A few years ago, dog breeders really got a taste for mixing things up. Who’d have ever thought we’d end up talking about such breeds as a cockapoo, or a labradoodle, or even a puggle?
It turns out that mixed breeds of dog have become a desirable pet for many, so it was only a matter of time before someone thought about putting together two of what could be the most controversial breeds of dog in the country: the German shepherd and the pitbull.
The German shepherd pitbull mix goes by several different names, although it appears that none of them are an official title. They’re known as a German sheppit or a German pit, and even a shepherd pit. They’re hardly the designer dogs people seek out to carry around in a purse or dress in sparkly little outfits, but this mixed breed could be a fabulous dog for you to consider.
Are Pitbull Mix Dogs Dangerous?
Both the American pitbull terrier and the German shepherd have a reputation for being dangerous dogs. States all over the USA either ban or restrict one or both of these breeds, so in a lot of ways it makes you wonder how they could even get the two dogs together in order for them to produce a litter of German pit pups.
But are they really dangerous dogs to begin with, so should you be worried about a mix of the two? Let’s take a look at their individual characteristics.
American Pit Bull Terriers
Most, if not all, banned breeds lists the world over feature the American pitbull terrier. These dogs are unbelievably powerful with strong necks, insane muscle mass, and when they bite, the damage they can do is tremendous. What’s more, they’re extremely fast, so they’re a force to be reckoned with.
It’s no surprise that this breed is more often used as a guard dog either for security companies or for concerned homeowners. The problem is that because of their size and power, they’ve been used for many years as fighting dogs, trained and honed for illegal dog fights, and as an aggressive status symbol pet for gang members and wannabe tough guys.
When it comes to their natural temperament, though, the American pit bull terrier breed is nothing like the terrifying monster we’ve been led to believe it is. Instead, they’re intelligent, friendly, and incredibly patient. This last attribute makes them wonderful dogs around children.
It all comes down to socialization and training. Any dog, even the largest, fluffiest Labrador you could ever hope to meet will grow up to be aggressive and vicious if trained to be that way. And the problem comes down to the fact that while pitbulls might not act aggressively any more often than any other breed of dog, when they do, their bites can be fatal, and this is what gets them such a bad rap.
You’re more likely to find a pit bull or pit bull mix rescued or handed into the animal shelter than any other dog breed because they’re adopted by the wrong kind of people in the first place, and this leads to them being misunderstood, so they become abused and neglected.
But the American pitbull terrier is beautiful, loyal, and makes a wonderful family pet.
And what about the other dog breed in this mix?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out from their names that the German shepherd dog originated in Germany and was thought to have first been bred by a cavalry officer by the name of Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz. He wanted to create the perfect German working dog and his breed was a huge success, adopted by shepherds to herd their sheep the whole country over. The German shepherd is also known as an Alsatian, because of its link with the Alsace region in France, closely bordering Germany.
They could never have been successful as herding dogs if they weren’t extremely intelligent animals, and their descendants today might no longer be in charge of livestock but they’re no less brainy.
They’re considered to be a favorite for use as a police dog because of their speed, agility, brains, and loyalty. Ever seen the movie K9? You get the idea.
German shepherds don’t have the same poor reputation as pitbulls do and yet they’re still on several banned lists. Again, this is due to the potential they have to cause risk, and how they’re often socialized and trained to be aggressive. German shepherds are extremely intelligent animals and they’ve been trained to kill.
Another issue with German shepherds is that they’ve become extremely heavily inbred over many generations. They look very different from how they used to just sixty or seventy years ago, as inbreeding has been geared toward their having a distinctive slope on their backs, down to their hind legs. This slope serves no function at all and is simply there because breeders preferred the way it looked.
But this has led to its own problems. Pedigree German shepherd dogs have all manner of hip problems, particularly hip dysplasia. This leads to hip pain, arthritis, and even a shorter life span, all because of breeders wanting a certain designer breed appearance.
Are German Shepherds More Aggressive than Pit Bulls?
Just like poor training and socialization histories, breeding histories can also cause a dog all manner of problems. It’s not the dog’s fault, of course, and like the German shepherd a pit bull is the product of its upbringing.
German shepherds have a formidable bite and the potential to be aggressive if trained that way, but they’ll never do anywhere near the damage that a pit bull would. If you were to put an aggressive pit bull and an aggressive German shepherd side by side, they’d both make a terrifying combo but the pit bull would always be the more dangerous, and its bite more serious.
But what if you were to join the two breeds together and create a mixed breed dog? If the parent breeds are on the banned list, will this mean that the pups are, too, and should you be worried about a German shepherd pitbull mix breed?
