German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Care, Lifespan, Size, Temperament

The German shepherd pitbull mix is a cross between a German shepherd and an American pitbull terrier. German shepherd pitbull mixes are also commonly referred to as shepherd pits, German pits, and German sheppits.

German shepherd pitbull mixes are large dogs that reach 26 inches tall and weigh between 30 and 90 pounds.

These dogs get along well with kids and are known for their protective, loyal, and affectionate nature. While eager to please, this mixed breed isn’t ideal for first-time owners because of its prey drive and potential intolerance of other dogs.

German shepherd pitbulls typically cost $500 to $1,000.

German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Characteristics & Overview

German shepherd pitbull mix traits and characteristics

Common names:German shepherd pitbull mix, shepherd pit, German pit, German sheppit
Origin:Britain, Germany
Parent breeds:German shepherd and American pitbull terrier
Breed group:Hybrid
Size:Large
Height:18–26 inches
Weight:30–90 pounds
Colors:Brown, gray, tan, white, black
Coat:Straight, smooth, double coat or single coat
Life expectancy:10–12 years
Temperament:Intelligent, affectionate, loyal, protective
Shedding:Minimal to moderate
Barking tendency:Minimal
Cost:$500–$1,000 USD

Origin & Purpose

Not much is known about this mixed breed’s origins, though it’s likely that intentional breeding of the German shepherd and pitbull first occurred in the 1990s, when designer breeds were gaining popularity.

Parent Breeds

The parent breeds of the German shepherd pitbull mix include the German shepherd and the American pitbull terrier. As these breeds are both large dogs, the resulting mix is a large dog with unique physical and personality traits from both parent breeds.

German Shepherd

The German shepherd was originally selectively bred from shepherd dogs in 19th century Germany, where it was used as a herding dog. The breed was developed to be intelligent, strong, agile, and protective of flocks, all qualities that made it successful in its line of work.

Horand von Grafath was recognized as the first German shepherd dog in 1899.

Today, the breed is still regarded as one of the best working dogs in the world because of its loyalty and eagerness to please. The German shepherd is used in police work, detection, service work, and search and rescue.

German shepherd pitbull mixes often inherit the protective, hardworking temperament, strength, and wolf-like features of the German shepherd.

American Pitbull Terrier

American pitbull terriers were first developed in the British Isles. The dogs were bred from terriers and bulldogs and used in blood sports like bullbaiting and dogfighting.

American pitbull terriers were later selectively bred in the United States to have the muscular builds, sizes, and affectionate temperaments seen today.

With proper socialization, American pitbull terriers make loyal, well-behaved companions. German shepherd pitbull mixes typically inherit the pitbull’s nurturing nature and muscular build.

Lifespan

A German shepherd pitbull mix has an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years if the dog follows a nutritious diet and exercises daily. Genetic conditions and health issues such as bloat, hip dysplasia, and heart disease can affect the German sheppit’s lifespan.

Regular vet checkups help reduce the risk of health complications in German shepherd pitbull mixes.

German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Appearance

German shepherd pitbull mix appearance

The German sheppit’s appearance varies, depending on which physical traits it inherits from its parents. This mixed breed comes in shades of tan, white, gray, or black.

Height and Weight

German shepherd pitbull mixes are considered large dogs, with a height at the withers of 18–26 inches, and a weight of 30–90 pounds. The exact size depends on the dog’s sex, diet, age, and genetics. Males are typically larger than females.

Most German sheppits are lean, muscular, and slightly taller than their pitbull parents.

Colors

German shepherd pitbull mixes are typically tan, white, or black with bicolor markings. The coat color depends on the genes they inherit from their parents:

  • German shepherd colors: Most common color combination is black and tan. Other colors include solid black, gray, red, and white.
  • American pitbull terrier colors: Common colors are brown, black, and tan with various markings. Rare colors include solid white and brindle.

Coat

German shepherd pitbull mixes usually inherit the pitbull’s smooth, glossy, short coat, though some mixed dogs gain the German shepherd’s double coat.

German sheppits shed minimally to moderately throughout the year, depending on coat type. Double-coated dogs blow their coats twice a year.

Personality and Temperament

German shepherd pitbull mix temperament
Photo by @spcaofnorthernnevada

German shepherd pitbull mixes are smart, affectionate, and protective dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. They get along well with kids, and their intelligence and athletic stature make them well-suited to agility classes and fieldwork.

While loyal and trainable, the German sheppit isn’t suitable for first-time owners. The dog’s strength and size make it difficult to control and it’s prone to dog aggression.

Socializing and training this mixed breed from a young age will help it grow into an outgoing, obedient, and even-tempered adult.

Barking

While German shepherd pitbulls have a loud bark, they typically only bark to alert their owners or if they’re overstimulated. These dogs can be trained with positive reinforcement from an early age to not bark excessively.

Left alone, German sheppits often experience anxiety and engage in destructive behavior, like barking and scratching, to cope.

German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Care

German shepherd pitbull mixes are moderately difficult to care for. While smart and not fussy over food, these dogs need plenty of exercise, training, and mental stimulation to stay happy.

German sheppits that inherit the pitbull’s temperament exhibit a high prey drive and can be aggressive toward other dogs if they aren’t socialized properly.

Food Needs

A German sheppit adult should be fed 2 to 3.5 cups of kibble per day, split into two separate meals, while puppies should be given 2 to 4 cups per day, split into two to four separate meals.

The appropriate amount varies and depends on the dog’s age, metabolism, build, and activity level.

Kibble must be nutritious, formulated for large dog breeds, and contain a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat.

