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Rottweiler vs. Pitbull: Which Dog Breed Should You Choose?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Rottweiler vs Pitbull

Are you seeking a proven protector for your property? How about a loving and loyal companion that is great with kids? While there are many dog breeds out there that take the cake, the Pitbull and Rottweiler are both devoted defenders who love their human packs.

But which one is right for your household? Here, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both breeds, as well as the main difference between them, to help you decide which one is ideal for you.

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Visual Differences

Rottweiler vs Pitbull side by side

A Quick Overview – Rottweiler vs. Pitbull

The Rottweiler and the Pitbull are two different breeds but have some things in common. Let’s take a quick glance at how they match up and differ below.

  • Average Height (adult): 26 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 120 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hr/day
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Moderate, highly intelligent
  • Average Height (adult): 17-21 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 30-60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Exercise: 1.5+ hours/day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Prone to aggression
  • Trainability: Difficult and necessary

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While both breeds are impressive canines, the Rottie and the Pit come from very different origins.

Dating back to the Roman Empire, the Rottweiler gained widespread popularity in the German town of Rottweil. Their name literally translates to “Rottweil butchers’ dog,” thanks to their career as livestock herders and their ability to pull heavy carts loaded with butchered meat to the market.

Today, this intelligent and people-please canine is utilized as a police dog, guard dog, and search and rescue dog.

rottweiler with tounge out
Image Credit: Serova_Ekaterina, Shutterstock

The Pitbull, on the other hand, isn’t a breed of dog but rather a specific type of dog. Known for their stout and muscular build, big head, and powerful jaw, Pitbull dogs were originally developed as baiting or fighting dogs, mainly for bulls and bears. When this activity became illegal, they were pitted against each other.

Their fighting history earned Pitbulls quite a negative reputation. Despite their bad rap, Pitbulls are total sweethearts and were actually used as nanny dogs to look over small children.

American Pitbull Terrier smiling
Image Credit: PxHere


Looks-wise, Pitbulls and Rottweilers are easy to distinguish from one another. At their largest, Rotties can grow to be 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh over 130 pounds. They are a sturdy, solid breed with short black fur and lighter markings that come in either mahogany, rust, or tan. Their tails are sometimes docked.

While the Rottweiler has one type of appearance, Pitbulls vary wildly in color, coat pattern, and build. Generally, Pitbulls are medium-sized dogs with wide, wedge-shaped heads and strong, stocky builds. They come in a wide range of colors, including blue, brown, black, gray, fawn, merle, red, and white. They can weigh between 40 and 70 pounds and stand from 17 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder. Pits are extremely expressive dogs and are famous for their doggy grins, which makes them look happy.

Some types of Pitbulls are called either “blue nose” or “red nose” Pitbulls. These types of Pits have either blue or red points, including cute slate gray or red noses!

Both breeds have an ominous appearance that is sure to stop an intruder dead in their tracks. Yet, despite their brawny exteriors, their hearts are made from gold.


When selecting the right dog for you, it’s critical to take their temperament and personality into account. This is especially true for “bully breeds” that often get bad press.

The Rottweiler is a people-centric breed that is courageous, affectionate, and devoted. They can develop deep bonds with their owners and be extremely protective of their pack. If socialized from an early age, a Rottweiler will get along with just about any other dog.

Pitbulls are just as sweet and as sensitive as Rottweilers. This people-oriented breed wants to please. However, due to their origins as fighters, Pitbulls can develop sudden aggression toward other canines out of the blue. This is why they should never be left alone with your other dog.

Did you know? In some countries like the UK, Pitbulls are required by law to wear muzzles in public places.

Many folks are wary of getting a Rottweiler or Pitbull because both breeds have been subjected to harsh histories as fighting dogs. However, many studies have concluded that dogs who bite are typically unneutered males. Other studies have shown that there is no such thing as breed-specific aggression, and any dog from any breed will bite if upset, injured, or provoked.

More recent studies have speculated that dog bite force is directly attributed to the size of the dog. If true, the Mastiff would have a stronger bite than the Pitbull or Rottie, simply due to their immense size.

red nosed pitbull puppy
Image Credit: carlotta vitrani, Shutterstock


As we mentioned before, it’s smart to start socializing both your Pitbull or Rottweiler right from the get-go, both with people and with other dogs.

Both types of dogs are extremely intelligent and eager to please. However, both breeds can be prone to stubbornness. This is why consistent, firm training with positive reinforcement, such as physical or verbal praise or a treat, works wonders with both breeds.

Clicker training is a great training method for either breed. A training method based upon behavioral psychology that rewards the desired behavior, clicker training uses a clicker device to signify the wanted actions of the dog. Right after you click the device, you should reward your Rottweiler or Pitbull with either a treat, a pat on the head, or verbal praise.

The dog will soon be able to associate the desired action with a positive consequence through operant conditioning, and eventually, do it all on their own.

black and tan rottweiler puppy
Image Credit: Pixabay


Both the Rottweiler and Pitbull need plenty of daily exercise. However, the types of exercise will differ among these two breeds.

Rotties were born to work. They should be given doggie jobs such as fetching the newspaper or hauling light loads around the house. They also need mental stimulation and tons of playtime. Whether you invest in a puppy puzzle toy or play tug in the backyard, your Rottweiler will appreciate the time you spend doting on him.

Pitbulls are extremely energetic dogs and need plenty of exercise throughout the day. A brisk jog, a long hike, or a game of fetch outside all do the trick.


Both breeds are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming, all thanks to their short coats. However, the Rottweiler will require a little bit more grooming and bathing than the Pitbull to keep their coat looking spectacular.

Both breeds will need to have their ears cleaned and nails trimmed routinely to keep infections and nail breakages at bay.

Image Credit: Pixabay


Both breeds will thrive best off of high-quality, high-protein, grain-free kibble due to their high energy levels. The amount of kibble you feed your Rottie or Pitbull will depend upon their individual size and activity level.

Puppy Prices

A purebred Rottweiler will come with a higher price tag than its Pitbull counterpart. Be aware that a Rottweiler from a reputable breeder will be upwards of $1,500. A Pitbull from a quality breeder will cost upwards of $800.

It is of the utmost importance to get your puppy from a trustworthy breeder who has a solid reputation. Never buy a puppy from an internet ad, and always do your homework on the breeder before deciding to buy.

Some characteristics of a good breeder include:

  • They are super knowledgeable about the breed they are selling.
  • They ask you a lot of questions to ensure you’re a good fit for the puppy.
  • They have you sign a contract.
  • You can meet the parents and the litter.
  • You can take a tour of their facility.
  • They can give you referrals and vet records.
  • They are transparent about their practices.
  • They will stay in contact even after you buy the puppy.

Buying from a backyard breeder can come with many negative consequences, including a sick or ill-mannered pet. As such, it’s critical that you buy from someone who is 100% reputable and trustworthy.

Health Conditions and Concerns

On average, Rottweilers can live up to 10 years. The breed suffers from some health issues though, including cancer, heart conditions, eye diseases, and hip dysplasia. Always buy from a reputable and responsible breeder to help avoid these health concerns.

Pitbulls are hardy dogs and can live well into their mid-teens. However, they are not without their health issues and can suffer from allergies, eye problems, heart issues, and elbow and hip dysplasia.

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Rottweiler vs. Pitbull – Final Thoughts

Both the Rottweiler and the Pitbull are fantastic and fiercely loving dogs. These gentle giants are passionate about protecting their families and love to play with kids. Despite their scary reputation, both breeds make amazing family pets, if socialized and trained early.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: (L) Jagodka, Shutterstock | (R) Diego Thomazini, Shutterstock

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