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Rottweiler vs. Pitbull: Breed Differences & Similarities

Trying to decide if the Rottweiler or the American Pitbull Terrier makes a better canine companion? Both of these dogs can be similar in some ways but are quite different in many others. Read on and find out which is the perfect pup for your lifestyle!

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Last Updated: July 1, 2021 | 11 min read

Rottweiler vs Pitbull

For those that don’t know the Rottweiler or the American Pitbull Terrier, they can look intimidating to say the least, and that’s before you hear of all the ‘horror stories’ surrounding them. But those familiar with both breeds will know that they are actually very sweet-natured and loving, but unfortunately also very misunderstood, particularly the American Pitbull Terrier (APBT).

They are similar in their temperament, in that they are sweet-natured and loving, and they are sociable and playful with their pack. They are both very misunderstood pups with an unfair reputation. Believe it or not, these two breeds actually can make for a very sweet mixed breed combination!

The Rottweiler is warier of strangers and tends to guard his property and family, whereas the APBT will play with just about anyone. The Rottweiler is much larger than the APBT, but with his size comes a few more health issues.

Breed Comparison

Rottweiler

  • Height 22-27 Inches
  • Weight 80-135 Pounds
  • Temperament Loving, Confident, Loyal
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 9-10 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Pitbull Terrier

  • Height 17-21 Inches
  • Weight 30-65 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Energetic, Loyal
  • Energy High
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $800 and Up

Breed History

In order to understand these dog breeds today and the reputation surrounding them, it is important to understand their past and where they came from.

Rottweiler

Black and Tan Dog Standing on a Road
Rottweilers are among some of the most popular dog breeds in the States.

The Rottweiler dates to the Roman Empire and is one of the oldest recorded breeds, and he is believed to have descended from ancient Mastiff-type dogs. The Rottweiler was originally bred to herd the cattle alongside armies and ensured the cattle’s protection from wild animals and robbers.

The traveling butchers of the town of Rottweil in Germany were so impressed with his herding and guarding abilities, that they used him to protect their money purses by tying them around the Rottweiler’s neck. He was officially named Rottweiler, from Rottweil. In Germany, he is known as the Rottweiler Metzgerhund, which in English translates to ‘Rottweil Butcher Dog.’

Over time, he found various forms of employment such as working on farms for his sheer power in shifting large heavy objects, and in many protection services, notably as a German Police dog.

Since his decline in popularity as a working dog, his sweeter side has been discovered and he is now considered to be a great family pet. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has ranked him as the 8th most popular dog in America out of 193 recognized breeds.

Because the Rottie is so highly thought of, they are often mixed in with other pure breeds, like the Rottie-labrador mix.

Pitbull

Blue Dog Chewing on a Bone
The Pitbull is often referred to as a “nanny dog” by those who love the breed.

The Pitbull is not actually a breed itself, but more an umbrella term used for dogs that descend from Terriers and Bulldogs. The four breeds considered to be ‘Pitbulls’ are American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

It is also quite common for many other breeds to be incorrectly labeled as Pitbulls as most people do not fully understand what Pitbull means, and even the professionals get it wrong too. They were originally bred as fighting dogs but when dog fighting was outlawed these dogs were used for catching and herding, as well as family companionship dogs.

Throughout this article we are going to talk about the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) as the majority of people when they refer to a Pitbull, are often specifically referring to the APBT. However, other ‘Pitbull’ type dogs will vary in certain characteristics.

Due to the APBT’s origin, he now has a bad reputation and he is thought to be inherently vicious, which is not true, and we will look at this further down. The APBT is not recognized by the AKC so it is hard to gauge exactly how popular he is, however, we do know that the Pitbull type dog is the most bred dog in America.

Appearance

Dogs Standing Outdoors
Rottweilers and Pitbulls do not look very much alike.

The Rottweiler and the APBT are quite different in their appearance, with the only similarity being that they are considered, by some, to be mean-looking pups. The Rottweiler stands much taller between 24 to 27 inches from paw to shoulder whereas the APBT stands between 18 to 21 inches.

The Rottweiler also weighs up to a massive 135 pounds, whereas the APBT weighs up to 65 pounds, this is potentially over twice the size of the APBT! The APBT is much leaner and more defined and this makes him look more muscular compared to the Rottweiler.

The Rottweiler is only recognized in his black and tan color, with the rust color normally placed above his eyebrows, snout, chest, and legs. On the other hand, the APBT can come in an array of colors; however, merle is not recognized by the world’s leading Kennel Club groups. Popular color choices for the APBT include blue, red, grey, white, and brindle.

Both of their coats are considered short; however, the Rottweiler’s coat is ever so slightly longer, and much softer, whereas the APBT’s coat is so short it is stiff to the touch. They both have straight and shiny coats.

