Pitbull Vs German Shepherd – Popular breeds compared

Last Updated: 1 year ago

Pitbulls and German Shepherds are both fantastic and beautiful dogs.

Both of them have the reputation of a strong and tough canines. Loyalty and security are what they offer best to their owners. 

However, they also differ in many areas such as their physical look, temperament, health issues, and needs. That’s why it’s best to get to know each of these amazing breeds fully. Doing so will surely help you in your dog parenting and have a dog that matches your energy and characteristics. 

If you’re planning to get a dog soon but are left on the hook of which breed to choose between a pit bull and a german shepherd, here’s an in-depth comparison of these breeds. 

So, keep reading!

History and origin

History and origin

When people say pitbull, they mostly refer to an American Pitbull Terrier which belongs to the bulldog family.

This amazing breed is originally a descendant of a purebred terrier dog and Old English Bulldogs of the 19th century in the British Isles.

Originally, they were bred to be fighting dogs, but when animal trafficking was outlawed, the government banned all dogfighting and bull-baiting activities. That’s why most people think they are aggressive dogs. 

On the other hand, the German Shepherd breed originated in Germany back in 1899 when a former veterinary student at Berlin Veterinary College and an ex-cavalry captain named Max Von Stephanitz attended a dog show.

He was amazed by a dog named Hektor Linksrhein and decided to buy him. He then renamed Hektor to Horand von Grafrath and listed him in the society’s breed register. Because of that, Horand is considered the first German Shepherd.

Appearance And Physical Traits

Pit bulls are easy to identify dogs due to their unique physical appearance. 

This medium-sized dog commonly weighs from 60 to 80 pounds and stands from 43 to 53 centimeters at the shoulder. They reach their maximum weight and height at two years old. 

They have a short, stiff, and very dense coat. Thus making them very low-maintenance. 

Their bodies are built with masculine solid bodies when it comes to their body, just like how human bodybuilders are. Their chest is also broad that looks like a barrel. 

A Pit bull’s face has a short, wide muzzle, a medium-sized head, and a broad skull. Their ears are slightly folded over the tips. It also has a broad tail and a bulky set of legs. 

Pitbulls come in different colors such as fawn, white, brindle, tan, gray, brown, red, and blue.

On the other hand, German Shepherds are quite the opposite of what a pit bull looks like. But, same with pit bulls, they are also considered medium-sized dogs

Commonly, male german shepherds are larger in size than the female ones, where they usually weigh around 65 to 90 pounds, standing between 24 to 26 inches, while the female ones weigh anywhere between 50 to 70 pounds, standing between 22-24 inches. 

There are long-haired German shepherds but mostly have medium-length hair. They both have double coats, which are usually black and tan. However, you can also see other colors such as black and cream, red and black, ebony, white and silver. 

German Shepherds have a black nose and a long muzzle. Their eyes are dark and shaped like an almond which gives them that confident and intelligent aura.

Their ears are originally soft and floppy, but as they grow around five months old, they become more pointy. These ears are erect and open towards the front when they are alert and paying attention. 


Black pit bulls are remarked to be very assertive and confident dogs. Some think that they are aggressive by nature. This might be because of the history of their descendants and how they were exposed to blood games. However, those traits can be tamed by discipline and training

These dogs have very high energy, which makes them enthusiastic. They are intelligent dogs who can learn fast but have a concise attention span. They are also very obedient and loyal to their owners.

But, they can be attention-seekers, especially when they’re not included in their owner’s activity. Careful not to trigger and provoke them because there is no backing down for a pitbull when started. That’s why training and discipline are crucial for them to be friendly and gentle towards other animals and people.

On the contrary, German Shepherds tend to get along well with other pets and even children, making them good family pets. However, due to their guarding instincts and very protective nature, they can be suspicious of strangers.  

German Shepherds are also very smart and trainable. With good training and discipline, they can be beneficial too. In fact, they are one of the most suited dogs for service, police and military work, etc. 

However, when they are not well-trained and socialized, they can be aggressive and over-guard, making some people fear them. They can also be destructive when bored; that’s why they need their daily play and exercise.


