Pitbull mixes are amongst the most popular dog breeds in the US.
They’re beloved for their quirky personalities, their die-hard loyalty to their owners, their playful nature, and their athletic abilities.
But many people wonder just how long these family pets will live. And there’s no straight answer to that question.
Various factors influence your pitbull’s lifespan, so let’s have a closer look at just a few things you will need to consider before deciding to adopt one of these majestic medium-sized dogs.
American Pit Bull Terrier Lifespan
The average lifespan of an American pitbull terrier is between 8 and 15 years of age.
Now, 15 years seems like a stretch, but it does happen. In fact, there have been some reports of pitbull mixes living late into their twenties. (1)
Of course, one thing to keep in mind is whether or not your pitbull is purebred. Purebred pitbulls have a much stronger genetic line and will likely have fewer health issues to worry about.
That being said, here’s the average age at which pitbull-type dogs live:
American Pit Bull Terrier
8 to 15 years
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
12 to 14 years
American Staffordshire Terrier
12 to 16 years
8 to 15 years
Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and the American bully are all dog breeds that fall into the same general classification of bull terriers. They share similar physical and mental attributes and their average lifespan is quite similar.
Here are a few articles that discuss the major similarities (and differences) between the various breeds:
Pitbull vs. Staffordshire Terrier - The Main differences
American Bulldog vs. Pitbull - Breed comparison
Bull Terriers vs. Pit Bulls: Which is Right for You?
Factors Affecting Pitbulls' Lifespan
There are a few things that will affect the lifespan of your pitbull. Of course, there are too many factors to mention, so let’s have a look at a few things that are most likely to play a part in your pitties life:
It goes without saying that your pitbull's overall health will influence how long it lives.
A dog with a clean bill of health is more likely to see its golden years than a dog that has chronic ailments from the outset.
The amount of love and care that you give your pitty will also affect its overall health condition. Dogs that are abandoned or chained to a tree will build up a lot of tension and suffer undue stress that will bring along a lot of avoidable diseases.
A little later on we’ll discuss some of these ailments that affect this dog breed most often.
A healthy exercise routine has so many benefits.
It helps your dog burn off excess energy, it helps reduce unwanted fat, which in turn helps with a healthy cardiovascular system. It also helps your dog maintain good blood flow to its legs and paws.
It also helps with your dog's lung development and breathing abilities.
When dogs exercise regularly their lungs function much better than a dog that sits around doing nothing.
Exercise is one of those factors that you have complete control over, so make sure to schedule enough time each day to take your pup for a quick run around the block, or to play a game of fetch at home.
Many pitbulls benefit from regular walks, and responsible owners will indulge their pups as often as they possibly can.
Get yourself a strong, yet sturdy collar or harness for these walks, as your pitbull will likely get extremely excited and start yanking and pulling on its leash.
Sparkpaws offers premium quality collars and harnesses, made with this muscular breed in mind.
Genetics plays a huge role in the overall health of your dog.
Your dog's genes carry with it specific traits and characteristics from its ancestors. According to these genetics found in its DNA, it is more (or less) likely to develop serious health issues later on in life.
When it comes to hereditary diseases, it's not really the breed, as much as the genetics that play a big role. So if you’re thinking of adopting a purebred pit bull, why not first check with the breeder if the puppy’s parents and grandparents had a long, healthy life?
A healthy diet helps to keep your dog healthy and can prolong its life.
The best dog foods on the market will be filled with nutrients, amino acids, healthy fats, and protein.
These dog foods have been specially formulated to supplement your dog's intake of these vital food parts that help them grow and develop into strong, healthy adult togs.
For this reason, do proper research into what your dog needs at each stage of its development and plan its diet around that. Many of the needed fats and minerals can actually be found in everyday food products - not just inexpensive dog food!
With some proper research, you can ensure you feed your pit bull exactly what it needs to live a healthy life.
Check up frequency
Visits to the vet are hardly fun. Although I can’t vouch for your dog, I know that I personally dislike doctor visits (something about personal space being invaded I suppose)
But these visits are necessary.
Your vet will be able to pick up if there are any underlying issues that you need to be aware of and prescribe a treatment that will solve the issue as soon as possible.
A vet will also be able to do routine blood work that can reveal a lot about your dog's genetic traits and will tell you quite a bit about future ailments before they actually develop.
