German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull: An In-Depth Comparison

German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull: An In-Depth Comparison

Are you contemplating introducing one of these two breeds into your family? If you are, then you might like an answer to the German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull question. Both of these breeds have an intimidating reputation, and looking at both of them, and you can instantly see neither dog is for the faint-of-heart dog owner.

Should you speak to these breed owners, I’ll guarantee they would sing each dog’s praises from any available rooftop. And why not? They are both incredible dogs, affectionate and loving to their close human family, and tremendously loyal.

Which dog is the right one for you, a Pit Bull or the German Shepherd? Before you make such a decision, you need as much information on both breeds at your fingertips to give you a good insight into the key differences and how each dog will impact your current lifestyle.

Pit Bull Or German Shepherd – Which Do You Choose?

From a popularity viewpoint, the German Shepherd is the people’s choice. He ranks at number 2 out of 197 dog breeds in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) most popular dogs in the United States. The Pit Bull doesn’t rank anywhere because there is no such dog breed as a Pit Bull. It’s a term that describes the five distinct breeds, the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), the American Bulldog, The American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and The Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The only one of these four breeds recognized by the AKC is the American Staffordshire Terrier, and he is number 85 on the most popular list. For this comparison guide between the Pit Bull and German Shepherd, we will talk about the American Pit Bull Terrier because it’s the dog most people immediately think about when the term Pit Bull is spoken.

Even though the German Shepherd is so high on the AKC list, the breed is not without controversy as there is with the Pit Bull, which makes both dogs incredibly fascinating to discuss and compare.

Why Compare German Shepherds And Pit Bulls?

As we mentioned, neither dog is for first-time or inexperienced dog owners; a fact that bears this out is the sheer numbers of these dogs that end up in shelters across the United States. Most of the time, it’s because these owners didn’t fully appreciate what they were taking on when they adopted one or the other of these breeds.

This misunderstanding might be the sheer physical work that goes into owning a dog like the Pit Bull or German Shepherd. For example, both dogs are intelligent and high-energy dogs, which means they need to have a couple of vigorous exercise hours every day; they also need their brains exercising and firm, consistent handling. Not being able to provide all of this support creates dogs with severe behavioral issues. Is this the dog’s fault or misguided humans?

Because we don’t want to see more of these dogs end up in shelters, potential owners must understand what they are getting involved in and the essential differences between these two breeds.

GSD Vs. Pit Bull Breed Histories

One way to help choose between two breeds is to understand the history of both breeds. It can give tremendous insight into what makes a dog who he is and what you can expect from your dog.

German Shepherd History

The German Shepherd can only trace his ancestry back to 1899 and one individual; a German cavalry commander Captain Max von Stephanitz. Captain Stephanitz tasked himself with the intention of creating the ultimate leading German herding dog. Traditionally farmers would use dogs to drive and protect their herds of animals such as sheep and cattle. But there wasn’t one specific breed of herding dog in the whole of Germany.

Stephanitz held the ambition to create a German herding dog superior to all others. He traveled the length and breadth of Germany, searching for the ideal dog. But it wasn’t until 1899 that he purchased the dog that would sire the whole line of successive German Shepherds; the dog’s name was Hektor Linksrhein, whom he later renamed Horan v Grafeth.

His initial intentions were to breed superior herding dogs; however, herding dogs were nowhere near as popular with industry now in full swing. But he was determined to produce a working dog, so he switched from herding to military and police work. At the onset of World War One, the dogs found employment as Red Cross, messenger, rescue, guard, sentry, and supply carrier dogs.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds had already been introduced into the United States before World War One, but they weren’t prevalent; that changed after the war as US servicemen brought more and more GSDs home with them. One such dog brought back a corporal in the military became one of America’s most famous movie stars; his name was Rin Tin Tin; in fact, he became a star in many countries.

After the war and thanks to Rin Tin Tin, demand for the dog grew, but the ‘German’ in his name didn’t go down too well. The AKC changed the dog’s name to simply Shepherd Dog when they recognized his breed in 1917. They went back to the German Shepherd in 1931. However, in the UK, the dog was called the Alsation, and it took until 1977 before the name reverted to German Shepherd Dog.

German regulation of breed standards was exceptionally high, and dogs had to pass intelligence tests, athleticism, and excellent health before breeding. The opposite occurred in the United States; breeders there were more concerned about the dogs winning dog shows, inevitably the dog’s standard diminished. After the Second World War, the police and military in the US began importing German dogs because US dogs couldn’t pass the performance tests and suffered from health conditions. Today the story is very different breeders are now emphasizing the German Shepherd’s abilities rather than just looks.

Pit Bull History

The Pit Bull came into existence in England, where the Olde English Bulldog was used to bait bulls and bears. After this was outlawed, the breeders turned to another blood sport, ‘ratting.’ But they needed a more fleet-footed and agile dog than the Bulldog, so they began experimenting with breeding the Bulldog with local terriers. The breeders wanted the instincts of the Bulldog but the never-say-die attitude of the terrier.

