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German Shepherd vs Pitbull – Which Is Better Family Pet?

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When you think of adopting an American Pit Bull Terrier, the thought of dangerous and aggressive behavior might stop you. But it is just a myth that Pitbulls are dangerous. In fact, they are among the best family pets. Today, we will take a look into the German Shepherd vs Pitbull debate, and which of these two will make an excellent family dog.

It is fair to say that these two have a reputation for being tough canines, especially the American Pitbull. Yet, they are two loving and affectionate dogs that adore their family. And one of these is a great guard dog. The other is a terrible guard dog. Can you guess which is which?

Of the two, the Pit Bull is the more sociable canine, who is full of joy and party. The German Shepherd is a bit more independent and tries to watch everyone at the party, keeping his distance and making sure everything and everyone is on the best behavior.

Breed History

The best way to understand a puppy is to look at its breed history. But we have to say, the American Pit Bull terrier dog breed is one of the few that it doesn’t apply to. Why? Because if you look at its history, you might think it is a dangerous and aggressive canine. But that is not the case.

The American Pitbull Terrier was initially bred in England, where it was used in dog fighting arenas. When the bloody sport was banned in England, migrants brought their canines to the United States of America and continued there. But they wanted a stronger and more agile dog, and that is how they got the Pitbull. They mixed it with American Bulldog to get a stronger puppy.

They were trained to attack other dogs for sport, yet, stop fighting when the humans entered the ring. This is where their reputation comes from. Nowadays, however, the dog is nothing close to a ferocious puppy. The Pit Bull is one of the most loving, affectionate, and loyal dog breeds.

It is worth noting that The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the Pit Bull. The organization wanted to stay away from the bad reputation and recognized the American Staffordshire terrier. That one is part of the umbrella term Pit Bull, which also includes American Bully and American Bulldog.

On the other hand, the German Shepherd originates in Germany, where he was originally a herding dog breed. Used on farms to help with animals, it soon became clear that the German Shepherd is much more. Captain Max Von Stephanitz is responsible for this dog breed. He wanted a versatile dog that can fill many roles, and that is how he got the German Shepherd, by mixing many different breeds.

During and after World War II, the popularity of the breed declined because of the anti-German sentiment around the world. Yet, it was clear soon that this versatile dog deserves attention. Nowadays, the German Shepherd can fill any role, be it a police dog, military dog, therapy dog, service dog, herding dog, or anything in between.

There is a reason why the breed is ranked in the top 3 of popularity by The American Kennel Club.

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Appearance Breed Comparison

We can now move to the appearance part of the German Shepherd versus Pitbull debate. They are significantly different. While there might be some similarities, it is clear when you look at them side by side.

For starters, the German Shepherd breed is a large dog. This canine reaches a height between 22 and 26 inches and a weight between 60 and 95 pounds. Pitbulls are medium to large breeds but significantly smaller. They weigh between 40 and 60 pounds and reach a height between 17 and 21 inches.

At first glance, you can say the Pit Bull is a more athletic and agile breed, while the German Shepherd looks bulkier. But do not think for a second that the German Shepherd is lazy or cannot excel in agility and dog sports.

The other significant difference is the coat. German Shepherds have a double coat, and it comes in colors like black, black, and tan, gray, sable, red and black, black and silver, and liver.

Pitbulls have a single short coat, and their colors include red, fawn, white, black, liver, and blue. They also have white patches on the chest, legs, and face.


When it comes to the temperament of these two, people often make a huge mistake. They think the Pit Bull is dangerous. But these two are some of the most loyal, affectionate, and eager-to-please puppies in the world. They are extremely loyal and affectionate with their close family.

Outside, they are different. Pit Bulls are among the friendliest dogs, wagging their tail at strangers and other animals. German Shepherds were bred to be protective, and they are a bit more aloof around strangers and other animals. Yet, when it comes to living with other animals, you will not have trouble with the German Shepherd breed.

This canine considers every animal as part of the close family he needs to protect. They are amazing for living with other pets, and even cats. Pit Bulls are the same in this regard.

It is the outside part that is a bit different. As we said before, one of these two will make a wonderful watchdog, while the other is terrible at that duty. The Pit Bull cannot make a guard dog or a watchdog. They will let anyone inside and even wag their tail while doing it.

It is also worth noting that these two are quite connected with their respective family. If you plan to leave them alone for long periods, you should reconsider owning any of them. That can lead to separation anxiety.

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When it comes to training, these two are quite easy to train. Known to be people-pleasers, they will do as you ask. It is just the training style is different. The American Pit Bull terrier is more affection-driven, meaning you need to reward with praising and kissing. German Shepherds are more food-driven and toy-driven dogs.

Also, when it comes to training, a German Shepherd, make sure to add a lot of mental stimulation and games in your training session. As one of the most intelligent dogs, German Shepherds need both physical and mental stimulation. Using games in your training is the best way to do it.

Neither of these two reacts well to negative training methods like punishment or shock collars. Of the two, the German Shepherd will pick up new commands faster.

Exercise Needs

Both of these dogs are quite active and energetic. They need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, with Pitbulls preferring up to 90 minutes of play and exercise.

Both are intelligent, so you need to switch up their exercise routine from time to time. Of the two, the German Shepherd is more independent and wants to take a chill time for a snooze.

Pit Bulls need more toys that can withstand the abuse of constant chewing. Interactive games like tug toys, will go a long way.

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Bite Force

One of the reasons why there are often people saying these two are dangerous is because of their supposed bite force. And of course, the locking jaw myth of the Pitbull. But that is only a myth and nothing more.

With that in mind, if you think these two have a powerful bite force, think again. The Pit Bull has a bite force of only 235 PSI. German Shepherds have a bite force of 238 PSI. And if you think that is a lot, humans have a bite force of 162 PSI. Yes, dogs like Kangals and Cane Corso have a strong bite force of over 700 PSI. But not Pitbulls and German Shepherds.


These two might be popular and loving family pets, but they do come with their own set of issues. That is health issues. Sadly, the German Shepherd is among the least healthy dog breeds.

Some of the health issues German Shepherds are prone to include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, bloat, cataracts, epilepsy, and cancer.

American Pit Bull Terrier is at risk of hip dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, congenital heart disease, and skin issues.

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Life Expectancy

We said both of these canines are at risk for severe health conditions. With that in mind, the average life expectancy of a German Shepherd is 8 to 10 years. Pitbulls live on average between 12 and 14 years.

Which One To Get?

You might think that Pitbull is a dangerous dog because of the history of dog fighting. But that is not the case we can guarantee.

When well-trained and socialized from a young age, these two can be great family pets and fun-loving animals. They are as gentle and affectionate as any other dog in the world.

Generally speaking, the German Shepherd versus Pitbull debate comes down to preferences, as with any other one. Do you want a friendlier dog or one that is a bit more careful around strangers? Do you need a guard dog that can be a family dog as well, or do you need a sporty and athletic hiking partner? Well, you decide. Hopefully, after reading the article, you can make an informed decision.

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