Rottweilers and pit bulls often fall together under the bracket of ‘misunderstood and intimidating dogs’. Many people are nervous of both breeds, despite them sharing a dependable and friendly nature when raised in good homes.
Maybe you are looking for an intimidating breed, or maybe you want to give a wildly misunderstood breed a chance, and you are trying to choose between a Rottweiler and a Pitbull. Which can be tricky, as both of them are rather popular.
Both dog breeds share a number of similarities, but also a fair number of differences that you may need to examine before you decide who you’re bringing into your family.
Both the rottweiler and the pit bull may share a common ancestor in the ancient Roman Molossus dog. A large now-extinct working breed that was similar to mastiffs. However, they were later bred for different purposes.
Pit bulls - ‘Pit bulls’ is a broad term to refer to all dogs in the pit bull family, including the American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire terrier, American Bully, and others. They were originally bred to be bull baiters and fighting dogs, but continued to be bred for companionship after those barbaric practices were outlawed.
Rottweilers - Rottweilers may have been used by the Roman empire as war dogs. They were later bred and used to accompany caravans over the alps, offering protection to travellers and herding cattle. They were often working dogs, and were normally owned and employed by butchers. 
Pit bulls - Pitbull dogs have a lot of variation, but they normally have square-shaped heads, short coats, and stocky, muscular bodies. They can come in a variety of colors, including black, brindle, tan, white, black, brown, gray, and blue.
Some pit bull breeds can range from large-medium to small-medium depending on their type and can weigh between 30 to 90 pounds
Rottweilers - Rottweilers also have square shaped heads. They also have wide chests, medium-length coats, and floppy ears.
They normally come in the standard saddle-pattern and orange eyebrows that we associate them with, but their lighter markings can come in a variety of browns. Very rarely, you might sometimes see a ‘red’ rottweiler, which has no black fur on it at all.
Rottweilers tend to be big dogs, with males being slightly larger than females. They can normally weigh between 90 to 135 pounds
Both dogs have been widely mislabeled as aggressive dog breeds. However, with proper socialising, they both show great loyalty and warmth when integrated into a loving home. Studies have shown that neither breed is aggressive on their own. 
Pit bulls - Despite their dark origin in blood sports, many pit bulls have a lot of terrier blood. This means that they tend to be fun-loving and good natured. These dogs have been described as stubborn and bossy, which is one of the reasons they're so often used as mascots.
They are people pleasers at heart, but might not always get along well with other dogs or animals. Especially if they come from a rough background Pit bulls tend to do best when they have structure, training, and affection.
These people loving dogs need a lot of attention, and will normally be open to a cuddle. In fact, they tend to not make for a very good guard dog, as they are often too friendly towards strangers.
Rottweilers - Rottweilers are strong, brave, and very loyal. They may not be very welcoming to strangers, due to their guard-dog nature, but tend to be very affectionate among their own family.
Since they were bred for working conditions, it may take more experienced dog owners to handle their energy and properly train them. Either way, they are a good, affectionate, and wonderful family dog.
Exercise and Trainability
In the Rottweiler vs pitbull debate, one has to consider their energy needs. While both dogs are rather active and stubborn, there are some differences.
Pit bulls - The pit bull is a strong and muscular dog, which needs around 60 min of exercise everyday. One would say they are a working dog. They can be quite powerful which may make it difficult for elderly, infirm, or children to be able to take them on walks.
They enjoy long walks, and have the endurance to go on hikes. However, they struggle in very cold temperatures, so keep that in mind.
Pit bulls are of average intelligence, but they generally respond very well to repeated commands. Sometimes their stubbornness may act as a hindrance, but they are generally regarded as relatively easy to train by many experts, especially when trained from a young age.
Rottweilers - Bred to be working dogs, Rottweilers have a lot of energy. They also need around one hour of exercise, with some dogs needing a bit more. They prefer structured exercise alongside humans, rather than backyard romping.
Many rottweilers enjoy canine sports and other activities, and a well-socialised Rottweiler may have an easier time being accepted by other dogs and owners at a dog park than a pit bull.
Rotties are also regarded as slightly more intelligent than pit bulls and have an easier time picking up on training and receiving commands. Hower, they need a firm hand and good socialising from a young age to reach their potential.
Pit bulls - Pit bulls have naturally short coats and often lack an undercoat. This means that they often don’t need to be taken to groomers for haircuts. Their hair is also rather coarse and not prone to tangling - so they don’t need to be brushed often.
