*Despite problems, breed is now most popular guard; owners think they take a bite out of crime.

By Roger Rydell Daniels

When Teresa McDay move to the north side of Akron, she wanted some extra protection, like a nice guard dog. So she accepted a Rottweiler from her dad. "If you have a Rottweiler outside of the house, then no one would get in it to bother you. Therefore a gun isn't needed. Plus I am scared of guns and don't want them around my kids, "said McDay, 21.
The single mother prefers the Rottweiler because it's popular and she admires its look.

The popularity of the Rottweiler is skyrocketing, locally and nationally. It is the most popular breed of "guard dog," surpassing German Shepherds and the once popular pit bull. But the same safety problems once associated with pit bulls are now arising with Rottweilers. In Summit Count last year, reported attacks by Rottweilers, whose owners could be identified were 10 times higher than pit bulls.

"A lot of people that had owned pit bulls now own Rottweilers," said John Hoffman, supervisor of animal control for the city of Akron. "People just don't want to deal with the regulations that come with the pit bull.But they do want the protection and status that comes with having a dog like the pit bull." "They (dog owners) want to say, "look at me, not only am I mean, but my dog is mean."

The Rottweilers may also be getting meaner partially as a result of their increased popularity. Mary Poole, Wayne County's dog warden, said the popularity of Rottweilers may encourage amateurs to breed dogs. "You'll have more and more back-yard breedings," she said. "With that, you'll get dogs with bad temperaments." Of course not all Rottweilers are mean, Most trainers say they are friendly.

"The Rottweiler will take the basic instinct of its owner, " Hoffmann said. The Rottweiler is much bigger than the pit bull. It was the second most popular breed of dog last year with 102,596 mational registrations, up from sixth in 1989---a 70% increase, according to the American Kennel Club. Labrador Retrievers were the most popular.

In Ohio, Rottweilers were third with 3,868 registered last year, behind Labradors with 5,678 and beagles with 4,139, said the New York City-based club, the dog registration authority for the country. A breakdown by city as not available. Meanwhile, club records indicate that in the nation, only 1,367 American Stafforshire Terriers, 1200 bull terriers and 361 Staffordshire terriers---all classified as pit buls----were registered.


Several municipalities across the country have strict laws regarding pit bulls. Akron City Council enacted regulation in 1989, after several attacks by pit bulls. The Akron ordinance requires owners to place special collars and tattoos on their pit bulls. In addition, the dogs must be securely penned and muzzled when off their owners' property. Owners also must carry $50,000 in liability insurance for the dogs. The city tried to solve a safety problem by regulating pit bulls, but all it did was regulate a breed, said veterinarian Dr. John Sigler of the Sigler Animal Hospital in Akron. "They may have eliminated one dog, but they got a bigger one in return. I am much more concerned about having a Rottweiler in the office than I am with a pit bull. They're much harder to control, if they don't want to be controlled." "Akron took the right steps toward dangerous dogs and their owners, but unfortunately because of a cycle, another dog came forward as the macho dog," said Jack Papp, a Rottweiler breeder and director of Papp's Dog Services in Akron, "That's all it is, It's an ego and macho thing. Everybody wants the big bad dog of the time." "It goes around in cycles. Years back it was the German Shepherd, then the Doberman pinscher and the pit bull. Now it's the Rottweiler. Next it'll be another type."

Bill Whited has bred, sold and trained Rottweilers for nine years at Gordon Kennel in Green. He said if they're bred up to standard, Rottweilers are the best dogs out there. "They're excellent with children and great protectants," he said. He said his dog Sampson once saved him from a prospective robber. He also understands the publicity they're receiving as a vicious dog. "If you look at all the Rottweilers across the country, it may not be good." Whited blames the dog's havd reputation on inbreeding and the Kennel Club's lack of regulations on the breeding of Rottweilers.

Sigler, who tracks dog bites for the city of Akron, said 428 bites from dogs that had owners were reported to hospitals in Summit Count last year, 35 from Rottweilers. Only three were from pit buls and 284 were from mixed breed dogs. The breed with the most reported bites was the German Shepherd, with 59. In addition, there were 103 bites from stray dogs reported,: four were from Rottweilers. Sigler said most of the bites were suffered by dog owners or children.

Still, Hoffman said he doubts city officials will decide to regulate Rottweilers as they did pit bulls. "Regulations just aren't that popular in the country," he said.

EDITOR"S NOTE: My thanks to Hazel Sanders of Akron, Ohio for faxing this to me....With the sentiment about Rotties in Akron, it wouldn't take too much to add "Rottweilers" to their ordinance.