Pit Bull history

They succeeded and created a dog that was both aggressive and fast on his feet. Handlers threw rats into a pit where they couldn’t escape, and the dog had to kill as many rats as possible in the fastest time possible. This pastime was also eventually outlawed, so breeders set the dogs to fight each other.

But part of their training was to stop fighting when their handlers entered the ring. Any dog that continued after the trainer entered or bit his handler was immediately put down. Enthusiasts took these ‘Pit Bulls’ to America, where they continued with this blood sport until the US also outlawed the ‘sport.’ Even today, there are illegal dog fighting rings in several places in American, and Pit Bulls are still the dog of choice.

German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Size

Pit Bulls are considerably smaller than the German Shepherd. Pit Bull males reach around twenty-one inches, while a male German Shepherd can reach up to twenty-six inches. Female German Shepherds are more significant than the female Pit Bull as well.

Pit Bulls look as though they could be heavier than a German Shepherd because of their solid and robust appearance, but looks are deceiving, and the German Shepherd outweighs the Pit Bull. Male Pit Bulls will weigh up to sixty pounds, but the male German Shepherd can top ninety pounds.

German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Strength

There’s a lot of information online and on social media regarding Pit Bulls that’s wildly exaggerated; for example, one claim states the Pit Bull has a bite force five times that of the average dog; information like this serves no purpose and doesn’t help the breed’s reputation.

German Shepherd appearance

In reality, the Pit Bull has a more powerful bite force than many other breeds. Still, it’s not more powerful than every dog, and it’s not five times the average dog; a Pit Bull (American Pit Bull Terrier) is 13 out of the top 20 dogs with the most powerful bite force. As you would expect, this list is packed with the biggest dogs on the planet.

It’s not wise to assume because these are big dogs and have the most powerful bite, they are the most dangerous, it’s not true, and smaller dogs are more likely to bite their owners and strangers. The average dog has a bite force between 150 and 180 psi. The German Shepherd has a bite force of 238 psi, and when you compare that to the Pit Bulls of 235 psi, you see what I mean.

The Pit Bull does excel in its pulling strength; the breed can out pull almost every other dog. The GSD is no slouch in the pulling stakes and can handle up to three times their body weight, but the dog is more suited to different work types. Without proper training and socializing, both these dog breeds can make taking them for walks a very tense and frustrating experience.

German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Temperament

The German Shepherd and the Pit Bull share some common traits when it comes to personality. They are loving, playful, and affectionate with their respective families. If they are adequately trained and socialized, they are incredibly loyal to their owners, and they live to please them. Both breeds are good with children and other pets only if they have grown up with them and, as we say, as long as the dog has been thoroughly socialized.

American Pit Bull Terrier temperament

Where the dog’s personalities diverge is the way they socialize. Pit Bulls tend to be more welcoming to strangers but still make good watchdogs. German Shepherds are wary of strangers, and they don’t welcome them quite so readily.

This suspicion is why German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs and are suitable for property protection.

German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Lifespan

While it’s impossible to predict any dog breed’s lifespan because there are so many factors impacting their lives, we can estimate the GSD and the Pit Bull average lifespans, assuming they do not, unfortunately, contract a life-threatening disease.

German Shepherd health

Because four different breeds come under the term Pit Bull, we have to take each of these dogs separately. The American Pit Bull Terrier lives an average of twelve years. However, their lifespan is between ten and fifteen years. Many people think the red nose Pit Bull and the blue nose Pit Bull are different breeds of the APBT, but that’s incorrect; they are the same breed, and their lifespan is the same.

The American Staffordshire Terrier has a lifespan between twelve to sixteen years. The American Bulldog between ten and fifteen years and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier twelve to fourteen years.

Pit Bull health

German Shepherds have a slightly lower lifespan than the Pit Bull, and that’s between nine and thirteen years.

Remember, these are guidelines only. Carefully providing either dog with the best nutritional needs for each life stage, health check-ups and vaccinations, and the necessary daily exercise, you can potentially extend any dog’s life.

German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Grooming

German Shepherds shed a considerable amount and even more twice each year when the seasons change. If you don’t want to have masses of hair on your soft furnishings, you will need to give a GSD a good brush each day.

Pit Bull care guide

Pit Bulls have a single coat and smooth, short hair. Their brushing requirements are a lot less than a Pit Bulls. Just brushing them once a week is sufficient. You will see some shedding, though, but nowhere near as much as the GSD.

You shouldn’t bathe a Pit Bull too often because you can create skin issues by drying out his natural body oils. Other grooming needs such as nail clipping and taking care of their dental needs are the same for both dogs.

Bottom Line German Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull

Pit Bulls and German Shepherds can make excellent family companions; they are athletic breeds, intelligent, and tremendously affectionate family members for adults and children. They have specific differences that we have outlined in this article, so this is a personal choice that only each family can make.

Before making this choice consider their temperament, care, and needs carefully and, of course, their size, you must offer them the training and socialization that will ensure they will become amazing pets.