The Pitbull German Shepherd Mix
It’s easy to see why someone might want a German shepherd pitbull mix puppy. You only need to go online and search for the term ‘German shepherd pitbull mix’ and your screen will be filled with some of the most beautiful puppies you’ve ever seen.
The large eyes of the pitbull mixed with the longer muzzle and the flopped-over ears of the German shepherd create a combination that’ll be sure to melt your heart. But, don’t be misled by appearances alone and assume that you’re ready to introduce this dog into your family, no questions asked. Every responsible dog owner should get to know not just their future puppy’s breed but that dog’s parent breeds, too, in order to be fully informed.
So, if you’re thinking of getting yourself a German shepherd pitbull mix, then here are the kinds of things you’ll need to know.
Check Your Local Laws
Before you can even consider looking at getting a German shepherd pitbull mix, you’ll have to see whether you’re legally allowed to own one. Because of state laws, the number of pit bulls are in decline.
It means that you may need to get a license to own a mixed breed like a shepherd pit, and prove that you’ve socialized the dog with other humans and other dogs and received a certificate from a licensed training academy, who’ll not only be able to pass the dog at the end of a socialization program but will give you invaluable training tips to use throughout the life of your dog.
What does a German Shepherd Pit Bull Look Like?
It all depends on what’s inherited from its parents! German pits can take on the characteristics of their mother or their father, so you might find they have longer muzzles or shorter, low hips and a curved back or a straight back. You might find a shepherd pitbull puppy that’s all black, or tan, or fawn, or a mix of all three colors.
A pitbull German shepherd mix dog will stand at around 26-28 inches and will weigh up to 100 pounds, especially if it’s a male. So, while they’ll be considered a short to medium sized dog, they’ll still be muscular! But as to exactly how it’ll look, there’s no knowing for sure. A mixed breed dog will always be a little like rolling dice and being given what you’re given.
What About Shedding?
The German shepherd dog is renowned for shedding, while a pitbull isn’t. So, you’ll find that the dog takes after either one parent or the other when it comes to its coat type.
A pitbull doesn’t require regular grooming where the German shepherd has a very thick coat of double hair, so must be brushed thoroughly at least once a week. As for your pitbull German shepherd mix, it all depends on which parent’s coat gene is the most dominant.
Be Prepared for its Strength!
If you’re considering taking on a German shepherd pitbull mix, you’re going to have to be prepared for a huge amount of strength and agility from your pup.
We’ve mentioned that both the pitbull and the German shepherd are used as guard dogs. There’s a reason for it! They thrive as a working dog because it’s written in their DNA and their bodies have adapted to the conditions they’ve been working in for generations.
This means that just because your little German sheppit is cute when he’s tiny, that doesn’t mean he’ll be that cute for long! You’ll quickly realize just how strong and powerful this is. So, if you’re looking for a dog that’s easy to physically control while you train it, you might need to look elsewhere.
A pit bull is already incredibly strong despite its small stature, and the German shepherd, while a little taller and without the muscle mass of the pit bull, is also very solid and robust. So combining the two together in a German pit means your new puppy will need an owner who’s strong enough to be able to control it on the leash, even after the dog’s been through its training and socialization.
A Shepherd Pit is Not a Dog for the Lazy!
A German shepherd pitbull mix is no lapdog. In fact, he’ll very quickly be too heavy to sit on your lap, and instead he’ll be a bundle of energy and excitement. A shepherd pitbull not only needs a strong and capable owner, but an owner who’s willing to put in the time and effort to give him the exercise he needs.
German shepherd pitbull dogs have high energy levels and if that high energy isn’t channeled into regular exercise, both physical and mental, you’ll start to have all kinds of issues, both physical and behavioral.
Of course, a regular exercise routine isn’t just specific to a pitbull or a German shepherd. All dogs need regular exercise, just like humans, otherwise they become sluggish and overweight, just like humans! And this can lead to a whole mix of health problems further down the line.
Bear in mind, too, that your German shepherd pitbull mix may have inherited one or more of the genetic conditions or health issues known to affect pedigree breeds. Your German shepherd pitbull puppy may have the strong hips of its pitbull parent, but it could just as easily have inherited the weaker hip joint of its German shepherd parent, so it could be at risk of hip dysplasia.
It’s always a good idea for every dog get annual check-ups with a vet and if your GSD pitbull mix is known to have hip problems, then ask the vet about its personal exercise needs. You might need to cut back on one style of exercise, but increase another. So, your vet might say that too much running could lead to health concerns, but long walks or even swims are ideal. Get in tune with your dog’s exercise requirements, and make sure you’re committed to a good exercise program.
