Pitbull German Shepherd Mix: The Ultimate Guide

Published: 01/25/23 •  14 min read

The Pitbull German Shepherd mix is a medium to large-sized dog created by breeding an American Pit Bull Terrier and a German Shepherd. Otherwise known as the Shepherd Pit, this loving, loyal dog has a protective streak and will make a wonderful family pet.

Pitbull German Shepherd Mix
Photo: Instagram

Let’s see if the Shepherd Pit is the right cross for your family. We’ll do this by exploring each parent breed’s history, popularity, suitability, and temperament to better understand how the Shepherd Pit came to be and why they might be your next family pet.

Pitbull German Shepherd Mix – At a Glance

Weight:40 – 90 pounds
Height:18 – 24 inches
Lifespan:10 – 12 years
Coat Colors:Black, white, grey, fawn and tan
Temperament:Loving, energetic, loyal, independent, protective
Most Suitable For:Active families with or without children, active single individuals

What Does a Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Look Like?

Pitbull German Shepherd Mix
Photo: Instagram

Like most designer breeds, the Shepherd Pit will take different parts of the appearance of both parent breeds. You can expect your Shepherd Pitbull mix to have a long, lean body with either a medium-length coat, like a German Shepherd, or a short coat of the Pit Bull. Depending on the dominant gene, your Shepherd Pit may inherit the coat colors of the GSD – a traditional black and tan, or of the Pitbull Terrier – a more mixed brindle coat with white markings.

The Shepherd Pitbull will likely have the floppy, forward-facing ears of the Pitbull, but also have upright, triangular ears, like the German Shepherd parent. Sometimes, your Pitbull Shepherd mix will inherit the double coat of the GSD, but it’s more likely to inherit a single coat, like the Pitbull Terrier.

As with most mixed-breed dogs, their physical appearance is difficult to predict as it entirely depends on the predominant genes. If you’re hoping to get a specific look to your Shepherd Pit, don’t hold your breath!

The History of the Pitbull German Shepherd Mix

Unfortunately, as with most mixed-breed dogs, the Pitbull German Shepherd mix doesn’t have an extensive history to draw from. It was likely created during the 1990s or early 2000s, when crossbreeding became popular throughout the United States.

To learn more about the German Shepherd Pitbull mix, we’ll explore the history of each parent breed. Seeing where German Shepherd Dogs and American Pit Bull Terriers came from will help you better understand why anyone would want to crossbreed these two fearsome guard dogs.

The History of the German Shepherd

The History of the German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dogs were developed in Germany (shocking!) in the late 19th century by a former German cavalry captain and kennel owner, Max von Stephanitz. von Stephanitz was also a farmer, searching for the ultimate herding and guard dog to protect his flocks of sheep. He found the traditional German herding dogs to be inadequate.

In 1899, Max von Stephanitz was attending a dog show, when he came across a dog by the name of Hektor Linksrhein, this dog checked all of von Stephanitz’s boxes – intelligent, loyal, beautiful, strong, agile and fast. He purchased Hektor on the spot and almost immediately changed his name to Horand von Grafrath, and founded the Society for German Shepherd Dogs.

This Society immediately found popularity as more German Shepherd Dogs were added to its ranks – more than 50,000 paying members by 1923! Horand was the first addition to the Society and the first dog to be selectively bred from its ranks. Combined with others from the Society, von Stephanitz had created a breeding phenomenon – and the GSD, as it was abbreviated, became one of the most popular dogs in Germany before the Second World War.

German Shepherds had many different uses and roles within German society as the decades progressed from war and police dogs to agility training and as companion pets. Mostly, these companion pets were used as guard dogs for people’s homes, mostly due to their size and imposing physical appearance.

The first German Shepherds were exported to the United States in 1906 and fast became popular for their physical prowess, finding a home as a family pet and competent farm dog/guard dog.

How Popular Are German Shepherd in the United States?

German Shepherds were almost immediately popular following their arrival in the United States in 1906. They’re an active breed that requires plenty of exercise and can spend extended periods of time outdoors. For this reason, they’re often beloved as working dogs by farmers and as family pets in general.

In 2021, the German Shepherd Dog was the 4th most-popular dog in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club.

Who Are German Shepherd a Good Dog For?

German Shepherds are one of the country’s most popular dogs for a reason! They’re beloved by almost everyone and fit well with almost any family unit. As a large-sized breed, German Shepherds aren’t great dogs for those living in apartments or those who can’t keep up with their need for lots of exercise.

