So you've narrowed down what you're looking for, but still having trouble picking between Rottweilers and Pitbulls? Fret not, we're here to help you compare the differences and see which is the perfect fit to join your family.

Rottweiler Background

Rottweilers were the breed used during the Roman Empire by soldiers to protect cattle from other animals and humans as they moved along with the army. After the fall of the Roman empire, they gained popularity in the Rottweil area of Germany. Over time, the Rottweiler's role changed more to protection and they've become well known as guard dogs. Today, they're well known as search and rescue dogs, guard dogs, and police dogs.

Officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936, they reached their all time high in terms of popularity in the mid 1900s, with it being the most registered dog by the American Kennel Club. As of 2017, the AKC ranked the Rottweiler as the 8th most popular purebred dog in the United States.

Technically a medium to large breed, a standard Rottweiler stands 24-27in at the withers for males, 22-25 in for females, and their weight is between 110-132 lbs for males and 77-105 lbs for females. Weight is of course relative to height. Lifespan tends to be 9-10 years.

According to the AKC's guide, the temperament should be:

[A] calm, confident and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in its environment. It has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog of extreme hardness and adaptability with a strong willingness to work, making them especially suited as a companion, guardian and general all-purpose dog.

Pit Bull Background

When we talk Pit Bulls, theres a few different varieties we're talking about here in the US: American Bullys, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldogs, or any mix in between. They're easy to identify with their short, stocky, and muscular body with a short snout.

The term Pit Bull was first used in 1927, though outside of the US in places like the UK a Pit Bull is meant to be an abbreviation for an American Pit Bull Terrier breed. Most Pit Bulls descend from the British Bull and Terrier, a 19th century dog-fighting type which themselves were a cross between an Old English Bulldog and an Old English Terrier. Terriers were bred to bring more speed and agility while retaining the preferred courage and tenacity of the Bulldog.

Pit Bulls are typically 55-75 lbs for males and 40-55 lbs for females, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.

Pit Bulls can be both stubborn and bossy if not properly trained and socialized as a younger dog. Combined with their significant strength, it can make it difficult to handle and may require the help of a professional trainer to get problems like chewing under control (their strong jaws make quick work of flimsy toys or even furniture!)

Pit Bulls are often very misunderstood, for the qualities that make them amazing in obedience and agility games also attract illegal dog fighting interest as well. The result of this is they have gained a bad reputation that is not warranted for the vast majority of properly raised and trained dogs.

Pit Bulls have been used by US Customs and Border Protection as drug detection dogs.

The AKC mentions:

The well-bred [Pit Bull] of today is a more mellow fellow than his pit-fighting ancestors and has long been a great American favorite. This is suggested by the breed’s many sightings in our popular culture: In 1903, an [Pit Bull] named Bud was along for the ride on America’s first cross-country auto trip (the subject of the Ken Burns documentary “Horatio’s Drive”); Petey, in the old “Our Gang” film comedies of the 1930s, was an AmStaff, as is Tige, the dog in the Buster Brown Shoes logo; and America’s most decorated American war dog was an [Pit Bull] named Sgt. Stubby, a K-9 of World War I who counted three U.S. presidents among his admirers.

Personality

Properly trained, both Rottweilers and Pit Bulls can be real sweethearts and can be amazing family dogs. If you have small children, you might want to lean away from Rottweilers in the early years as they generally are not aware of how big they are, and can sometimes knock over small kids by accident when running around and too excited.

Grooming and Care

Both Rottweilers and Pit Bulls are relatively easy on the grooming side of things, with Rottweilers requiring a bit more frequent brushing and baths to keep their coat and skin in proper condition. Both will need nails trimmed and ears cleaned as well to avoid problems.

Exercise

These dogs will both need lots of exercise to be happy and calm. They love to follow along on any outdoor activities, and are great candidates for dog sports like herding, tracking, and obedience. According to Fi's Database of dog activity with our GPS tracking collars, Pit Bulls tend to get less than the average dog in terms of activity throughout the day, averaging 13,207 steps per day and rank 77 on the most active dogs behind others like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Bloodhounds. Rottweilers get a bit less activity than Pit Bulls coming in at 88th on our rankings with 12,543 steps on average per day.

Photo by Kevin Mueller / Unsplash

Local Laws and Restrictions

Owners of rental properties can also sometimes restrict certain breeds from living at their properties, often times Pit Bull and Rottweiler type breeds are included along with German Shepherd Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, and Chow Chows. Check to ensure your place of residence does not have restrictions that might apply to you.

Some jurisdictions even go so far as to restrict ownership of Pit Bull and Rottweiler type breeds through breed-specific legislation, so you should check your local laws to see if this might apply to you. One particularly interesting study was one comparing Pit Bulls to Golden Retrievers and saw no different in levels of aggression based on breed.