German Shepherd Pitbull Mix: All You Need to Know


German Shepherd and Pitbull

German Shepherd Pitbull mixes are medium to large dogs that, when trained well, can be loyal companions in the home. As the name suggests, these dogs are a mixed breed between a German Shepherd a Pitbull. 

The German Shepherd Pitbull mix is an intelligent and loyal breed. Due to their genetics, they can be strong willed and require a knowledgeable owner who understands the importance of training and proper socialization. They are an active breed that craves attention and needs plenty of exercise. 

In this guide, we will look at both breeds and explore everything from the look and temperament of a German Shepherd Pitbull mix, along with how to properly train and care for your potential new dog. 

German Shepherd Basics

German Shepherd

German ShepherdsOpens in a new tab. are known for their intelligence and agility. They are incredibly loyal, love to train, and work hard.

Couple this with their willingness to learn, speed, and size, and it is clear why they are ideal dogs for the military and police forces.

These wolf-like dogs are tall and long, with beautiful coats that shed quite a lot. Expect to brush them a couple of times a week. Though they may look like a wolves, they are not part wolf.

Some defining qualities of the German Shepherd include:

Loyal

These dogs fiercely love their people and will stay a close companion, generally choosing an Alpha to follow. They make excellent guard dogs once bonded as they have the drive to protect.

Affectionate

You will find that these breeds love to be close to their family and easily show their love. They are great family pets and, when trained, are sweet and gentle with children. 

If you have any doubt that German Shepherds are great with families and children, we’d love to prove you wrong! Be sure to read the 2 articles below, and we’re sure that you’ll soon agree with us!

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

10 Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Great Family Dogs

Easy to train

German Shepherds love to work, and they need exercise that is both physically and mentally challenging. The good thing is, they learn very quickly.

However, as the owner, you need to be willing to work and show your dog that you are in charge. They need to know they are not the Alpha in order to communicate to them what behavior is acceptable and what is not.

It is possible to see aggressive dogs in this breed, as with any other breed. However, any aggression will most likely be due to a lack of training and socialization.

It is vital to German Shepherds – and most dogs – to begin socialization early. In introducing your puppy to people, places, and other dogs at an early age, they will become desensitized and far more confident.

A dog that has never interacted with another dog, or children, may become aggressive out of fear. 

In general, German Shepherds are not the ideal choice for first-time dog owners. They will grow into big, strong dogs that need structure and training.

Without this, they can become aggressive and unpredictable. As the owner of a large dog, you cannot underestimate what they are capable of and need to be absolutely sure that they are obedient to you.

But if you are willing to work with them, you won’t find a more loyal dog. 

Be sure to read through the articles linked below for more detailed information on the points that we’ve just gone over:

How To Socialize Your German Shepherd

Why Are German Shepherds Good Police Dogs?

German Shepherd Training Guide: All You Need to Know

German Shepherd Aggression: Why and What to Do About It

Pitbull Basics

Pitbull

Sadly, PitbullsOpens in a new tab. are wildly misunderstood and feared dogs.

Originally bred as fighting dogs, they are often seen as dangerous and are banned in many places around the world. But as with other breeds, it is all about the owner and the training.

The Pitbull is not actually a dog breed in and of itself. It is the umbrella term given to American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Pit mixes.

Some people believe that due to how they have been bred, they are inherently aggressive. However, many people argue that it is the owner and their treatment of the dog that affects the way a Pitbull behaves. 

Barbara WoodhouseOpens in a new tab., a famed dog trainer, famously said that “there are no bad dogs, just inexperienced people.”

Of course, Pitbulls being bred specifically for their ability to fight has given them some challenging qualities. But if you train and socialize your puppy properly, you will find your Pitbull is a sweet and loyal pet.

Some defining qualities of the Pitbull include:

Eager to Please

This makes them so easy to train. Pitbulls will put everything into making you happy, which makes them easy to coach. They are smart and pick up new tricks very quickly. 

Easy Going

They adapt well and are happy to be couch potatoes. Pitbulls will be just as comfortable in an apartment as they would in a house with a yard.

Provided they get ample exercise and attention from their people; they are quite relaxed dogs.

Loving

These dogs fall in love hard for their owners and crave that attention. If they have been properly socialized, they are excellent with children and simply want to be near you. 

