With passing time, pit bulls are gaining popularity and the owners surely want to know how many years they will be spending with these buddies!
On average, the life expectancy of Pit Bull is 10-14 years depending on factors like health, food habits, exercise, diseases, etc., all play an essential role in keeping them alive
In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at why some Pit bulls die early and what you can do to make sure your Pittie lives long and healthy.
|American Pit Bull Terrier||8 – 15 years|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||12 – 14 years|
|American Staffordshire Terrier||12 – 16 years|
Pit Bulls – A Brief Guide
Pit bulls are referred to as dogs that have been cross breaded, so yes, you can say that it is a man-made breed. A pit bull is born when a bull and terrier are crossed together.
What’s up with the name pitbull? Does it have a significant meaning or a crazy story behind it?
Actually both! The descendants of the pit bulls, bulldogs, were used for bull and bear-baiting in the early 1600s.
Until the 1800s, no one thought about how cruel games they were playing under the name of entertainment. A group of wise people decided to stop this bloody sport and made bull baiting illegal.
Now, some people were not happy with this decision, and they just thought to make the blood sport less controversial by replacing bulls with dogs.
Like that was not enough when they decided to cross-breed dogs for more entertainment, as we see pit bulls result from all these.
Note: some people have a misconception about the term pit bull, actually it’s not a specific breed, but it is used for several breeds instead.
So here are the top four types of pit bull.
Types of pit bulls and their physical characteristics:
Under the Pitbull umbrella, four dog breeds are included, some owners must not be aware of this fact.
The term ‘Pitbull’ refers to a few dog breeds that share similar origins, appearances, and temperaments with one another, not a dog breed as such.
The most popular of these are American bully, American bulldog, American pit bull terrier, and American Staffordshire terrier. Let’s discuss this in detail!
|Height||13 – 20 inches|
|Weight||65- 85 pound|
|Life span||10- 13 years|
|Physical characteristics||Short and smooth coat, compact, thick, and muscular.|
The American Bully is a relatively new companion dog breed that the American Bully Kennel Club first recognized in 2004. These dogs are very gentle with their owners as well as with other family members.
They mainly want to please their owners, which makes them easily trainable. Like any other dog, training your American bully requires proper training methods and a lot of confederation.
Since these dogs come from an energetic descent, they need a good amount of exercise, indoor and outdoor! They have fewer grooming needs.
|Weight||60- 120 pound|
|Life span||10- 13 years|
|Physical characteristics||Stocky build; deep chest; short muzzle; usually white with brindle, red, black, or varying shades of brown or gray patches|
The American bulldog is a decedent of English bulldogs. These dogs are now used as utility dogs in farms, shows, and dog sports. They are represented as cultural icons of the United States of America.
These dogs are intelligent and affectionate, which makes them good companions. These dogs are also very protective, so proper socialization training is necessary.
Some other breeds are :
- The American pit bull terrier
- The American Staffordshire terrier
What is the life expectancy of pit bulls?
Pit bulls are, in general, a healthy dog breed. On average, any healthy pit bull breed can live up to 13-15 years.
The researcher states that: small dogs live more than large dogs because large dogs age faster than smaller ones.
Smaller pit bulls can live up to 17 years, while a giant dog could pass away at the age of 8.
Sometimes, you can also depend on your Pit bull’s parents and grandparents; if they lived a longer and healthier life, so will your Pitbull.
Apart from this, other factors also affect a dog’s life span.
What was the age of the oldest Pit Bull ever to live?
The world’s oldest pit bull, max, lived up to the age of 26-year-old!
Did you know that’s like 200 years in humans! Max used to live in Louisiana in the United States of America.
Here are a few exciting things that the owner of Max shared:
- Beefy doggy bone treats, kiddles and bits were the only things max was feed on.
- Max was not allowed to have any food off our table!
- He was bought from a local sugar cane farmer in 1983.
- Max was the only brown dog in the litter.
- The only health issues max faced in the later stage were mild arthritis and cataracts.
- He was very fond of sleep.
- Regular squeaky balls and a few kinds of ropes were the only toys max had!
Pit Bull Life Expectancy: What Factors Affect It?
Like any other dog, the life expectancy of pit bulls depends on several factors.
1. Health and Genetics
Health and genetic species are more like the theory of nature vs. nurture! A pit bull’s life span is affected due to the genetics of its parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Let me explain to you in simple words.
For example, if your Pit bull’s grandparent lived for like 15-17 years, there are good chances that your pit bull will also live longer and vice versa!
On the other hand, environmental conditions can impact your pit bull’s life quality, which will eventually degrade its life expectancy!
But you can change it! How? By fulfilling the daily requirement of nutrition, protein, and carbs, maintaining a good balance, and exercising regularly for improving your pit bull’s life quality.
A breeder would be able to tell you about how long the parents of the pit bull lived so that you can determine their strength!
2. Living Indoors or Outdoors
There’s a misconception about pit bulls being aggressive or assertive dogs, whereas they are very mushy-mushy from the inside! All they want is to impress their owners and cuddle up on the couch with them!
So it’s not a very good idea to keep them outdoors!
