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10 Robust Facts About the Rottweiler

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These dogs can either be fierce guard dogs or cuddly companions, depending on their upbringing. Learn more about this loyal canine. 

1. THEY MIGHT BE FROM ROME …

It is widely believed that these sturdy dogs are descendants of drover dogs in Ancient Rome. The mastiff-like dogs were used to pull carts, herd animals, and guard homes. Because of the need to control large animals like bulls, the dogs were bred to be strong and robust. 

2. … BUT THEY WERE PERFECTED IN GERMANY.

When Roman armies headed to Germany on their way to conquer Europe, they brought the Rottweiler's ancestors with them. Because there were no refrigerators at the time, the soldiers traveled with their cattle, rather than slaughter the cows for meat before the journey. And naturally, they needed assistance keeping their cattle in line. The Rottweiler’s ancestors were the perfect dogs for the job thanks to their endurance and strength. Along the way, the dogs were also used to guard and carry supplies. 

Eventually, in about 73 AD, the army stopped in the Wurtemberg area of Germany. The town that sprung up there filled with villas with red tiled roofs. The quaint settlement was known as das Rote Wilrot for the red tiles, and wil from the Roman word for "villa." Later, the town became known as Rottweil. The Roman dogs flourished there as herding and guard dogs. They eventually interbred with other local dogs to create the modern day Rottweiler. 

3. THEY ALMOST WENT EXTINCT. 

Towards the middle of the 19th century, paved roads and railroads started to change how livestock was brought to market. Herding dogs were no longer needed when transporting cattle, so Rottweilers found themselves out of a job. The numbers of Rotties continued to dwindle and clubs disappeared. The breed almost vanished entirely, but a small group of breeders fought hard to keep them around. In the 20th century, the breed found a new purpose serving in the military and on police forces. Rottweilers were introduced to the United States in 1910 where their popularity continued to grow. Today, the Rottweiler is the 10th most popular breed in the United States.

4. THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO PRONOUNCE THE NAME. 

The Rottweiler is a German breed, so if you want to pronounce it the German way, it’s rott-vile-er. Of course, if you’re in the United States, rott-why-ler is also acceptable. 

5. KEEP THEM AWAY FROM ANYTHING FRAGILE. 

Thanks to the Rottie’s history as a herder, the dog has a habit of bumping into people, animals, and things when it wants them to fall in line. While trained Rottweilers are gentle, breeders don’t recommend the dogs for households with young children or the elderly.

6. THEY ONLY HAVE ONE KIND OF MARKING. 

Rottweilers are always black with the same brown markings on their chest, face, and paws. According to the American Kennel Club, the brown spots can come in three different variations: Rust, tan, and mahogany. 

7. GERMAN ROTTWEILERS ARE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FROM AMERICAN ONES. 

German clubs have different breed standards than the AKC's. German Rotties tend to be a little larger and have long tails. In the United States, breeders still favor the docked tail, although the trend is beginning to shift towards keeping the tail intact. 

8. THEY HAVE A STRONG JAW. 

Thanks to their large head, Rottweilers have an impressively strong bite. Their jaws are stronger than German shepherds and pit bulls with a bite force of 328 pounds—that’s about half of a shark’s bite force, at 669 pounds.

9. TRAINING IS A MUST. 

Just like people, every Rottweiler is different. It’s very important to train your dog early and diligently to ensure a gentle pet. These are very powerful dogs and they need to be taught when to use that power and when to stand down. Thankfully, the dogs are very intelligent and eager to please, so training is fairly easy compared to the training needed for more aloof breeds. 

10. THEY’RE LOYAL.

Rottweilers have been bred as guard dogs, so they are known to form strong bonds with their owners. Often they will follow their family members from room to room. These loving dogs generally do not do well spending too much time by themselves and enjoy the company of others. Fiercely loyal, they have a strong guarding instinct that makes them very protective of their pack. 

All images courtesy of iStock.