Temperament

Happy Dogs Smiling Outdoors
Despite their mean façade they are both sweet-natured and loving with their family.

Both reeds enjoy a cuddle at the end of the day and will happily join you on the sofa for snuggles. The APBT will probably go further than that; however, and spend all day on the sofa with you if he could, as he is definitely needier compared to the Rottweiler.

Although the Rottweiler is affectionate and sociable with his family, he is said to be more aloof with strangers, and that will be because of his guarding tendencies. He would happily spend a few hours on patrol in his yard making strangers and would-be intruders aware of his presence, and that his family is not to be messed with. His strong jaws can also tear dog toys apart, so you’ll need to buy a few toys that can withstand the Rotties jaws.

Contrary to popular opinion, the APBT would make a terrible guard dog, and would most likely invite an intruder in to play with all of his toys and offer up a cup of coffee if he could make one! They are actually closer in temperament to the Golden Retriever than they are the Rottie! They are very sociable creatures and he just wants to be everyone’s friend. So, if it’s a guard dog you’re after, then the APBT is probably not for you.

Because the APBT is so sociable he has been known to suffer from separation anxiety, so if you can’t dedicate a lot of time to this amiable guy then maybe he is not the one for you. He is very much a pack dog and needs to be with his companions. The Rottweiler would happily be by himself for a few hours and entertain himself, as long as he gets his exercise when you return.

They are both known to be playful, the APBT for slightly longer periods of time, and would love to spend a few hours playing with his master and the rest of the pack. If you are after a family-friendly pup who will give you hours of fun then these guys would fit that need, and to top it off they are also tolerant and gentle with children.

Both of these guys have a similar reputation, and it is a pretty bad one which is very much undeserved. There are a few things that you should be prepared for if you are considering getting one of these perfect pups.

The Rottweiler and the APBT are known to be ‘status dogs,’ and the APBT is typically known for being a fighting dog. Police have documented that APBTs are used by criminals to protect their drug hoards or use them to assault the Police.

It is said that one of the only reasons that these dog breeds are involved in particularly vicious assaults is because the owner, who is the vicious one, has chosen them to do his dirty work simply because they are a status dog. For example, if the criminals decided a Golden Retriever was their new status dog and brought them up to be vicious, then the Golden Retriever would eventually earn the same bad reputation. It’s not the pup, it’s the owner.

Because of this trend to use these breeds in such a manner, many states and countries have employed Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and the Rottweiler and the APBT are almost always subject to this legislation. It varies from state to state, but if you are considering getting either of these breeds then you need to check your local laws.

In addition to this, if a Rottweiler or an APBT has attacked someone, the media are very quick to jump on the story and sensationalize it, and as a result of this, the public’s perception of both breeds are very negative.

A knock-on effect from this is that many Landlords have banned particular breeds from residing in their homes, and many insurance companies refuse to cover certain breeds, or at the very least they have increased premiums disproportionately. Again, this is something you need to research if you are considering one of these breeds.

Exercise

Dogs Running Outdoors
About 60 minutes of exercise each day should suffice for both breeds.

Both the Rottweiler and the APBT are considered to be medium energy dogs. As such, they both need around 60 minutes of exercise a day. The APBT is said to be more energetic than the Rottweiler, and as such he needs more intense exercise and loves to play-fight with his masters, or play frisbee, ball, or take part in doggy agility courses on top of his 60 minutes a day.

As with most pups, during playtime with their family children should always be supervised. This is particularly true for these two breeds as they are strong powerful dogs. Contrary to popular belief and bad reputation the often talked of APBT’s ‘lockjaw’ is actually a myth. Although his bite is a powerful one, the Rottweiler is said to have the strongest bite of all dog breeds.

In the top 10 of popular breeds, the APBT came in at number 3. The APBT’s bite power has been measured at 235 pounds of pressure per square inch compared to the Rottweiler’s bite at an astonishing 328 pounds of pressure.

If these guys are left to their own devices and become bored, they can be highly destructive. Due to their power, they can cause a significant amount of damage in a short space of time, so if you can’t commit to exercising them daily, be prepared for a lot of repair bills.

Training

Funny Dogs With Items on Their Heads
Mental and physical stimulation, early socialization, and positive reinforcement training are recommended for both breeds.

Both the Rottweiler and the APBT are quite intelligent and therefore similar regarding their training, ultimately, they both like to be mentally and physically stimulated. Training these guys is relatively easy compared to some pooches as they both enjoy being trained by their master and they seek to please.

