Dogs are probably one of the most diverse species created by mankind. Thousands of years of breeding resulted in a wide range of distinctive breeds with different colors, coat, body shape and size. So what happens when two different breeds mix? What features tend to come out? In most cases we get a charming dog that combines the best of the parental breeds. Let us take a closer look at a very popular breed mix – the one of a purebred German Shepherd Dog crossed with a purebred American Pitbull Terrier (shortened as Pitbull or Pit). Such hybrid is often called ‘Shepherd Pit’ or ‘Sheppit’.
- 1 Basic characteristics of the parental breeds
- 2 Temperament of the Pitbull Shepherd mix
- 3 Appearance of German Shepherd Pitbull mix
- 4 Health of the Pitbull German Shepherd mix
- 5 Feeding Pitbull Shepherd mix dog
- 6 Pitbull Shepherd care
- 7 Exercise requirements
Basic characteristics of the parental breeds
To understand better what can be expected from Pitbull german shepherd mix, it is necessary to get acquainted with the characteristic features of the parental breeds, which this hybrid can acquire in bigger or smaller amount.
German Shepherd Dog
The German shepherd is considered to be one of the most intelligent and faithful breeds and the best service dog in the world. This is a true friend, companion and protector. Dogs of this breed are friendly, get along well with other pets and children. Shepherds are recognized as the most easily trained dogs – it is enough to use the minimal set of training exercises to take prizes with them at specialized exhibitions. Numerous stories prove their amazing intellect and devotion to the family.
Pitbull is a mixture of a bulldog and a terrier, the breed is characterized by the beast strength and thirst for victory, high speed and instant reaction. Today, a string of myths about the maliciousness and aggressiveness resulted in fear of this breed. But these are just myths. Pitbull owners describe their dogs as sociable and friendly creatures with cheerful and playful temper. Aggressive individuals, of course, also occur – but not more often than in other breeds. And the roots of aggression lie in uncertainty. A real fighter who is confident of his abilities can repel an attack and defeat an enemy, so it does not need to show aggression. Pitbull Terrier is quite capable of becoming a cheerful, athletic dog, a pet and an excellent companion.
Temperament of the Pitbull Shepherd mix
As in case of any hybrid it is difficult to guess what temperamental qualities hybrid puppies inherit from their parents. If the German shepherd dog usually does not give anything to worry about in terms of temperament, that can’t be said about the Pitbull. So, the temperament of the offspring will mostly depend on how much of the Pitbull genes become dominant in the offspring. German shepherd adds extreme loyalty and intelligence into the mix. Successfully combined with Pit’s powerful build and defense skills all these qualities form a very clever and useful family dog. The inherited from Pitbull wish to chase and attack other dogs and animals can be diminished or completely removed by proper socializing and training. Such activities should be started from the very young age, which will definitely prevent development of any aggressive behavior. In order to make no mistakes when choosing a puppy of Pitbull Shepherd mix, it is highly advisable to get to know the parents before. Their temperament will more or less clearly show up in the offspring sooner or later.
Appearance of German Shepherd Pitbull mix
Mother nature usually keeps secret the special combinations of genes all creatures receive from their parents, and dog breeds are not an exception. It is impossible to know beforehand what a mixed breed puppy will look like. But still there are some certain things that are more or less likely to expect.
In any mix the probability of certain features is never known. When speaking about Pitbull mixed with Shepherd, most cases show that Pitbull’s face becomes dominant and more puppies are born having its features more than Shepherd’s ones.
Height and weight
Both breeds are quite large canines so the hybrid puppy is sure to grow as large as one of its parents. Mature Pitbull Shepherd Mix dog which takes more after the Shepherd usually weighs about 80-90 pounds. If the appearance of the offspring resembles a Pitbull more, than such mature dog will probably weigh something in between 40-60 pounds. And in case this mix has distinctive features of both parents somewhere in the middle, most probably its weight will vary greatly from the mentioned 40 to the largest possible 90 pounds. The hybrid puppy can grow up to 25 inches tall at the shoulder.
Coat and colors
In a Shepherd Pitbull union you can never be certain what color or what coat length the offspring will have. You can only guess it. Among the possible variants, puppies can inherit Shepherd’s medium-length double coat (rough top with soft undercoat), or they can have short and stiff Pitbull’s coat. As for the colors, they offer wide diversity and can be combined in the most unexpected ways. It is something really unpredictable if the puppies inherit more of the Pitbull genes. They mostly come out black, grey, brown, white, fawn and tan. In other words, it is usually an amazing mix of both parents which gives the dog very special looks. But more often mixed breed puppies resemble one of the parents more than the other and have its coat color and length.
Health of the Pitbull German Shepherd mix
Most breed mixes are considered to have better health than the purebred animals. Still some have certain health problems that are characteristic of the breed. Speaking about Pitbull and German shepherd, both are prone to hip dysplasia and skin irritation, so the mixed breed may have these problems as well. However, with the right care they usually do not pop out and the dog can live healthy and joyful life.
