Rottweiler On The Ranch: A Herding Dog

rottweiler herding dog

Are Rottweilers herding dogs? The idea of using dogs to herd cattle has been around for over 4,000 years. When you ask people to identify the ideal herding dog, they might jump to the Collie breeds, the German shepherd, or sheepdogs in general such as the Croatian Sheepdog.

Several people choose to herd with these breeds because they’re effective and their breeds are staples among the culture. However, just because these dog breeds appear to dominate the cultural scene of herding doesn’t mean there isn’t room for other breeds to share the spotlight. When you look for a herding dog, you look for a dog that has a high sense of protection, loyalty, and intelligence.

rottweilers are herding dog cows or sheep

One dog breed that meets the mark on all three of these qualities is the Rottweiler or affectionately called, the Rotties. Today we’re going to analyze the history of herding with dogs and how Rottweilers fit into the timeline as effective herding dogs.

Facts & History of the Rottweiler Breed:

Are Rottweilers herding dogs? The Rottweiler is one of the oldest breeds capable of herding cattle. Rottweilers originate as far back as the Roman empire and used as powerful drover dogs. Because the Romans would often migrate long distances, they needed drover dogs to protected and herd their cattle around for food.

Now, there isn’t any substantial evidence to suggest that Rottweilers were responsible for herding the Roman cattle. The Rottweiler that everyone knows and loves today originated in the German town of Rottweil. Rottweil was a popular trading town for farmers and merchants. Farmers would travel very far to make it to Rottweil, and they would use drover dogs to assist in getting their cattle to market. That dog would be the Rottweiler!

Rottweiler cow herding dog

Rottweilers, since their conception, have always been a dog that’s utilized for work. Rottweilers, at their core, are working dogs. They enjoy a task. Rottweilers have often seen work as police dogs, military dogs, and service dogs for disabled people. Rottweilers may face criticism for being a big and dangerous dog, but the truth is that these dogs are nothing but loyal, hard-working, and loving animals.

Though the cute Collie breeds are effective at herding dogs and demanding attention at herding competitions, the Rottweiler is a much stronger breed in a variety of ways. Before we dive deeper into the idea of using dogs to herd livestock, let’s look at what it takes to own a Rottweiler.

Owning & Living with a Rottweiler:

Rottweilers are dogs that require love, attention, and an active lifestyle. Rottweiler owners should prepare to give their dog a substantial amount of time and attention. Rottweilers enjoy a long day of responsibility and ending it by cuddling close to their owners.

Don’t expect to get a Rottweiler and have them as a commodity pet. You’ll need to actively give your dog things to do and overall purpose. Rottweilers will be their happiest when they feel as though they are protecting something or someone and receiving love in-between.

The History of Dogs & Herding:

It’s believed that man began using dogs for livestock as far back as the Neolithic age, which was roughly 2,000 B.C. Dogs have often found themselves alongside humans as a symbiotic species. We provide dogs with love, comfort, and food and they provide us with protection and assistance with tasks.

Dogs make great cattle herders because they don’t inherently want to eat the cattle but they’re great at manipulating the directions of herds by barking and circling the livestock. When a dog is imprinted or trained to herd, they are very effective and perfect at the job.

Rottweilers Are Herding Dogs:

In terms of breeds with the most experience, herding is practically in the Rottweiler’s DNA. The protective/leading nature of Rottweilers make them born to lead and manage cattle. Rottweilers like to take charge and protect those that are vulnerable from home which is a quality all herding dogs must possess.

excellent Rottweiler herding dog cows

Rottweilers may look scary while they’re doing their job. This isn’t dangerous behavior as some critics might suggest. Rottweilers, when in their element, are merely acting from a sense of passion to protect, love, and succeed. If you want a dog that has been herding for hundreds of years, then you’ll love a Rottweiler as your best friend.

Tips for Training Your Dog to Herd:

When you’re looking to pick out a herding dog, you must follow a few guidelines to get an effective herder. To keep it simple, here are just a few tips to put into practice with your dog.

1. Make sure the dog knows basic commands.

It should go without saying that teaching a dog to herd is a lot harder than teaching them to sit. A dog must have discipline in basic skills before taking on herding. Fortunately, Rottweilers will handle this section of training very easily.

2. You’ll know a Rottweiler is a herding dog.

A natural-born herding dog will exhibit instinctual herding behavior. This can be recognized in your dog when they’re present around livestock. Look to see if your dog is exhibiting behavior that suggests the herding instinct. For example, your dog might already be comfortable around the livestock and circling them. If your dog does not exhibit this behavior it does not completely mean it can’t be trained to herd, it will just take more time.

3. Engage in basic herding commands.

Whether you teach your dog yourself or consider a professional herding trainer, you’ll want the dog to know commands representative of coming towards you, going away from you, or moving left and right. This will help the dog process a sense of direction with herding and deliver you the results you want.

Rottweilers are great cow herding dogs

Herding is not a skill taught by nature. Herding is a skill that is taught to dogs, not something they’re meant to do biologically. Patience, practice, and respect are all key elements to observe throughout this process.


Ultimately, Rottweilers will normally make great herding dogs. The desire to love and protect is very inherent among most Rotties in the breed. You’ll find their desire to work a very supportive factor throughout the training process, but like all herding breeds, patience and persistence will get you the herd-factor you want.

One thing is certain… when it comes to loyalty, the Rottweiler will hardly let you down.

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