There is only one Rottweiler breed, not as many as there are judges ... !

I honestly do not understand the fuzz and panic about the adjustment of the FCI breed standard.    It is not a new standard and it does not define a new breed.    In fact, the amendments are mostly only clarifications of since long known wanted and unwanted characteristics, nothing more.   These clarifications were needed and meant to stop an all too far-reaching permissiveness in judging and breeding the Rottweiler and to correct the unwanted results of this.  However, they do not hold a new definition of the breed, to the contrary they confirm the breed in it's type and details !    So, why the panic amongst lovers of the breed ?

In one of my former posts, I already made a loud call to accept and respect the breed standard as it is.   It holds the definition of the breed and all that deviates from that ideal – in whatever way and so both towards an extreme expression or towards an insufficient or even an absent expression of a trait - is a fault.   

Whoever calls himself a lover of the breed must respect the standard ... or must admit that his true love is not for the Rottweiler.   In the latter case he would better choose for another breed !    One’s deviating personal preferences are indeed just as irrelevant as they are harmful when put to practice in the show-ring and/or breeding.

The same goes for the fact that the standard now explicitly states that the ratio of the Rottweiler’s head is about 40 – 60 %, referring to the ratio of the length of the muzzle (nose – inner eye corner) and of the cranial region (inner eye corner – occipital protuberance) to the total length of the head : it is the standard that defines what is breed typical, not one’s personal preferences

So like it or not : this “about 1 to 1.5” ratio defines the correct proportions of the Rottweiler’s head.    This is the ratio to be searched for and rewarded in judging and breeding.   Accept this !

This ratio is not even new but is known since 1981 already !    Only it was never adopted in the standard and the mere mention of it in an ADRK-lehrtafel proved to be not strong enough to educate or at least to convince that this ratio defines a inextensible limit.      Nulla poena sine lege : no law, no punishment.

This ratio is not new just as it is not new that many heads show muzzles that are much shorter than this ratio and that this threatens the dog’s health.

So I repeat my question : as all this is not new and if the adjusted standard does not change but just confirms the breed's definition, then why these sudden strong – sometimes even very emotional – reactions amongst lovers of the breed, some of them judges and well known breeders ?    Why this consternation about something that is not more than a confirmation of what the correct Rottweiler looks like ?

First of all, let me assure you : a muzzle that measures only 40 % of the dog’s head, is already a short muzzle and is shorter than the original Rottweiler’s definition !  It is most certainly not proper to a “hound” and all the Facebook posts that state that this will change the Rottweiler’s head into the head of a Dobermann are just blatant nonsense and even ridiculous !

In fact, I can only understand such reactions by assuming that the authors still label the standard as to be just a non-committal guideline that does not prohibit them to follow their own preferences while they now see this “liberty” (sic) threatened by the current clarity of the standard ?  Or by assuming that they have never actually known the Rottweiler before this faulty deviations from the breed standard started and that they underwent a habituation caused by both faulty judging and an all too long commercial use of social media (Facebook) to promote the sale of pups that deviate from the standard but appeal to the personal taste of some … ?

Let’s  keep it simple and let me repeat my former calls : stop these irrelevant discussions, accept that there is only one definition of the breed in it’s type and all it’s details : the FCI breed standard 147 “Rottweiler”.   

And just accept that today, there can no longer be any doubt or discussion about this : a muzzle that is shorter than 40 % of the total length of the head is too short and is a fault !   You like it or not : it is a fault !

Cfr. the current standard :



Long, pointed or too short muzzle (any muzzle shorter than 40 percent of the length of the head is too short);

Does this mean that as of now all dogs in the show ring must be measured and that the excellent grading and show win must be refused if they do not meet the 40/60 ratio ?  

Of course not.   Not only does the breed standard not ask for that, it would also be highly unrealistic.    

The standard states the too short muzzle to be a fault, but not a disqualifying fault (unless at FCI-shows and if the muzzle is so short that it threatens the dog's health - cfr. infra).   It leaves the judge the freedom to appreciate the degree of deviation from the standard or  in other words the graveness of the fault. 

This is highlighted in de standard itself :

FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

This freedom is not unlimited !    It is limited by the knowledge, recognition and respect of the breed specific head shape and expression of the Rottweiler !    This is where being a breed specialist comes in … with the requirements and responsibilities this brings ! 