Other problems a Shepherd Pit often faces:
- Allergies (this breed can develop allergic sensitivity to pollen, dust and mold which results in allergic reaction like itchy skin);
- Dry skin and coat caused by hypothyroidism – lack of thyroid hormone which leads to worsening of skin condition, hair loss and obesity);
- Dermatitis caused by lack of zinc in the diet, or poor zinc absorption.
- Parvovirus – an infection which causes fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea (Pitbull shepherd mixes have weak immunity to this viral infection).
The life span of this hybrid is about 12 years, but with excellent care some canines live longer than that.
Feeding Pitbull Shepherd mix dog
The first thing that should be taken into consideration concerning feeding this hybrid dog is its characteristic tendency to allergic reactions. It means that the dog’s diet should exclude all possible allergens.
There is always a choice, whether to feed the pet with natural food, or to give preference to readymade specialized canine food. Never feed the Shepherd Pit with waste and remainders of cooking. Natural food for the dog should consist of fresh meat, suitable crops, vegetables and greens.
You can avoid many feeding problems if you ask the person who gives you the puppy about its eating habits, likes and dislikes. A good breeder always knows very well how to feed this or that breed and will give you detailed advice on this as well as other things that are necessary to remember. If the puppy is just shortly taken away from its mother, it can be fed with the cow’s milk for some time.
The main feeding rules:
- Feeding should be regular. The food should be given at the same time, +/-15-20 minutes.
- The best feeding type for a mature Pitbull Shepherd mix dog is two-time feeding (in the morning and evening). Puppies need to eat 4-5 times a day.
- Meals should not be cold or hot, the food should be warm.
- The dog must be provided with fresh water.
- The food should have thick consistency. The dog stomach is such that it does not absorb the liquid food well.
The following products should be avoided from the pet’s diet:
- any flour products (including pasta);
- peas, beans, lentils;
- confectionery, especially chocolate;
- sausage, smoked products.
It is not recommended to give your pet extremely salty and spiced food. It is better to adhere to only one type of feeding, since digestion of dry food and that of natural food are different processes which require different enzymes. Health and life span of the dog greatly depends on the correct choice of nutrition and the balance of the diet.
Pitbull Shepherd care
When it comes to grooming procedures, it is necessary to mention that the puppy should be introduced to them as soon as you bring it home. It is easier to make them habitual from the early days of life than to fight with the dog’s unwillingness to do everything needed later. So, be sure to start brushing, bathing, cleaning ears and eyes of your puppy as soon as it gets used to its new home and you. The dog must develop trust in you, and feel that you do everything with care and love.
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These are the main items to take care of:
Brushing should be performed according to the need. Note that longer Shepherd’s coat requires regular brushing (at least once a week, especially during shedding season). But the short coat inherited from a Pitbull doesn’t give much troubles and can be brushed only occasionally.
Examination and hygiene of eyes and ears
Prone to some eye problems which are usually inherited from the American Pit Bull Terrier, your puppy needs daily examination of eyes. Ears also give some trouble with the increased production of the ear wax, so they also need attention and regular cleaning.
Pitbull shepherd mix usually has skin problems due to its easy irritation and dryness. That is why frequent bathing is not good in this case. It is more than enough to give your pet a good bath once in 4 months. Some owners do it only once in half a year. The first bathing should take place quite early to make the dog familiar with the procedure. It is done when puppies reach the age of two months.
Cutting the claws
If you don’t want your furniture to be damaged or children hurt, you need to pay attention to the sharp claws of your dog. Small puppies’ claws need to be cut at least once a week up to the age of six months. Older puppies can get this procedure more rarely – every 2 or 3 weeks.
If you take good care of the dog and do all the procedures with love, the dog will enjoy them and it will become the time that bonds you and gives you both pleasure.
Shepherd Pitbull dogs require much exercise during the day. You will need to walk it at least two times, play together, teach your dog commands and do many other things if you want to keep it active and healthy. It is also very important to give the dog a chance to meet other people, animals, hear new sounds and follow its reaction. Make the dog feel that the world around him is not dangerous, and you will avoid unnecessary aggression in future.
Since German Shepherd Pitbull Mix dogs can develop hip dysplasia, it is more than necessary to take extra care of their daily activities. This is meant to help the canine to use its energy and power. If the dog does not have enough exercise during the day, there is a chance to develop obesity. This is coming from the fact that both Pitbull and German Shepherd are working breeds with much power and high level of energy inside. If you have little time for walks and games, it is better to keep the dog in a big (but well-fenced!) yard, where it can run and play. Forget about this breed mix if you live in a small apartment – this dog is not meant for living in very limited spaces and will become extremely unhappy and depressed, especially if you and your family are absent for most part of the day. Dogs very often develop depression being left home alone.
If you give enough exercise to your Shepherd Pit to make it feel tired – you will definitely avoid unnecessary barking, furniture damage or destructive digging all around the house. And what is most important – exercising together brings you closer to your pet friend and makes you both happy.