The Phone Rings… The voice on the other end seems distressed. “I just don’t understand why my puppies don’t have the friendly temperament they should have when people come to visit them. When people come to see my puppies they back into a corner and don’t have the outgoing, playful temperament. What can I do to change this?”

Rottweil Xpress / February 1991

There are many factors that affect the temperament of young pups, but most important are health, heredity and environment. A happy, healthy pup with a good genetic background and a knowledgeable owner is what we all strive for. I see in dog magazines where breeders advertise “Our puppies are hand-raised in our home.” This is definitely an asset towards the puppies’ development, but if the parents don’t have stable temperaments and high courage you usually cannot expect the puppies to have it.

In Germany they have the ZTP which is the Breed Test which a dog must pass before it is allowed to be used for breeding. In America, some clubs are now offering this test. Not only is the conformation evaluated, but the temperament and courage are tested as well. Here in America, we still do not require these tests prior to breeding and registration – at the moment the registry organizations don’t really enforce much of anything as far as breeding suitability. Many Clubs have standards which are suggested as far as conformation, temperament, and hip ratings, but they are not strongly enforced. So now it is up to you as the potential buyer of a puppy to do your research.

Here are some suggestions to help you make your final decision:

1. Study the parents’ bloodlines. Make sure they have some kind of breed test, Schutzhund or Obedience titles. In America there is a standard all-breed test which is performed by the American Temperament Test Society. When a dog passes this test it receives a TT title. It is still not as advanced as the Ztp or the Korung in Germany but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

2. It at all possible, get to meet the parents of the puppy. They should be stable around people but yet they must have the temperament to work, and protect the family. It is good to have the parents of the puppy be friendly, but don’t let them fool you. A friendly dog must also have the temperament and the intelligence it takes to fulfill its duty as a Rottweiler. The parents must have high courage and working ability.

3. See how the pups are raised. If possible, try to view the whelping or puppy room. If it is clean, bright, and organized, it is a good indication that the pups are being raised well. If not, you might start to wonder; a dirty environment promotes diseases which might not allow the pup to develop to its potential.

4. The mother should look and be healthy. She should be fed a healthy diet, and given a wide variety of foods. Many people tell me that their females pose coat or coloring when they have puppies. In my experience, this need not be the case if the dam is receiving adequate nutrition In turn, if the mother looks good, the pups will look good – the puppies depend on the mother for proper nutrition. Some commercial dog foods may not have enough nutrition for mother and pups. We cook special foods and give extra supplements – this way the mother and the puppies are in good condition throughout the whole weaning process.

5. Check the medical records. Make sure the breeder understands the proper schedule for vaccinations and worming, and does not expose the puppies to the outside world until they are properly vaccinated.

6. Determine the breeding program plan. Make sure the breeder properly researched the pedigree, genetics, and phenotype of the two parents. Ask many questions as to why they decided to breed the two dogs. Ask the breeder what each parent has to contribute to the puppies to make them as good – if not better – than the parents.

7. Try for an evaluation of the parents. Ask the breeder for an honest and objective critique of the sire and dam. Remember – there is no perfect dog: they all have their faults. The breeder must choose a sire and dam whose phenotype (physical attributes) and genotype (genetic make-up) most greatly complement each other. Most breeders will happily tell you why.

8. Do a little temperament test. Perform little tests to determine the temperament of the pups. There are many books on the market and theories as to the process for testing the temperament of the puppy. Make sure the puppy is not shy of people. Check the playfulness of the puppy, and its reaction to different sounds, toys, and other objects. Observe how the pup plays with its littermates, and note which is the most outgoing puppy.

9. Evaluate the conformation. Check the conformation of the puppies; the stance, topline, head type, ear set, feet position, bite, eye color, shape, etcetera. Many of the attributes that will be there at maturity are apparent in the young puppy.

The most important thing of all is this: Get to know and trust your breeder. A conscientious breeder is the best bet for success with your pup. The breeder should have a good reputation, and stand behind contracts and agreements. Everybody has a detractor: listen to as many opinions as you can, but use your own good judgment as to what to believe.

Remember – your puppy will be with you for many years, so take your time in choosing. Be patient and make the right choice.

Good luck with your new pup! Until next month, rrrrrrrring!

Article Written by Evie Lynn