Legendary breeder, Dorothy Wade, founder of Doroh Rottweilers, shares her insight, breed knowledge, and memorable Rottweiler photos in this exclusive interview.
Eye On The Breed
Dorothy Wade, Bel Canto / Doroh Rottweilers
Dorothy Wade was AKC Approved for Rottweilers in 2002
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1. What is the biggest misconception about the Rottweiler?
Dorothy Wade (DW): Though the Rottweiler is an extremely strong-willed breed, most people are not aware of their humorous nature and how much they enjoy a good joke. If they do something amusing and you laugh, the behavior will most likely be repeated.
2. What is the Rottweiler’s most defining characteristic?
DW: I believe everyone would agree that it is the docked tail. Beginning in the late 1890s, Rottweilers were born with bob-tails and all breed standards, even into the late 1940s, mentioned this and added that if the tail was too long, it must be docked. I am therefore opposed to the acceptance of undocked Rottweilers in the U.S. It is our duty, as guardians of the standard, to protect the breed as it was handed down to us and not succumb to the demands of the animal rights groups. As mentioned above, breed history shows that the early Rottweilers did not have long tails.
3. Which behavioral characteristic most typifies the breed.
DW: Intelligence! I am constantly amazed by the Rottweiler’s intelligence and ability to use reason when confronted with a situation. Case in point: I told my young dog to “stay” in the dog room while I took his housemate to the back door. I pretended not to notice that he was quietly following behind us. After the bitch was in her run and I had my hand on the back door (which has a glass window), I saw him turn quickly and head right back to the dog room where he was “sitting pretty” by the time I got there. Now that is a thinking creature!
4. What is the most common judging mistake in Rottweilers.
DW: Here is my pet peeve that will also include a response to the next question.
5. Would you prefer the Rottweiler be judged standing or moving?
DW: Rottweilers should not be judged standing still. They all look gorgeous stacked but when asked to move, structural faults become self-evident. Rottweilers are a “trotting” breed and should NEVER be allowed to race around the ring. Of course, handlers really dislike being told to go at a moderate pace. However, that is the only way a judge can truly ascertain a dog’s side gait and ability to cover ground. A dog should be able to cover the length of a ring in a few well-timed strides. It is really distressing to see dogs whose legs are working a mile-a-minute but going nowhere. It would seem that judges are simply looking at toplines and not at the timing of the feet which is a true indicator of correct structure. I am amused when I see advertising photos of dogs in motion where the topline looks level but they have three feet on the ground. Apparently, owners believe they are showing good movement.
6. What cosmetic alterations should judges know about.
DW: I don’t believe there are too many problems in this area, or perhaps I am too naïve. Chalk or spray coloring is sometimes used to improve markings or hide white chest markings and there have been some who tried braces to correct a bite that was going undershot. Also, surgery to correct entropion is always a concern but the procedures are now so sophisticated that they are almost impossible to detect.
7. What 3 words best describe the Rottweiler?
DW: Intelligent, strong-willed and comedic.
Dorothy, there's a few more questions I'd like to add to the Simple 7. Are you agreeable?
DW: Of course, I'm happy to talk about Rottweilers.
8. How important are clear rich rust markings in the breed.
DW: In the scheme of things, rich rust markings are certainly beautiful and add to the overall picture of a correct Rottweiler. That being said, it is only a cosmetic feature and should not take precedence over a structurally sound dog/bitch. They are first and foremost a “working” dog and the markings do not help them pull carts, herd, track, or do obedience work.
9. Could current emphasis on reach and drive be problematic?
DW: We should all aspire to have dogs with proper reach and drive. Unfortunately, most Rottweilers today lack balanced front and rear angulation.
10. Has rear angulation changed and, if so, why?
DW: Many Rottweilers today are over-angulated in the rear. This has most likely come about because breeders have used dogs/bitches that are extremely flashy and look glamorous when they “park out” in the individual gaiting. They ignore the fact that with this excessive angulation come sickle hocks which is one of our most serious problems at this time. However, if it wins, it will be perpetuated.
11. What effect, if any, could a long tail have on the Rottweiler?
DW: Can’t really answer this except perhaps to imagine being bruised when thumped on the legs by an exuberant dog or having items systematically swept from coffee tables as the dogs greet us at the door!
12. Do you think Rottweiler soundness has improved over the years?
DW: In general, I don’t think there has been an improvement. I can think of a number of dogs who are wonderfully sound but they are in the minority. There also is some very clean correct rear movement but fronts are a tremendous problem.
13. In what way has the Rott character changed since the 70s?
DW: I’m not sure character has changed much. In the early years (60s – 70s) there were some imports that were sharp/aggressive. Fortunately, their handlers were experts at keeping them in line. I personally raised five children among many Rottweilers and the dogs were just as the literature described them - wonderful guards but good family members as well which is why I embarked on this very enjoyable journey. I believe this description is still true today.
14. What contributions has your breeding program had on the Rottweiler?
DW: We have tried to breed Rottweilers with beautiful type, proper temperament – confident and self-assured , never timid or aggressive. We are especially diligent with regard to health issues and are extremely proud of the soundness exhibited by our dogs. Over the years, competitors and judges have commented that they could tell it was a Doroh/Bel Canto dog by its topline and the way moved.
DW: There is one section of the standard that I would like judges to keep in mind. The standard clearly states that proportion is extremely important and says the most desirable proportion of height to length is 9 to 10. That is a very small ratio and literally means that Rottweilers are almost square. Of late, there seem to be too many winners that are much, much longer than the desired ratio.
On behalf of all students of the Rottweiler breed, we thank Dorothy Wade for taking the time to provide such in-depth of information.