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Pitbull Lifespan: How Long Do Pitties Live?

What is the Pitbull's expected lifespan? Learn about the Pitbull breed, and how different factors like nutrition, health and genetics can affect how long this stocky canine lives. Let's get into the details about the Pitbull's life expectancy.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: February 2, 2023 | 13 min read

brown pit bull laying on the lawn getting chin scratched by owner

Are you the new proud parent of an adorable Pitbull puppy? This is an unforgettable time for you and your new pup. Owners always have many questions about caring for their new family member when they first adopt a new fur baby. Another big question people have is about Pitbull’s lifespan. In this article, when we discuss the Pitbull, we are referring to the American Pitbull Terrier. Several other breeds are often grouped in with Pitbulls that belong to the Bully family of breeds. For this article, we are explicitly referring to the lifespan of the American Pitbull Terrier, also called the Pittie.

Pitbulls have a big reputation and, with the right owners, make beautiful additions to the family. Pitties are lovely dogs who make lively and loyal family pets. Owners want to do everything they can to keep their pets around for as long as possible.

Knowing how long a dog breed is expected to live can help owners decide if a breed is right for them. Some breeds live longer, are prone to certain health conditions, or may have special care and space needs. In this overview, we discuss the Pitbull’s lifespan and factors that impact how long this breed is expected to live and answer some frequently answered questions. The good news for owners is that with proper care and exercise, Pitbulls live for a relatively long time and make unforgettable companions.

Pitbull Breed

Grey Pitbull on yellow background
The American Pitbull Terrier is the breed most commonly referred to as a Pitbull.

These dogs are descended from terrier and bulldog mixes that found their way to America in the 19th century. Most of these dogs were shipped over from England when dog fighting and bullbaiting were no longer allowed there. Once here in America, they were selectively bred to be large and hardworking. Dog fighting was outlawed in America and was no longer bred for sport. They became popular companions on ranches, as therapy and service dogs, and as family pets.

Pitbulls are often referred to as Pitties or, like many other Bulldogs, Bullies. These pups are very affectionate and quite friendly. Along with being hardworking, they are avid people pleasers and want nothing more than to know they have done an excellent job. Pitbulls are also very smart and love to be around people.

Pitbulls are solid, stocky canines but are quite dense and stout. This makes them an excellent choice for apartments or smaller homes. This is a breed that does well in a variety of settings. They are medium-sized pups aged between 30 and 65 pounds on average. Pitties stand 17 to 21 inches tall when fully grown.

These pups come in an assortment of colors, including silver, fawn, and brindle, as well as the Red Nose Pitbull, Blue Nose Pitbull, and White Pitbull.

How Long Do Pitbulls Live?

The excellent news for Pittie owners is that these are relatively long-lived canines. Pitbulls have an expected lifespan of 8 to 16 years. On average most live between 12 and 14 years. With proper care, high-quality nutrition, and lots of love, these stocky guardians will accompany your family for many years. Some owners have reported having Pitbulls that have lived twenty or more years. This includes a dog named Max, a Pitbull Terrier mix whose owners claimed he lived to the ripe old age of 26.

How long a specific animal will live also depends on the exact genetic makeup of that dog. Keep in mind that several different breeds get referred to as Pitbulls, so it may be hard to tell precisely what breed your dog is unless you have access to information about their parents. Some dog DNA tests can help determine bloodline, which can sometimes help.

However, it is worth pointing out that several different breeds get referred to as Pitbulls. These include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, and the American Bully. Some of these breeds may live longer than the American Pitbull Terrier. Because of the intermingling of different canine genes, some pups that fall under the Pitbull umbrella may live longer. Mixed breeds also tend to live longer than their purebred parents or counterparts.

Please remember that the information we present is to educate only. This is not an exact prediction of how long any dog of any breed will live. How long each dog lives depends on specific genetic makeup, care, and unique circumstances. This is also not information intended to be substituted for the advice of a qualified veterinarian.

Pitbull/Bully Breed Lifespan

Bully BreedAverage Lifespan
American Pitbull Terrier8 – 16 years
American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff) 12 – 16 years
Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffy)12 – 14 years
American Bully8 – 15 years
Bull Terrier 12 -15 years
American Bulldog10 – 12 years

Health Factors That Impact Lifespan

Pitbull Dog sad
We explain some of the most impactful health factors impacting lifespan below.

