The Australian Shepherd Pitbull mix is sometimes called the Shepherd Pitbull, Aussie Pit, or the Aussie Bull. They are the designer mix between the loveable Australian Shepherd and the popular American Pitbull Terrier. These dogs are active and homebody hounds that need plenty of exercise, attention, and love. Shepherd Pits are quite intense dogs to adopt, but for active families with lots of time, experience, and love to share, they can make brilliant family pets.
Shepherd Pits are medium-sized dogs that combine some of the best traits from two of America’s favorite breeds. But with any mixed breed, you need to be aware that they might be an equal blend of both parents or more like one parent than the other. Every Shepherd Pit is different. So, loving both breeds is important, as you never know what traits they might inherit.
If you are looking for an alternative to the Aussie Shep or a Pitbull mix, the Shepherd Pit might be a great option for you. They are rare but loyal and loving pups. Discovering what it takes to be a Shepherd Pit owner is vital because they aren’t perfect for everyone. Let’s look at what they look like, along with their personality, their exercise needs, and more.
Like many hybrids, there isn’t much information available on the history of the Shepherd Pitbull. They were likely created intentionally during the late 20th century when crossbreeding became popular in America. The history of their parents can give us a great insight into their breed’s purpose and personality, so let’s take a closer look.
Despite their name, the Australian Shepherd is not Australian but an American creation. Their journey began in the Pyrenees mountain range, on the borders of Spain and France. The farmers there traveled to Australia in the 19th century with their Pyrenean Shepherds. They bred them with Border Collies and Collies to create a more athletic farming companion. The farmers had a hard time farming the challenging land in Australia, and their more nimble Shepherds set sail to California.
The Californian Cowboys were super impressed by these hardworking and intelligent dogs and refined the breed to their needs. And that’s how the Aussie Shep we know and love today was born. Today, many Aussies still herd on the ranch with their masters. And others excel in therapy, drug detection, service, and search and rescue work. They are very popular as family pets.
American Pitbull Terrier
The American Pitbull Terrier is one of America’s most popular dog breeds, but controversy surrounds them. Although there are several “Pitbull type” dogs, this is the breed that people refer to when speaking of a Pitbull. Their journey began across the pond in England, where dog fighting with powerful Terrier and Bulldog mixes was popular. These fighting dogs set sail to America, where owners bred the biggest and most powerful specimens. Eventually, these dogs became the American Pitbull Terrier.
Because Pitbulls were initially bred as aggressive fighting dogs, they have an unfair reputation for being dangerous. But they were created to be aggressive toward their canine opponents and docile with humans. And although they can be unstable in the wrong hands, like any breed, with the proper training and socialization, they are loving and loyal pups. The AKC does not recognize the Pitbull as an official breed, so comparing their popularity to the Aussies isn’t easy. However, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognizes them in their own right.
Shepherd Pitbulls are typically energetic, playful, and exuberant. Both of their parents are intelligent, enthusiastic, hardworking, and active, so expect the Shepherd Pit to be all this and more. They need constant daily stimulation to keep them happy and out of trouble. This is not just a handsome hound, and definitely not a lazy lapdog, but a constantly on-the-go pooch. Families need to prepare for their intensely active and fun personalities.
They are also very loyal, loving, and sweet companions if you can provide them with the stimulation they need. If you’re seeking a shadow in canine form, you can’t get much better than a Shepherd Pit mix. They love to snuggle up with their humans after a full-on day of exercise and play. Pitbulls are known to have a soft spot for children, so you might find they gravitate toward the younger members of your family. Make sure your kids are trained to manage this energetic dog and respect its limits.
Size & Appearance
As a mixed breed, you can expect the Shepherd Pit to typically weigh between 35 and 65 pounds and measure between 17 and 22 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. Females are usually on the smaller end of the height and weight scales than males. There isn’t a breed standard for this mixed pup, but being proportionate in size is more important than the numbers. But if they are wildly different, there’s a chance they aren’t a Shepherd Pit mix.
The appearance of mixed breeds varies from pup to pup, and sometimes puppies in the same litter have different appearances. Their coloring, shorter hair, and more square frame lend them to being confused with Australian Cattle Dogs. Usually, pups inherit an in-between appearance, a softer and leaner frame than Pitbulls but bulkier than Aussies. Their wide grin, large eyes, and alert and forward-facing ears never fail to melt their owner’s hearts.
Coat & Colors
Like their appearance, the Shepherd Pit’s coat usually comes out somewhere between the two parent breeds. This means a slightly longer coat than the Pitbull but shorter than the fluffy Aussie. However, they could inherit the exact coat of either parent. When it comes to coat and colors, it’s down to the luck of the genetic draw. Expect them to have a double coat that sheds seasonally.