It is imperative to socialize these guys at a very early age, specifically because of the Rottweiler’s guarding tendencies, and because it is also suggested that neither of these breeds is particularly welcoming to other dogs. Socialization is important to ensure that they are comfortable in many different environments, both inside and outside of the home. They should be comfortable with humans of all ages and other animals of all sizes and recognize that in most cases neither man nor dog is a threat.

Positive reinforcement training is the best type of training for any dog, but it is particularly important with guarding dogs such as the Rottweiler. Training should always be positive, and never negative, otherwise, there is a chance that the dog will react negatively. If you react to a dog negatively, they too will react negatively, which is why a lot of vicious people have vicious pets.

It would also be great to show the world that your ‘vicious’ Rottweiler or APBT is the best-behaved doggo in the park. Pitbulls require proper training, especially if you are going to train them to walk on a harness because they like to pull.

Health

Close Up of Dogs Outside
Pitbulls tend to live longer than Rottweilers, though both are considered fairly healthy.

These guys are quite different when it comes to their health. First off, the Rottweiler lives, on average, between 9 to 10 years, and the APBT lives, on average, between 12 and 16 years. This is a considerable difference and something that must be taken into account if you are considering getting either of these breeds. Generally, the APBT is healthier than the Rottweiler.

The APBT’s main concerns are Hip Dysplasia and Cerebellar Abiotrophy. Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint, which can lead to pain in his hindquarters and crippling arthritis.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy is where the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance is damaged, and they cannot move as they should. On occasion, it can also cause cognitive impairment. He can also suffer from skin allergies, all of which ointment and high-quality food can assist with.

The Rottweiler is also known to suffer from Hip Dysplasia, as well as Elbow Dysplasia, as described above. Rottweilers are also frequently known to suffer from a disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy, the pup is born with thinner and more dilated heart walls and therefore the heart does not function as it should, and can result in heart failure.

In addition to this heart concern, they are also known to suffer from Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, which is where the area underneath the aortic valve can cause a blockage to the blood flow.

The Rottweiler’s other major concerns that they are known to suffer from are Osteosarcoma, Bloat, and Lymphoma.

Nutrition

Dogs Eating Snacks
Feeding your Rottweiler or Pitbull age-appropriate food is ideal for either breed.

The Rottweiler will consume three cups of food a day, whereas the APBT will consume less at 2 ½ cups a day. Both of these guys should have age-appropriate food and be sure not to let the Rottweiler overeat as he can be vulnerable to Obesity. The APBT tends to have a higher metabolism, so unless you are really overdoing it on the Scooby snacks, he shouldn’t put on too much weight.

Grooming

Dogs Getting Brushed by Humans
Both breeds are rather low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, but the APBT is a little easier.

The APBT is one of the easiest dogs to care for in terms of grooming. A brush once a week will suit this guy fine, his hair is only short and this will remove any dead hairs and keep him shiny and healthy-looking.

He will only require a bath once every two to three months unless of course, he finds a muddy field to roll in; be warned this is one of his favorite pastimes! If he suffers from skin allergies then this may require you to bathe him in medicated treatments a bit more often.

The Rottweiler is only slightly more demanding than the APBT, he will require brushing once or twice a week, again, to keep him looking healthy and shiny. Just like your average pooch a bath every 6 weeks would be beneficial for this guy.

Puppy Prices

Puppies Running Outside
Don’t forget to check your local shelter or breed organization to adopt before you shop!

The Rottweiler is more expensive at around $1,500, whereas the APBT costs, on average $800 to $1,500 from a reputable breeder. The more desirable the characteristics then the more you can expect to pay. Or if you wanted a Rottweiler from an award-winning bloodline, you should expect to pay more than the average price.

If you are thinking about getting an APBT then you should at least consider rescuing one from a shelter. There are hundreds of thousands of these guys in rescue shelters who, simply because they are an APBT or other Pitbull type dog, are put on the ‘kill list’. A study found that 93% of Pitbulls in shelters were euthanized.

Of course, you may not know his history if you adopt one, but you would be literally saving a life, (and some money), so it is at least worth thinking about.

Final Thoughts

These two fiercely loyal and loving dogs would suit just about any home. They are both affectionate pooches who love to cuddle their masters, and thoroughly enjoy being trained and played with. They are great for young families, as they are known to be gentle and protective of their human siblings.

If you’re after a guard dog, then the Rottweiler would be the better option, whereas if you are after a more playful and intense pup then the APBT would be better suited.

If you decide to make one of these guys the newest member of your family, then you’ll have no regrets for sure. Whilst the haters are hating, you and your family will be in for many years of love, affection, and fun!

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1 Comments

Alfred godstime

September 1, 2021 at 6:29 pm

I love Rotties and they are my best breed. Rotties are better than pitbulls.

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