Having been specifically bred for dogfighting, you cannot overlook their instincts. Some owners have noted aggressive behavior, or even fights, between their Pitbulls – that seemed to come out of nowhere.

As the owner, it is crucial to know your dog and know what to look for in terms of possible aggression. If another dog instigates a fight, chances are your Pitbull will fight and fight to win. 

That being said, when Pitbulls were trainedOpens in a new tab. to fight, they were also trained not to attack humans. It is believed that this is where their love for humans stemmed from.

And with the correct puppy training and love at home, you can almost always expect a loveable teddy bear.

Curious what the outcome would be during an unfriendly encounter between a German Shepherd and a Pitbull? Then don’t miss this informative article:

Can a German Shepherd Beat a Pitbull? Know the Odds

German Shepherd Pitbull Mix

When looking at the German Shepherd Pitbull (GSP) mix, we consider the American Pitbull TerrierOpens in a new tab.. The GSP can also be known as German Sheppit, German Pit, and Shepherd Pit, and are often found in shelters looking for their “furever” home.

The misinformation around the two breeds being territorial and aggressive is often the reason they are abandoned. However, it is their loyalty to their pack that can cause them to behave this way.

Due to the breed’s potential aggression, and the need for structure and training, they are not best suited for new dog owners.

These dogs need firm routines, clear boundaries, and lots of exercise. They are best suited to people who are familiar with both breeds and have experience working with larger dogs. 

Let’s now take a look at what you can expect from your German Shepherd Pitbull.

Appearance of German Shepherd Pitbull

When cross-breedingOpens in a new tab., you can never know how the puppies will look. If working with a breeder, you should have information on the puppies’ parents, but you cannot be sure even then. 

A GSP will often favor their pitbull side in terms of appearance. With a big head and short snout, they will grow to be a large dog. MostOpens in a new tab. GSP’s will reach 17-24 inches (43-60 cm) and can be anywhere from 40-90 pounds (18-40kg).

Their coatOpens in a new tab. can favor their German Shepherd side, growing slightly longer and leaning toward tan and black. Or they will have a short to medium coat that could be tan, black, white, gray, or a mixture of colors. 

However, from what we have seen, this mix’s coat tends to stay on the shorter side, drawing more from its Pitbull origins.

Temperament

How this breed behaves is almost entirely down to how well it is raised. Both parents will likely be possessive, strong, intelligent, bold, and easily bored, so their puppies will probably have the same traits.

If you are getting your puppy through a breeder, you should have a good idea of the parents’ temperament and how it can impact their litter. 

Loyal

As both parents have been bred to be loyal, your GSP puppy will definitely inherit the same trait. This makes them excellent pets and loveable family dogs. The bigger the family, the more attention they get.

However, their loyalty to their pack can be taken the wrong way by people who are unaware of dogs and their traits.

Often, GSP’s and their parents’ breeds can become territorialOpens in a new tab. and protective of their families when in unfamiliar places or introduced to strangers. This can be seen as aggression.

The good news is, with proper training and socialization, you can teach your dog how to behave correctly and avoid any signs of aggression.

When they are puppies, it is vital to take them out to new places and introduce them to new people.

For children, teach them the correct way to approach a dog, and have your puppy interact with plenty of kids. They will learn how to be gentle, loving, and naturally friendly as they are exposed to more people. 

Intelligent

Puppies as youngOpens in a new tab. as seven weeks are able to understand basic commands, and given how smart its parents are, your GSP will be able to learn quickly.

Be sure to begin training when they are very young, so you can reinforce the behavior you like and teach out any unwanted behavior. 

GSP’s can be strong-willed and stubborn, but a combination of positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency, will make your training successful.

The need for consistency is especially important as puppies work well with structure. You will need your whole family to follow the same rules, or the dog will not have a clear picture of who is in charge. 

Playful

As mentioned, GSP’s love to work and spend time with their family. They are working dogs and do require a lot of physical activities. Luckily, playtime can involve training and mental games to help work off their energy. 

For example, you can use interactive puzzle toys like this series from Outward HoundOpens in a new tab.. There are 4 different toys in this series, and 4 levels of difficulty – easy, intermediate, advanced, and expert.

We love these interactive puzzle toys, and once you see your dog interacting with them, you’ll know exactly why. Take a look for yourself what all the fuss is about!

