Welcome to your complete guide to the German Shepherd Pitbull Mix breed.
The “Shepherd Pitt” is a German Shepherd crossed with an American Pitbull Terrier. Debatably two of the most commonly misunderstood dog breeds out there.
Then we’ll get into the German Shepherd mixed with a Pitbull’s expected appearance, personality, and traits.
We’ll also address the Pitbull’s notoriety as an aggressive breed commonly associated with dog attacks.
Let’s get to know the Pitbull and German Shepherd dog, shall we?
What is a German Shepherd Pitbull mix?
A Pitbull cross German Shepherd is a hybrid dog breed that results from crossing a purebred German Shepherd Dog (GSD) with a purebred American Pitbull Terrier, commonly shortened to “Pit” or “Pitbull”.
Like many hybrids, the origin of the Pitbull x German Shepherd isn’t for certain. But you might assume that the breed was probably developed to combine the GSD’s extreme loyalty and intelligence with the Pit’s powerful build to create the ultimate working dog.
We’ll dive into the Shepherd Pitt’s parentage in the next section.
Where did the Pitbull German Shepherd mix come from?
The German Shepherd cross Pitbull’s parent breeds have interesting origins.
A member of the herding group, the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) was developed with the hopes of creating the perfect herding and service dog.
In the cool and often wet European climate that he worked in, the GSD had to be very hardy to handle long days in often brutal conditions.
The German Shepherd was eventually recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908. At which point they became popular with military, police, and service work.
They continue to thrive in these sectors today.
Another native of Europe, the Pitbull hails from England, Ireland, and Scotland. Early Bulldogs and Terriers were crossed to create an athletic, bold dog. One that was to be used for hunting.
Specifically, these early “Pitties” were used for bull baiting, until it was banned in 1835. A practice where the dog would grasp a bull, bear, or other large animal around the head. Their powerful jaws were developed to grip, as opposed to dart.
Once Pitbulls made their way to the United States, they were commonly used by farmers and ranchers to round up livestock, to hunt, and as pets.
Today, Pitbulls are still very agile dogs that make excellent contestants in agility, weight pulling, and tracking tests.
They’re also still popular gaming dogs, though they’ve unfortunately also been associated with dog fighting rings.
The AKC does not recognize the Pitbull in its registry, but the United Kennel Club formally recognized the breed in 1898. However, in the United Kingdom, the Pitbull is a banned breed.
German Shepherd mix with Pitbull temperament
Unfortunately, both the German Shepherd Dog and the Pitbull come with negative stereotypes.
Both breeds are commonly associated with territorial aggression and biting, both of humans and other dogs.
With mixed breeds, you cannot say with much certainty how much the offspring of two purebred dogs will take after their parents. In terms of looks, health, and temperament. German Shepherd Pitbull puppies are no different.
Regarding a Pitbull mixed with a German Shepherd, a major concern is how much of the Pitbull’s temperament that the offspring will inherit.
The Pitbull was first bred to fearlessly attack large animals and later to work, hunt and protect his family.
This means that he is strong and agile enough to chase after such animals as cattle and hogs. And if needed, to grasp and hold a moving animal with his signature powerful jaws.
With his heritage, it’s possible that a German Shepherd x Pitbull could inherit his Pitty parent’s urge to chase or attack other animals as well as his territorial nature.
According to a 2008 study of canine aggression according to breed, the most common human-directed attacks were actually attributed to Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell Terriers. More than 20% of Pitbulls, Akitas, and Jack Russell Terriers in the study were, however, more likely to show increased levels of aggression toward strange dogs.
While these findings do not guarantee that every dog with Pitbull blood will display aggressive behavior, they do mean that proper socialization with other dogs and humans is imperative if you plan to own a Pitbull or a Pitbull hybrid, preferably from a young age.
Let’s talk about the aggression stigma commonly found with German Shepherds.
German Shepherd Temperament
German Shepherd Dogs are often used as police and service dogs. This has made the general public assume that Shepherds must be vicious.
The assumption that all German Shepherds are aggressive, all the time, simply isn’t true, nor is it a fair statement regarding the breed.
Dogs that are used in the police force are highly intelligent and highly trained. They can also be conditioned to respond to a command given by their handler to attack. But this does not mean that they are generally vicious.
We must address another Shepherd stereotype – that they’ll attack anyone who enters their home or territory.
German Shepherds were bred to be herding and guard dogs. This made them extremely devoted and loyal to their owners and home, a characteristic that has stayed with them. A territorial dog may show aggression toward strange people and animals if he feels that his home is in danger.
You can find out more about the pros and cons of the German Shepherd Dog breed here.
Mixed Breed Dog Temperament
As we mentioned earlier in our discussion of Pitbulls and Pitbull hybrids, proper training and socialization with other dogs and humans from an early age can help to prevent a puppy with German Shepherd lineage from developing aggressive behavior later in life.
As with any hybrid puppy, Pitbull German Shepherd puppies may be more or less like one or both of their parent breeds.
German Shepherds and Pitbulls are breeds that potentially display more aggression than other breeds. Your puppy will need to be thoroughly socialized from the day you bring him home.
It’s also imperative to meet both parents and ensure they are friendly and relaxed examples of their breeds.
Pitbull mixed with German Shepherd mature height and weight
The German Shepherd Pitbull Mix is probably going to be a large dog.
If a hybrid puppy takes after their Shepherd parent, then he may mature to between 80 and 90 pounds.
When he more closely resembles his Pitbull parent, then he may reach anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds.
If he is a happy mix of both parents, then he’ll probably fall somewhere between 30 and 90 pounds.