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Sophie Gamand
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Art
This Photographer Is Changing People's Perceptions of Pit Bulls, One Flower Crown at a Time
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand

Like many people, Sophie Gamand wasn’t always the biggest fan of pit bulls. As a volunteer photographer for animal shelters, she used to tense up any time she saw one.

And then something changed. In 2014, the New York-based photographer decided to confront her fear and take on a project that would force her to interact with pit bulls, My Modern Met reports. Initially, she wanted to see for herself if pit bulls were really as dangerous as people claim they are, and what she learned surprised her.

She “discovered the sweet and gentle nature of pit bulls, and how obedient and eager to please they are,” Gamand tells Mental Floss. “They are goofy, loving, and very attached to people.”

Equipped with her new mindset, she decided to photograph the dogs individually with colorful flower crowns adorning their heads in hopes of challenging the public's perception of pit bulls. And it worked.

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

Gamand says animal shelter staff often tell her that her photos, which she posts on social media with a brief description of each dog's personality, have saved countless dogs from being euthanized and have helped many others find forever homes. “They have helped dogs get adopted who had had zero interest for months or even years,” she says.

Over the last few years, she has photographed over 400 pit bulls, and her images will be published in a forthcoming coffee table book titled Pit Bull Flower Power: The Book. It will be released in October for Pit Bull Awareness Month.

She says the stereotype of pit bulls being overly aggressive is “completely unfounded,” adding that genetics have little to no influence on a dog’s personality. What makes the difference, though, is proper care and training, which is why she’s dedicating her life’s work to helping the dogs find loving homes.

Plus, the dogs love the photo shoots. "These are all shelter dogs who spend most of their time in a cage," Gamand says. "They are so happy for all the attention, treats, and love they get on the shoot. They love nothing more than to be good boys and girls—learning tricks, sitting to get a cookie. It’s their special moment. Each shoot is a team effort between the handler, the dog, and myself."

Her photos have spread far and wide via social media, and she now receives requests to visit animal shelters all over the world, from India to Kuwait to China. Prior to Pit Bull Flower Power, Gamand’s first book, Wet Dog—which features, you guessed it, adorable dripping dogs—was published in 2015.

Keep scrolling to see more of Gamand's Flower Power series, and check out this project and others on her Instagram page and website.

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

[h/t My Modern Met]

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Canine Flu is On the Rise: Here's What You Should Know
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It's been eight years since the World Health Organization announced the end of the swine flu pandemic, and now the condition is back in the news for infecting a different type of host. As Live Science reports, the H1N1 virus is mixing with canine flu to create new strains that could potentially spread to people.

Dog flu has been around for a couple of decades, but the two main canine strains, H3N8 and H3N2, have never been contracted by humans. According to a new study published in mBio, some dogs in the Guangxi region of China were found carrying H1N1, the flu strain at the root of the swine flu outbreak. Researchers also discovered three entirely new flu strains that were a combination of H1N1 and regular dog flu viruses.

The unrecognized flu strains are the most troubling discovery. As the flu travels between species, it mingles with viruses that are already there, creating a level of genetic diversity that leaves our immune systems, which are best equipped to fight strains they've already been exposed to, vulnerable. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 started in a similar way, when H1N1 jumped from birds to pigs, and eventually to people.

But the new report isn't a reason to banish your pet to the doghouse next time she seems under the weather. The virus samples were collected from dogs in China between 2013 and 2015, and in the years since, zero humans have caught influenza from dogs (though dog flu has started spreading to cats). If the virus continues mutating to the point where it can infect humans, both the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture will take action. But for now, the CDC states that canine flu viruses "pose a low threat to people."

Canine flu may not be dangerous to humans yet, but it can still be stressful for dog owners if their pet comes down with a case. Ask your vet about getting your dog vaccinated, and if you see your dog coughing, sneezing, and acting less energetic than usual, make an appointment to get him checked out as soon as possible. If he does have the flu, he can be treated with plenty of rest and hydration.

[h/t Live Science]

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