German Shepherd vs Pitbull: Who would win?
There was a German Shepherd and a Pitbull sitting at a bar. The Shepherd starts bragging to the Pitbull about his important job at the police force and how he fights criminals all day to help the humans.
The Pitbull starts to get a little irritated after an hour of this commentary, removes the cigar slowly from his mouth, and quietly asks the Shepherd if he’s all bark and no bite. Taking offense to this comment, the Shepherd replies, let’s take this out the back and find out.
So…can a German Shepherd kill a pitbull? Which is stronger, which makes the better pet, and do the reputations of these breeds match up to their true nature?
Who’s your money on?
Breed Background Summary
When you are researching the attributes of a dog breed, a great place to start is the origin. After all, if a breed was created to kill lions you’d think it would be quite vicious.
Did you know that the German Shepherd breed originates from a single dog in 1899?
A German guy named Max von Stephanitz was looking for a dog with the right characteristics in which to create a new breed. He discovered a powerful and intelligent dog at a local German dog show that possessed skills such as steadiness and endurance, making it the perfect heading canine.
So the story goes, he immediately bought the dog, interbred him like crazy, and created the German Shepherd breed.
The pitbull’s story is a little more complex.
Its origins lay in the early 1800 where UK citizens used the Old English Bulldogs to keep themselves amused. These dogs were used to entertain citizens through ‘toying’ with bulls until the bulls collapsed from exhaustion, competing in a catch the rat ring against other dogs, and finally dog vs dog fights.
Owners needed the breed to be more agile so mixed the bulldog with terriers, creating the pitbull.
Just before the US civil war, British immigrants bought their pitbull with them and up until around the 1970s, this breed was a national treasure. They appeared in war advertisements, TV shows, and kid’s movies.
Then came the bad press, a change in law, and negative branding. The breed was portrayed as fighting dogs, loved by drug dealers due to their vicious and protective nature.
What Do These Dogs Look Like?
While a majority of Shepherds have a medium-length double coat, they have a recessive gene showing its face occasionally in the form of long hair. They are a solid breed with smooth curves and an air of nobility.
Breed Group: Herding group
Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 50-90 pounds
Life Span: 12-14 years
This is a generic term that can encompass breeds such as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or American Bullies. We are basing our description on the American Staffordshire Terrier.
The stocky and short physique of this breed just oozes power and confidence. They have short hair and short legs, with a lean and muscular look.
Breed Group: Terrier group
Height: 17–19 inches
Weight: 40-70 pounds
Life Span: 12-16 years
They say size matters…but does it really?
Mark Twain famously quoted, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” By the way, Mark’s dog of choice was a pitbull.
Different dogs have different natural personality traits bred into them, however, these can also change depending on their training.
While German Shepherds are larger dogs, they are less agile than the Pitbull who is bred to turn on a dime. This could give the pitbull an advantage in a german shepherd vs pitbull fight to the death.
Another factor that weighs into the discussion is the strength of each breed’s jaw, the german shepherd vs pitbull bite force. This is quite an even playing field with the German Shepherd just coming out on top.
Bite strength is measured in psi and this is how they compare;
German Shepherd: 238
Personality and Temperament
I have mentioned before, but it’s worth saying again, the breeds are inclined to demonstrate certain characteristics, however, I can’t guarantee each dog will have the same temperament. Training, socialization, and the environment in which a dog lives will have a huge impact on their personality.
Saying that, let me tell you about the general personalities of our fighting breeds;
There are two words that describe these dogs; obedient and loyal. Many dog experts say the defining factor of a shepherd is their character.
When I think of a shepherd, the instant image that pops into my head is a tall and proud dog, dressed in police attire and accompanying a police officer. So, what is it about these dogs that make them perfect for important roles such as law enforcement or rescue?
These canines are known for their courageous and confident nature, couple this with their ability to learn commands fast and their aloof nature, and you have the perfect crime fighter. While they are not easy dogs to establish a friendship with, once you have gained their trust they can be very protective over their family and territory. Yes, they are apparently even willing to put their lives on the line for their loved ones.
As highly active dogs, they love to have a purpose and love to learn new tasks.
This confident and good-natured dog will do anything to please his owner, and when I say owner I mean anyone that offers treats or affection. Yes, he is a happy-natured puppy that has an inbuilt desire to please … everyone.
His social nature tends to make a pitbull a terrible guard dog as he is easily bribed with under-the-table treats.
Saying this, they are a highly intelligent and easily trainable breed that lives to please.
Due to their strong will and physical strength, they require a lot of exercise, and not just a play in the yard. You need to take this guy out to play Frisbee or a run or swim. They are exuberant and if you don’t keep their little bodies busy, they will probably repay you by chewing your furniture or digging to China.