Pitties are a breed prone to a few health conditions, some of which can impact their lifespan.

Obesity

Obesity is a big concern, especially for stocky, compact breeds like Pitbulls. Because they have a stouter build, they are expected to have a thick body shape. Additionally, this dog loves to eat. They are constantly on the food search and may not easily control themselves. Therefore, it is best to feed this dog at specific mealtimes and limit the in-between snacks.

Obesity not only puts canines at a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease but also directly takes years off their lives. Obesity is within the owner’s control, as we oversee what our fur babies eat. Ensure you are not overfeeding your dog and are feeding them the best quality dog food possible. Avoid giving your dog any human fast food or junk food, and try only to offer them high-quality, nutritious treats in between meals.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is a considerable threat to canines of all breeds. Many owners overlook regular dental cleaning or are simply unable to find a way to manage it with their pup. It is best to start dental cleaning early, so your Pitbull is used to them. Dental disease can develop even when a dog is as young as three years old.

It is believed that dental disease can take three to five years off the expected life of your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about ways to keep your puppy’s teeth clean and schedule regular cleanings. Though this process can sometimes be expensive, and owners may feel it is unnecessary, it is genuinely in your dog’s best interest and can keep them alive longer.

Cancer

Cancer, including skin cancer, often affects this breed. Spaying and neutering your pup can help prevent some forms of cancer, like mammary and testicular. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate diet, other steps to take, and signs to look out for if you think your dog may have any underlying health condition, including cancer.

Accidents & Injury

Keeping your dog on a leash while they are outside, outside of your safe enclosed yard, is always the best idea. Unfortunately, car accidents and injuries can cause a very high level of fatalities in canines. Ensure you have the appropriate collars, harnesses, and leashes to walk the stocky and muscular Pitbull.

Heart Disease

Aortic stenosis is a heart disease that can run in this breed. This is often present at birth but not noticeable until pups are much older. This can cause heart dysfunction and even heart failure and death in severe cases. Valve malformations are another example of congenital heart disease that can affect this spread.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease and kidney failure, either acute or over time, can affect lifespan. Owners should always keep their pets away from chemicals and toxins that can cause acute kidney failure.

Thyroid Malfunction

Thyroid malfunction can affect your dog’s overall health in many ways. It can cause a lack of energy, lethargy, thinning out of the coat, slowing heart rate, lack of coordination, ear infection, skin infection, reproductive issues, rapid weight gain, obesity, and even a slowing of mental function. The thyroid controls your dog’s metabolism and hormones, which can cause many things to be off when it malfunctions.

If you suspect a thyroid issue in your dog, discuss your concerns with your veterinarian. They can help you go through the next steps, learn how to test if your dog’s thyroid is working correctly, and what to do if it is not.

Other Factors That Impact Pitbull Lifespan

Best Pet Insurance For Pitbulls
Though health is a massive factor in Pitbull life expectancy, it is not the only factor.

Genetics, nutrition, care, and exercise all play a role. These all impact a dog’s lifespan in varying ways. Some are out of our control. Others are areas owners can have a more significant personal impact.

Genetics

Genetics is a hugely significant factor in how long any breed will live. The specific genetic makeup of your Pitbull, whether he is a purebred or mixed Pittie breed, and the exact genetic makeup of his parents all contribute to how long a Pitbull’s lifespan is. Adopting a dog from a breeder is one way to ensure high-quality genetics. Reputable breeders will screen for health conditions and ensure puppies are healthy before adoption. You will need to make sure that you are adopting from a reputable breeder, ask lots of questions, and ask to see previous litters. You can also ask about the expected lifespan and lifespan of the parents.

Health

How healthy your Pitbull is throughout his life is another huge factor in his expected lifespan. Puppies can be screened for underlying health conditions and should visit the vet several times throughout their first year for checkups and puppy vaccinations. Once they reach adulthood, your pet should see the vet twice a year for preventative care. Preventative care is critical, and where veterinarians and owners discuss a dog’s daily habits and concerns, even those that seem minor. Preventive health care is crucial. If medical conditions are treated early, this care is far more effective. Healthier pets live longer, happier lives.