Level 1: Easy

Level 2: Intermediate

Level 3: Advanced

Level 4: Expert

Puzzle toys are great for developing your puppy’s mind, but your GSP will also be elated to simply play fetch in the yard or tug of war.

Just remember that when they are still puppies, you need to be training them on how to play.

If you have children, teaching them from a young age how to be gentle is highly important. They need to understand how to play with kids and learn how not to be too rough.

This is another reason socialization is key to your puppy’s success. In socializing with other puppies, your GSP will learn how to address and play with other dogs.

They need to learn how to read signals and respect dogs that may not want to play. They can’t learn this with just you; that’s why they need to be allowed to play with other puppies as well. 

Lovable

These big dogs will often forget their size and try to sneak on the couch as lap dogs. They crave attention and love being with you and the family.

However, they can sometimes show some negative behavior towards other dogsOpens in a new tab.. Again, with proper and consistent socialization, this should not be an issue.

A downside to their love of their family is that they can experience separation anxietyOpens in a new tab.. Too much time alone can lead to unwanted behavior, such as chewing, barking, or even urination inside.

This can also occur if your dog does not get sufficient exercise. It is not advised to leave your GSP alone for longer than a few hours. But if you must, ensure they are well exercised and calm. 

In choosing a GSP, you are making a big commitment. They will love you fiercely, but they will also need you to be present. They need affection, attention, and exercise. This is not the breed to choose if you work long hours.

For some great relevant reading that expands on what we’ve just discussed, be sure to check out these informative articles linked below:

How to Deal with German Shepherd Separation Anxiety

How to Keep a German Shepherd Busy While You’re at Work

Caring for Your German Shepherd Pitbull Mix

As mentioned, this breed is best suited to an experienced dog owner. They need a firm routine and a clear idea of who is in charge. Given their size, you must be able to control your dog, both on and off-leash.

Training

It bears repeating that this mix will most certainly need extensive training as a puppy in order to grow into a well-adjusted adult dog, so we urge you to not overlook the importance of this.

When looking into training, there are a few options as a new puppy owner. Let’s now take a closer look at what these options are.

Puppy Classes

Nothing can compare to a classOpens in a new tab. with a teacher and other puppies. The teaching professional is there to guide and answer any questions you may have, showing exactly how to train your puppy.

During class, your puppy will be surrounded with and interacting with other dogs and people as well, so the added benefit here is that you will be socializing your puppy at the same time. 

By meeting new people and other puppies and learn so much more than just a few tricks and commands.

However, before you can begin training classes, your puppy must have had all their vaccinations before going, and most training organizations will request a copy from your puppy’s vet for their files. 

Books and Online Resources

There are several books and websites dedicated to puppy training. Many well-known dog trainers have written guides to not only help you train your dog but to help you understand your dog.

These guides will explain to you why your dog might act-out and how to correct the behavior, so it’s important that if you pay close attention to these, as you will want to have a good handle on any possible aggression issues before they get out of hand.

They can also offer insights into different breeds and what will work best for your specific dog. This research should be done before you get your puppy to prepare you for what is to come. 

YouTube

If you are a visual learner, a few well-known dog experts offer YouTube tutorials in dog training.

With a little research, you can find the right trainer for your needs and follow along at home. Zak George has over 2 million subscribers and is known for his positive approach to dog training. 

He even offers advice for owners of older dogs, such as in the video below where he trains an unruly dog how to walk on a leash:

The key to training your GSP is consistency. Starting your puppy young will help to enforce the training, but it needs to be maintained as they grow.

For example, if you start out not allowing your dog on the bed, you need to keep up with that rule. If you are not consistent, your puppy will just be confused and begin to make up his own rules. And trust us – you do not want this to happen with this mix!

You GSP will likely try to test you, as they are naturally dominant – it’s in their genes. But in relenting just once, you can confuse your dog into thinking that he has the upper hand.

Training is as much about your work as an owner as it is about your dog.

Grooming

If your GSP takes its coat from the Pitbull side, it will be shorter and won’t need as much maintenance.

You can get away with infrequent brushing, though it will shed. But a daily brush will help keep the coat looking fresh by removing dead hair and dirt that can be trapped. 