Pit bulls are known to be very confident dogs which some people connect to aggression. Well, if you’re seeking to have one, you need to realize that aggression only comes when there’s no proper training. 

When training a pit bull dog, it should start with the basic ones like obedience cues like sit, stay, lie down, etc. Not just that, because they are protective and territorial, you need to make sure that they are well socialized to ensure they behave accordingly with people and even other animals.

Lastly, you need to teach them relaxation and control. Basic training makes them behave, but advanced pitbull training allows you to control them. You never know when they are provoked, and when that happens, you need to have the authority over them and be able to tame them in a snap.

A German Shepherd is a working dog that is initially bred for herding. However, they are indeed a beneficial breed and are used for many tasks such as guard dogs, law enforcement, and rescue work. 

The German Shepherd is also considered one of the most intelligent breeds. Thus, it is essential to keep challenging their minds. They learn new skills easily, making them very trainable, along with the proper guidance.


Pitbull Vs German Shepherd - Popular breeds compared 1

Pitbulls require a high level of exercise. They calm down after intense physical activity. Dog aggression isn’t the only problem that you’ll have to face when you have a pit bull.

These dogs are also known to be hyperactive. They have endless energy that you might not be able to catch up with them. Since pit bulls are large and strong dogs, they get bored often and can do much damage with too much energy pent up. 

German Shepherds are highly active, hyperactive dogs. With that being said, they require at least one to two hours a day of energy-burning activity.

Suppose you can give them more, the better. On the contrary, if they don’t get the amount of exercise that they need to release their unused energy, they can develop behavior issues such as being destructive, excessive barking, and aggression. 

Health Issues

Health Issues

Just like any other breed of dogs, these two featured breeds are also prone to health issues such as the following:

  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Allergies and skin issues
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hemophilia
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Heart disease

Therefore, make sure that you purchase a puppy from a reputable seller. A good breeder will never breed dogs with genetic problems as these diseases can be passed on to their litter. 

Make sure to check the parents’ health cards of the puppies that you’re eyeing to buy. Doing so will help ensure that the puppies you’ll have are healthy. 

Grooming Needs

German shepherds have a double coat to help them regulate their body temperature. The top coat is more abrasive, wiry and acts as a guard. The undercoat, which is the under-layer, is lighter in color and softer in texture.

German shepherds, just like any other double-coated breeds, shed twice a year. Therefore, they need regular brushing to help them shed and brush off their hair. Regular brushing means three to four times a day using a shedding brush.

On the other hand, Pitbulls have a single coat shorter than a german shepherd. However, they still need a good daily brush to allow their natural oils to spread all over their skin and keep their coat healthy and shiny. 

As for the other grooming needs, these two types of breeds have fairly similarities. Here are as follows:


These two breeds need to be bathed once a month or when necessary.

Merely because you surely don’t want to take away all the natural oils in their skin by weekly bathing. Keep note that when their skin is dry, this causes them to be flaky and easily attract skin diseases. 

When you bathe them, make sure to use a vet-prescribed dog shampoo. These shampoos are gentle enough for your dog’s fur and coat. 


It is essential that you cut your dog’s nails regularly. When your dog has regular exercise and gets to run around daily, it helps them file their nails and decrease their length.

However, you still have to check it weekly to ensure you’re not exposing your dog to a possible injury due to long nails.

Ears and Teeth

One of the grooming needs that you should not ever skip doing is to check your dog’s ears and teeth. Most ticks and fleas settle in areas that aren’t seen, which is mostly your dog’s ears. You can clean it by gently wiping it with a cotton bud and a little oil.

Your dog’s teeth also need a good brushing. You can easily purchase a dog’s toothbrush and toothpaste in vet clinics or pet shops. This is to avoid growing cavities that make their teeth weak and fragile. 

Final thought

Getting a dog is way more than the desire to have a pet. There are a lot of things that you need to consider as you have one. 

If you’re torn with a pitbull vs. german shepherd, remember that these two breeds have different temperaments and personalities. That being said, they also have different needs and issues. 

That’s why it would be best if you get to know each breed first and assess which one will suit your personality and lifestyle. Doing so will give you and your dog a better relationship and life.


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