The German Shepherd Pit Bull mix, also known as a German Sheppit or German Pit, is a cross between two popular dog breeds – the German Shepherd and the American Pit Bull Terrier. This mixed breed dog combines the intelligence and loyalty of the German Shepherd with the strength and enthusiasm of the Pit Bull.
While mixed breed dogs have become increasingly popular in recent years, prospective owners would do well to understand both the positives and challenges of bringing one of these powerful pups home. Read on to learn more about the unique traits of the German Shepherd Pitbull mix.
Here is a helpful table summarizing some key points about German Shepherd Pit Bulls:
|30-90 lbs, 17-26 inches tall
|Short, dense and shedding year-round
|Black, brown, fawn, tan, gray, white
|Energetic, loyal, intelligent, friendly with socialization
|60+ minutes daily
|Positive reinforcement, reward-based
|Weekly brushing required
|Hip/elbow dysplasia, bloat, allergies, heart disease
|Good for Families?
|Yes, with proper socialization and supervision around small children
|Suitable for Apartments?
|No, needs space and a yard
|New Owner Friendly?
|No, needs an experienced owner
|Check breed specific rescues
An Overview of the Breed’s Origins
German Shepherd Pit Bull mixes likely originated in the 1990s in North America, when breeders began intentionally crossing German Shepherd Dogs and American Pit Bull Terriers.
The goal was to create an intelligent yet powerful dog that could serve as both a family companion and a guard dog. While German Shepherd Pit Bulls have declined in popularity due to restrictions on Pit Bull-type dogs, they still attract owners who are looking for an active, protective pet.
While some German Shepherd Pit Bull puppies are intentionally bred, many adults wind up in shelters or with rescue groups. Potential owners should always consider adoption from a shelter or rescue organization first, rather than supporting irresponsible breeders who contribute to pet overpopulation.
Vital Statistics of the German Shepherd Pit Bull
As a relatively new mixed breed, the German Shepherd Pit Bull does not have breed standards when it comes to size or appearance. However, we can look to the parent breeds to get a better picture of what to expect.
The German Shepherd typically stands 22-26 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 50-90 pounds. The Pit Bull is 17-19 inches tall and 30-65 pounds. So most German Shepherd Pit Bulls fall somewhere in between, ranging from 30-90 pounds and 17-26 inches tall.
Males are usually a bit larger than females. Their life expectancy is 10-14 years.
The Temperament and Personality of This Mix
While temperament can vary in any breed, German Shepherd Pit Bulls are often described as:
- Friendly when properly socialized
These dogs bond very closely with their owners and aim to please. They want to be constantly engaged in family activities. Without proper physical and mental exercise, these dogs are prone to boredom and destructive behaviors like chewing.
Early socialization and training are imperative for these powerful pups. Reward-based training helps to control their exuberance and build good manners. German Shepherd Pit Bulls excel at canine sports, obedience trials, and other competitive events that challenge their bodies and minds.
Ideal Living Conditions for This Breed
The German Shepherd Pit Bull is not suited for apartment or condo living. They need a home with a large, securely fenced yard where they can burn off energy. Access to hiking, running, swimming, or other vigorous exercise is also essential.
These dogs crave being part of the action. They should live indoors as part of the family rather than being relegated to the backyard. German Shepherd Pit Bulls enjoy participating in family activities and excursions.
While they can learn to be gentle with children and other pets, their size makes them best suited to homes with older, dog-savvy kids. As with any large dog breed, they should be supervised around toddlers and small children.
The Grooming Requirements of the German Shepherd Pit Bull
German Shepherd Pit Bulls have short, dense coats that shed moderately year-round. They require weekly brushing to control loose hair and distribute skin oils. Bathing should only be done when needed to avoid stripping the coat of natural oils.
It’s essential to start grooming, teeth brushing, and other handling exercises early on to maintain good hygiene and ensure acceptance of these activities. Their nails should be trimmed as needed, usually every 1-2 weeks.
Those with floppy ears may be prone to ear infections. Ears should be checked and cleaned weekly. Overall grooming needs are relatively minimal compared to heavy shedding breeds.
Feeding a High-Quality Diet is Crucial
German Shepherd Pit Bulls need a high protein diet formulated for medium to large energetic breeds. Feed puppies food specifically designed for large breed puppies, as this will help prevent developmental orthopedic diseases.
Puppies should be fed 3-4 small meals daily. Adults do well with two meals a day. Do not free feed, as this breed is prone to overeating.
Talk to your vet about an appropriate diet. Avoid grain-free diets that may be linked to a deadly heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. Steer clear of low quality brands that use fillers like corn and meat byproducts.
Maintaining a healthy weight is very important for joint health. Limit treats and avoid people food, which can quickly lead to obesity.
Potential Health Issues to Watch Out For
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems. German Shepherd Pit Bulls may be prone to issues affecting their parent breeds, including:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia – Malformation of these joints can cause arthritis and lameness. Have puppies screened. Maintain lean body weight and avoid exercise on hard surfaces while young.
- Bloat – This life-threatening stomach condition is common in deep-chested dogs. Feed small meals rather than one large daily portion.
- Allergies – Environmental or food allergies can cause itchy skin or ear infections. Try elimination diets if allergies are suspected.
- Heart Disease – German Shepherds are prone to certain heart conditions. Discuss screening tests with your veterinarian.
Regular vet checkups, proper nutrition, and exercise can help keep your German Shepherd Pit Bull healthy. Consider pet insurance to help cover costs if a medical issue arises.