However, a good brush every now and then will get rid of loose fur and oils. Otherwise, they have pretty regular grooming needs - baths when dirty, ear-cleaning, nail trimming, and dental care.
Rottweilers - Rottweilers have a slightly longer coat, therefore they need to be brushed and bathed more regularly. However, they're still regarded as low-maintenance since their coats don’t need much in the way of specific care.
Their other grooming needs are also pretty much standard.
Pit bulls - Since pit bulls include a number of minor breeds, it can be hard to make a generalisation. However, almost all pit bull-type dogs may suffer from hip dysplasia - which can cause arthritis as they age.
They also often suffer from skin conditions and other allergies. They are also more vulnerable to heat and cold related health conditions, since their coat doesn't offer much protection. This also makes them susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.
Rottweilers - Since they are one of the most popular dog breeds, rottweilers may have a greater problem with inbreeding. They can also suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, and are more prone to bloating, certain cancers, and aortic stenosis (A narrowing of the heart valves).
All rottweilers are prone to these conditions, but you may be able to reduce the risk by going to responsible breeders who do genetic testing.
Both the Rottweiler and the pit bull have a number of health conditions that affect longevity. However, the Rottweiler’s larger size works against it, and sadly, they have a rather short lifespan compared to many large dogs.
The average lifespan of a Rottweiler lies between 8 - 12 years, while a pit bull lies between 11 - 14 years.
Both dogs are pretty active and tend towards a muscular build, meaning that they both require a fair bit of nutrition to be able to meet their needs.
Pit bull - Pit bulls are quite muscular, however, they’re smaller and often slightly less active than a rottweiler. An adult pit bull needs to eat roughly between 1,100 - 1,700 calories per day. This comes in at roughly 2.5 cups spread throughout the day.
Rottweiler - Rottweilers are much larger than pit bulls, and tend to have a voracious appetite. An adult Rotti may need to eat as much as 2,100 calories every day, coming in at roughly 4 - 5 cups of food a day.
Pit Bull - Pit bulls are a bit of a mixed bag, with a number of different variations. However, on average, if you are buying from a trustworthy breeder, they can range from around $2000 to $3000.
We would strongly recommend never buying a pit bull from a backyard breeder or puppy mill. On top of unethical treatment of their dogs, many of these breeders behave irresponsibly, and are often directly responsible for much of the negative stigma surrounding the breed.
If the cost of a purebred pup is too much, consider adopting from an animal shelter. Pit bulls are abandoned far more often than any other dogs in the US, normally because of the stigma, or underestimation of their exercise and dietary needs. They may take more work, but they are just as lovely for companionship.
Rottweiler - Due to a number of health concerns with purebreds, it's normally best to get a Rottweiler from a good breeder who knows their stuff. These pups can normally range from around $1500 to $3000.
Rottweilers are less likely to appear in shelters, but sometimes they stay in shelters for a while due to fears of aggression.
The Rottweiler vs pitbull debate is not as straightforward as you may think. Both breeds are popular, athletic, stubborn, and wonderful additions to any family.
For a direct comparison of the two breeds mentioned in the article, see the table below.
Average height (adult)
23 to 27 inches tall
15 to 21 inches
Average weight (adult)
Between 90 and 135 pounds
Between 30 and 90 pounds
Medium straight coarse coat;
Color: Saddle pattern, black and mahogany, black and rust, red, and blue
Short rough coat;
Color: Black, brindle, red, white, black, brown, gray, and blue.
Medium to high
Health and Care
Exercise: 1+ hour/day
Exercise: 1 hour/day
4-5 cups of food/day
2 and ½ cups of food/day
8 to 10 years
11 to 14 years
$1,500 to $3,000
$2,000 to $3,000
Pit bull - Pit bulls may be more expensive at the start, but they are widely available and less costly in the long run. They may not make for great guard dogs, but they make wonderful family dogs and make for good companions. Despite misconceptions, they can be trained to behave and socialize well with others.
Rottweilers - Rottweilers carry less stigma than pit bulls and make for better guard dogs. However, they need more food, exercise, and room due to their large size and busy personality. They may not live very long, but they are extremely affectionate, loyal, and may get along better with other dogs than pit bulls.
Whatever your preference is, remember that a breed does not make an individual. Whichever dog you choose to welcome into your home will have its own personality, and be shaped by the love and attention that you give it.
If you wish to showcase your dog’s individual personality, consider checking out some of the doggy Jacket Coats in our Sparkpaws catalog. There’s a little something for every breed and personality in there.