The large, strong rottweiler is well-known for its intelligence and capabilities as a guard dog. When choosing a rottweiler, you want to look for a dog that is intelligent and unafraid but not confident to the point that it will contest your leadership as it grows up. When evaluating a litter of puppies, try to see their mother and father if possible, as well as grandparents or older siblings that may live with the breeder, since you can expect your puppy to have much in common with these dogs.
Check the rottweiler puppy’s pedigree to get an idea of his potential. If you want to show your dog, you'll want one that has some champion dogs in his background, indicating that he has the potential for excellent conformation. If you want a dog capable of working, look for working titles such as obedience, drafting and Schutzhund. While titles indicate what you may be able to expect from your puppy, they do not guarantee that your pup will have these qualities.
Review any health screenings that the parents and other related dogs have had. Rottweilers used for breeding should be screened for hip and elbow dysplasia, heart problems and genetic eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy. The breeder should have documentation from the appropriate animal health registries, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) to back up any claims. These screenings will help to minimize the likelihood that your rottweiler will inherit these problems. Be aware that it is still possible.
Observe the puppies to make sure they all appear to be in good health. They should not be very thin, have potbellies or have runny eyes or noses. The insides of puppies’ ears should be reasonably clean, with no discharge or foul odor that could indicate ear mites or an ear infection. The puppies should not be coughing nor should they show any signs of vomiting or diarrhea. Look for smooth, glossy coats without any dry, flaking skin. If any of the puppies in the litter appear to be sick, you should look elsewhere for your rottweiler.
Make sure the puppies walk normally and don’t have any deformities, such as misaligned jaws or crooked legs. Check that the coats are black and tan, and are smooth rather than fluffy. The puppies should have had their tails docked shortly after birth, and the docked tails should be well-healed and no more than two vertebrae long.
Pay close attention to the puppies as soon as you get near them, and notice which puppies are interested in you. They should come to you to investigate you, possibly grabbing your pant legs or playing with your shoelaces. This shows that they are curious, alert and not overly fearful. Don’t consider taking any puppy that hangs back at this stage, because he will likely grow up into a fearful adult.
Watch the puppies carefully to see how they interact with one another. You don’t want the shy puppy that sits off by himself, because he may have problems that can cause him to be unstable when he grows up. You should also avoid taking the very bossy puppy that jumps on his littermates, growls at them and pushes them around. This pup has an alpha dog personality and may later challenge you for leadership in your home. Dealing with an alpha dog is a job for an experienced rottweiler owner.
Handle the puppies that don’t fall into either extreme. They should accept your picking them up and holding them, relaxing in your hands and not struggling to get away from you. If you find a puppy that appeals to you, take him slightly away from the others and see how he behaves. He should still be relaxed with you and not in a panic to get back to his littermates. If he passes this final test, you have found the right rottweiler for you.