Despite the horrible reputation that this breed has had to endure, the true temperament of the Rottweiler is one of a calm, loving and very loyal dog that can and will provide protection if needed. They are not an aggressive breed by nature, however, like most intelligent larger breeds they are dominant in temperament. Considering the demands placed on the dogs in the herding or working group, it is easy to see why this type of dominant, self-confident and problem solving type of temperament was an essential element in developing the breed. The Rottweiler, not unlike any other dog in this group, needs to feel that they have a job to do and a responsibility in the family. This can include being the guardian of the property or accompanying you on a daily walk.
As a dominant type of dog the Rottweiler has to be trained in a consistent, positive and very firm manner, but should never be trained using punishment or negative training methods. Rewarding for the right behavior allows the dog to quickly understand what you want them to do, rather than what they may not be doing right. Since the breed does want and need attention from humans to be happy and content, this training method of rewarding the positives works exceedingly well with the breed. Once obedience trained these dogs are ideal in a variety of types of competitions including obedience, scent and tracking and schutzhund competitions.
The Rottweiler has a natural affinity for humans and really thrives when they have lots of attention. Despite their large size they really do prefer being in the house with the family, although they also enjoy being outdoors and activity involved in whatever the family may be doing. For most Rottweilers, as long as they are around some that they love they are happy and very content dogs.
As a larger breed the Rottweiler is actually only a modern exerciser as long as they have routine more intensive exercise two or three times a day. If you do happen to live in the country or have an off leash park or place to hike these dogs are ideal to take on longer treks. They are not prone to roaming and are not typically high prey drive types of dogs. Their natural herding instinct combined with their protective temperament means that they tend to stay very close to their owners at all times, even off leash. This is much different than many breeds that are prone to roaming and running off when allowed the freedom.
Early socialization and obedience work is important with these dogs to overcome any possible dominance issues and also to ensure they will be calm and easy to manage in all situations. Maturing at up to 140 plus pounds it is definitely important to have these dogs under control at all times. In addition the Rottweiler is one of the working breed that ranks consistently as one of the top 10 most intelligent breeds, typically learning new commands in as little as five repetitions. This also means that they can easily learn bad behaviors very quickly as well. Training has to be consistent and not too repetitive or the Rottweiler may become bored and simply not respond. A puppy kindergarten type of obedience class starting as early as 12 weeks of age is highly recommended for first time Rottweiler owners or those wanting a very well socialized and well rounded companion dog. Specialized training in protection and guarding cannot occur until the dog is fully obedience trained and has developed some practical skills in socialization.
Overall, even as a protective dog, the Rottweiler tends to be a thinking animal. They will bark to let you know that a stranger has arrived, but then will sit back and see if they are a "good" or a "bad" stranger. Once introduced by the owner to the new person, the Rottweiler is typically very social and will play and interact with that person very readily. The breed also has a wonderful memory and often has no problem identifying that same person as a friend the next time they arrive. The breed is not known to be problem barkers, however bored dogs can and will develop these types of bad habits, regardless of the breed.
The Rottweiler is not a highly playful dog but they do have a love for games such as fetch, hide and seek and even just romping with children. Often they are much more clownish and goofy around the family and more dignified acting around people they don't know as well. As a protective family dog they are a good match for children and they are extremely patient and gentle with younger and older children alike. Their large size is sometimes intimidating for very young children, older kids or adults unfamiliar with dogs, but their gentle, calm temperament soon puts the visitors at ease.
Generally most Rottweilers are very tolerant of other dogs however other dominant breeds may require additional socialization and supervision until a hierarchy has been established. Rottweilers tend to be less aggressive towards other dogs that are of the opposite sex or if all dogs are neutered and spayed. Often when females are in heat intact male Rottweiler will be rather aggressive, especially towards other males. They can be routinely exercised in off-leash parks without any concerns as long as they have been properly and routinely socialized and they have been neutered if they are male. Females that are not spayed should not be taken to off-leash areas or dog parks while they are in estrus to prevent any types of aggression problems and accidental breedings. Rottweilers will do very well with cats and other house pets when raised together, although it is never recommended that they be left unsupervised with smaller rodent pets.
A Rottweiler that is not obedience trained and not properly exercised, just as with any other breed, can be a highly destructive dog. Their massive size and relative inability to feel pain means that they can dig, chew and push their way out of almost any type of fence if they really set their minds to it. Providing regular exercise and training, as well as obedience work and attention prevents these problems from becoming an issue.