Do German Shepherds And Pitbulls Get Along
Dog Care Tips · Dog Behavior

Do German Shepherds And Pitbulls Get Along? [6 Traits]

Last Updated/Info Checked on October 18, 2023 by Scott

German Shepherds and Pitbulls have earned their name in a bad light for being aggressive and bossy. That cannot be farther from the truth. Both breeds have intrinsically puppy-ish demeanors that they take even into adulthood. 

So to speak, Pibulls with German Shepherds do get along well together. Their traits and temperaments complement each other. However, that’s only possible when the dogs are well-trained or socialized right from their puppyhood. Getting along with them later in their lives may be a little difficult even if the dogs share a few traits. 

Speaking of which, here are the traits that make GSDs and American Pit Bull Terriers the best of companions.

Do German Shepherds And Pitbulls Get Along - Infographic

6 Characteristics That GSDs and Pit Bulls Share

As an owner, focusing on bridging the gap between the breeds with these characteristics will make your days better. 

1. Family Affection

German Shepherd: 5/5

Pit Bull: 5/5

GSDs were first bred to be herding dogs, while pit bulls and terriers were pitted against a bull in bull baiting. Both breeds’ origin stories cannot be more different but their love for families originates right from there. 

German shepherds were supposed to stay close to their owners to herd sheep and so were pit bulls when training to take down a bull.

Their proximity to humans made them eager to please them but most importantly, they worked in close relationships with other animals. This alone makes them receptive to social training with them.

2. Loneliness Intolerance

GSD: ⅖

Pit Bull: ⅕ 

From the scores provided by DogTime, you can guess how the two breeds are not lone wolves (pun intended). They spend most of their lives trying to make their owners happy, waiting for them when they leave to conquer the world. 

Leaving them alone for an extended time has led to the development of separation anxiety. 

German shepherds were not prone to it before unless careless breeding became a thing. Pit Bulls on the other hand have been noted to exhibit anxious behavior when they are left alone for a long time. 

Keeping the breeds together, therefore, makes up a good case for them to rely on each other until you come knocking on the door. 

3. Almost Equal Sizes

GSD: ⅘

Pit Bulls: ⅗ 

Size plays an important balancing role between two dogs that may have aggressive tendencies. These two breeds have similar sizes, which means, neither of them will be able to knock over the other when they are playing. 

Sometimes when a larger breed lives with a smaller one, the former knocks the latter, not knowing the implications of doing so. The smaller one is always at risk of getting hurt. 

4. Highly Trainable

GSDs: 5/5 

Pit Bulls: ⅘ 

Both breeds show a tendency to please their owners when they are being trained. They take cues easily and establish a clear understanding between prompts and actions. As there are numerous points where the trainers come short, the dogs ignore them altogether. 

Unlike aloof dogs, these breeds take training as a fun activity. They look for rewards throughout, so you better arrange them beforehand. 

5. Highly Energetic

GSDs: 5/5 

Pit Bulls: ⅘

Looking into their jobs or rather breeding intentions, it’s clear that they possess energy reserves of mammoth proportions. It seems quite impossible to tire out a German Shepherd and the same is true for pit bulls. 

But that’s a good thing for you–the owner–because when these two are together, it’s almost as if fire puts out a fire. They will tire out each other. You may not even have to intervene. Peace of mind, thus, guaranteed. 

6. Playful To The Bones

GSD: 5/5

Pit Bull: 5/5 

German Shepherds and pit bulls retain a certain degree of mischievousness from their puppyhood. Give them the right training and attention and both behave wonderfully around each other, your kids, and strangers. 

Yes, GSD will have some suspicion about the strangers visiting you, but the pit bull’s constantly wagging tail will betray its fierce looks. Such an adorable warrior.

3 Traits That May Make Them Rivals

All isn’t well between the two breeds and when not trained well, these can accentuate to become something bigger. A brawl, a fight, or enmity that may last for years, thus, making your life miserable. 

1. Need Bigger Space

GSD: ⅗ 

Pit Bull: ⅗

The breeds are large enough to need bigger space. Keeping them in an apartment may prove to be a recipe for space aggression or territorial aggression. 

Although one might argue that the GSD isn’t one to vie for territory, I think they are still dogs. Not getting enough space and constant intervention in its personal capacities by a companion dog could prove counterproductive.

2. Naturally Not Good With Other Dogs

GSD: ⅖ 

Pit Bull: ⅕

Dogtime puts both breeds under the not-so-dog-friendly category by giving them 1 or 2 stars out of 5. These alone are indicative of why things could get out of your control should the dogs don their instincts. 

As you’ll read further, however, overriding that instinct is entirely possible. They are highly trainable, sociable, and intelligent breeds. Putting them through proper training sessions will make them more amiable towards each other.

3. Different Prey Drives

GSD: ⅘ 

Pit Bulls: ⅗ 

It may seem ironic why pit bulls have lower prey drives than GSDs but it really boils down to how the dog has been trained. Those in the pits against bulls before the 1900s were trained ruthlessly to go for the kill. 

Naturally, however, when they aren’t put through similar situations or trained thereof, pit bulls do not wish to chase after small animals or prey just as German Shepherds would do.

Also, GSDs were herding dogs, so their tendency to chase animals is understandable.