Shepherd Pits have a wide range of coat colors to choose from. The Pitbull comes in most canine colors, and the stunning merle patterns in the Aussie bloodline make for an exciting mix. Heterochromia is common in the Aussie line, too. So there’s a chance some puppies in a litter have different colored eyes. Different-colored eyes are highly desirable and popular, often bumping the price tag.
Exercise & Living Conditions
Shepherd Pits need plenty of daily exercise. Combine their hardworking nature, herding intuition, and an intense need for constant stimulation, and you can expect a high level of canine energy. This means they need a very active family who can dedicate one to two hours of daily exercise. Their exercise must be challenging and stimulating, not just a long stroll. Think running, mountain hikes, doggy agility, and anything else you can think of. But you can be sure to maintain or improve your fitness levels with this Fido.
Shepherd Pits dislike being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety. Combining this need for human company with their smarts and high energy can mean trouble for families away from home most of the day. For this reason, they need a family who can spend most of their day with them. Otherwise, you’ll find an unhappy, challenging, and destructive pup on your hands.
The controversy and reputation surrounding Pitbulls and Pitbull mix breeds mean that some are wary of having one as a family pet. However, like any dog breed, their behavior stems from healthy genes, a loving upbringing, proper socialization, and living with the right family to meet their needs. Responsible ownership is the key to getting the best out of this breed. Shepherd Pits can make great family pets and often live with dog-savvy children who respect their boundaries. With proper socialization and gentle introductions, they can often live with other animals, too.
Shepherd Pits love to please their master and forever seek their approval, which makes them eager to learn and relatively easy to train. However, their intense energy and hardworking nature mean they need an equally energetic owner who can capture their attention and bring out the best in them. Otherwise, they might become bored and unresponsive to training.
It’s also important to watch out for herding behaviors, such as circling and the famous Aussie stare. Attempting to herd in the home can be a warning sign that they aren’t getting enough exercise. Plus, it can lead to problems with kids and other pets who might find it annoying or uncomfortable. Experienced dog owners should meet their training needs just fine. But seeking help from professional dog trainers like Doggy Dan is a great way to ensure your pooch develops into an obedient and well-balanced pooch.
Socialization is essential for any dog, especially those with a herding instinct or potential for fear-aggression towards other dogs. This means that socialization is crucial for Shepherd Pits. It’s also likely to be a lifelong commitment to maintaining their polite manners. Responsible breeders begin the socialization process straight away. And it’s your job to continue mixing them with as many other dogs, humans, and new experiences as they grow. Ensure every experience is positive, and you should be on the right track.
Since the Shepherd Pit does not like being left alone, crate training is advisable for this pup. If anxious or bored, they are likely to become destructive, which is another reason to crate them. As soon as you bring them home, introduce them to their crate. It’ll quickly become a soothing place for them to relax when you are gone. Finding the right crate size for your Shepherd Pit is the key to success.
The Shepherd Pit is a relatively healthy mix breed with a typical lifespan of 12 to 16 years. Keeping up-to-date with vaccinations and regular health checks is critical to good health. Still, owners may want to consider pet insurance to help offset emergency care costs and other health concerns. Like all mixed breeds, they are predisposed to several health conditions found in their parent’s bloodline. Although a Shepherd Pit might suffer from only some of these or none, it’s essential to be aware of the following health concerns.
Allergies are a common health problem in Pitbulls and their mixes. They can cause skin irritation, excessive itching, and hair loss. Various factors, such as food, environmental allergens like pollen or dust mites, and parasites like fleas, can trigger allergies. If you notice any of the symptoms, it’s essential to identify the allergen causing the problem. More often than not, a simple change in diet or avoiding the allergen is enough to stop the problem. Sometimes, a vet might prescribe medication or medicated shampoos for more severe cases.
Deafness is more common in Aussies and their mixes compared to other breeds. It is thought to be linked to the lack of pigmentation in the ears, and it is also linked to double-merle genetics. Responsible breeders should conduct a BAER test to determine whether a puppy is born deaf. Although deafness isn’t painful or uncomfortable for a dog, it can lower the quality of life and increase the likelihood of injuries if left undiagnosed.
Both parent breeds are predisposed to several eye conditions, such as progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and collie eye. Responsible owners should subject their dogs to an ophthalmologist exam and only breed dogs without eye problems. If you notice that your dog is bumping into objects or seems anxious in poor visibility, there might be an issue with their vision that needs examining. Surgery is sometimes necessary to resolve the issue in severe cases.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Joint dysplasia is relatively common in medium-sized dogs and above, and both parents are predisposed to it. This occurs when the hip and elbow joints do not form properly, causing increased wear and tear. It can lead to pain and mobility problems, sometimes requiring surgery to rectify it. Avoid high-impact exercise as your pup’s body develops, and feed them breed-size appropriate food, which can contribute to the normal formation of joints. If you notice your dog is limping or has any concerns with their mobility, it’s important to take your pooch to the vet.
