Driving cattle was Rottweiler's main historical job. Rottweilers had another historic job than going cattle to their butcher. It is a similar job that the Swiss Mountain Dogs and Bernese Mountain Dogs, also in the Working group, are best known. Well, you see, like their Swiss cousins, Rottweilers are drovers that were somewhat also utilized as draft dogs for centuries.
While the breed's main job was herding large livestock, they were quite often used to pull smaller carts, carrying things such as milk.
Now, why were dogs, such as Rotties, commonly used as draft animals instead of a horse, which could certainly handle a more significant burden? There are many reasons, to begin with. Most of those reasons lead straight back to the fact that a dog was the more economical choice under the circumstances.
For the most part, draft dogs were given jobs by small farmers. Perhaps it could be a family with a handful of dairy cattle or a few chicken houses. Or maybe they were subsistence farmers, who used crops for themselves and could only spare a limited amount for selling. Nonetheless, in most cases, these were not big landowners. They did not have a considerable amount of products to take to market, and they did not have enough money to invest. No matter what era in history we are referring to, it has always been more affordable to buy a good dog than a good horse.
Let's look at the situation of a small dairy farmer. A horse would be using the same area as his cows, eating the same grass and grain. His choice might come down to whether he wants a horse or if he wants to add another cow to his existing herd and increase the milk his farm produces.
On the other hand, a dog will not consume the same amount of food that a horse would. And obviously, the dog wouldn't be intruding on the cattle's food supply. While they are usually considered carnivores, dogs have some omnivore tendencies. The farmer could easily feed them a serving of whatever his family was enjoying eating that evening. Also, a dog could supplement its meals by hunting vermin or pests around the compound.
In the case of Rottweilers, the dog could serve several purposes. Rottweiler could be used to herd cattle from the pasture to the barn and pull the milk to the market and other places. The protective nature makes him an excellent farm guardian, as well.
In addition to those reasons for a dog is preferred, there were also health issues to consider. People who know much about horses can tell you, the term "healthy as a horse" is a bit deceptive. Horses are susceptible to animals. Too much munching on grass in the spring, and they can founder and go lame. An abrupt change in the type or amount of grain can make them get colic and possibly go ill and die. As for a farm, a dog would be much more challenging (the term "sick as a dog" is also deceptive). Well, let's not forget that you don't usually need to shoe a dog.
In the late 19th century, railroads almost put the nail in the coffin of southern Germany's drover dogs. It soon became illegal to drive cattle for long distances. Rottweilers still had their secondary job of draft dog available to them for several years afterward.
Unfortunately, though, they soon lost that job too. Donkeys became more commonly used than dogs as the "beasts of burden." A donkey is able to eat the same food a horse would; because of its size, it doesn't need as much. Also, they are much tougher than horses.
In comparison to dogs, a donkey could pull much more weight. It could also be ridden, and even the biggest Rottie is not capable of doing so. Similar to llamas, donkeys are quite a good livestock protector, too. They are mercilessly chasing away anything that seems like a predator.
As with herding, the Rottweiler can still be used for carting. Instead of occupation, carting is now considered a fun hobby for both dog and owner.
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