Mixed breed dogs can be a great way of getting the best of two breeds in one wonderful, unusual animal. There are some crosses that make obvious choices when creating a family pet. Labradoodles – for example – are popular modern hybrids because of their hypoallergenic coats and great temperaments.
However, there are other mixes that raise a few questions. Ongoing misconceptions about German Shepherds and Pitbulls mean that some dog owners will question the choice to breed these animals together. There is the assumption that all we will get is a larger, more aggressive version of a pitbull. As we aim to show in this guide, the reality can be much different.
This guide to the German shepherd Pitbull mix breed will look at some of the different physical and personality traits that you can expect. When it comes to the physical side, we will look at the size of the animal, its coat and other physical attributes. We will also consider their health care needs – including their diet and exercise.
As for their personality traits, we want to focus on this misconception of an aggressive, bad natured dog. These animals can be great family pets. We will discuss the possibilities here, as well as some important information about training methods. Finally, we will discuss the pros and cons of finding breeders vs heading to a shelter. In the end, you should have a better idea of the true nature of this animal.
What is a German Shepherd Pitbull mix?
This dog is a direct cross breed between a German Shepherd and a Pitbull. While both parent breeds have been around for a long time, this is a fairly new crossbreed. One of the possible reasons for this crossbreeding is to take the less-desirable Pitbull and “improve” it with the genes of the German Shepherd. Ideally, breeders will use a female German Shepherd and a male Pitbull. This is because of the size difference of the two breeds. It is much safer for a GSD to carry this litter of pups.
The Pitbull is a breed with a bad reputation. It was developed in the 1800s as a fighting dog for sport and occasionally to bait other animals. Owners would breed the animal to be tough and aggressive. The muscular build remains today. But, it takes a lot of mistreatment to bring out that aggressive side. Despite this, the Pitbull remains a banned breed in many parts of the world. Pitbull crosses are tolerated on a higher level because they don’t look as threatening.
The German Shepherd has been a family dog for much longer than the Pitbull. It has also been a working dog for a number of centuries. As the name suggests, it was a herding dog in Europe, to begin with. Its intelligence, loyalty and athleticism made it a perfect candidate. Over time the role changed. The military began to use these agile dogs and bring out their wolf-like traits. They remain one of the most common police dogs across the world because of their temperament and trainability.
What are some of the important physical traits of Pitbull GSD crossbreeds?
The size of these animals can depend on which genetic traits they inherit from their parents. There may be some taller, leaner dogs that are mare like their shepherd parent. Then there are others that are heavier and stockier as they take after their Pitbull parent.
Typically, you should find that male dogs are around 18-26 inches high and weigh between 40 and 90 pounds. For females, this is a little less, with a height of between 17 and 24 inches and a weight between 30 and 70 pounds. Either way, you should expect something a little between the two parents. They won’t be as tall and lean as a GSD, but they won’t be as compact and muscular as the Pitbull either.
There are a few different coat colours that you can find with these German Shepherd Pitbull crosses. Some carry the colours and markings of a German Shepherd, with fawn and black markings. Others are a more uniform tan, a darker black or a paler colour. Most of the time, the dogs have a pitbull-like appearance to the face, with a shorter muzzle than you would see on a shepherd and floppy ears.
But, there is rarely the same strong, wide jaw. There really can be an even blend of features here that creates a unique, handsome looking dog. Still, you have to remember that traits vary from puppy to puppy. If looks are important when choosing a dog, make sure to meet the whole litter before you pick out a dog.
The grooming requirements of this Pitbull German Shepherd mix?
The grooming needs of these animals will depend upon the type of coat that they inherit. There are some pit shepherd mix dogs that will have a very short, single coat. This is easy to brush and maintain. However, some dogs may inherit something a little longer and thicker – a lot more like that of their German Shepherd parents.
This is where you need to pay more attention to brushing regimes and shedding. Otherwise, the grooming needs are much like those of any other dog – always keep a good eye on their ears, eyes, teeth and nails.
Are there any important health care issues with these animals?
Pitbulls can have skin problems and this may be passed down to their offspring, even when hybridised with a German Shepherd. Watch out for allergies and atopic dermatitis. German Shepherds can be prone to joint issues, especially canine hip dysplasia. Bad breeding of GSDs has led to sloping spines and pore posture that puts strain on the hip joints.
When you choose a puppy from a breeder, get to know the parents. Look at the shape of the GSD parent. As for the life expectancy, generally speaking, you should be able to enjoy between 10 and 12 years with your pitbull GSD cross
What do new Pitbull Shepherd cross owners need to know about diet and exercise?
The diet of this dog is very important because this is a strong, stocky and active animal. A happy pit shepherd with room to run around will burn a lot of energy. Therefore, they need plenty of calories in their diet to provide enough fuel. Some suggest around 1,200 to 2,7000 calories for male dogs and 900 to 2,100 for females. Make sure that this all comes from a good source. This means a quality pet food that is rich in protein and other nutrients.
Exercise is essential when dealing with this animal. If you are not prepared to take the time to provide these animals with enough physical activity, you will both suffer the consequences. These animals need to maintain their active lifestyle to stay fit and healthy. This means long walks of around 90 minutes a day. Where possible, let them run to really burn off that energy. Turn these sessions into playtime with games of fetch and other bonding activities. These sessions help to strengthen that bond between an owner and this loyal, loving mixed breed.
There are also additional benefits for the family as a bored, inactive pit-cross can become destructive. If they can’t burn energy in play or on long walks, they will do so by chewing digging or making mischief around the house.