How To Train a German Shepherd And PitBull to Get Along? 8 Step Formula

How To Train a German Shepherd And PitBull To Get Along

The traits that make these dogs better suited for living with each other are more than those that make them rivals. Therefore, it’s easy to understand that through adequate training, they could get along quite well. 

Here are some of the techniques that you can try. 

1. Early Socialization

If you have a puppy of either breed and you want to adopt another one, there’s good news. 

According to Tiffani et al., whose research Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior is published in PubMed Central, puppy socialization can eliminate many unwanted behaviors of a dog as it gets older. This, in turn, has positive effects on the relationship of adult dogs with other people, dogs, and objects. 

So, get on with puppy socialization practices such as throwing puppy parties, meet-and-greet sessions, game days, and more!

Basically, the pups should get desensitized to all the things that they will experience later in their lives. That includes living with a companion dog.

2. Choose A Place To Introduce Them

The breed you own is familiar with its territory. It may even be a little aggressive when it comes to defending it. Therefore, introducing the other dog right on its turf isn’t a wise idea. 

SprucePets recommends that you choose a neutral venue for both dogs. That could be a park or your friend’s house and so on. 

Don’t forget to put the dogs on leashes.

3. Monitor Their Behaviors

Introducing them is one thing, but letting them mingle right in the first meeting is entirely a different approach–and a wrong one. When you let the dogs meet, monitor their behaviors. You are to look for signs of aggression such as barking, pulling on the leash, growling, and so on.

4. Use Positive and/or Negative Reinforcement

The dogs may or may not behave. If they do, toss them a treat and let them know that you encourage such behavior. On the contrary, use training collars to administer stimulation when they are trying to lunge at each other and so on. 

The positive and negative reinforcements will take time to work. You may have to use more than one meeting session to achieve the desired results. 

However, do not go overboard with the techniques as treats could make dogs overweight, and inappropriate negative reinforcement could severely damage the dog’s relationship with you.

Watch this video to learn more:

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5. Introduce Them In Your Home

When the two are comfortable with each other’s existence, bring them home. But be wise enough to keep them in separate places until they realize that your house’s going to be their shared place.

This may take time and effort. Do not let go of the positive/negative reinforcements to keep things under control. Besides telling them that they should behave and live peacefully with one another, you’re going to tell them who’s the boss around.

6. Let The New Dog Roam Around

When your old dog is okay with the new one moving about here and there, let it roam around the house. Dogs need to interact with their space to feel at home. Let the new one check out rooms, go to places, and sniff them. In doing so, do not let things out of your sight. Supervise all interactions of the dogs with each other and their surroundings. 

7. Give It Time

How much time the two dogs will take to accept each other depends not only on their breeds but also on their individual personalities. They may take a few days or weeks. In that case, you only have patience on your hands. Wait for the results and do not push the animals beyond their capacities as that may create further problems. 

You see, things may not go as planned. When that happens, take a different approach. Do not reprimand the dogs in any way or give them punishments. That will help only in the beginning and you’ll lose the long-term results.

8. Choose A Different Sex

According to LaneCounty, some Pit Bulls cannot live with other dogs, especially, if it’s a male. To counter that, you may wanna consider adopting a female German Shepherd. As I said before, whether a dog accepts another one or not also boils down to their individual preference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sharing some faqs to further understand the German Shepherds and Pitbull’s behavior.

Is A German Shepherd A Bully Breed?

No, German shepherds are not a bully breed. 
American bulldog, Boston terrier, bull mastiff, boxer, American Staffordshire terrier, french bulldog, pug, rottweiler, Staffordshire bull terrier, Great Danes, and Olde English Bulldogge are some of the bully breeds. They all have the same Molosser ancestors. On the other hand, German Shepherds come from the first puppy rescued by Duncan in France called Rin Tin Tin.

Do Pitbulls Get Along With Other Dogs?

Yes, a pit bull when trained and socialized well can live with other dogs. The training techniques that you can focus on include puppyhood socialization through parties and get-togethers, obedience training, positive reinforcement, and more.

Are Pitbulls Smarter Than German Shepherds?

According to Dogtime, pit bulls are not smarter than German Shepherds. In trainability, their intelligence has ⅘ and 5/5 scores, respectively, which means GSDs take a slight edge when it comes to understanding cues, and rewards, and giving you a tough time during training regimes.

Are Pitbulls Aggressive?

They can be aggressive when they are left unattended and poorly trained. They used to be pitted against bulls a century ago but now with proper obedience training, they have proved to be child-friendly and family-loving dogs that welcome strangers.

What Dogs Do German Shepherds Not Get Along With?

German Shepherds are generally easy-going dogs, but they will not get along with any dog you introduce. This isn’t breed-specific because any breed of dog that is pushy and assertive will make a GSD its unlikely contender. Breeds such as Huskies, Great Pyrs, Beagles, and Rottweilers may find it hard to adjust to a GSD if they are stubborn.

Do German Shepherds And Pitbulls Get Along? Conclusion

German Shepherds and Pitbulls can get along well when they are together from puppyhood. 

If you’re thinking of adopting an adult for your dog, make sure that its personal preference does not come in the way. It should accept the new dog with the proper introduction techniques that I shared above. 

However, if you see that things are getting out of control, change your approach. The dogs can get aggressive toward each other whether you like it or not. Also, in case nothing works despite trying everything, make sure that the dogs are healthy because unhealthy or sick dogs can get feisty or aggressive.

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