Grooming Needs

The German shepherd pitbull mix should be brushed weekly, or a few times per week if it has inherited a double coat, to distribute natural oils and keep its fur tangle-free.

Bathe the dog once every few months and ensure its nails are well-trimmed.

Owners should also check the German sheppit’s skin, teeth, and ears regularly for abnormalities.

Exercise Needs

An adult German shepherd pitbull mix requires at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, split into two separate walks, to remain physically fit. Because the dog is agile, muscular, and intelligent, it’s suited to challenging activities like agility and herding.

German sheppit puppies should be exercised for five minutes for every month they’ve lived. A two-month-old puppy needs 10 minutes of exercise per day, while a four-month-old puppy requires 20 minutes.

German sheppits do best in homes with large, secure backyards where they can run freely.

Certain states, cities, and territories have laws in place that restrict or ban pitbulls and pitbull mixes. Check local laws before exercising this mixed breed in new areas.

Mental Needs

German shepherd pitbull mixes need 60 minutes of mental stimulation per day to prevent aggression, boredom, and anxiety.

Suitable mentally-stimulating activities include obedience training, scent work, herding, puzzle toys, agility classes, and interactive games like fetch.

Common Health Concerns

German shepherd pitbull mixes are relatively healthy, though they’re prone to the health conditions commonly experienced by their parent breeds:

  • Congenital heart disease: A heart defect that leads to breathing difficulties, seizures, stunted growth, exercise intolerance, and coughing. Depending on the severity, the condition can be managed with medication and surgery.
  • Bloat: When the stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, and then twists, causing severe abdominal pain. Bloat is often fatal if not treated immediately.
  • Hip dysplasia: Abnormal formation of the hip joint that causes pain and mobility issues. Treatable with surgery and lifestyle changes.
  • Degenerative myelopathy: Degeneration of the spinal cord that causes leg weakness, incontinence, and eventually paralysis. The disease isn’t treatable.
  • Patella luxation: When the kneecap dislocates, causing lameness and a “hopping” gait. The condition is managed and treated with lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatory medication, and in some cases surgery.
  • Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, causing the dog’s metabolism to slow down. Symptoms include lethargy, weight gain, exercise intolerance, and coat changes. Hypothyroidism is treatable with medication.
  • Cataracts: Cloudiness of the eye lens that causes vision issues. Cataracts, if they affect the dog’s quality of life, can be removed with surgery.
  • Allergies: When the dog’s body reacts negatively to something it has consumed or come in contact with. The German sheppit is particularly prone to food and skin allergies.

Take these dogs to regular vet checkups to reduce their risks of health complications.

Training

German shepherd pitbulls are easy to train because they’re smart, work-driven, and eager to please. Use positive reinforcement and be firm and consistent when training this mixed breed.

Puppy German sheppits can be taught basic commands like “sit” and “stay” from eight weeks old, and the young dogs should also be exposed to people, dogs, and other animals in a positive, controlled environment.

Never use punishment-based training methods because these can cause anxiety in dogs and exacerbate their aggressive behaviors.

While trainable, German sheppits aren’t ideal for first-time owners. These dogs need plenty of training and socialization throughout their lives to keep their dog aggression in check.

German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Price

German sheppits are an affordable mixed breed. Puppies cost up to $1,000 from a reputable breeder, and adults can be found at a much cheaper price in rescue shelters.

How Much Is a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix?

A German shepherd pitbull mix puppy typically costs $500 to $1,000, with the price depending on the dog’s health, age, bloodline, and appearance.

Adults in rescue shelters cost significantly less than puppies, with most adoption fees between $50 to $250. German shepherd pitbull mixes are often available for adoption from rescue shelters.

How Much Does it Cost to Own a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix?

Raising a German shepherd pitbull mix dog costs between $80 to $160 per month, or around $950 to $2,040 per year. This price includes expenses such as food, treats, vet checkups, toys, and training.

Health complications can increase the cost of ownership, so it’s important to buy puppies from breeders who can provide health screenings.

First-year costs are higher than subsequent years because of the costs of first-year puppy vaccinations and neutering or spaying, and initial supplies like bedding.

Is a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix Right for You?

The German shepherd pitbull mix is an affectionate and loyal dog that loves pleasing its owners. The mixed breed is playful, energetic, and well-suited to people that lead active lifestyles.

However, the dog isn’t ideal for all families because it needs more training and socialization than other breeds.

Who Should Get a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix?

German shepherd pitbull mixes are suitable for people that are active, have a large backyard, and can dedicate lots of time to socializing and training the dog. The best owners for these dogs are people that use positive reinforcement measures and stick to set boundaries.

These dogs make wonderful companions for children because of the breed’s nurturing and gentle nature, though children with this dog as their pet should be old enough to know how to behave around animals.

German shepherd pitbull mixes are large dogs and need owners that are capable of managing this dog’s size and strength.

Who Should Not Get a German Shepherd Pitbull Mix?

People that lead inactive lifestyles, work long hours, or live in an apartment shouldn’t have a German shepherd pitbull mix as a pet. First-time dog owners should also avoid these dogs because the breed is difficult to manage without proper socialization and training.

German sheppits form strong bonds with their owners and often experience anxiety when left alone, so they aren’t suitable for people that can’t be with this pet throughout the day.

More German Shepherd and American Pitbull Terrier Mixes

Want a German shepherd mix or American pitbull terrier mix but aren’t a fan of the German shepherd pitbull mix? Check out these other hybrid dog breeds:

German Shepherd Mixes

American Pitbull Terrier Mixes

About Thomas Woods 222 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

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