It is most certainly also limited by the content of the “FCI’s Basic Statement for Show Judges, Dogs fit for their original function” : extremes cannot be allowed and no Rottweiler lover may deny the fact that it is a working breed and that a healthy respiratory system is an essential condition to function in whatever utility context and is even essential for a mere basic health.    

In fact, if the FCI-show regulations are valid at the show, an extreme short muzzle that is endangering the health of the dog, may very well leed to disqualification !

Cfr. the FCI-showregulations :

DISQUALIFIED must be awarded to a dog which does not correspond to the type required by the breed standard; which shows a behaviour clearly not in line with its standard or which behaves aggressively; which has testicular abnormalities; which has a jaw anomaly; which shows a colour or coat structure that is not according to the breed standard or clearly shows signs of albinism. This qualification shall also be awarded to dogs that correspond so little to a single feature of the breed that their health is threatened. It should furthermore be awarded to dogs that show disqualifying faults in regard to the breed standard. The reason why the dog was rated DISQUALIFIED has to be stated in the judge’s report.

The mere fact however that a muzzle is less than 40 % of the head’s length is – if not extreme and if not hindering respiration - on itself not of a nature to necessarily downgrade the dog.   The head, its shape and its expression, is defined by more than just the 40/60 ratio.   Also, the head is only part of the Rottweiler’s body and then – in my personal opinion – not even the most important part of the body of a working dog that is defined for utility and not for aesthetics.  

Still, even if the standard does not oblige him to consider the slightest deviation as enough to downgrade a dog, the standard still explicitly states the too short muzzle as a fault and so no judge who takes himself seriously and says that he loves and understands the breed can and will ignore this clear definition in the standard and no breed specialist worthy of that qualification may now still state that the breed’s definition allows him to take the head beyond the 40/60 ratio towards heads that are no longer breed specific but are unwanted and harmful extremes.  

The clarification in the standard must necessarily lead to concrete and measurable results and this is the responsibility of all judges and breeders

If you allow me a strictly personal consideration, I give a high importance to the simultaneously stating that the “ratio between the length of the muzzle and the length of the skull is about 1 to 1,5” and that “any muzzle shorter than 40 percent of the length of the head is too short”.    The use of the term “about” has therefore no relevance for the muzzle that is shorter than 40 % as this is by definition a fault.  This lower limit is strict and not stretchable.   The margin offered by the term “about” can only have relevance for the slightly longer muzzle that is not faulty, at least not if it still falls within the term “about 1 – 1.5” and which is for the judge to appreciate This is moreover proper for a working breed and may allow to direct the Rottweiler’s head again more towards its original definition and ensure a better respiratory health. 

To conclude : I sincerely hope that the adjustment of the standard now holds a strong enough message so that it will even on a short term put a stop to all extreme short muzzles and will lead us to normal Rottweiler heads.

But indeed, this will depend on the experience, knowledge, honesty and seriousness of judges and the breeders who follow the judge’s guidance.  Not they define the breed, the standard does !    They, before all others, must respect and defend the standard.   There is only one Rottweiler, in body and mind defined as a working breed.    

Clubs and organizations who aim at preserving the correct Rottweiler, may not forget that they hold a very strong instrument : when they experience judges to ignore or disrespect the standard, then they should simply not invite them anymore !

Let the adjustment of the standard be both a new start and a loud warning : a new start towards recognizing and preserving the Rottweiler in his correct definition and a loud warning to never again let things get so out of hand that the standard must be adapted to clarify characteristics that have defined the breed for such a long time but were ignored or disrespected in recent judging / breeding in such a measure that we now have to remind lovers of the breed how the Rottweiler is supposed to look like !

And believe me, bringing the head back to its original definition may indeed be a serious and an urgent necessity but it is only a part of the challenges that we face !    Just think of the ever smaller but ever longer bodies, the much too long loins, the too steep shoulders and much too short upper arms, the too weak pasterns and too long toes, the too long and over angulated hind quarters, the loss of character, … all faults that fester but consolidate in our breed and that demand at least as much of our attention !   

Dirk Vandecasteele.