However, German Shepherds are a fantastic fit for families with plenty of space, a house, and yard for the GSD to get proper exercise – mostly space for it to roam and run unimpeded, even if that’s a local (fenced) dog park. Given their protective nature, German Shepherds are good with children of most ages, as they are not necessarily aggressive dogs.

How Did German Shepherd Come About?

The modern German Shepherd was created by Max von Stephanitz, who purchased their progenitor – Horand von Grafrath from a dog show in 1899, after searching for a capable herding and working dog for a long time. Shortly afterwards, von Stephanitz created the Society for German Shepherd Dogs – which soared in popularity almost immediately.

German Shepherds have occupied many roles throughout their history, including as police dogs, in military roles, therapy dogs, and general farming/working dogs.

When Did We First Cross-Breed The German Shepherd?

German Shepherd Dogs are very popular crossbreeds in the United States, mostly due to their gorgeous physical appearance, intelligence, and athleticism – they’re the perfect dog for anyone looking to add a little extra brain, size, or speed to their existing pet.

For this reason, designer dog breeders have become interested in breeding the GSD with other dogs. This crossbreeding of the Shepherd likely began in the 1990s and early 2000s, when crossbreeding became popular throughout the United States.

Some popular German Shepherd mixes include:

The History of the Pitbull

The History of the Pitbull

The Pitbull, known as the American Pit Bull Terrier (as the United Kennel Club officially recognizes it) or simply the Pitbull Terrier, is a medium-sized dog that originated in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Bred from the Old English Bulldog and Old English Terrier for participation in ‘blood sports’, the Pitbull Terrier is renowned (unfortunately) for being a fearsome and aggressive breed.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, blood sports such as ‘bull baiting’ were popular in England. This ‘sport’ involved a Pitbull Terrier, Boxer, or other descendants of the Old English Bulldog being placed into a pen with an angry bull cow. The ‘game’ was over when the dog was killed or the bull collapsed from exhaustion. Alongside dog fighting, this was the primary reason for breeding the Pitbull Terrier.

In 1835, the British Government passed the Cruelty Against Animals Act, which outlawed dog fighting and bull baiting. Almost immediately afterwards, the Pit Bull became significantly less popular and was brought to the United States sometime between 1845 and 1860 in an attempt to save the breed from extinction.

In the U.S., the Pitbull Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1934 and first gained the name “American Pit Bull Terrier” due to their recognition. The American Kennel Club did not (and still does not) recognize the Pitbull Terrier as a breed.

Initially, the Pitbull went back to dogfighting upon arrival in the United States before that was outlawed (it is still used in underground dog fighting today). However, they were also used as military, therapy dogs, and, faithful companion pets. Their legal status today is unclear in many states – certain American cities have outlawed ownership of the Pitbull completely.

How Popular Are Pitbulls in the United States?

Despite their illegality in many places around the country, the American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the more popular dogs in the country – unfortunately, as the American Pit Bull Terrier is not an AKC-recognized breed, we’ve had to source population statistics from elsewhere.

These stats indicate that the Terrier is roughly 20% of America’s ‘strong dog’ population.

Who Are Pitbulls a Good Dog For?

Pitbulls are known for their upper-body strength and as a moderate-energy breed. They’re somewhat gentle giants, though given their possible aggressive behavior, they don’t tend to fare well with other smaller pets. However, they are generally good family pets and are breed for children.

How Did Pitbulls Come About?

Pitbulls were originally bred from the Old English Bulldog and the Old English Terrier, to participate in blood sports in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Unfortunately for the breeders, these blood sports that involved ‘bull-baiting’ and dog fighting among others were outlawed 1835 with the passage of the Cruelty Against Animals Act.

This almost immediately led to the sharp decline in the popularity and usefulness of Pitbulls among the English, which saw them transported to the United States between 1845 and 1860. Pit Bulls would later become the American Pit Bull Terrier, having been recognized as a breed by the United Kennel Club in 1934.

Since then, Pitbull Terriers have been subjected to various breed bans across the U.S. and much of the Western world, making their ownership either illegal or significantly restricted.

When Did We First Cross-Breed The Pitbull?

Given that Pitbull ownership is tightly regulated in many American cities, some people have turned to hybrid breeds as a way to go around the laws. Some just want to infuse that Pit Bull Terrier tenacity into other breeds.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, crossbreeding became popular throughout the United States, creating many different hybrid breeds. Among the most popular Pitbull crosses are:

How Important Is a Dog’s Temperament to Your Family?

