A German shepherd pit bull mix is a cross between a German shepherd and an American pit bull terrier and is also called the German sheppit, shepherd pit, or German pit. This mix is a popular guard dog, as the parent breeds have strong protective instincts, though the breed can be moderately aggressive and requires training to ensure the dog doesn’t become overly aggressive and dangerous to its owners.

The shepherd pit is a large dog that weighs 30–90 pounds and stands 18–24 inches at the shoulder. This breed usually features a German shepherd-style body with a mixed head shape depending upon the litter.

The mix is loyal and has a vibrant personality with a long life expectancy of 12 years. Socialized German shepherd pits are suitable for homes with children, but aren’t suitable for beginner dog owners.

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Quick Summary

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Info Table
Breed Type Mix
Suitable For Experienced Dog Owners
Size 18 to 26″ (male) and 17 to 24″ (female)
Weight 40 to 90 pounds (male) and 30 to 70 pounds (female)
Lifespan 10 to 12 years
Color Variations Tan, white, brown, gray, and black
Temperament Energetic, loyal, intelligent, and loving
Daily Exercise High – 90 minutes of exercise per day
Activity Levels Moderate – Low physical activity and high mental activity
Daily Food Consumption 1200 to 2700 calories per day (male) 900 to 2,100 calories per day (female)
Known Health Issues Skin allergies (Atopic Dermatitis) and Canine Hip Dysplasia

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Appearance

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Appearance

The German shepherd pit bull mix is larger in appearance than the German shepherd and heavier than the American pit bull terrier. Shepherd pits mostly have the body of the pit bull, though leaner, and come in combinations of plain tan, white, or black, or have a unique tan coloring with a black saddle mark, like the German shepherd.

Size and Weight

The average shepherd pit male weighs 40–90 pounds and females weigh 30–70 pounds. The height of the mix comes from its German shepherd parent, making this dog taller than the pit bull parent, at 18–24 inches. Male dogs are slightly taller than females. German shepherd pit bull mixes are heavy dogs that are built for strength and speed — which is why they require lots of physical exercise.


The coat of the shepherd pit is smooth with short hairs, and while some may have a slight double coat like that of the German shepherd, most don’t.

The German shepherd pit bull mix comes in many different colors depending on its parents’ coloring. Some have the unique black-and-tan coloring of the German shepherd parent, while others may have solid colors like black, gray, white, or tan. Most shepherd pits have a combination of two or more colors.

Jaw and Bite Force

The German shepherd parent has slightly more bite force per square inch than a pit bull. A German shepherd has 238 pounds per square inch (PSI) bite force as opposed to the pit bull’s 235 PSI. The shepherd pit has a similar bite force, depending on the dog’s size and maturity. This combination gives the shepherd pit a strong biting ability.

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Origins

German Shepherd and Pit Bull puppy standing side-by-side

The origins of the shepherd pit’s parent breeds contribute to the shepherd pit’s appearance and temperament.

German Shepherd

German shepherds were bred as working dogs in Germany during the 1800s. These dogs were bred as herding dogs that could also protect the farmer and his flock. For this purpose, the German shepherd has been bred for intelligence and obedience.

American Pit Bull Terrier

Originally bred in the British Isles, the pit bull was a working dog that was used in hunting because the dog could easily take down wild boar. Later, the breed was also used in blood sports. The pit bull was primarily a farm dog, and like the shepherd, could be trained to work, protect livestock, and guard the farmer and their family.

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Personality and Temperament

German shepherd pit bull mixes are intelligent and trainable dogs. The dogs’ loyal, energetic, and intelligent personality makes this breed ideal for farm, law enforcement, and guard work.

Shepherd pits love people and, if a puppy is socialized and taught basic discipline, they are safe dogs to have around children. When a shepherd pit becomes bored, it’ll become destructive and may act out.

Taking Care of a German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix


Pit Bull German Shepherd Mix standing in bushes

The German shepherd pit bull mix is not widely available and there are several needs that should be met to keep a German shepherd pit bull cross healthy.

Food Needs

Feed a young shepherd pit puppy 1 to 1 1/2 cups of dry food per day, split into three meals, while an adult shepherd pit should eat as much as 3 to 3 1/2 cups of dry food per day, split into two meals.

Since this breed is a large dog, the puppies should be fed balanced dry food designed for large-breed puppies.

Aim for a high-quality, low-calorie diet that provides sustained energy without making the puppy more active — especially during the months of four to seven, when the German shepherd pit bull puppy is most active. The shepherd side of the shepherd pit puppy’s heritage is prone to bone disease, so ensure you feed the dog correctly to maintain healthy bone growth.

Grooming Needs

Bathe a German shepherd pit bull mix only when necessary, or every three to four months. Frequent bathing destroys the skin’s natural oils and can lead to eczema. Brushing daily helps remove loose hair that may shed and encourages a healthy coat by stimulating the production of natural oils in the skin and improving blood flow to the hair shafts.

The shepherd pit is active, so you won’t have to trim or clip its toenails frequently, but annual vet checks for tooth decay are recommended.

Exercise Needs

An adult shepherd pit needs to have at least 90 minutes of vigorous exercise a day, such as training sessions, fetch, jumping, or running. If vigorous exercise isn’t possible, the dog should have at least 120 minutes of mild to moderate exercise in smaller installments during the day.