Pitbulls can be predisposed to some conditions that, while they may not directly impact lifespan, will affect a dog’s overall health and activity. These include thyroid malfunction, knee issues, mange, skin infections, hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, nerve disease, bladder stones, balance issues, and more. Though these are not fatal, they can impact a dog’s overall health and how long they live. Living with these conditions puts extra pressure on a dog’s body.

Spay & Neuter

Though it may not seem directly related, spaying and neutering your Pitbull can increase lifespan. This spay-neuter process can prevent cancers, infections, and gut and bowel dysfunction in males and females. For females, this process dramatically reduces the risk of mammary cancer and eliminates any possibility of testicular cancer in males. These conditions are often fatal in both cats and dogs. Reducing this risk alone can significantly increase your pet’s lifespan. This procedure must be done at the proper time. Discuss this with your veterinarian when your puppy is very young.

Most veterinarians will want to do the spay or neuter procedure on your Pitbull puppy between the ages of four and nine months old. Some may suggest waiting until males have reached puberty. Female Pitbulls can go into heat relatively young, even around five months, so it may be recommended to do this procedure earlier. Because this breed can be spayed or neutered as early as four or five months old, it is essential to discuss this with your veterinarian on your first visit. There are often wait times to get in for surgery, and puppies may need to complete certain shots before veterinarians are comfortable doing surgery.

Nutrition

Nutrition is a critical component of a dog’s health from the very first day they are born. Dogs who are overweight or eat food loaded with fats and fillers are at risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases and face a shortened lifespan.

According to the VCA Animal Hospitals, even dogs who are moderately overweight may live about two years less than those who are not overweight. This is a sobering thought but something that owners are completely in control of. Look for the best quality dog food you can afford. Look at fresh, dry, freeze-dried, wet, and raw diets. Remember that canines need high-quality animal proteins. Look for named meat sources, preferably those listed as the first ingredients.

Care & Lifestyle

Like nutrition, a dog’s care and lifestyle play a critical role in overall health and longevity. Dogs who are not getting enough exercise may not develop properly. They might be mentally unhappy and not be as physically fit as they should be. Owners must ensure their bark babies are always eating the right amount of food, eating the right food, visiting the vet regularly, staying up to date on all their vaccinations, and getting regular exercise.

There is much more to owning a dog and keeping them healthy than fun play times and cute photo opportunities. Owning a dog is both a great privilege and a great responsibility, and owners need to ensure they are meeting their dog’s needs in every phase of life.

Senior Pitbulls will need different food than puppies. They will also have further exercise and comfort needs. As canines age, they may start seeing the vet more, and owners will have different concerns, like supporting joint health. As dogs’ needs change, owners must keep up with caring for them.

An additional factor to consider is that indoor dogs tend to live longer than those pups who live most of their lives outside. Outdoor pets are exposed to more risks and dangers and are at a higher risk of developing diseases.

How To Help Your Pitbull Live A Long Life

Brown Pitbull Sitting In Forest
Remember that every dog has different and unique circumstances that will affect how long they live.

Pitbull owners often wonder how to increase their dog’s lifespan. There are some steps owners can take to help keep their fur babies healthier and happier and work to increase their lifespan.

