The breed is an ancient one, and its history stretches back to the Roman Empire. In those times, the legions traveled with their meat on the hoof and required the assistance of working dogs to herd the cattle. One route the army traveled was through Württemberg and on to the small market town of Rottweil. The principal ancestors of the first Rottweilers during this time was supposed to be the Roman war dog, local sheepdogs the army met on its travels, and dogs with molosser appearance coming from England and The Netherlands.
This region eventually became an important cattle area, and the descendants of the Roman cattle dogs proved their worth in both driving and protecting the cattle from robbers and wild animals. However, by the end of the 19th Century, the breed had declined so much that in 1900 there was only one female to be found in the town of Rottweil. But the build up to World War I saw a great demand for police dogs, and that led to a revival of interest in the Rottweiler.
From that time the breed has become popular with dog owners, and in 1935 was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.In 1936, Rottweilers were exhibited in Britain at Crufts. In 1966, a separate register was opened for the breed.
The first Rottweiler club in Germany, named DRK ("Deutscher Rottweiler-Klub" — German Rottweiler Club) was created the 13 January 1907, and followed by the creation of the SDRK ("Süddeutscher Rottweiler-Klub" — South German Rottweiler Club) on the 27 April 1907 and became the IRK (International Rottweiler Club). The DRK counted around 500 Rottweiler, the SDRK 3000 Rottweilers. The goals of the two clubs were different. The DRK wanted to produce working dogs and did not emphasize the morphology of the Rottweiler. The main stud dog of this club was Lord von der Teck. The IRK tried to produce a homogeneous morphology according to their standard. One of the main stud dogs of this club was Ralph von Neckar.A popular misconception about the Rottweiler is that the breed was bred for dog fighting.