The German Shepherd Pitbull mix is sometimes known as the “Shepherd Pitt”. This hybrid is a German Shepherd crossed with an American Pitbull Terrier — debatably, two of the most commonly misunderstood dog breeds out there.
In this article, we’ll learn about the Pitbull and German Shepherd breeds as individuals.
Then, we’ll look at what you can expect from this mix in terms of appearance, personality, and traits.
We’ll also address the Pitbull’s notoriety as an aggressive breed commonly associated with dog attacks.
What’s In This Guide
- German Shepherd Pitbull Mix at a Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Training and Care
- Pros and Cons of Getting a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix FAQs
Here are just a few of the most frequently asked questions about this mixed breed.
- How much does a German Shepherd Pitbull mix cost?
- Do German Shepherd Pitbull mixes get very big?
- What is the life expectancy of a German Shepherd Pitbull mix?
- Are Shepherd Pitts safe to have around children?
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix: Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: Declining as a result of bans on Pitbulls
- Purpose: Guard dogs, companionship
- Weight: 30 – 90 lbs.
- Temperament: Energetic, loyal, can be aggressive
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Breed Review: Contents
- History and Original Purpose
- Fun Facts About the German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
- German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Appearance
- German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Temperament
- Training and Exercise
- Health and Care
- Do German Shepherd Pitbull Mixes Make Good Family Pets?
- Rescuing a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
- Finding a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Puppy
- Raising a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Puppy
- German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Products and Accessories
A German Shepherd Pitbull mix is a hybrid dog breed with one purebred German Shepherd parent and one purebred American Pitbull Terrier.
Like many hybrids, the origin of the Shepherd Pitt isn’t known for certain.
It’s possible that these purebreds were crossed to combine the German Shepherd’s extreme loyalty and intelligence with the Pitbull’s powerful build to create the ultimate working dog.
History and Original Purpose
The parent breeds of this cross have interesting origins.
A member of the herding group, the German Shepherd was developed with the hopes of creating the perfect herding and service dog.
Because of the cold and wet European climate, the German Shepherd 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 that time, it 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. They were primarily used for hunting.
Specifically, these early “Pitties” were used for bull baiting, until it was banned in 1835. This is 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.
Fun Facts About the German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
Despite the popularity of this mix’s German Shepherd parent dog (everyone from Tom Hanks to Reese Witherspoon has been spotted with this adorable breed!), the German Shepherd Pitbull mix is not a common dog.
This is partly because Pitbulls are outlawed in certain countries or states. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Pitbull is a banned breed.
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Appearance
Height and Weight
The German Shepherd Pitbull mix is probably going to be a large dog.
If a hybrid puppy takes after its German Shepherd parent, then they may mature to between 80 and 90 pounds.
When they more closely resemble their Pitbull parent, then they may reach anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds.
You can expect a German Shepherd-Pitbull hybrid to grow up to 17–24 inches tall at the shoulder.
Coat and Coloring
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 roll of the dice!
For example, if Shepherd Pitt puppies inherit their German Shepherd parent’s genes more so than the Pitbull’s, then they may have the Shepherd’s solid coat and black points.
Alternatively, if the puppies look more like a Pitbull, then they may come out in virtually any color or color combination possible!
Similarly, a German Shepherd Pitbull mix may inherit the German Shepherd’s medium-length double coat (a soft undercoat below a rough top coat).
On the other hand, they may inherit the Pitbull’s short and somewhat stiff coat.
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Temperament
Unfortunately, both the German Shepherd and Pitbull come with negative stereotypes.
Both breeds are commonly associated with territorial aggression and biting, both of humans and other dogs.
Of course, with mixed breeds, you cannot say with much certainty how much the offspring of two purebred dogs will take after their parents. This goes for looks, health, and temperament. German Shepherd Pitbull mix puppies are no different.
In this instance, a major concern is how much of the Pitbull’s temperament the offspring will inherit.
So, let’s first take a look at these purebred parent dogs individually to understand the temperament that your dog might inherit.
The Pitbull was first bred to fearlessly attack large animals and later to work, hunt and protect.
This means that they are strong and agile enough to chase after such animals as cattle and hogs. Also, if needed, they can grasp and hold a moving animal with their powerful jaws.
Because of this, it’s possible that a German Shepherd Pitbull mix can inherit the Pitbull parent’s urge to chase or attack other animals. They can also be territorial.
Interestingly, according to a 2008 study of canine aggression, the most common human-directed attacks were actually attributed to Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell Terriers.
However, more than 20% of Pitbulls, Akitas, and Jack Russell Terriers in the study were more likely to show increased levels of aggression toward strange dogs.
Furthermore, fewer Pitbulls in the study had attempted to bite their owner or a strange human than those who had attempted to or had attacked a strange dog in the past.
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.
Now let’s talk about the aggression stigma commonly attached to German Shepherds.
German Shepherd Temperament
Firstly, German Shepherd Dogs are often used as police and service dogs. This sometimes gives people the impression that German Shepherds must be vicious.
