masculinity of the breed. The most defining aspect of correct breed type, the Rottweiler head, the breed’s icon, should have great prominence. The standard devotes detail to its description with its “Broad between the ears, broad muzzle at the base, moderate arch of the topskull, pronounced stop, zygomatic arch and specified 3 to 2 skull to muzzle ratio.” In essence, the head is powerful, substantial and impressive. Yet, so many exhibits now possess the opposite of what is correct, a long, soft in appearance narrow muzzle, shallow zygomatic arch and stops. This creates a head type, which recedes in to the body having no prominence. The power and strength specified in the standard for the muzzles and topskull is not there; the heads are hound-like.
In correlation with the details of correct head type, are the details of correct body type. The standard specifies, "His bone and muscle mass must be sufficient to balance his frame, giving a compact and very powerful appearance." The standard is direct with its specifications on body type with the key words of compact, powerful and muscle mass. The bone should be ample in proportion to the size of the body, the muscles mass should be strong and well defined and the body length should appear to be short and compact. There should be not doubt in appearance concerning the amount of bone mass, muscle mass and compactness of the body. However, what we encounter are fine and spindly bones, long bodies, little to no muscle mass and definition.
The underlying theme in the standard for the Rottweiler is masculinity. Correct breed type requires it. The standard does not specifically mention this word; it is implied. Even the bitches should possess power and substance without weakness. Softness, slight in build, refined, feminine are not words to use when describing or having a mental picture of the breed.
The second tier on the pyramid and essential aspect of the standard is temperament. Without correct temperament, all other aspects or traits, even if they are of superior quality, have little value! It is important to understand what correct temperament is and how to evaluate it. From the standard, “The Rottweiler is basically a calm, confident, courageous dog… A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment.
He has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making him especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all purpose dog.”
What is correct temperament? How can we recognize it?
We must take our template from the standard. Ideally, he is a calm, confident, courageous dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work. Few Rottweilers fit the ideal of the standard, which can demonstrate all of its positives. More likely, they measure up or down in differing levels. Because he is working dog, we must test and evaluate these differing levels of temperament through his work.
Albeit, the show ring is largely popular here in the states and in the international community, many rely solely on a dog’s behavior within the show ring as a demonstration of temperament. This is dangerous because it does not give us any keen insights to the complete spectrum of temperament; its main purpose is to evaluate conformation. Some would say that the show ring does give us a window into the dog’s nature. However, exhibiting and gaiting in the conformation ring can only demonstrate the extreme problems in a dog’s temperament, such as the inability to stand for an examination, shy, nervousness or viciousness. It has extremely limited value when assessing the complexity of temperament.
The Germans use the term “Belastbarkeit”, a dog’s capacity, whether high, medium or low, to sustain its drive, tractability and nerve under the conditions and pressures of work. In Germany, they place a high value in the dog’s level of courage and its ability to deal with stress. There, the minimum test is the Zuchttauglichkeitsprufung (breed suitability test where the dog is tested for its courage and stress level); one cannot breed their Rottweiler unless it has passed the “Ztp”. They also believe that the attainment of a working title is a demonstration of Belastbarkeit.
By putting a Rottweiler through its paces in its attainment of a working title, be it a CD, CDX, Tracking, Sch, etc., we gain valuable information about the strengths and weakness of its temperament. In some countries, the attainment of a working title is so highly prized, that a conformation championship title is only awarded when a working title has been previously achieved. Assessing character, the dog’s ability to deal with corrections, stress, and its level of enthusiasm while working, tells us much about its mind-set. Without this knowledge of temperament, one cannot have a complete picture for a breeding program.
Third in the pyramid is construction, a balanced, harmonious musculo/skeletal system in accordance with the blueprint of the standard. Understanding the construction of a Rottweiler is analogous to the building of a house. The builder (breeder) must adhere to the architect’s design (the standard), maintain a stable foundation and alignment of walls (the skeletal system), while creating continuity so that all the segmented parts of the house work together harmoniously (the locomotion of the dog).
As a breeder, owner or exhibitor, it is important in the complete understanding of Rottweiler construction, to acquaint oneself with the skeletal anatomy of the dog.