The temperament of these pitbull German Shepherd crosses
The temperament of this dog is better than some people expect. There are misconceptions about both parent breeds. Some see German Shepherd dogs as aggressive animals best suited for police and military work. Then there are all the scare-stories about pitbulls attacking children and ripping each other apart in dogfighting.
These animals can have a bad temperament and aggressive tendencies if they are trained to fight or to work in a hostile environment. Puppies that are trained well often turn out to have a great temperament. Pitbulls can have a very soft, goofy side when they crave the attention of their family. German Shepherds can be kind, gentle protectors.
A potential downside to the dog’s behaviour and personality is that they can be very stubborn and independent when they aren’t handled correctly. They may try and establish themselves as a pack leader if they aren’t trained to believe otherwise. Once owners train these dogs and establish the correct hierarchy, these animals will soften up. But, there is still the possibility that those stubborn traits will come through if they don’t get their way about something. Pit-cross love to be the centre of attention and may not move until they get it.
These animals are good with children, but perhaps not with other animals.
This is where it is important to consider the suitability of this crossbreed in a home with children. There are some people that will assume that this mixed breed could never be around small children – again, this all stems from those horror stories in the media.
The truth is that a well-trained, loyal and loving pit shepherd can be a great companion for children. They will take good care of them, watch over them and want to play with them. But, new owners have to remember that this is only possible with the right training.
There could be a difference when it comes to homes where there are other animals. The stubborn side of this dog, and that need for attention, means that they might not do so well in homes where there is another dog. In addition to this, there is a prey drive in these animals that could be triggered when they are around smaller animals. This isn’t necessarily the case with all of these dogs. There could be plenty of these Pitbull X GSD dogs in larger packs, or that get on with the pet cat. However, it is best not to take the risk when there are smaller creatures and pet rabbits around.
The Pitbull German Shepherd crossbreed dog as a working dog.
There are some new owners that may assume that the lineage of this animal leads to the ideal working dog. They have the brain and traits of the GSD – a proven police and military dog – with the temperament and muscle of the Pitbull. In the right hands, these dogs could prove to be of great value in police or security work.
However, this will require careful training. Owners with pit shepherd dogs in family homes can’t assume that this will be a good guard dog. They may prove to be a bit too friendly with strangers.
Training a Pitbull GSD mix dog.
Training shouldn’t be too difficult with these animals. There is that stubborn side to the parent breeds that may come out now and again. However, there is also an eagerness to please and high intelligence. These dogs are sharp learners and can pick up basic behavioural traits and commands pretty quickly. That desire to please their owner means they are likely to keep repeating the behaviour too. The best approach with these dogs is to use positive reinforcement. This means lots of praise and treats.
One of the most important traits with Pit-Shepherd cross training is socialisation. These animals may not be good with other pets, but they still need to learn to behave with other dogs. It helps to introduce them to friendly dogs in a controlled setting. Doggy obedience classes may prove to be helpful for these dogs too.
Finding a good Pitbull Shepherd crossbreeder.
If you decide that you do want to own one of these interesting mix breed dogs, the first option is to find a breeder. There are sure to be breeders around that specialise in this cross. Perhaps they are keen to promote the best traits of the parents and continue the lineage of these Pit Shepherd crosses.
It is important to visit these breeders at home so that you can learn more about their animals and the way they care for them. Meet the breeders, but also take the time to meet the litter and the parents. Remember that breeders that won’t show you the parents probably have something to hide. This could be a behavioural issue with a parent or a health problem. Take your time, do your research and make sure you have a healthy puppy from a reputable source.
The issue of German Shepherd Pitbull cross breeders also leads to the issue of cost. A hybrid puppy can cost quite a lot at the best of times – especially with a desirable mix breed. As Pitbull GSD crosses are less desirable, they may not be so expensive. Even so, it is important to remember that different breeders will charge different amounts. Beware of those that claim to have a special colour or a rare version of this Pitbull Shepherd. For example, there may be some that charge more for blue dogs or pure white ones. This is just a poor attempt at increasing profit. Those that do this may not have the animal’s welfare in mind.
Finding a Pit X GSD for adoption.
The alternative to heading to a breeder is to find a dog at a local shelter. There are lots of animals in need of a new home and a second chance. These German Shepherd Pitbull mix breed dogs are great candidates. There will be dog owners that misunderstand the requirements of owning this animal.
Some will try and bring them into a home with other animals or fail to provide the exercise and training they require. As a result, they may be forced to give the animal up. These unfortunate dogs may require more time and patience with training, but the efforts and results can be even more rewarding.
So, what have we learned about this German Shepherd Pitbull mix breed dog?
In summary, it is important to get past this misconception of a German Shepherd Pitbull cross and see this animal for what it really is. Pit Shepherds aren’t born to be aggressive or hard to live with. Owners that train these animals well, in the right environment, will find that the pups thrive. They can become loyal, loving companions that are a joy to have around – even if their stubborn streak remains. Those that understand the exercise requirements of the mix will strengthen this bond and ensure that they have a happy, well-behaved animal.
A German Shepherd crossed with a Pitbull isn’t going to be for everyone. It takes a lot of care and training to build a relationship and develop the best behavioural traits. These dogs also require more exercise and attention than new owners may realise. Finally, there is that issue with other animals. If you understand the traits and needs of this dog, and have experience, you could find that owning a Pit Shepherd cross is a rewarding experience for all concerned.
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Dawn Bradley is a content writer, blogger and animal lover. She is also a pet parent. She has written many reviews and guides aimed at helping our four-legged friends and, in turn, their two legged owners. She also runs a nature blog about her home town of Plymouth, UK.