Rottweilers have continued to remain a distinct
breed for so long that their true ancestry remains unknown. Because
of their strong, compact bodies and willingness to work Rottweilers
may have descended from Mastiff-type dogs. These dogs worked in
ancient Rome as "Herd Dogs" guarding and moving
flocks of animals. These dogs moved around the world mainly in
Europe, with Roman legions who used these dogs as herders and
guards. Due to the limited capability of preserving meat and the
constant need to bring live herds of stock animals on long marches
Rotties provided an invaluable service to their masters. During
the hours of darkness, Rotties acted as guards from both humans
and predator animal threats. After roaming the globe for many
decades, these dogs settled mainly in southern Germany, where
they lived for many centuries.
The breed name Rottweil comes from "das
Rote Wil", which means red tile, and is the name of a
town where red-colored clay was unearthed. The town was a major
trade center for cattle, where large numbers of Rotties worked
very close with butchers, pulling carts, driving cows, and guarding
herds. Rotties soon became known as "butcher dogs".
It is also said that these dogs would carry the money the butcher
earned to the bank to be deposited.