We all want our pets to live long, happy lives, but just how long can you expect your Pit Bull to stick around? As a rule of thumb, Pit Bulls carry a life expectancy of between 8 to 16 years, with healthy Pitbulls enjoying an average lifespan of around 10 to 14 years. As with all breeds, multiple factors go into determining just how long any individual Pit Bull will live. Genetics, health, environment, nutrition, exercise, accidental injuries… they all play a part. Here’s everything you need to know about the Pit Bull life expectancy.
What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Pit Bull?
We all know what a Pit Bull looks like: substantially built, with a short, stocky body, a wide, barrel chest, a boxy head, a wide forehead, and a short muzzle. But did you know that the Pit Bull isn’t a breed at all, but rather an umbrella term for different breeds that all share certain characteristics? Some of those breeds have been recognized by the American Kennel Club, others haven’t. As each carries a slightly different life expectancy, it’s worth getting to know a little more about each one. According to The Spruce, there are five different types of Pit Bull breeds. These include:
The American Bully is one of the newest Pit Bull types to hit the scene. They were first developed in the ’80s and ’90s by breeding the American Pit Bull Terrier and other bulldog-type breeds. They tend to be broader and more compact than the American Pit Bull Terrier, with a wider head. Provided they’ve been bred responsibly and are provided with proper training and socialization, they make gentle, affectionate companions. They’re highly energetic dogs, and need plenty of opportunities to work their muscles to stay strong and healthy. So far, they’ve been recognized by the United Kennel Club but not the American Kennel Club.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier descends from terriers and bulldogs that were imported to the US from the UK in the 19th century. The breed was originally developed for dogfighting, a practice that may be illegal, but which sadly still continues in certain circles. American Pit Bull Terriers have a strong prey drive that can make it hard for them to get along with other animals, but they’re known to be incredibly affectionate with their families. They’re another breed that has been recognized by the United Kennel Club but not the American Kennel Club.
American Staffordshire Terrier
Like the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier was bred from terriers and bulldogs in the 19th century. Although they don’t have the same history of being used for dogfighting as certain other types of Pit Bull, they still have a strong prey drive and are best raised in homes without other dogs. They make excellent family pets, however, and are known for being mellow, playful, and incredibly loyal.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Like many other breeds of Pit Bull, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier first found popularity in dogfighting. But despite their checkered past, they’re best known today as affectionate, loyal family pets. They’re gentle with children and love nothing more than cuddling up with their owners. As they’re prone to separation anxiety, they do best in homes where they’ll have someone to hang out with for most of the day.
Of all the Pit Bull breeds, the Americal bulldog is the largest, clocking in at a mighty 60 – 120 pounds and measuring up to 28 inches in height. Developed in North America from English Bulldogs, American Bulldogs were originally bred as working dogs on farms and as companion dogs, They’re known for being extremely affectionate and people-orientated – however, as they can become incredibly protective of their families, training and socialization are needed to prevent their instincts becoming problematic. Each Pit Bull breed has its own story. They all have different origins, different appearances, and different character traits. They also have different genetics, different health issues to which they’re prone, and, as you’d expect from the first two, different life expectancies. According to pitbullscare.com, the life expectancy per breed is as follows:
- American Staffordshire Terrier: 12 to 16 years old.
- American Bully: 10 to 15 years old.
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier: 12 to 14 years old.
- American Pitbull Terrier: 8 to 15 years old.
- American Bulldog: 10 to 15 years old.
Life Expectancy Factors
Not only is there a difference in the life expectancy between Pit Bull breeds, but there’s also a difference within the breed itself. Some American Pitbull Terriers, for example, can only expect to live to 8 years, whereas others will live to the ripe old age of 15. As vetexplainspets.com explains, the difference in expectancy comes down to factors such as:
One of the biggest factors that influences life expectancy is living situation. Dogs that live outdoors are more prone to injuries, whether that’s through fights with other dogs or car accidents. They’re also more susceptible to disease, particularly if they’re unvaccinated. On the plus side, they are less prone to becoming overweight. As a general rule, indoor Pit Bulls have a much longer life expectancy. Although they’re more prone to gaining weight due to sedentary behavior, their access to a complete, balanced diet, veterinary care, vaccinations, and protection from disease and injury outweigh the potential risks associated with obesity.
Although spaying and neutering are primarily designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, they can also impact a dog’s health, and, by extension, their life expectancy. Spaying a female Pit Bull reduces their risk of developing mammary cancer and completely removes the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer. Neutering a male Pit Bull, meanwhile, removes the risk of testicular cancer. Neutering/ spaying a dog also reduces their instinct to roam, thereby minimizing the chance of them becoming injured by a car or involved in fights with other dogs.
Regardless of breed, all dogs require a complete, balanced diet. Although Pit Bulls don’t require a specific type or brand of food, they do require a specific set of nutrients. Without them, their overall health will be affected and their life expectancy impacted.