Finding a dog that matches your family’s temperament should be one of your top priorities whilst researching possible breeds to adopt or buy.

This will mean considering what you’re looking for in a good and which type of breed best suits your family unit. If you have children, you’ll want a good breed for children: gentle, loving, kind, not too big. If you’re an active family, you’ll want an active breed that can accompany you on your adventures. If you live in an apartment, you may want a barkless breed – or at least a dog that’s not prone to excessive barking.

Finding a dog suitable for your family is a chore and a responsibility for a new dog owner. Failure to find the right match could result in having to re-home the dog or surrendering it to a local Humane Society.

What is the Temperament of the Pitbull German Shepherd Mix?

Luckily for most owners, the Shepherd Pitbull mix will inherit the best of both parent breeds’ temperaments. Expect a loyal and protective family dog with a keen sense of friend and foe.

The German Shepherd Pitbull mix will be a highly intelligent dog that needs mental stimulation to be entertained at home. Try a KONG toy like this one, stuffed with dog treats. Outside the home, your German Shepherd Pitbull mix will be quite active, requiring roughly 45 minutes of daily exercise.

Is The Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Friendly?

Despite the Pitbull’s unfortunate history as an aggressive breed, the German Shepherd has become a rather docile dog over the years and is generally gentle with children. Expect your Shepherd Pitbull mix to be friendly around those it knows, but wary of those it does not.

Is The Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Easy to Train?

The German Shepherd has a wonderful reputation as a police and military dog, meaning it can follow commands easily. While the Pitbull is slightly more challenging as it has a stubborn streak, you can expect your Shepherd Pitbull mix to be quite easy to train.

Use positive reinforcement techniques instead of admonishment, and ensure you go through proper training exercises from a professional if need be. Pitbulls can sometimes exhibit destructive behaviors due to separation anxiety – get proper training if this becomes an issue.

How Much Can A Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Weigh?

The average weight of a Shepherd Pitbull mix is between 40 and 90 pounds.

How Tall Can A Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Get?

The average height of a Shepherd Pitbull mix is between 18 and 24 inches tall.

Similar-Sized Breeds

There are a few similar-sized breeds to the Pitbull German Shepherd mix. These include:

Does the Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Shed?

If your Shepherd Pitbull inherits the double coat of the GSD, expect it to be a moderate shedder year-round, with a ‘blow out’ twice a year, between Spring and Summer and Fall and Winter.

It would be best if you prepared to brush your Shepherd Pitbull weekly. Doing this, alongside treating your Shepherd Pitbull’s skin and washing it frequently, will help prevent skin irritations, which are common among Pitbulls.

How Much Exercise Does A Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Require?

To prevent significant weight gain, a Shepherd Pitbull will require about 45 minutes of exercise per day, along with plenty of off-leash time.

How Long Can a Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Live?

The average lifespan of a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix is between 10 and 12 years.

What Health Conditions Could the Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Have?

How Can You Find a Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Puppy For Sale?

Before buying a Shepherd Pitbull, consider adopting one of these gorgeous mixed breeds instead! Plenty of Shepherd Pitbulls are put up for adoption every year, as owners either find them incompatible, or they result from an accidental breeding.

If you’re considering adoption, check out your local animal shelter or vet clinic first! If you strike out in person, look online at AdoptAPet.com to find a Shepherd Pit in your local area.

How Much Does a Pitbull German Shepherd Mix Puppy Cost?

The average cost of a Shepherd Pitbull is around $800 – $1000! This makes them a very expensive option, considering the cost of adoption is usually less than half of the cost of purchasing a Shepherd Pitbull.

If you’re still considering buying a Shepherd Pit, ensure you buy from a reputable breeder. We’ve created this handy guide to help you sort the wheat from the chaff regarding breeders and avoid puppy mills!

Is the Pitbull German Shepherd Mix the Right Breed For You?

If you’ve been searching for a protective, loving companion that’s as much sweetheart as they are bark and bite, then the Shepherd Pitbull might be what you’ve been searching for!

However, if you’re convinced that the Pitbull German Shepherd isn’t the right breed for you, that’s OK! We’ve created dozens of other breed guides to help you in your search for your perfect mixed-breed family dog.

Nick Meagher

I'm Nick Meagher, a lifelong dog enthusiast and the voice behind this blog. Having grown up with dogs, I've developed a deep understanding and an unbreakable bond with these amazing companions. Through MyK9Life, I aim to share insights, tips, and heartwarming stories, celebrating the joy and journey of life with our four-legged friends.

Keep Reading