The American Kennel Club has released the results of its annual purebred popularity contest and, while labs have retained their top ranking, an unexpected insurgency is underway: Rottweilers are on the march.
The breed, often portrayed and used as guard dogs, went from 9 to 8 on the list, which is more impressive than it sounds. They were at number 2 in 1997 when their reputation took a turn for the snarl-y. Rotties got a bad rap, but the latest news seems to indicate that Americans are coming around. Good news for Rottie lovers? Sure, but also for kids.
A 2005 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics researched thousands of dog bite incidents on children between 1994-2003 and ranked them by breed. Turns out Rottweilers are among the least, by population, to nibble kids. In fact, there were only 64 reported incidents — lower than any other pure dog breed. Meanwhile, German shepherds, number 2 on the AKC list, bit 700 children. Labrador retrievers, which has been America’s favorite dog breed for 26 years and counting, bit 500.
The steady increase in Rottweiler ownership seems to be correlated with the boom and bust of the cross-breed dog craze that took the nation by storm in the 1990s. For families, there’s really only one catch (well, 2 if you count frightened neighbors): Rottweilers have a natural inclination to herd. They may not bite kids, but they will definitely bump them if they think they need to be heading in a different direction. That can be a good thing if you and your dog agree on what constitutes good behavior. It can be a bad thing if your kid doesn’t like the contact.