NotABully.org is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.
It should come as no surprise that pit bulls are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. With their fun personality, adventurous spirit, and family loyalty, pit bulls make great pets for many families.
While many pit bulls can thrive as only dogs, bringing a second pup into your household could be a great addition that improves your life and your dog’s.
So what are the best companion dogs for a pit bull? Look for breeds that are intelligent, have a calm nature, and a similar high energy level to pit bulls. Breeds like German Shepherds, Basset Hounds, Beagles, and many retriever types all make great companions. But with proper introductions and training, almost any breed can work.
The Pit Bull Personality and Temperament
Before we dive into our breed recommendations, let’s make sure we have a good understanding of the pit bull personality and temperament so we can make the best match for our sweet pups.
Pit bulls are fairly intelligent dogs. They can be easily trained in basic commands, and many pit bulls go on to more extensive training, such as to become guard dogs, service dogs, or even police dogs.
Part of what also contributes to a pit bull’s high level of intelligence is their instinct and ability to adapt. Pit bulls are very versatile dogs, which shows in this kind of intelligence. They’re able to learn from past mistakes, adapt to new situations, and communicate their wants and needs to their humans.
You may be surprised by the fact that Pit bulls are so smart! According to canine expert Stanley Coren, pit bulls rank 48th on the list of intelligent dog breeds, placing them at just average intelligence.
However, Coren’s intelligence testing is largely based on obedience–and as most pit bull owners know, pit bulls are also known for their stubbornness! Even though these are intelligent dogs, they may rank a bit lower because of their sheer stubbornness in following obedience commands.
When you’re searching for a companion dog for your pit bull, make sure they are closely matched in intelligence. This will put both dogs on equal footing and prevent both dogs from getting bored.
Pit bulls are incredibly affectionate animals. They love your attention, whether that’s in the form of a treat, a good belly scratch, or just a “good boy.” Even when it may not be convenient for you, pit bulls will seek your attention constantly.
Because they have an innate desire to please you, pit bulls can be trained very easily. With a little positive attention after they do something well, pit bulls will very quickly learn that good behavior is the best way to receive affection from their owners. They hate upsetting you, and that will show in their behavior.
No matter what breed you choose as a companion dog for your Pitbull, make sure you continue to give your pit bull lots of attention so they don’t feel left out or forgotten after the new dog arrives.
After your pit bull has been with you long enough to know that you are family, they’ll love you for life. Pit bulls are incredibly loyal dogs. While pit bulls are typically very friendly, even towards strangers, they’ll go to great lengths to protect their family.
The good news is, pit bulls can bond to more than one person. They have plenty of love to share! That means if you introduce a pit bull into your family, your pit bull will be loyal to every member of your family.
Keep this trait in mind as you choose a companion dog for your pit bull. This will be especially important as you introduce the new dog to your pit bull and as they gradually acclimate to being in your home. Your pit bull will need to view the new dog as a friend, not a threat to the family.
Pit bulls are fairly active dogs, and they are very adventurous! Whether you love to hike, swim, and bike, or if you’d rather just settle for a short walk, your pit bull will be down for anything.
On average, pit bulls need roughly 45 to 60 minutes of exercise every day. This will keep them healthy and happy.
When choosing a breed to be your pit bull’s companion, keep this exercise level in mind. You’ll want to find a breed that closely resembles this need for exercise.
Differences Between Male and Female Pitties
There are a few differences between male and female pit bulls that you should consider when choosing an additional dog to add to your little pack.
Female pit bulls tend to be smaller in stature. They also mature faster than male dogs, meaning they’ll most likely be a little easier to train from a young age.
Male dogs, on the other hand, may be a little more likely to be territorial when another dog is around, especially if he is not neutered. They may go through a phase of marking their territory, even urinating on furniture or floors in your house, as they adapt to the new dog’s presence.
Keep these varying factors in mind as you choose a companion dog for your pit bull.