You can expect a GSD-Pitbull hybrid to grow up to 17-24 inches tall at the shoulder.
Pitbull and German Shepherd mix colors
With mixed-breed puppies, you can’t know for certain what their coat length or color will be. You can, however, make an educated guess based on their parents’ characteristics as well as the general appearance of the parent breeds.
Additionally, hybrids may look more like one parent than the other, or they may appear to be a lovely mix of both parents. It’s really a toss of the dice!
If Pitbull mixed with German Shepherd puppies inherit their Shepherd parent’s genes more so than the Pitbull’s, then they may have the Shepherd’s solid coat and black points.
If German Shepherd mix with Pitbull puppies look more like a Pitbull, then they may come out in virtually any color or color combination possible!
German Shepherd and Pitbull mix coat
A German Shepherd Pitbull Mix may inherit the German Shepherd’s medium-length double coat (a soft undercoat is below a rough top coat). Or he may inherit the Pitbull’s short and somewhat stiff coat.
German Shepherd Pitbull grooming and shedding
If a Shepherd Pitt has the German Shepherd’s double coat, she will need weekly brushing and a bit more during shedding season.
However, the Pitbull’s short and smooth coat could just use an occasional brushing.
Pitbull German Shepherd health
Inherited health conditions can impact upon mixed breed dogs as well as purebred ones. Common examples are hip or elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, dental disease, allergies and skin irritations.
Depending on the parent breeds, some mixed dogs may be especially prone to the aforementioned conditions in addition to breed-specific afflictions.
To learn more about the diseases and conditions that a German Shepherd dog is prone to, refer to our article on German Shepherd Dogs.
Pitbull health problems
Pitbulls, in particular, are commonly afflicted with the following:
Allergies – Allergic reactions to pollen, mold, and dust cause itchy skin on the feet, belly, folds of skin, and ears.
Patellar luxation – When the knee cap pops out of place while the dog is in motion.
Hypothyroidism and subsequent dry skin – When the thyroid doesn’t function properly, causing a lack of the thyroid hormone and resulting in dry skin and coat, hair loss, obesity, and sometimes behavioral changes.
Zinc-responsive dermatitis – Dry, hairless, oozing skin on the face, nose, and/or foot pads due to lack of zinc absorption or lack of zinc in the diet.
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis – Progressive nerve damage that results in weakness of the legs and sometimes blindness.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – An inherited disorder in which deterioration of the retina leads to eventual blindness.
Bladder stones – In Pitbulls, this happens if the Hyperuricosuria condition is inherited. The urine is too acidic, which causes precipitation of solid masses called bladder stones or kidney stones (depending on where they form).
Parvo – A viral infection that causes vomiting, fever, and bloody diarrhea to which Pits do not develop a strong immunity.
Based on their lineage, Shepherd Pits are especially prone to develop hip dysplasia, allergies, and skin conditions. We’ll get into how you can prevent or decrease the severity of hip dysplasia in the next section.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a breeder to obtain a Shepherd Pitt puppy, then you should find one who uses genetic testing on their breeding stock to help determine what condition any resulting puppies may be prone to. Be sure that the breeding stock have good hip scores.
Pitbull German Shepherd mix exercise requirements
Since German Shepherd Pitbull Mix dogs are especially prone to hip dysplasia, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure that your dog doesn’t become obese. Especially if your dog has hypothyroidism in his genes.
You’ll need to plan for daily walks, play time, and off-leash exercise.
Additionally, both Pitbulls and German Shepherd Dogs are working breeds that are higher energy than other more lap-dog type breeds. It’s therefore best to keep them where they can play and run in a yard.
They won’t do well living in a small apartment or if they’re kept in a crate for much of the time.
How long do Pitbull mix German Shepherds live?
You can expect a Shepherd Pitt to live to be somewhere between 10 and 15 years of age.
German Shepherd Pitbull mix puppies
Pitbull German Shepherd mix puppy in your future?
Since many breeders are in the business of raising and refining purebred dogs, you may be more likely to find a Shepherd Pitt puppy or dog at a local animal shelter or humane society. This is the least expensive option.
However, if you come across a breeder of hybrid dogs, then you can expect the cost to go up with the value that the breeder places on their parent stock.
A Shepherd Pitt obtained from a breeder may range in price from about $450-$600 on up to $800 or more.
Is a German Shepherd mix Pitbull a good family dog?
If you’re considering a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix dog, you’ll want to consider the following tips before making the decision to purchase one.
A Shepherd Pitt may mature to be a large dog with lots of energy. With the German Shepherd’s intelligence and desire to work, he may also be a bit mischievous.
He’ll need a yard or large space to self-exercise in as well as multiple walks and play time throughout the day.
In addition to the energy outlet, exercise is also important for this hybrid due to the high probability of it developing hip dysplasia.
Genetic testing of parent stock will help you identify if a puppy could be especially at risk of developing this disease.
The Shepherd Pitt may not require a lot of grooming if he inherits the Pitty’s short coat. But if his coat is longer like the Shepherd’s, then he’ll need weekly brushing and more when he shedding.
We do recommend socializing young puppies to strange people, children, and dogs, what with the Pitbull and German Shepherd’s predisposition to territorial aggression.
As a family dog, this hybrid may not be ideal for homes with young children or other dogs.
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References and Further Reading
- Duffy, D.L., et al. “Breed differences in canine aggression,” Applied Animal Behavior Science, 2008.
- Medlin, J. “Pit Bull Bans and the Human Factors Affecting Canine Behavior,” Depaul Law Review, 2007.