You don’t need to spend a lot of money for a dog brush. Something simple like the Hertzko Soft Pet BrushOpens in a new tab. will work just fine, and it’s equally effective on long and short coats alike.

However, if your GSP has inherited a considerably longer coat from its German Shepherd side, you will need to brush with a wire brush to maintain the thicker coat.

For much longer coats, it’s important that you use a self-cleaning brush, otherwise you will spend half of your time trying to clean the hair out of the brush, as it will build up quickly.

For this type of grooming, you can try the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker BrushOpens in a new tab., or something similar.

Bathing 

Washing this shorter coat is easy to do at home and can be done with a dog shampoo in the bathtub. Introduce bathing and brushing at a young age so that your grown GSP will learn to stay still. 

Due to their more sensitive skin, it is not recommendedOpens in a new tab. to wash your dog more than once a month.

Keep in mind that German Shepherds are prone to itchy skin, so be sure to use a gentle shampoo like Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe ShampooOpens in a new tab., Paws & PalsOpens in a new tab., or Burt’s Bees.

To learn more about potential sensitive skin issues that may arise from the German Shepherd side of this mix, we’ve written a few excellent articles for you linked below:

German Shepherd Allergies: All You Need To Know

Itchy German Shepherd? Why and What to Do

Teeth

Keeping your GSP’s teeth clean is very important, and this is unfortunately overlooked far too often. Remember the last time that you had a bad toothache? We bet that you do!

Toothaches are just as unpleasant for you dog as they are for you, so it’s important that you take good care of this mix’s teeth just as you would your own.

Frequent brushing, or edible dental sticksOpens in a new tab., can go a long way in helping to prevent future dental problems that can be painful and costly. 

Nails

Nail clippingOpens in a new tab. is done to avoid splitting and also to prevent issues with posture. If left to grow too long, the nail will press against the floor and push the paw back. This can cause pain in the legs and back if not addressed.

Unless you know how to clip your dog’s nails properly, it is recommended to see a professional. This is due to the root in the nail that, if clipped, will cause bleeding and pain. 

Some dogs can be sensitive with their paws, and will react suddenly when they are touched. As an owner, you can avoid this by desensitizing your puppy from a young age.

When they are with you on the couch or floor and are calm, gently touch and massage their paws and legs. Do this repeatedly and consistently so they get used to it.

It’s a good idea to have a pair of dog nail clippersOpens in a new tab. on hand, even if you do not use them on your dog. Simply show them to your dog, and touch them to their nails from time to time.

This way, when they do go the groomer to get their nails clipped, there will be no surprises and no bites on the dog groomer!

Feeding

Every dog needs a balanced diet. They need protein, fatty acids, and enough calories for their size. GSP’s do have a tendency toward overeating and obesity, so a balanced diet is important. 

It is best to split the daily recommended food into a few meals to avoid bloating when feeding.

It is also suggested to stick to dry food for your GSP, as Pitbulls are prone to irritable bowel syndromeOpens in a new tab., which can be passed onto your pup. Dry food should avoid this issue. 

If you got your puppy from a breeder, it is best to stick with the same food. Puppies can have sensitive stomachs, and changing their food can cause illnesses like diarrhea.

As they grow, your vet can recommend the food, or you can find age and weight appropriate food in pet stores. Most brands have food for all sizes so that you can stick with a food you know works well for your dog. 

Socialization

We’ve talked a lot about socialization and its importance in this article, but what does it actually mean? 

SocializationOpens in a new tab. is about helping your puppy to be comfortable with people and other dogs, new environments, loud noises, new smells, and other animals.

The ideal age is between 3 and 12 weeks; after that, socializing becomes much more difficult. Your puppy will lose its innocence and start to become suspicious of new people and places. 

The idea behind socialization is to prevent your puppy from becoming fearful and potentially aggressive. Aggression is almost always brought out by fear, and a large fearful dog can be quite scary.

Properly socializing your puppy will foster a calmer, more relaxed, and happy dog.

Since GSP’s are large breed dogs, encouraging socialization is super important. When a large dog gets scared and reacts, it can be seen as a threat.

For your peace of mind, knowing that your dog will stay calm if a friend comes to visit or if you pass a couple of dogs on the street will make for a stress-free existence for both you and your dog – and strangers will be grateful too!