How much a Shepherd Pit eats is dependent on a variety of factors. This includes their age, sex, size, activity levels, the type of diet you feed them, and more. All Shepherd Pits are different, so it’s crucial to follow the feeding instructions of your chosen food. It’s important not to under or overfeed your Shepherd Pit. Otherwise, they risk nutrient deficiency or becoming overweight. Plus, choose a diet that meets the guidelines of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Choosing a high-quality diet is important to meet their nutritional needs. A high-quality diet includes protein, healthy omega fats, healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Choose an age-appropriate diet that is made for medium to large breeds as they contribute to healthy joint development. There’s much to consider when choosing the best nutrition for your Shepherd Pit.
The grooming routine of a Shepherd Pit depends on their coat. If they inherit a longer coat like the Aussie, they might need brushing several times a week to maintain their soft locks. If they inherit a shorter coat like the Pitbull parent, brushing them once a week should suffice to keep their coat clean and healthy. As a double-coated breed, they benefit from an undercoat rake that helps with seasonal shedding.
Shepherd Pits need bathing once every two months or so. They might need extra brushing and bathing if they love jumping into muddy puddles or hiking dusty trails. If Shepherd Pits suffer from skin sensitivities, they might need a gentle dog shampoo or a medicated formula as dictated by their vet. It’s important to brush their teeth regularly to keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy. Clip their nails when they get too long, although you might find that their nails naturally wear down as they are highly active breeds.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
Finding a responsible Shepherd Pit breeder is vital to finding a healthy puppy. Shepherd Pit mixes are relatively rare, so you might need to spend some time researching and choosing a breeder to work with. Be wary of irresponsible breeders or puppy mills who churn out as many pups as possible. Their puppies are less likely to be healthy and probably aren’t socialized. Which means your puppy might become ill or problematic in the future.
The average price of a Shepherd Pit mix from an ethical breeder is usually between $500 and $1,000. But this price varies depending on the breeder you work with, their location, demand, litter size, and more. If you find a puppy for less than this from a breeder, be wary that they might not have undergone all the recommended health checks. When working with a breeder, ask about the parents and their health. And be sure to see health certificates such as ophthalmologist and hip exams.
The puppy price is just for the puppy. Remember that you also need to purchase everything your puppy needs to grow into a healthy adult. This includes things like high-quality food, tough toys for stimulation, beds, and crates. Puppies also need vaccinations and development checks in the first year, and it is usually the most expensive year in a dog’s life.
Rescues & Shelters
Adopting a Shepherd Pit mix from a rescue is an alternative to buying from a breeder. Although Pitbull mixes are common in shelters, it is sometimes difficult to verify their breed. You can opt for a dog DNA test if you are unsure of your pup’s specific breeding. Australian Shepherd mixes are popular, so if you find a dog you like, don’t hang around too long, as someone else is likely to snap them up quickly.
If you cannot find a Shepherd Pit mix in a shelter, search online rescue organizations that list dogs needing a forever home. Although there isn’t a dedicated Shepherd Pit rescue website, you can find Shepherd Pit mixes on devoted Aussie Shep and Pitbull rescue sites. Rescuing a dog is often much cheaper than buying a puppy from a breeder, with fees typically ranging between $100 and $300.
As A Family Pet
As with any Pitbull mix, you need to be aware of local breed-specific legislation (BSL) and other restrictions around tenancy, higher insurance fees, etc. For this reason, the Shepherd Pit might not be a suitable option for your circumstances. Unfortunately, some families take on a wonderful Pitbull, Pitbull-type, or Pitbull mixed breed, only to find out they cannot keep them. Please be sure to research whether a Pitbull-mix is right for you. Here’s a rundown of what Shepherd Pits are like as a family pet:
- Shepherd Pits are high-energy dogs.
- They need between one and two hours of daily exercise.
- As long as their exercise needs are met, they love to snuggle and chill, too.
- Shepherd Pits do not like to be left alone.
- An active family who can spend time with them is their ideal family.
- They need intense socialization to grow into a well-balanced dog.
- Provide them with lots of toys to keep their brains engaged.
- They can live with responsible and dog-savvy kids.
- Shepherd Pits are rare, and responsible breeders can be difficult to find.
- Shepherd Pitbulls are intense mixed breeds and not suitable for every family.
The Shepherd Pit is a hybrid, and they inherit a mixture of traits from both their parent breeds. Inviting a mixed breed into your home requires an open mind, and you must be sure you meet the needs of both the Australian Shepherd and the Pitbull. Sure, they are not suitable for every family. But if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a Shepherd Pit owner, they are adorable, crazy fun, and super-loving.