So now that we’ve looked at the temperament and personalities of pit bulls, let’s explore some of the best options for companion dogs!
What Are the Best Companion Dogs For a Pit Bull?
1. German Shepherd
German shepherds and pit bulls definitely share a few characteristics. Both breeds are brave, loyal, and sometimes a little stubborn. The German shepherd takes a little while to warm up to other dogs, which means you’ll need a slow, calm introduction to your pit bull. It may take them some time to become friends.
You’ll need to keep an eye on this pair for the first few weeks for any signs of aggression; German shepherds are significantly larger than pit bulls, so you don’t want your pit bull to feel threatened or overwhelmed.
After the initial hurdles of getting along, these two breeds have the potential to be a great match. German shepherds are very intelligent, energetic, and adaptable. With the right first meeting, you’ll be able to get your pit bull started off in a great relationship with a German shepherd.
2. Basset Hound
The Basset Hound may not be the first breed you think of when it comes to finding a Pitte playmate. But the dogs are known for their calm demeanor, laid-back personality, and gentle tendencies, making them a great companion for many dog breeds, including pit bulls. While they love humans, they aren’t demanding about needing attention, so your pit bull won’t feel threatened by them.
While Basset Hounds are fairly short, they’re stocky dogs. Your muscular pit bull won’t have much luck pushing them around in rough play and these two stocky dogs can match each other’s playstyles.
Basset hounds were originally bred to hunt in packs, so they feel most comfortable being around other dogs. They’ll love sharing a life with your pit bull. If you choose a basset hound, be prepared for a lot of slobber and some intense training, but you won’t regret adding this lovable dog to your family.
Beagles can get along very well with pit bulls. Beagles are extremely friendly and very gentle. They won’t feel the need to challenge your pit bull for territory, attention, or resources. Not to mention, because beagles are smaller in size, your pit bull won’t feel the need to exert dominance over them the way they might with a larger dog.
Beagles love both humans and other dogs. Like the basset hound, beagles are pack dogs, so they seek out dog companions. This will make the beagle a natural fit for your pit bull.
4. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are calm, friendly dogs with the ability to get along very well with pit bulls. They love just about any human or animal. Their low-key natures will help calm your pit bull down if your pittie is sometimes excitable.
Even with their calm natures, goldens are outgoing, loyal, and eager to please, similar to the personality of a pit bull.
Also, golden retrievers are comparable in size to the pit bull. This means they’ll be able to engage in good play sessions with pit bulls, but also that your pit bull won’t feel threatened by a larger dog.
Both dogs will also love spending time going on a quick swim even if your Golden will be a much better swimmer!
5. Cocker Spaniel
Cocker spaniels, while smaller in size, are very energetic and love to engage in play with other dogs! Cocker spaniels are easy to get along with, they’re gentle around other dogs and humans, and they typically have very fun personalities.
With an affectionate nature and a high intelligence rating, cocker spaniels could be a great choice as a companion dog for your pit bull.
This Isn’t A Comprehensive List!
I know some folks have made it this far and are now yelling at their phone asking why Rotties, Mastiffs, Yorkies or some other breed aren’t listed!
This isn’t mean to be an all-encompassing list! That’s because just about any match can work under the right situations but if you’re looking for some of the easier options these dogs are great options.
Hopefully, you can also look at the traits that make these dogs a good match and think of similar breeds that would great for Pitties!
What About Small Dogs and Pit Bulls?
Even though there are plenty of cute stories of Pitties and smaller dogs like Chihuahuas getting along great, it wouldn’t be my first recommendation.
Dogs like to play, regardless of breed, and your big Pittie could easily get a little too rough with a smaller dog. That can lead to injury in the worst-case scenario or just an uncomfortable little do in others. Either way, it doesn’t make for a great match.
That doesn’t mean it’s not possible! Far from it! But Pittie parents should expect a bit more work to make sure the match is successful!
