We all wish our dogs could live longer lives. The good news is pitbulls are well known to have long, healthy, and happy lives when cared for properly.
How long exactly does a pitbull live?
Pitbull breeds live an average of 12 to 16 years of age. The health of a pitbull depends greatly on the dog’s diet and exercise. Common concerns that may shorten a pitbull’s life include obesity, heart conditions, hyperthyroidism, and hip or knee issues. There are five different dog breeds under the pitbull umbrella.
- American bulldogs
- American pit bull terrier
- American Staffordshire terriers
- Staffordshire bull terrier
- English bull terrier
We will cover the breed’s history, conditions, and how to extend the life of your pitbull through good care practices.
Caring For Your Pitbull
The pitbull breed can be traced back to England in the 1600s. Pitbulls are a mix between bulldogs and terriers. Pitbulls were originally used for bullbaiting. Immigrants from England, Ireland, and Scotland brought the breed into the US in the early 1900s. When they were brought over to the US, they were used as protection and farm dogs.
Knowing where your dog came from will help you understand how to best care for them.
Pitbulls are prone to obesity without the right mix of diet and exercise. They are also predisposed to skin conditions because of their short coat and sensitive hair follicles. Your dog’s diet should consist of high-quality dog food made for medium to large breed dogs.
A pitbull does best on small meals a few times a day.
Pitbulls are active sturdy dogs that require daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Your pitbull is less likely to get anxious or act out at home if they are well exercised. They are very social, even more than other breeds. Your dog needs to play with you every day, not a run in the backyard alone to keep them more engaged.
Your dog should weigh an average of 30 to 60 pounds. Your pitbull may be underweight if you can easily feel ribs. On the other hand, if you have difficulty feeling your dog’s ribs, your dog may be considered overweight.
The pitbull umbrella includes a few different dog breeds (and mixes) that all have short fur. Brushing is not required but will help in the spring and summer months to decrease shedding. Use a brush designed for short hair once a week to keep your dog’s coat looking great.
Brush your pitties’ teeth twice a week.
Pitbulls have a predisposition for dental disease from their bulldog ancestors. Brushing your dog’s teeth twice a week will keep plaque at bay and keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh.
Chew toys are another great way to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy. As a heavy chewer, you should get your pitbull a strong chew toy to help keep them from chewing other things in the house.
Pitbulls have been given a bad name in the media due to their body size and muscle mass. An untrained pitbull is more likely to have extra energy that comes out in negative ways.
Start training and socializing your pitbull from the puppy stage.
Caring For Your Pitbull Through Their Life Stages
Your pitbull needs different types of care at each life stage. Understanding when to start watching for common conditions will help you extend the life of your dog.
Pitbull Life Stages
Puppy (0 — 1-year-old)
- Start with a puppy-based food
- Vaccinations at 6 to 8 weeks
- Start obedience training your puppy
- Vaccines 10 – 12 weeks old
- Spay or neuter is commonly suggested between 4 and 9 months of age
- Requires lots of socialization and human interaction
Juvenile (1 – 2 years old)
- Increase activity and playtime to meet energy needs
- Vaccines 12 to 16 months old
- Move to adult diet food around 1.5 years old (depending on the food you choose)
Adult (2 – 8 years old)
- Vaccines every 1 to 2 years based on last vaccination
- Rabies needed every 1 to 3 years
- Start checking for heart disease around 4 to 5 years old
Senior (8+ years old)
- Move to a senior diet
- Watch out for arthritis
- Watch out for cataracts or blindness
Sadly large breed dogs live shorter lives than small breed dogs because they age faster. Pitbulls are medium-sized dogs and average 13 years of age. When your dog reaches eight years old, it is best to start getting routine vet checkups every year to keep your dog in great shape and prepare for anything that may come up.
Pitbull Genetic Predispositions to Watch Out For
Pitbulls, like many dog breeds, have a genetic predisposition for certain problems. We will list the issues below and a few tips on looking out for them in your dog.
Hip dysplasia affects your dog’s ability to move and can affect the quality of life.
Look out for signs like decreased activity and range of motion. Some dogs will show a reluctance to move or lack of use of one foot. If you see any of these signs, it is best to talk to your vet.
Similar to hip dysplasia, pitbulls are prone to knee dysplasia, also caused by abnormal bone growth. It is a combination of malformation of the joints and bone degeneration. Look out for sudden long-term elbow lameness, swelling in the area, or sound when the joint moves (bone rubbing).
Hypothyroidism is when a dog produces a lower amount of hormones in the thyroid gland. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Mental dullness
- Weight gain
- Hair-loss / shedding
- Recurring skin infections
Skin conditions can happen to your pitbull at any age. Look out for flaky skin, itching, and hair loss. These could be signs of allergies, mange (bacterial infection), skin infection, or Ichthyosis.
Heart disease is more common in pitbulls over the age of 5. The best way to find a heart condition is to visit your vet regularly. Signs of heart problems are hard to spot on your own. Common heart conditions in pitbulls include:
- Aortic stenosis
- Valve malformations
- Irregularities in heart rhythm
Frequently Asked Questions About Pitbull Life Expectancy
What Is the Most Common Cause of Death in Pitbulls?
The most common cause of death in an adult or senior pitbull is heart disease. Pitbulls are genetically predisposed to heart conditions, including Aortic stenosis, valve malformation, or irregularities in heart rhythm.
How Old is The Oldest Pitbull?
According to The Goody Pet, the oldest recorded Pitbull was named Max from Louisiana, and he lived to be 26 years old. There are many other recordings on the internet of pitbulls living between 18 – 20 years old.
Does Life Expectancy Change Between Male and Female Pitbulls?
Life expectancy in a Pitbull is not affected by gender unless your female is unspayed. A female dog not spayed has a few life-threatening concerns that may shorten their lives, including pyometra.
Does an Unspayed or Unneutered Pitbull Live a Shorter Life?
Statistically, dogs who are left intact live shorter lives. A study done by the University of Georgia found that unaltered dogs live an average of 7.4 years while altered dogs live an average of 9.4 years.