The standard dictates how the proportions and ratios, angles and layout of the skeleton should be so that the Rottweiler can gait with the highest efficiency in harmony with its breed type. This insures that its architectural design will best suit the Rottweiler for its task as a multi-purpose working/guard dog.
A house must have structural integrity. Walls must be plumb, materials used in the construction must have strength to withstand ware and tear, and parts must work. This applies to the Rottweiler as well. Front and rear legs must be balanced, strong and straight, the back must be firm but flexible, angulations must be ample enough to support proper reach of the front and drive of the rear. There should be symmetry and harmony of the working parts as well as a defined amount of muscle mass to support the skeletal frame.
Like temperament, correct construction is the by-product of a thoughtful, careful, breeding program. A Rottweiler cannot develop good construction from within. With the exception of building stronger or larger muscle mass via a weight gaining and conditioning program, when a dog possesses an incongruity or imbalance in the skeletal system, it cannot be corrected. A short upper arm, long in the back, shallow sternum, east-west feet, low pastern, poorly angulated croup, etc. impedes efficiency. These problems are inherited from the pedigree. We have often heard exhibitors and breeders say, “Don’t worry, he’ll out grow this or grow into that.” Unfortunately, ugly ducklings do not become swans! Problems related to the skeletal structure are indelible and take many generations to improve or correct. The most direct path for correct construction is to breed with pedigrees that possess it.
Fourth in the pyramid is locomotion. Because the Rottweiler was used for driving cattle, its modality for locomotion is demonstrated in the trot. Unlike the other aspects in this pyramid, construction and locomotion have inexorable linkage in that; exemplary gait is the result of outstanding structure. When a Rottweiler is correct in construction, according to the blueprint of the standard, this balanced skeletal architecture produces an unrestricted, harmoniously flowing powerful gait.
Unfortunately, few Rottweilers possess construction with such a high degree of balance and harmony that they move with this ideal effortless grace. Similar to the levels of temperament, locomotion has differing levels of efficiency dependent upon the correctness of construction or conversely, the amount of imbalances within the dog. The more “imbalances” or incorrect construction the dog possess in its angulations and ratios, the more impedance occurs to free flowing gait.
The best perspective to assess locomotion is to view the dog, going away, coming towards and in the side gait. When the dog moves going and coming, we assess its lateral displacement, which has influence on the lateral center of gravity. A correct front and rear assembly stabilizes the dog and prevents him from excessive side-to-side movement, similar to the effect of torsion bars in a car. Incorrect construction such as, out at the elbow, east–west feet, crossing over, moving wide and fiddle fronts etc., destabilizes the center of gravity. These incongruities produce impedance, which requires more energy, puts stress on the bones and muscles and leads to fatigue.
In the side gait, we assess all the moving parts working together. Once in the trot and at a reasonable speed, not to fast or slow, the mechanics of the musculo/skeletal structure is set in motion. Here, we can observe the reach, the drive of the rear, spring of step, amount of ground covered, and temperament in the dog’s “willingness to perform,” an important element. Within the side gait, we observe many examples of locomotion from exemplary to the unharmonious.
Occasionally, we encounter a dog that appears to be sound in structure when standing still, but during the examination of the side gait, they show a short stride of the front legs and rear legs, or a mix of this with a correct front stride, but short rear drive. Here, a problem may exist that does not easily reveal itself. That is why gaiting in a small ring or by moving the exhibits once around does not do justice for the complete assessment. Adding to this mixture is the exhibit that is pushed or cajoled around the ring. Outwardly, the dog appears good in construction and theoretically should gait correctly but for some reason it has “no willingness to perform.” This is one example of how temperament plays a factor in gait.
The field of canine gait is complex and requires a good knowledge of anatomy, mechanics, breed type and purpose. It is important for the concerned breeder and student of the breed to gain at least a proficient knowledge of these topics to understand Rottweiler locomotion.
1. The Priority of Breed Type in the Rottweiler, Wolfson, Steve, Steve Wolfson publisher, 2003
2. The Dog in Action, Lyon, MacDowell, Howell Book House publisher, 1982