A Look at the German Shepherd Pitbull Mix (A Mighty-ish Dog)
The Pitbull has an unfortunate – and terribly misinformed – reputation for being an aggressive dog that’s capable of terrible harm. Because of this, people may turn to acquiring a Shepherd Pit, a unique hybrid that crosses a Pitbull Terrier with a German Shepherd. What kind of pooch results from this mix?
An Overview of the Shepherd Pit
It’s estimated that the Shepherd Pit started popping up en masse about 20 to 30 years ago, around the same time other designer dogs hit the scene. While there’s no pinpointed origin, it’s speculated that the hybrid was designed to blend the Shep’s smarts and loyalty with the Pit’s power and athleticism. Today, it’s one of the most common hybrids out there.
And make no mistake: The Shepherd Pit is a burly dog. The average pooch measures 18 to 24 inches tall and weighs 65 to 85 pounds. The variance in height and weight obviously depends on the respective height and weight of the hybrid's parental breeds.
The Shepherd Pit’s non-size physical traits also depend on its bloodline. The Pit genes are strong in the dog’s face, and they’ll commonly carry the breed’s short muzzle and half-bent ears. However, it is possible for them to have a longer, German Shepherd-like muzzle if the Shep genetics lean far enough.
Both breeds play an equal hand in shaping the Shepherd Pit’s coat. Usually, the dog’s coat short and medium in length like a Pit, but it can be thick and dense like a German Shepherd. The Shep’s typical tan hue with black accents is usually found on the hybrid, although it is possible for the dog to be black or fawn colored.
The Personality of a Shepherd Pit
The Shepherd Pit does indeed have the mix of brains, loyalty, and power that theoretically inspired the creation of the hybrid. It’s not surprising, of course, considering the pedigree that stems from the dog’s parental breeds.
Both the German Shepherd and the Pitbull are working dogs that have strong athletic streaks. The dogs came about this nature differently. The Shep was a herding dog whose intelligence allowed them to procure high-level work as police, military, or guide dogs, while Pits were fighting dogs that were molded into farming and guard dogs.
The two co-mingled bloodlines produce a smart, confident dog that essentially takes the Pit’s perceived “edge” off. The hybrid tends to be a calm, collected pooch that can sometimes be a bit timid around people. With that being said, the hybrid does have a reputation for being aggressive toward other dogs if not properly socialized.
The Shepherd Pit also carries a pretty solid independent streak when you're around. They'll enjoy your company, and they appreciate your companionship, but don't expect them to be constantly by your side or looking your way to keep them engaged. For some owners, this could be a bonus rather than a detraction.
It’s a completely different story when you’re not present. The Shepherd Pit tends to suffer from anxiety when left in the house by themselves for long periods of time. This nervousness could potentially lead to some unwanted destructive behaviors if left unchecked.
Because the Shepherd Pit can look like a Pitbull, you may have to worry less about the dog’s personality and more about the personality of those who stubbornly cling onto misinformation about Pits being nasty, bloodthirsty dogs. Owning a pooch that even looks like a Pit could cause glares and unwanted opinions from ignorant people.
This is most unfortunate because it's completely unfounded. When properly socialized, a Shepherd Pit can be a gentle, loving companion that can bring oodles of joy to a home. If you can handle haters continually hating for what amounts to no good reason, this may be a good dog for you.
A Look at the Shepherd Pit in Action
The Shepherd Pit’s unique look and intelligence is fun to observe up close. This video does a solid job of showing how this hybrid, when properly trained, can be a pretty cool dog to have hanging in, out, and around your home.
The Exercise Needs of a Shepherd Pit
Even though the Shepherd Pit is a calm dog, that doesn’t mean he lacks spark. This is an energetic hybrid that needs to flex its athletic muscle and worker instincts on a daily basis. Expect to take him on a couple of brisk walks every day, and set aside some extra time for play.
Access to a yard is also a must for this dog. If you live in an apartment or can only offer the pooch a tiny patio to romp around, you’re best suited to look for a different dog. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with a frustrated dog that expresses frustration through destructive behavior.
Fortunately, the Shepherd Pit’s penchant for loyalty makes the breed well-equipped to be part of your daily workout routine. The hybrid will get a kick out of jogging, hiking, cycling, or any other like-minded physical activity you have in mind. As the dog grows, they’ll also be able to cover more space for a longer period of time.
Are Shepherd Pits Easy to Train?
If there is one red flag that perspective owners should know about a Shepherd Pit, it’s that they aren’t the easiest dogs to train. In fact, if you haven’t had experience with dog ownership before, it may be prudent to look at another breed.
The reason for this is because the dog is a terrific combination of intellect and athletic prowess. While the hybrid has the type of brainpower to pick up the essentials rather quickly, they're also smart and independent enough to take on the reins of being the alpha dog if you show signs of weakness.
If this occurs, the Shepherd Pit may be able to use its sheer power to dominate you. What’s more, this tendency to dominate could manifest itself with other dogs if you don’t handle socialization properly. Improper socialization can also allow the dog’s penchant for nervousness around humans to also proliferate.
As such, it is arguably more important to conduct the training with a skilled, firm hand than it is with any other hybrid breed. Positive reinforcement and consistency are of the utmost importance here. If you waiver from these, and if you're not experienced enough to recover from a slip-up, you could find yourself fighting a losing battle.
How Much Grooming is Required?
The Shepherd Pit’s coat does need to be brushed on a regular basis. It may behoove you to build this aspect of grooming into the training regimen, so the dog gets used to the routine at an early age. You may struggle to get the dog to stay still long enough to allow brushing to occur otherwise.
The amount of shedding this dog does depend on its DNA. While you can expect the hybrid to shed seasonally, the amount of hair left around your house can be significantly higher if the coat more closely resembles a German Shepherd’s. The amount of shedding may be somewhat minimized by giving the pooch a bath during shedding season.
As is the case with other dogs, it’s important that you routinely carry out other aspects of grooming to keep the Shepherd Pit looking their best, like ear wiping and tooth brushing. You’ll also want to monitor nail size, although your pooch may be so active, the nails may naturally wear down to a manageable size on their own.
What are the Health Concerns of a Shepherd Pit?
While the Shepherd Pit hasn’t been around long enough to cultivate hybrid-specific hereditary issues, it’s wise to look at the health concerns of each parental breed to see what could potentially manifest. Some of the major issues associated with the parental breeds include bloat, joint dysplasia, heart problems, and allergies.
You can expect your Shepherd Pit to have a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years. This puts the dog right in between the lifespans of their parental breeds. A Shep’s lifespan ranges 9 to 13 years, while a Pit’s lifespan ranges from 8 to 15 years.
How Much Does a Shepherd Pit Cost?
The typical price tag of a Shepherd Pit runs between $200 to $600. This price range does not include the other day-to-day costs of dog ownership, which includes things like licensing, visits to the vet, food, toys, and vaccinations.
It’s also important that you do due diligence when seeking out this hybrid. Unfortunately, Shepherd Pits have developed a reputation for being produced by less than scrupulous breeders who are only in it for the cash that popular pooches can bring. Be sure you’re dealing with a reputable breeder before making that purchase.
Patience Pays Off in a Big Way!
If owning a Shepherd Pit seems like it’s a lot of work, it’s because it is if you want one that’s well behaved and properly socialized. However, if you have the patience, the skill, and the space needed to welcome one of these remarkable hybrids into your home, you’ll be rewarded with a loyal companion that will delight you for years to come.