Can Rottweilers hunt? I’ve had numerous dogs in my life, and they’ve all had different skill sets. I wondered if my Rottweiler might be able to learn to hunt. I did some investigating to learn if it was something they were good at.
So, can Rottweilers hunt? Rottweilers are able to learn to hunt. They are an ancient working breed that was used for guarding livestock, as well as hunting and defense. As with anything you train your Rottweiler, hunting takes time and patience.
Rottweilers are not a breed that most people associate with hunting. In fact, they didn’t make Field and Stream’s list of top gun dogs. Some of the major tenets that they ascribe to good hunting dogs are found in abundance in Rottweilers. They are an incredibly intelligent breed of dog that can learn to do just about anything. Teaching them when they are younger increases the likelihood that they will be a successful hunter.
Rottweilers are also known as Rotties, and they have an intense prey drive.
This means that they are apt to — and often like to — chase smaller animals. This can make them the perfect candidates for hunting activities, such as chasing foxes.
They are not as agile in the water as some breeds, such as Labradors, due to their body stature. That said, they can still learn skills associated with water-based activities like duck hunting.
It is important to note that Rottweilers are pack animals.
As such, hunting in packs is not generally ideal for Rottweilers. They may become violent or aggressive in a pack, which is more likely with them than with some other breeds.
Rottweilers need mental stimulation, so teaching them to detect scents in a process known as scent work can be very beneficial.
This skill goes hand-in-hand with many hunting skills and will be a key part of you training your puppy to hunt. It is also known as nosework and involves detecting different smells and learning to distinguish between different animals, particularly the one they’re hunting and other wildlife.
There are some traits that all hunting dogs share:
- They tend to be loyal, which Rottweilers tend to be to their families.
- They are also strong, with significant endurance. Rottweilers were bred and used for everything from guarding to pulling carts.
- Many believe that hunting dogs also need to be fearless, especially in light of activities such as gun fire that might occur around them. Rottweilers tend to be fearless.
A History of Rottweilers
Rottweilers originated in Germany, but they are directly a result of the Roman Empire.
They were bred from stock that Roman soldiers used to drive livestock that they were bringing along through Europe to feed themselves. These original dogs were mastiffs that began to interbreed with local dogs as they traveled further from Italy.
The Romans spent a great deal of time quelling disputes with the Germanic tribes found in the area of Europe that would become Germany. As such, generations of dogs were bred with qualities that the soldiers prized.
In Germany, Rottweilers came to be in the town of Rottweil.
The townspeople, especially butchers, began to utilize these strong dogs that were developed from the mastiffs. These dogs herded and guarded livestock that they townspeople kept for food. They were used to pull carts laden with meat, protecting the butcher’s proceeds after a successful day at the market.
These dogs also pulled the carts that delivered goods to customers, a task that was no longer needed of them with the advent of motorized vehicles and railroad cars.
By this time the breed was known as Rottweiler Metzgerhund, Rottweil’s butchers’ dogs.
The first breed standard in Germany for the Rottie was established in 1901.
Training Your Rottweiler
Training your Rottweiler for any task could try the patience of a saint.
They are oftentimes stubborn and independent, wanting to do things on their own terms. They usually need an experienced person to train them, providing a firm but loving hand. They will need guidance while learning the ropes, which is why patience is so important.
You should begin training your Rottweiler when he or she is young, generally around eight weeks of age.
At this time, basic commands should be learned. These include commands such as sit and stay.
Especially important is the command “Come” (or some variation of it), which will be very important once you start teaching your puppy to hunt. It is important that your puppy learns these before you move on to more in-depth training.
Some trainers then recommend teaching the puppies to play fetch, focusing their attention on a specific object, usually a ball. This helps hone their prey drive and keep their attention on what you want them to follow.
They are then trained in retrieval, bringing the object back to you, their handler. Once they start hunting prey, this skill can cross over and encourage them to bring caught prey back to you.
There are several methods to teach puppies to hunt, and you may need to work with an experienced hunter to train your puppy.
One method is the tracing method:
- You drag your puppy’s favorite treat on a trail through the house or yard.
- They then have to follow the scent to find the treat.
- Once they master the activity with food, you can swap out their treat for a specimen of the prey you intend them to hunt.
With the hidden method:
- You hide a specimen of the prey in a yard or field.
- Keeping this simple initially, you let your Rottweiler find the animal.
- Once the prey has been found, you want your dog to come back to you, a process known in training as recall. This is when those early commands become so important as you call your puppy back to you.
- Once that skill is mastered, you can teach them to retrieve.
As with every step, they should then be rewarded with their favorite treat or toy, something that they really enjoy to encourage them to learn.
Rottweilers tend to be very intelligent dogs, even if they are not on the same level as a poodle. The important things are early-in-life training and consistency. Young Rottweilers tend to be very affectionate and willing to please, making it easier for them to learn, especially if you have their favorite toy or treat as a reward. A good foundation is imperative for all Rottweilers as they have the tendency to not trust strangers and new pets, remaining instead loyal just to their families.
Rottweilers can swim and some even enjoy it, but they are not a breed that swimming always comes naturally to. They are more of a working and herding dog, rather than a water or sport breed, such as a Portuguese water dog. Their body stature is not of a design that makes them well suited to swimming, as they tend to be stocky and heavyset. If your Rottie doesn’t naturally like or take to swimming, you should take the time to teach them carefully, as they might learn to love it, taking to it like many Labrador retrievers.