The origin of the Rottweiler is not known, though many experts theorize that the breed descended from the drover dogs indigenous to ancient Rome. Described as a Mastiff-type, which was a dependable, intelligent and rugged animal, the drover dog began as a herder and was then integrated into the armies of the Roman Empire. With its ability to herd cattle, the drover dog assured the soldier's meat was kept together and readily available during long marches.

Campaigns of the Roman army ventured far and wide, but one in particular, which took place in approximately A.D. 74, brought the Rottweiler's progenitor across the Alps and into what is now Germany. For hundreds of years, the dogs served a crucial purpose in the region -- cattle driving. Thanks in part to the dogs, the town das Rote Wil (translated into "the red tile"), and the derivation of the present Rottweil, became a prosperous hub of cattle commerce.

This continued for centuries until the mid-19th century, when cattle driving was outlawed and donkey carts replaced dog carts. Because there was hardly a need for the Rottweiler Metzgerhund (or butcher dog), as they came to be known, the breed declined almost to the point of extinction.

In 1901, a concerted effort was made to develop the Rottweiler and the first club for the breed was formed. The club was short-lived, but it created the breed's first standard -- an abstract aesthetic ideal. Two more clubs followed and in 1907, one advertised the Rottweiler as an able police dog. In 1921, the two clubs merged to form the Allegmeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub; by that time, nearly 4,000 Rottweilers were registered in various clubs around Germany.

The breed gradually grew in popularity and in 1931, the Rottweiler was introduced to the United States and was later recognized by the American Kennel Club. Its intelligence and ability to guard has never been lost on dog fanciers, and through purposeful breeding it has become a mainstay in America, not only as a guard dog, police dog, and military dog, but as family pet.

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