A tip with these guys, even a well-rounded pitbull can develop aggression towards other dogs. Never leave them alone with other strange dogs.
However, surrounded by a loving family, a plethora of toys, and given an hour of daily exercise, these guys will become fun and loyal family member.
When it comes to intelligence, both breeds are considered smart and therefore easily trained.
However, the shepherd consistently comes in at number 3 of all smartest dog breeds. Pitbull’s have a certain level of stubbornness which makes them a little more challenging, thus they don’t even make the top 15.
Breed Features In Summary
Just before you put your money down on who will win this battle, here is a quick reminder of the facts and differences between our intrepid battlers.
|Breed Trait||German |
|Friendliness to humans|
|Temperament||Quite outgoing||Quite outgoing|
|Eager to please|
|Easy to train|
|Desire to chase|
|Tend to wander|
|Jaw strength||238 psi||235 psi|
What’s In A Reputation
Let me address the elephant that has been patiently sitting in the room this whole time.
The pitbull has a terrible reputation across the globe as an aggressive breed. They are known for fighting other dogs, biting children, and attaching other animals.
While both of these breeds have aggressive reputations, it’s the pitbull that is banned in nearly 40 countries. The UK made it illegal to own a pitbull as a pet in 1991 after there were 15 fatal dog attacks between 1981 and 1991.
There are many countries over the world and many states in the USA which do not allow you to own a pitbull.
So what went wrong? Why are these canines feared?
Yes, they are a badass breed that, as mentioned previously, was originally wired to perform dog fights for human entertainment. Can you unwire that kind of breeding?
It wasn’t until 1976 when dogfights were completely outlawed in the USA.
Many pitbull owners say how loving and affectionate their puppies are, and my dog loves playing with his pitbull buddy. Maybe it is simply the environment that turns a dog into an aggressor. The key to avoiding a potentially harmful situation is knowing which signs to look for and when to pull your dog away, which I feel is the same for any dog.
On the other side, shepherds have their shiny police badges and aloof nature. However, they are also banned or restricted in several countries as dangerous dogs, even in Florida!
When it comes to our scenario, these are important facts to know.
It’s no doubt that dogs are the go-to pet of the modern era…and I guess cats are quite popular too.
There are over 340 recognized dog breeds in the world today according to the American Kennel Club, of which they only recognize 197 breeds.
When you’re talking about popularity, the shepherd wins the battle hands down. In the USA the German Shepherd is the 2nd most popular breed. The stats are quite impressive: out of 78.2 million dogs registered in the USA, shepherds account for 4.6% which is 3.5 million dogs.
Compare that to the Pitbull who comes in at 85th most popular breed. However, as this term covers many very similar breeds, the umbrella term creates a greater footprint and equates to 4.5 million pitbull in the USA or 5.8% of the canine population.
As the dogs start the long walk to the back alley behind the bar, let’s take a moment to recap.
Pro’s And Cons: Which Breed Is Your Money On?
When it comes to guessing which breed would win between a german shepherd vs pitbull fight to death, it’s important to know the stats. Let’s analyze the pros and cons of each breed.
- Larger body frame
- More intelligent
- Willing to lay down his life for the cause
- Stronger bite
- Wants to please his owner
- Doesn’t like being the center of attention
- Not as agile
- Longer hair may make him heat up quickly
- Like an energizer bunny — he has never ending energy
- Crowd pleaser
- Hates other dogs
- You don’t want to be on his bad side
- He has a criminal record
- Lighter body frame
As you sit on the edge of your seat, popcorn ready, the bell rings in the alley.
There is a crowd of spectators building in anticipation and the bookies are taking bets. The favorite is the pitbull with his surly growl and tough guy vibe.
The boys are now facing each other and as expected, the pitbull is enjoying the limelight. His showmanship may just be his downfall as the shepherd is quietly analyzing his tactics. He knows the pitbull is lightning fast.
As the pitbull pounces from side to side, you can just feel his energy emanating into the crowd, and they are all beginning to cheer for the showman. Pitbull is loving the attention but is also aware of the shepherds greater size. He knows that if the shepherd pins him, game over. How he hates the shepherd.
The shepherd sees an opportunity while the pitbull is distracted. He lunges towards the pitbull with his teeth out, ready to dig his teeth into the pitbull’s throat and get back to his beer.
As he pounces, the pitbull turns on a dime and leaps out of the shepherd’s path. While the shepherd recovers from his leap, the pitbull swiftly dives onto the shepherd’s neck and bites down.
The pitbull is the victor and returns to the bar to finish his cigar, loving his newfound hero status.