Appearance, Coat, and Colors
As a mixed breed, German Shepherd Pit Bulls can vary a bit in physical appearance. They generally have a muscular, athletic build with a medium to large frame. The head is often a mix of the broad Pit Bull head and German Shepherd’s pointed muzzle.
Their coats come in many colors though black, brown, fawn, tan, gray, and white markings are typical. Coats are short to medium length, dense, and double layered.
Ears may be floppy like the Pit Bull or erect like the German Shepherd. The tail may be long like the German Shepherd or short like the Pit Bull. Their expression is often focused and alert.
Training Tips for This Smart but Strong-Willed Mix
German Shepherd Pit Bulls are super smart but can be stubborn. Early socialization and obedience training are vital for raising a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog.
Reward-based training works best for this breed rather than punishment or scolding. Food rewards, praise, and toys will motivate them to obey commands and rules.
Start training early and be consistent. Set firm boundaries but use positive methods to enforce them. Crate training assists with potty training and preventing destruction.
German Shepherd Pit Bulls excel at advanced training and dog sports. Activities like agility, nosework, dock diving, or obedience trials are great outlets for their energy and brains.
Never use harsh corrections or aggression when training. While loyal to their owners, abuse can lead to mistrust, anxiety, or defensive aggression.
Exercise and Activity Guidelines
This energetic breed needs at least 60-90 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. They particularly enjoy activities that allow them to run, jump, play, and swim.
Without adequate physical and mental stimulation every day, German Shepherd Pit Bulls are likely to become bored and destructive. Make sure they get:
- At least one long walk or jog daily
- Time to run freely in a fenced area
- Playtime with toys that challenge their minds
- Outings to new places for socialization and mental enrichment
Activities they enjoy include hiking, swimming, playing fetch, agility training, and participating in canine sports. Interactive toys and food puzzles provide mental stimulation.
A tired German Shepherd Pit Bull is a well-behaved German Shepherd Pit Bull. Meeting their needs for exercise prevents problem behaviors from developing.
Finding a German Shepherd Pit Bull Puppy or Rescue
There are few breeders who specifically breed German Shepherd Pit Bull mixes. Most pups end up in shelters and rescues. Be very wary of any breeder advertising “rare” colored German Shepherd Pit Bulls or other gimmicks.
Reputable breeders focus on health, temperament, and conformation to breed standards. They do genetic testing and screen for health problems. Ask to see health clearances for both parents.
Adopting an adult German Shepherd Pit Bull from a shelter or rescue allows you to skip the puppy stage. Many wonderful adult dogs need homes. Use caution adopting dogs with unknown histories though, especially if you have kids.
Be sure to have any new dog vet-checked, vaccinated, and on flea/tick and heartworm prevention before bringing them home.
Is the German Shepherd Pit Bull the Right Dog For You?
Before seeking out any dog to adopt or buy, make sure the breed is a good match for your lifestyle and experience level. German Shepherd Pit Bulls can make wonderful companions, but only with proper training, socialization, containment, and care.
They need dedicated owners who can provide structure through rules, boundaries, and routines. First-time or timid owners may find them to be too much dog.
German Shepherd Pit Bulls flourish with owners who enjoy being highly involved with their dog through training, sports, activities, and togetherness. For the right owner, they make marvelous canine partners.
Frequently Asked Questions About the German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Breed
Interested in learning more about this unique hybrid breed? Check out answers to some commonly asked questions below.
Are German Shepherd Pit Bulls aggressive?
German Shepherd Pit Bulls have a reputation for being aggressive, mainly due to anti-Pit Bull prejudice. In fact, these dogs display aggression only when not properly socialized and trained. With early positive socialization and obedience training, they are friendly and devoted companions.
What’s their energy level like?
Extremely high! German Shepherd Pit Bulls are bursting with energy and need vigorous daily exercise as well as mental stimulation. Without adequate outlets for their enthusiasm, they are likely to develop behavior issues.
How big do German Shepherd Pit Bull mixes get?
These dogs range from 30-90 pounds and 17-26 inches tall at the shoulder. Males tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum. Proper nutrition and exercise is key to avoiding obesity.
Are German Shepherd Pit Bulls easy to train?
Yes, they are very smart and aim to please their owners. However, they can be stubborn so training must start early and be consistent. Positive reinforcement works best for this breed.
How much grooming and shedding can I expect?
German Shepherd Pit Bulls have short dense coats that shed a moderate amount year-round. Plan to brush them weekly and bathe only when needed. Their grooming needs are relatively low maintenance overall.
Can they be good family dogs?
When properly trained and socialized early on, German Shepherd Pit Bulls can be excellent family companions. However, their size and energy make them best suited to homes with older children rather than toddlers. They should always be supervised with kids.
What health issues should I watch out for?
Buy from breeders who screen for hip dysplasia, heart disease, and eye problems. Feed high-quality food and avoid obesity to prevent joint problems. Be aware of signs of bloat. Discuss screening tests with your vet.
The Final Take on This Unique Hybrid Breed
For the right owner, the German Shepherd Pit Bull can be a marvelous canine companion – loyal, affectionate, and always ready for adventure. They demand a lot of physical activity and mental enrichment but give back tenfold with their lively personalities.
With their intelligence and eagerness to please, German Shepherd Pit Bulls excel at many dog sports and working roles. They crave structure and interaction with their beloved people.
While their energy and strength require an experienced owner, those prepared to provide proper training and outlets for stimulation will find these hybrids to be a fun, lively addition to the family.