Understand Your Pittie’s History
While pit bulls do frequently get along with other dogs, they also function very well as the only dog in your household, as long as they are getting the attention and exercise they crave.
However, if you choose to get a companion dog for your pit bull, there are a few things you should be aware of.
Pit bulls unfortunately have a horrendous past of being used as bait dogs and of being forced to fight. As a result, some pit bulls today still have traumatic pasts and less-than-desirable instincts.
Although the “aggressive, mean” reputation of pit bulls is entirely unfair and undeserved, you do need to be aware of your own dog’s personal history. Were they rescued from an abusive situation? Do they have a history of being trained to be aggressive or of being forced to engage in fighting with other dogs?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, be very careful about introducing a new dog into your household. We want your new pup to be a best friend for your pit bull and not a potential threat.
Fortunately, we have some tips and tricks to help that adjustment go smoothly, and just remember that breed alone doesn’t make a bully. In other words, with patience and persistence you can overcome many potential problems.
How Can I Help My Pit Bull Get Along With Other Dogs?
First introductions are key to starting off a new dog relationship on the right “paw.” Here are a few suggestions for introducing your pittie to new potential roommates:
Socialize as much as possible.
Studies have shown that socialization is much more effective when it’s done early and often. You can start introducing your pit bull to other dogs and new situations when they’re just a few months old.
Take good care to expose your young pit bull to new situations such as parks, new people, or walks in busy areas. While you shouldn’t overwhelm them, it’s important that they know how to appropriately handle new things.
Likewise, introduce them to other dogs! Doing this at a young age will help your pit bull learn the appropriate “doggy manners” when it comes to play and sharing.
Socializing frequently will help the transition to a second dog go much more smoothly.
Make sure your doggo is well-trained.
Your pit bull should be well-trained before you introduce them to a permanent new friend. At the very least, make sure you teach them the basic commands such sit, stay, come, or down. Your dog should respect you as the one in charge, and they need to be obedient the first time you ask.
Pit bulls are smart dogs; don’t let them fool you into thinking they don’t understand. Sometimes owners mistake pure stubbornness for misunderstanding.
Remember, as you’re training your pit bull, lavish them with lots of positive praise when they do it right! Pit bulls love attention, so that will be enough motivation for them to also do it right the next time.
On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to teach a pit bull that you’re upset with them when they don’t follow your command. Even just turning away and refusing them attention is often enough to trigger a change in behavior.
Introduce the dogs on leashes in a neutral area.
When your pit bull and their new companion meet for the first time, make sure both dogs are on leashes. You’ll need to have someone with you so you only have to hold on to one dog apiece. Choose a neutral meeting ground, such as a park, so no one feels territorial during the meeting.
Slowly walk the dogs around on leashes, staying away from the other dog, so they can simply get used to the sight and smell of their new friend. After they’ve calmed down with that approach, you can allow the dogs to greet each other.
There will most likely be lots of sniffing and smelling. Make sure to watch out for any signs of aggression, such as raised tail or ears, and praise good behavior toward the other dog.
After your dogs are getting along well in neutral territory, you can move them home. In the first few days, give them plenty of time apart and fully monitor the times when they are together.
Continue to keep an eye on the dogs.
The first few weeks are when your dogs are most likely to get in a scuffle. To avoid this, continue to keep an eye on them both in play and just while laying around the house. Separate them at meal times, and make sure you’re giving both dogs plenty of attention.
As always, encourage positive play and behavior with verbal praise and pets, and discourage any signs of aggression.
If you’re thinking about getting a companion dog for your pit bull, consider one of these top five breed recommendations. All of these dogs possess personalities and temperaments that will match well with a pit bull.
As always, make sure to take your individual dog’s personality and history into account when choosing a good companion.
As long as you prepare each dog well through socialization and introduce them carefully, your pit bull might just find a new best friend in this second dog.