Lifestyle

Before taking the leap and getting a German Shepherd Pitbull, you need to assess your lifestyle and understand how it will change with this type of dog in the mix. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind in terms of this mix’s needs. If you do not have lifestyle that is aligned with what this mix needs, then we urge you to consider a different breed.

  • They are lovable, loyal sweethearts that need attention. They do not do well when left home alone all day and will likely show some unwanted behavior, such as chewing or barking. 
  • They are an active breed that needs physical and mental exercise. They need a minimum of 90 minutes a day, though that may not be enough for some.

    The good news is they love to play and run around, and you can incorporate training into the mix – such as agility courses. Similarly, they love games and learning new tricks. 
  • They can be loud. If you live in an apartment, a German Shepherd Pitbull may not be the right choice for you. They can be very vocal, and if left alone, are likely to bark out of frustration. 
  • They need room to run. Living in an apartment is totally acceptable if you are taking your GSP out for regular exercise. But keep in mind that they are a large dog breed, and in a small apartment, it can be too much. Even playing inside on a rainy day can be difficult without ample space. 
  • They don’t always do well with other dogs. As mentioned above, GSP’s are not always overly friendly with other dogs. Couple that with their inherited fighting instincts, and it could be an issue if there are other dogs in the house.

    Of course, if you have had your GSP from puppy age and worked hard on training and socialization, it shouldn’t be a problem. Just be sure to monitor their play and look for signs of possible aggression. 

To understand what it’s really like to keep a large and potentially aggressive dog in an apartment, be sure to read the article linked below. It highlights a few things that you will not want to overlook if you choose apartment living with this mix.

Can a German Shepherd Live in an Apartment?

General Health and Life Span

German Shepherd and Pitbull

Similar to other large dog breeds, German Shepherd Pitbulls typically live anywhere between 10-12 years. Of course, that is dependent on their diet, lifestyle, and size. 

Though cross-breeds are often considered healthier than purebred dogs, German Shepherd Pitbulls sometimes suffer from a couple of specific issues due to their genetic variations.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasiaOpens in a new tab. is quite common among dogs and is thought to be an inherited issue. It can occur when the hip joints fail to develop correctly.

Over time, the joint will slowly deteriorate, which can lead to a loss of proper function.

This is a common occurrence in German Shepherds and has been proven to be an issue for GSP’s as well. It is another reason to maintain a healthy diet for your dog, as added weight can put stress on your dog’s joints.

Skin Sensitivity

Common with Pitbulls, skin sensitivity can include allergies and poor reactions to bug bites. Regular brushing, along with the inclusion of fatty acids, can help maintain their coat and skin health.

Given that bug bites can cause issues, it is important to be vigilant with flea and tick medicationOpens in a new tab. and go to the vet if you observe frequent skin irritations. 

A Note on Adoption

We have focused on puppies in this article, but it is essential to know that if you are adopting a GSP, there might be no way of knowing what kind of training the dog has received.

You cannot know if the dog has been mistreated or suffered abuse or what its health is like, since you will not have any idea about the parents.

So, if you are looking to adopt, it is safer to work with this dog alone initially before working on socialization. This will give you the best insight into this mix’s life before adoption, and provide you with a roadmap of where it may need to go.

You also need to be sure of the dog’s temperament before bringing it into new and possibly stressful situations, and also understand any triggers that your dog may have.

The best way to go about this is to work with a professional trainer. They will be able to uncover any hidden quirks in your dog before they may be accidentally triggered by some unwitting person or dog.

It’s unlikely that any authorities will be sympathetic to this breed doing any harm to other people or animals, and this may result in some serious consequences to your dog.

Working with a professional is simply the best way to ensure that no dogs or people are accidentally harmed.

Also when you do begin to socialize, it is important that you make sure it is in a controlled environment.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, both German Shepherds and Pitbulls are both often misunderstood and thought of as aggressive and dangerous when, in reality, it is a lack of proper socialization and training that leads to this negative behavior.

German Shepherd Pitbulls have the potential to be the most loyal and sweet dogs you’ve ever encountered.

If the owner focuses on training and socialization from a young age, they will have a well behaved, lovable dog that is great with kids and strangers alike. 

However, their need for a strong authority figure and routine makes them more suited to experienced dog owners. 

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 18 years now. I'm originally from Indiana, though I've lived in many different states and traveled extensively. The places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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