  1. Owners should always feed their pups an age-appropriate, high-quality diet from the first day they are in their care. Young pups will need to nurse from their mom or be given a puppy milk formula substitute until they reach about two months old. After that, high-quality puppy food and age-appropriate chow will keep canines healthy and fit. Puppies need more calories, so they should eat medium to large breed-formulated puppy chow. Be careful not to overfeed your Pittie.
  2. Pitbulls need plenty of interaction daily with their people to stay mentally stimulated. These bark babies are highly intelligent and will quickly become bored. They need mental stimulation as much as physical exercise. This can be an excellent breed to try puzzle feeders and interactive toys.
  3. Physical exercise is vital. Your Pitbull will need daily walks and time outside to play with you every day. Developing a habit of a favorite game or a special place to walk is a great idea. Not only does this give your dog much-needed physical activity, but it is also a special bonding time for the two of you. Many pets will learn to look forward to these times every day and can become depressed and physically unfit if they miss them.
  4. Be careful not to overwork your pup. Because Pitties love people and enjoy one-on-one playtime, they will easily overexert themselves. Make sure to break physical playtime into short bursts instead of one long extended push so as not to overexert your Pitbull.
  5. Safety should be the top priority. It’s best to keep this breed on the leash, partly due to his formidable reputation. Accidents and injuries are one of the top reasons for dog fatalities every year, and many can be prevented if dogs are kept safely secured on leashes. Owners must regularly inspect their fences and gates for holes, signs of decay, or deterioration. Never allow your Pittie out unsupervised, and never let them off-leash anywhere they are close to traffic or potential injury to themselves or other animals.
  6. Provide your dog with dental care starting from a young age. Dental disease can be a sneaky, overlooked cause of disease and shortened lifespan in canines. It can damage other organs, including the liver, kidneys, and heart. Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth daily to prevent bacteria buildup that leads to dental disease. Professional cleanings at your veterinarian’s office every few months are also an excellent way to keep those canine teeth as clean as possible.
  7. Keep up with regular veterinary visits, including preventative care. Always discuss changes in your pet’s diet and any supplements you want to give them before doing so. Do not skip vaccinations, and always do your best to follow your veterinarian’s advice. Do not overlook flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. You may want to investigate pet insurance to see if it can benefit your dog’s long-term health and medical needs.
  8. Spay or neuter your pup at the appropriate time.
  9. Socialize your dog to interact well with other people, dogs, and other pets like cats from an early age. This will cause them a much less stressful life. Especially in a breed that has a reputation for being tough or mean, socialization is critical. Feel free to bring in professional trainers or help if you are unsure how to do this. Pitbulls who are not appropriately socialized can develop anxiety, depression, and fear-related behaviors.
  10. Give your dog plenty of love and attention. We bring these adorable animals into our homes and lives, and they deserve as much attention and love as possible. Canines who feel loved and appreciated will be happier overall, which leads to a better life. Enjoy the time you have with your Pittie, and savor every moment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Pitbull live for 20 years?

While it is technically possible for this breed to live 20 years or longer, it is not something often seen or even very likely. This breed usually lives between 12 and 16 years on average. Lifespan will depend on their specific breed, health, genetic makeup, and unique life circumstances.

How long do Pitbulls live?

Pitbulls can live anywhere from 8 to 16 years on average. Most live between 12 and 14 years.

What is the most common cause of death in Pitbulls?

Heart disease, including aortic stenosis, and valve malformations, are a leading cause of death among Pitbull breeds. Along with that, cancer and car accidents are the top causes of death in this breed.

Why are people afraid of Pitbulls?

A bad reputation precedes Pitbulls. They were historically bred as fighting dogs in Europe and the United States through no fault of their own. Though dog fighting has been outlawed for many years, the breed is still associated with this tough nature. In reality, these are very attentive, loyal companions, but they must be with the right owners. Most are not inherently aggressive or mean, but those traits run among the Bully breeds.

Final Thoughts

Pitbulls are a widely popular canine breed and are the most common classification in shelters (even if they are not the accurate breed type). Though the breed has faced some adversity and is still controversial in some areas, they are also a popular family pet. This breed is incredibly smart, very loyal, loving, and loves to please people.

They can live between 8 and 16 years on average, and most live to be between 12 and 14. This breed overall is relatively healthy, but they are prone to some genetic conditions and diseases that can shorten their lifespan. As with any dog, genetics, nutrition, physical exercise, and regular medical care can increase their lifespan.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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2 Comments

Rosie Tamez

January 26, 2023 at 1:01 pm

Is it to late to get my pitbull spayed. He is 4 years old.

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FlaLlamaMama

January 30, 2023 at 4:21 pm

No it is not too late. I had my two boys neutered later in their lives and it was the best decision ever. They were calmer during the recovery period which was easier on all of us. They didn’t mind the activity restrictions. With them being older, they listened so much better than they did when they were puppies. I highly support the idea. Good luck!!

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