Your local vet will also do incremental weigh-ins and help you keep track of your dog's weight and muscle development. They will thus also tell you if your pit bull needs a change in diet or more (or less) exercise.
So don’t skimp on regular vet visits!
Common Health Issues in Pit Bulls
No matter what you do, there will come a time when your pitbull gets ill. It happens to almost all dogs.
Here are a few life-threatening ailments that could potentially shorten your dog's lifespan:
Congenital heart disease in pitbulls involves defects present at birth, ranging from septal abnormalities (holes in the heart's wall) to issues with heart valves or an unclosed foetal blood vessel (PDA).
These defects can cause inefficient blood flow, impacting oxygenation and circulation. Symptoms might include exercise intolerance, breathing difficulties, and in severe cases, heart failure.
Diagnosis typically involves veterinary examinations and imaging techniques like echocardiography to identify these issues.
While not all pitbulls will experience these conditions, early detection and appropriate management are crucial, making it important for breeders to screen for these concerns and for pet owners to recognize potential signs for timely intervention.
Cerebellar ataxia is a condition affecting coordination and balance due to damage in the brain's cerebellum, leading to unsteady movements and difficulties in controlling muscles.
In pitbulls, it can surface at around 3 to 5 years old and might impact otherwise healthy dogs, causing them to experience wobbly gaits, tremors, or trouble with precise movements.
While this condition seldom affects a pit bull's life expectancy, it does influence their quality of life, making regular vet check-ups crucial to managing symptoms and providing the best care.
Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a serious condition where a pitbull’s stomach fills with gas, fluid, or food, and then twists.
This can happen in pitbulls or any breed, typically striking dogs in their middle to older years, and it can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Factors like eating too quickly, consuming large amounts of food, or exercising after eating can contribute to this issue.
Pitbulls can be particularly prone.
Ensuring a healthy weight, feeding a balanced diet (whether it's quality dog food or homemade dog food), and taking precautions like avoiding vigorous activity after meals can help reduce the risk of gastric torsion in these dogs.
Regular medical check-ups can further aid in maintaining their health and catching any potential issues early.
And if you’re really unsure about what a balanced diet for a healthy pitbull entails, why not book an appointment with a dog nutritionist? They will be able to work out great food alternatives to keep your pup healthy and happy.
Apart from the above-mentioned diseases that are potentially lethal, pitbulls suffer from a variety of minor health-related issues.
These range from annoying to more serious, but for the most part, not lethal. If you really want to know a bit more about these health conditions, simply check out this article: Are Pit Bulls High Maintenance?
Tips for Extending Your Pitbull Mixes Life
We’ve already mentioned regular exercise and vet checkups as tips to prolong the lifespan of your pit bull.
And it goes without saying that feeding your pitbull the best diet that you can afford will also help them live a longer, healthier life.
But something else to consider is simply creating the best home environment that you possibly can.
Pitbulls are quite clingy and some develop what is known as separation anxiety.
This is a condition that makes them extremely anxious whenever their owners leave the house. Pit bulls that suffer from this condition will do everything they possibly can to escape, trying to locate their beloved caregivers.
If your home isn’t a pleasant, yet secure home for your dog, they will very likely do whatever is necessary to break free and b-line down the road.
This is when they either get picked up and taken to the local pound or worse, they find themselves in the headlights of a speeding car on the motorway.
So take a close look at your home and make sure it’s a loving family environment for your pit bull when you leave home, and they won’t try to escape.
If you have outdoor dogs, make sure they have ample food and water when you leave for work, and if you have indoor dogs, ensure they have chew toys to keep them preoccupied until you return home and they won’t go mad waiting for your return.
Pitbulls are a medium-sized, athletic breed that should live a long and healthy life.
Yes, some do suffer from hereditary diseases that may impact their life expectancy. Others are exposed to dubious practices, like dog fights, that also cut the average pitbull life expectancy down.
But the good news is that these diseases and situations are actually quite uncommon. If you’re considering adopting one of these lovely family dogs, don’t delay - adopt a playful puppy from a reputable owner, or save a pup from the local shelter.
Responsible dog owners will testify that with regular visits to the local vet, high-quality dog foods, and an active lifestyle, these dogs can live as long as or even longer than most other dog breeds.
1 - Pitbull Max