What About the Temperament?
A mix German shepherd pit bull will inherit some fabulous qualities that will make him an ideal pet. Despite their strength and poor reputation, they make excellent an excellent family pet because they’re so fiercely loyal and protective of their owners.
German shepherd dogs were raised specifically to guard a farm’s livestock and they stuck close to their owner’s side for generations. They have an inbuilt sense of protection, and woe betide anyone who dares to come between them and their family!
This means that when introducing your mix German shepherd pitbull to outsiders and new members of the family, make sure you do it slowly and carefully. To your dog, the pack is being invaded by a new member and they’ll be wary, so make sure to take your time. It’s important that your German shepherd pitbull mix breed is socialized early on, so that you can stay on top of any potentially aggressive behaviors.
As the ASPCA states, “all dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals.” This is vital to remember! A lot of a dog’s temperament as far as aggression goes depends on the way it’s raised, and a pitbull German shepherd is no different.
A German shepherd pitbull mix will have inherited some super-high intelligence, too. Don’t waste this! As early as seven or eight weeks old, you can teach your German pit puppy some basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay.’ They love to learn, and will need mental stimulation just as much as physical exercise.
Possible Health Problems
As we’ve seen, a German shepherd dog has been inbred for many years and has developed some problems because of this, mainly hip and elbow dysplasia. They’ve also been known to be more at risk of Degenerative Myelopathy, which is a disease affecting the spinal cord.
A pit bull is also known to be prone to hip dysplasia, but it’s been noted that hip and elbow dysplasia is on the decrease, rather than the increase, in many dogs because of the improvement in health care, particularly at an early age. Good diet and exercise from when your German shepherd pitbull mix is a puppy will go a long way to ensuring it has a long and healthy life.
Pit bulls also have a tendency to develop skin problems, but once again it’s not known if a German pit would necessarily develop the same health concerns. In a mix German shepherd pitbull it’s 50/50 as to what, if any, health problems the dog may inherit.
German sheppit dogs live to around the age of 12 years, which is the average age of many dogs, and German pits have been known to live beyond 12 years, even up to 15 or 16 years.
It’s Worth the Effort
A German Sheppit might need some extra work given his strength and temperament, but he’ll be worth it. His loyalty and steadfastness mean he’ll loyally protect all the family members as his pack, so a pitbull German shepherd is absolutely a dog breed to consider.
But a German shepherd isn’t, of course, the only dog that can be mixed with a pitbull.
What is a Good Breed to Mix with a Pitbull?
Like the German shepherd breed, pitbull terriers have so many good qualities that you might want to own a cross breed of a pitbull and something else.
It all depends on what you’re looking for. A beagle pitbull mix is a breed that’s becoming more and more popular. Beagle pits are dog breeds that have the sturdiness and loyalty of a pit bull with the playful giddiness of a beagle, making them real family dogs.
A pitbull crossed with a border collie makes for a phenomenally intelligent dog with incredible work levels and fierce sense of loyalty, although they’re not known for interacting well with other dogs so it would take proper training to keep them in line.
Are Labrador Pitbull Mixes Aggressive?
Also called a Pitador, a Labrador pitbull mix makes for a fabulous family pet, combining two of the most popular family dog breeds in the United States. They’re friendly with children and adults, easy to train, and are very intelligent.
Aggressive dogs may in some cases be a result of their breeds but not nearly to the extent you might think. So much of their temperament is down to how responsible the dog owners are. It’s vital that any large breed of dog with a strong physique and potential to do physical damage receives proper training and a cross breed is no different.
Don’t forget that as is the case with a German pit, a Pitador dog will be quite large and extremely strong, so exercise the same caution if you’re thinking about getting one, and make sure that you’ll be able to handle the size of your dog.
Always Adopt, and Never Shop!
While a designer dog may be fashionable, it’s never good to pay for one when there are so many beautiful dogs with wonderful temperaments in shelters, and who need loving homes. You should always aim to adopt a dog rather than buy one.
There’s a good chance you’d even be saving a dog’s life by adopting it – too many dogs are put down simply because shelters don’t have the space and resources to keep them all.
Given their often-banned status, pit bulls are a breed more likely to be abandoned and surrendered to shelters than any other breed, but they truly make the most wonderful pets. If you’re considering adopting a dog, you could do a lot worse than a pit bull or a German shepherd, and a German sheppit will make a fabulous companion.
Whichever breed you choose, give an abandoned dog a chance, and you’ll find that they will reward you tenfold.