The popularity of the Rottweiler is skyrocketing, locally and nationally. It is the most popular breed of "guard dog," surpassing German Shepherds and the once popular pit bull. But the same safety problems once associated with pit bulls are now arising with Rottweilers. In Summit Count last year, reported attacks by Rottweilers, whose owners could be identified were 10 times higher than pit bulls.
"A lot of people that had owned pit bulls now own Rottweilers," said John Hoffman, supervisor of animal control for the city of Akron. "People just don't want to deal with the regulations that come with the pit bull.But they do want the protection and status that comes with having a dog like the pit bull." "They (dog owners) want to say, "look at me, not only am I mean, but my dog is mean."
The Rottweilers may also be getting meaner partially as a result of their increased popularity. Mary Poole, Wayne County's dog warden, said the popularity of Rottweilers may encourage amateurs to breed dogs. "You'll have more and more back-yard breedings," she said. "With that, you'll get dogs with bad temperaments." Of course not all Rottweilers are mean, Most trainers say they are friendly.
"The Rottweiler will take the basic instinct of its owner, " Hoffmann said. The Rottweiler is much bigger than the pit bull. It was the second most popular breed of dog last year with 102,596 mational registrations, up from sixth in 1989---a 70% increase, according to the American Kennel Club. Labrador Retrievers were the most popular.
In Ohio, Rottweilers were third with 3,868 registered last year, behind Labradors with 5,678 and beagles with 4,139, said the New York City-based club, the dog registration authority for the country. A breakdown by city as not available. Meanwhile, club records indicate that in the nation, only 1,367 American Stafforshire Terriers, 1200 bull terriers and 361 Staffordshire terriers---all classified as pit buls----were registered.
Bill Whited has bred, sold and trained Rottweilers for nine years at Gordon Kennel in Green. He said if they're bred up to standard, Rottweilers are the best dogs out there. "They're excellent with children and great protectants," he said. He said his dog Sampson once saved him from a prospective robber. He also understands the publicity they're receiving as a vicious dog. "If you look at all the Rottweilers across the country, it may not be good." Whited blames the dog's havd reputation on inbreeding and the Kennel Club's lack of regulations on the breeding of Rottweilers.
Sigler, who tracks dog bites for the city of Akron, said 428 bites from dogs that had owners were reported to hospitals in Summit Count last year, 35 from Rottweilers. Only three were from pit buls and 284 were from mixed breed dogs. The breed with the most reported bites was the German Shepherd, with 59. In addition, there were 103 bites from stray dogs reported,: four were from Rottweilers. Sigler said most of the bites were suffered by dog owners or children.
Still, Hoffman said he doubts city officials will decide to regulate Rottweilers as they did pit bulls. "Regulations just aren't that popular in the country," he said.