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Rottweiler vs. Pit Bull: Should You Take One Home?

Rottweiler vs. Pit Bull: Should You Take One Home?

Critter Culture Staff



Rottweilers and pit bulls are among the most popular dog breeds in America. Known for their muscled bodies and intimidating appearance, these dogs have drawn a lot of negative media attention. However, when they are properly trained and cared for, both breeds have loving and friendly temperaments. Both are loyal dogs that can alert their owners to danger and discourage home intruders. Despite all the similarities between rottweilers and pit bulls, there are also some key differences between these breeds. Understanding the characteristics of each breed will help you choose the right pet for your home.


Introducing the rottweiler

Rottweilers are hard-working dogs that are descended from Ancient Roman mastiffs. Used as herding animals in Germany, they earned a reputation as fierce and loyal protectors. Today, rottweilers are still known for their protective nature. They are used as police and guard dogs but can also make great family pets. Remember that these are big dogs with incredible jaw strength. Training and regular attention are key to keeping rottweilers and the people around them safe.

Rottweiler puppy portrait. Photo was shot in Woodland Washington Meagan Jenkins/ Getty Images


Introducing the American pit bull terrier

Originally bred for hunting and driving livestock, pit bulls are densely muscled dogs with fun-loving personalities. Pits are a high-energy breed that requires vigorous exercise on a daily basis. They're known for being goofy dogs that love to play with their owners, but they don't always get along well with other pets. Pit bulls generally don't dig and won't bark without reason, but they tend to chew on things, especially as puppies. This breed benefits from obedience training and regular play with its owners.

A closeup of the American Pit Bull Terrier lying on the floor. Wirestock/ Getty Images


Height characteristics

Rottweilers and pit bulls are both big dogs, but rottweilers tend to be significantly taller. The average male rottweiler is 24–27" from their paw to the top of their shoulder, while the average male pit bull is 18–21" tall. Female dogs of both breeds stand slightly shorter, with rottweilers averaging 22–25" tall and pit bulls averaging 15–20" tall.

Close up on head of gray american pit bull terrier apbt dog on the leash standing in sunny day with low section of unknown man standing beside Miljan Živković/ Getty Images


Weight characteristics

Both pit bulls and rottweilers are athletic dogs, and their bodies show it. These breeds have strong musculature and broad shoulders, but rottweilers do tend to be much heavier. Pit bulls are considered medium-sized dogs, with adult males weighing 35–60 pounds. Rottweilers are considered large dogs, with males sometimes weighing twice as much as their pit bull counterparts.

Pitbull Dog, Photo took in Heredia Costa Rica GabyCalvo/ Getty Images


Coat type

You don't have to worry about extensive grooming and brushing with either pit bulls or rottweilers, as both dogs have relatively short hair. Pit bulls, in particular, require minimal grooming because they have single coats. This means that pitties are sensitive to cold and need to be brought inside when temperatures drop. Rottweilers differ because they have a thick undercoat that provides extra protection from the cold. It also means that they shed heavily during spring and summer.

Twin American Pit Bull Terriers smiling. Josh Taxson/ Getty Images


Coat color

When you think of a rottweiler, no doubt a black-haired dog with brown markings comes to mind. All purebred rottweilers have the same color pattern. Pit bulls are bred in a much broader range of colors, including brown, black, white, blue, brindle, fawn, grey, and red, and they also often have markings on their faces and bodies.

Rottweiler Dog Lounging Indoors on Couch with Head on Armrest JoeChristensen/ Getty Images


Health problems

Understanding common health issues is essential to choosing a dog that fits your lifestyle and vet care budget. Pit bulls are generally healthy dogs who are prone to only a few diseases. As pitties age, a condition called cerebellar abiotrophy can affect their balance and coordination. Pitties may also have skin allergies. Both pit bulls and rottweilers are susceptible to hip dysplasia due to their size. Rottweilers tend to be prone to many other health concerns as well, including elbow dysplasia, heart failure, and several forms of canine cancer.

Veterinarians putting cone collar on dog and bandaging its leg Capuski/ Getty Images


Life expectancy

With dogs, life expectancy generally decreases as breed size increases, and pit bulls and rottweilers are no exception. Pitties tend to live longer than rottweilers, with an average life span of 13–15 years. Rottweilers tend to live between nine and 10 years. Of course, buying your dog from a reputable breeder who will know the parents' histories is the best way to ensure your new pet is as healthy as possible.

Handsome man and a charming puppy. Close-up, indoors. Studio photo, white color. Sviatlana Barchan/ Getty Images



You've likely heard horror stories about both of these intimidating dog breeds. However, you shouldn't let that alone discourage you from getting a rottweiler or a pit bull. If you give your dog love, care, and appropriate training, it's likely to respond positively and develop bonds with your family. That being said, both rottweilers and pit bulls have a strong natural instinct to protect their people and their homes, so you'll need to keep them in a secure yard.

Rottweiler Outdoors in forest and woodland Kurt Pas/ Getty Images


Are these breeds child- and pet-friendly?

If you have kids or other pets, you might be hesitant to get a rottweiler or pit bull as a new pet. Neither breed is known for being friendly to dogs and other animals they don't know. That's why you should always keep these dogs leashed and controlled when you're outside your own yard. In terms of kid-friendliness, both breeds can be good with children when raised in a family, but pit bulls tend to be more accepting of strangers and rowdy kids.

Young woman training and playing with puppy on grass, in park. Rottweiler dog puppy details Bogdanhoda/ Getty Images


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