Mental Needs

The German shepherd pit bull cross is primarily a guard and working dog, so the dog requires mental stimulation and physical training. Use games such as hide and seek, chasing after fast-moving toys like balls, and fetching a stick to help stimulate the dog’s natural instincts.

Obedience tasks like sitting, barking on command, and searching for hidden toys all contribute to a mentally balanced and stimulated dog. Great toys for mental development satisfy a shepherd pit’s instincts to dig, bite, and chew.

Common Health Concerns

While crossbreed dogs are usually much healthier than their purebred parents, the German shepherd pit bull mix may inherit some more serious conditions. Some common health conditions the shepherd pit may exhibit include:


Large breed dogs may often experience skin conditions like eczema and rashes. Often, these are triggered by environmental or feeding-related factors. Consider feeding your shepherd pit a grain-free diet, which may help alleviate the symptoms of allergies and rashes like yeast infections.


Large dogs often suffer from bloat which is usually caused by a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. This is sometimes due to genetic factors, diet, or simply because the dogs can eat too much. Try feeding your German shepherd pit bull from a puzzle bowl to teach it to eat slowly. Also monitor its water intake, as over-drinking can often trigger bloat incidents.

Hip Dysplasia

When a dog has hip dysplasia, its hip doesn’t fit well into the socket, leading to strain on muscles, lengthened tendons, and early onset arthritis.

Shepherd pit puppies can be scanned via an x-ray to detect any early signs of hip dysplasia, and buying from a reputable breeder will also limit the risk of this genetically transmittable condition.

Heart Disease

Pit bulls are known to suffer from congenital heart disease, which usually presents as weight gain, loss of appetite, lack of interest in moving around, fatigue, excessive drooling, and muscle spasms.

Managing the condition requires medication, specialized food to boost heart health, exercise programs, and regular vet checkups.


Dogs with hyperthyroidism may show several signs to indicate this condition. An insatiable appetite is one sign and so are sudden skin rashes, discoloration, and weight gain. Breeding a dog with hyperthyroidism is not recommended.

Training a German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix panting while lying in the grass

Shepherd pits are intelligent and fun to train as they love praise, and seek to please their owners. Be consistent and reward the dog to encourage obedience and discipline. When shepherd pits become confused due to mixed training signals, inconsistent training, or poor communication from the handler, the dogs can become aggressive and may show signs of poor discipline and lack of obedience.

During the puppy phase of training, it’s important to teach a shepherd pit puppy to listen, wait, sit, stay, let go, and understand “no.”

Focus on using training methods that are non-violent and don’t rely on dominating the puppy, as a dog that is trained to be aggressive will soon become more than its owner can handle.

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix Cost

A German shepherd pit bull mix isn’t very expensive and the price of these dogs depends on age, bloodline, and where the dog is bought from. Since this mix can be difficult for those who have never had a dog before, the shepherd pit is a crossbreed often found at shelters.

How Much Is a German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix?

A German shepherd pit bull mix typically costs $400–$800 for a puppy. Puppies from registered breeders cost the most and may cost as much as $1,000.

Adult dogs may cost less when up for adoption, unless they have been fully trained in a particular work such as farm work, showing, or law enforcement.

Adoption agencies may ask for an adoption fee of $50–$150 that may also cover the sterilization of the puppy or adult and their first few vaccinations.

How Much Does it Cost to Raise a German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix?

The average yearly cost to raise a German shepherd pit bull mix is $300–$1,500. The lower cost is for a puppy with minimal vaccinations and a cheaper, large-breed dry dog food. If owners pay for medical procedures like fixing hip dysplasia, fractures, and dental issues, yearly costs can be much higher. More expensive quality food will also result in a higher care cost.

Aside from the usual puppy vaccinations, your shepherd pit shouldn’t have any excessive vet costs.

Should You Get a German Shepherd Pit Bull Mix?

The German shepherd pit bull mix is a large, energetic, loyal, intelligent, and fun dog for those who have active lifestyles involving the great outdoors. Shepherd pits love to run, fetch, play, and be part of the family. When correctly socialized, this breed can be a great nanny dog for kids, but it can also become unpredictable when it’s confused or poorly trained.

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mixes are Suitable for:

If you love to run, enjoy hanging out at your local park, and adore spending time outdoors, you may well be suited to owning a shepherd pit. When correctly socialized, pit bulls are often called “nanny dogs” due to their nurturing and protective nature. The shepherd pit makes a great companion dog for older children, though you must teach your children not to tease or aggravate the dog. The German shepherd pit bull makes a great guard, family, friend, and show dog.

German Shepherd Pit Bull Mixes are NOT Suitable for:

The shepherd pit is a lovely crossbreed, but these dogs aren’t for everyone and require hands-on training and firmness when they become unruly. This breed isn’t a good pet for people who are housebound, work away a lot, or simply don’t have space for a large and energetic dog. When shepherd pits are kept in a small space, they may become destructive.

With any large breed dog, biting is a possibility, especially around small animals and children. It’s up to the owner to socialize their dog to prevent accidents.

Other German Shepherd and American Pit Bull Terrier Mixes

If you’re interested in learning about other German shepherd mixes or American pit bull terrier mixes, check out the hybrid dog breeds below.

German Shepherd Mixes

American Pit Bull Terrier Mixes

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