Most Pit Bulls are natural athletes, but without adequate opportunities to run around, their big appetites can soon see their muscles turn to fat. Excess weight can place additional strain on joints, bones, the liver, heart, lungs, and other systems. It can also increase the risk of diabetes and even certain cancers. An underweight dog can also experience a host of issues.
Whether it’s by providing preventative care or emergency treatment, a vet can add years to a dog’s life. A Pit Bull that has access to proper veterinary care can always expect to live a longer, healthier, and happier life than one who doesn’t.
Some health conditions are inherited, others can develop with time. Either way, both can take years of a dog’s life. A safe environment with access to veterinary care, a balanced diet, and regular exercise can help prevent certain issues, but not all. According to bullymax.com, some of the most common health issues to which Pit Bulls are prone are:
One of the most common complaints experienced by Pit Bulls is hip dysplasia, a genetic condition that arises due to improper development of the hip socket. It’s a distressing disease, resulting in pain, a reduced range of motion, stiffness, and the inability to walk upstairs. In some cases, it can eventually lead to complete lameness. While most reputable breeders will test for the condition before introducing a dog to a breeding program, not all breeders are as concerned with the health of their dogs as they are in turning a buck. Although the condition isn’t curable, there are several things that can be done to reduce its impact on life quality, including ensuring your dog keeps to an ideal body weight to minimize any additional stress on the limbs. In some cases, surgery or a hip brace may be needed.
Hypothyroidism, or thyroid disease, is a common complaint among Pit Bulls. It occurs when the thyroid gland is unable to make enough essential hormones to support digestive and metabolic health. It usually occurs in dogs aged 4 years or over and can be caused by a variety of factors. Common symptoms include weight gain, muscle loss, lethargy, hair loss, and behavioral changes. Once diagnosed, it can be managed with medications.
Don’t let their intimating looks fool you. Pit Bulls are actually incredibly sensitive creatures and are known for being prone to allergies. Some of the potential causes of allergies include environmental allergens like pollen and grass, food ingredients, and household chemicals. Typical symptoms include rashes, excessive itching, hives, frequent ear infections, and bald spots.
Ichthyosis is relatively rare, but more common in Pit Bulls than it is in other breeds. It’s a genetic condition that causes a mutation in the outer layer of the skin, resulting in thickened, scaly skin, hard, stiff foot pads, and increased pigmentation. The condition is incurable (although medicated shampoos can help alleviate some of the symptoms), and tends to increase in severity as the dog ages.
Cataracts cause the eye lens to become thick and clouded, resulting in impaired vision and even blindness if left untreated. While some dogs have a genetic predisposition to developing cataracts, they can also be caused by high blood sugar and diabetes.
Volvulus (Gastric Dilation)
Dog bloat is a potentially lethal condition in which a dog’s stomach fills with gas or liquid and expands enough to put pressure on internal organs. In some cases, it can cause the wall of the stomach to tear or even cut off blood supply to the heart. Common symptoms of Volvulus include a distended stomach, anxiety and restlessness, pacing, vomiting, and weakness.
How to Improve Your Pit Bull’s Life Expectancy
We all want our dogs to live long, happy lives, and while certain health issues are sometimes unavoidable, there are certain things we can do to improve their chance of a long life. Here are a few tips on how to improve your Pit Bull’s life expectancy.
Feed Them a Balanced Diet
Junk food, table scraps, and too much fat can all take years off your dog’s life. Although it’s tempting to treat your dog to tasty titbits throughout the day, keep treats for training and stick to a healthy, balanced diet that’s high in protein and rich in all the essential nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. If you have any concerns about what you’re filling your dog’s bowl with, ask your vet for advice.
Watch Their Weight
Pit Bulls are high-energy dogs that need plenty of exercise. At a minimum, they should be receiving around 90 minutes of structured activity a day, although very few will say no to more. If they aren’t provided with enough opportunities to run around, they can easily start packing on the pounds, resulting in a host of health problems. Keep a close eye on their weight; if they start getting a little chunky around the middle, increase their exercise and speak to your vet about a calorie-controlled diet.
Get Them Vaccinated
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and vaccinations are the best form of prevention there is. Ensuring your Pit Bull is fully protected against all the infectious diseases that can be prevented by vaccination is vital. Ideally, vaccinations should be done before your pup comes into contact with any wildlife or potentially unvaccinated dogs. Some vaccinations are even mandated by law, so be sure to arrange a vaccination schedule with your vet as soon as possible.
Get Friendly With Your Vet
All dogs should be vaccinated, but don’t end your relationship with your vet as soon as your pup has had their last shot. Early diagnosis is crucial to good health, while an annual check-up can help spot the signs of an illness before it develops into something more sinister. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, always check in with your vet – it may be nothing to worry about, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.