This paper presented a three dimensional analysis for the buckling behavior of an imperfect orthotropic thick cylindrical shells under pure axial or external pressure loading. Critical loads are computed for different imperfection parameter. Both ends of the shell have simply supported conditions. Governing differential equations are driven based on the second Piola–Kirchhoff stress tensor and are reduced to a homogenous linear system of equations using differential quadrature method. Buckling loads reduction factor is computed for different imperfection parameters and geometrical properties of orthotropic shells. The sensitivity is established through tables of buckling load reduction factors versus imperfection amplitude. It is shown that imperfections have higher effects on the buckling load of thin shells than thick ones. Results show that the presented method is very accurate and can capture the various geometrical imperfections observed during the manufacturing process or transportation.