However, the assumption that all German Shepherds are aggressive, all the time, simply isn’t true, nor is it a fair statement regarding the breed.
Rather, 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.
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Secondly, German Shepherd’s are stereotyped as being territorial and aggressive towards strangers in their home.
It is true that German Shepherds were bred to be herding and guard dogs. This made them extremely devoted and loyal to their owners and home.
In summary, a territorial dog may show aggression toward strange people and animals if they feel that their home is in danger.
Mixed Breed Dog Temperament
As we mentioned earlier, 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, Shepherd Pitt puppies may be more or less like one or both of their parent breeds. For this reason, it is imperative to meet both parents and ensure they are friendly and relaxed examples of their breeds.
Training and Exercising your German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
Since Shepherd Pitts are especially prone to hip dysplasia, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure that your dog doesn’t become obese. This is especially important if your dog has hypothyroidism in its genes.
You’ll need to plan for daily walks, play time, and off-leash exercise.
Additionally, both Pitbulls and German Shepherds are working breeds that are high energy. It’s therefore best to keep them where they can play and run in a yard.
They won’t be happy living in a small apartment or spending long periods in a dog crate.
As mentioned earlier, your puppy will need to be thoroughly socialized from the day you bring him home.
You can find more information and guides on training here.
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Health and Care
Grooming and Shedding
If your mixed pup inherits the German Shepherd’s double coat, they 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.
Inherited health conditions can impact 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.
Germand Shepherd Health
Pitbulls, in particular, are commonly afflicted with the following health issues:
- Allergies – Allergic reactions to pollen, mold, and dust cause itchy skin on the feet, belly, folds of skin, and ears.
- Hip dysplasia
- 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 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 –Pitbulls can inherit Hyperuricosuria. 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.
Based on their lineage, Shepherd Pitt dogs are especially prone to develop hip dysplasia, allergies, and skin conditions.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a breeder to obtain a German Shepherd Pitbull mix puppy, then you should find one who uses genetic testing.
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Life Expectancy
The average life expectancy of a German Shepherd is about 11 years.
Similarly, the Pitbull typically lives between 11 and 13 years.
Do German Shepherd Pitbull Mixes Make Good Family Pets?
If you’re considering a Shepherd Pitt 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, they may also be a bit mischievous.
They’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.
This mixed breed may not require a lot of grooming if it inherits the Pitty’s short coat. But if their coat is longer like the Shepherd’s, then they’ll need weekly brushing and more when shedding.
As mentioned, we do recommend socializing young puppies to strange people, children, and dogs, considering the Pitbull and German Shepherd’s predisposition to territorial aggression.
Rescuing a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
Since many breeders are in the business of raising and refining purebred dogs, you may be more likely to find a German Shepherd Pitbull mix puppy or dog at a local animal shelter or humane society.
This is the least expensive option.
Finding a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Puppy
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 from a breeder may range in price from about $450-$600 on up to $800 or more.
Importantly, genetic testing of parent stock will help you identify if a puppy could be especially at risk of developing certain diseases.
Raising a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Puppy
Bringing home a new puppy? Then you’ll need the perfect name! Check out these awesome ideas:
We’ve also got lots of free guides to help you along the way.
Also, Choosing The Perfect Puppy is a great new book packed full of tips including detailed reviews of the most popular breeds.
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Products and Accessories
Your new puppy experience wouldn’t be complete without the perfect accessories! So, here’s our list of recommended supplies and accessories for your new pup.
- German Shepherd Gifts
- Pitbull Gifts
- Shampoo for German Shepherds
- Best Dog Leashes
- Personalized Dog Collars
Pros And Cons of Getting a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix
There are ups and downs to every breed. Here’s a quick summary of what you should be aware of if considering a German Shepherd Pitbull mix.
- Parent breeds are prone to be territorial or aggressive
- Not friendly with unfamiliar dogs
- Need lots of training and socialization
- Prone to health problems
- Energetic and fun
- Very loyal
- Great guard dogs
- Not as expensive as other specialty hybrid dogs
Comparing the German Shepherd Pitbull Mix with Other Breeds
This mixed breed’s parent dogs might be a better match for your family.
Alternatively, these similar mixed breeds are also great options.
- Pitbull Lab mix
- Pitbull Golden Retriever mix
- Pitbull Basset Hound mix
- German Shepherd Lab mix
- German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix
- German Shepherd Husky mix
German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Breed Rescues
Do you have a story to share about your German Shepherd Pitbull mix? Then leave us a comment below to tell us all about it.
References And Resources
- O’Neill DG, et al. “Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England.” The Veterinary Journal. 2013.
- Duffy DL, et al. “Breed differences in canine aggression.” Applied Animal Behavior Science. 2008.
- ”Health Statement.” German Shepherd Dog Club of America. American Kennel Club.
- Leonardi, L. “Pit Bull Common Health Problems.” PetCareRx. 2003.
- Medlin J. “Pit Bull Bans and the Human Factors Affecting Canine Behavior.” Depaul Law Review. 2007.
- Schalamon J, et al. “Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years.” Pediatrics. 2006.