Let’s have a look at the problems an outdoor pit bull would face:
- Pit bulls can’t afford to be outside in the cold, as they have skinny and short coats.
- They can get into a fight with other animals very quickly.
- Casualties like car accidents.
- Most likely to get the disease from staying outside.
Let’s have a look at the advantages of keeping your Pitbull inside:
- They will be warm, cozy, and emotionally satisfied inside.
- They don’t shed much, so you don’t have to worry much about the cleaning.
- Pit bulls are primarily house dogs, and they protect their owners.
- You can keep track of their food.
- They suffer from fewer diseases and infections than outdoor dogs.
So it’s better to keep your pit bulls indoors and not even think of keeping them outside because they require good care and love to grow healthy and happy.
3. Spaying and Neutering
There are many misconceptions about neutering or spaying your dog, but that’s the best way to be a responsible pet owner.
Did you know that spaying your female dog will reduce the risk of mammary cancer, uterine infections, unwanted pregnancy, does not produce blood or mucus( heat cycles), and is less likely to seek a mate( wanderlust)?
Spayed female dogs live a much healthier lifestyle than un-spayed female dogs.
Neutered dogs will have no enlarged prostate, reduced urinary problems, and less risk of testicular cancer.
So don’t fall for the rumors; not spaying or neutering your dogs will make their life as well as your more problematic.
The second most important thing is that around 70,000 puppies and cats are born every day in the USA. Five million animals are put to sleep every day due to homelessness! Only 1-10 animals get home to live in rest, wander the streets, and fall victim to car accidents or inhumane actions.
So by neutering your dog, you are stopping them from multiplying and ending up on the streets; also, you are creating opportunities for the shelter animals to get adopted.
To keep him physically and mentally stimulated, you need to spend 1-2 hours daily with your Pitbull. Exercise also depends on your dog’s age and energy level.
Here’s a table for better understanding:
|Three months old||15-30 minutes|
|Six months old||30- 60 minutes|
|Six months to adulthood||1- 2 hours|
|Senior Pitbull||Depending on their energy level and health condition.|
Exercise does not just mean taking your dog out on a pee/ poop walk and thinking that’s it all! You need to have variations in a balance between mental and physical workouts.
For example1: swimming, running, walking, trick training, agility training, puzzles, weight pulling, etc. these are some excellent examples to stimulate your dog physically.
Example 2: scent games, nose work, puzzles, brain games, toy training, etc.; these were some excellent examples to stimulate your dog’s mind.
When pit bulls or any other dog is deprived of daily exercise, they become bored, aggressive, or destructive by behavior.
Fall victim to health issues like obesity that worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain, and heart disease.
5. Regular dental care is essential
To maintain regular dental care, start at an early stage because some dogs might take longer to adopt this habit. Ideally, brush the teeth of your pittie twice a week for healthy results. Get an appropriate toothpaste and toothbrush.
An adult Pitbull should be fed twice a day, while a puppy, three times a day. Pitbulls require a diet that’s high in protein so that they could support their muscular bodies.
When choosing their diet, go for meat that has higher values of amino acid such as :
- Organ meat such as liver, spleen, or kidneys
Some fibers to add in your pit bull’s diet through plants and veggies:
- Sweet potato
- Kiwi fruit
Pit bulls are prone to the following diseases:
The most common heart disease Pitbull suffers from is congenital heart disease; some are even born with it. In this, the left ventricle of the aorta becomes narrow.
Symptoms that suggest your dog is suffering from heart disease:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of diet
- The significant change in behavior
If you see such symptoms in your dog, you should take them to the vet for early diagnostic and effective treatment.
Also, regular health checkups are the key to spotting any illness as early as possible.
- Gastric Dilation Volvulus
Any dog can suffer from gastric dilation, but dogs with deep chests or large bodies are more prone to it.
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a stomach expansion accompanied by rotation of the mesenteric artery.
GDV is a life-threatening disease that primarily affects giant and giant-breed dogs, with a death rate of 20%–45% in treated animals.
To improve survival in individuals with GDV, immediate medical and surgical intervention is essential.
Symptoms of GDP:
- Stomach pain.
- Pale gums.
Treatment: Stabilization of your pet, decompression of the stomach, and surgery to permanently return the stomach to its normal position are all part of treating this illness (gastropexy). Damage to abdominal organs must be assessed and treated accordingly as indicated at operation time.
Ichthyosis is a condition that makes your dog’s skin very dry, itchy, and scaly sadly, pit bulls are more prone to get impacted by it. Unlike other illnesses, this can attack dogs of younger age because it can be genetically inherited.
To prevent ichthyosis from wrapping its hand around your poor dog, you need to take extreme care of its grooming needs! Take extreme care of the grooming needs of your pattie! You can switch to a better quality of dog shampoo.
It is best to have a genetic test done while your dog is pregnant since this illness can affect your newborn baby as well.
Cataracts are a disease that can impact your dog’s eyesight! Cloudy eyes, loss of sight, and inflammation are the characteristics of cataracts in dogs. With growing age, they are more vulnerable to it.
Other conditions like pink eye, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, etc., are causing trouble in your pit bull’s eye.
You should contact the vet if you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog’s eyes to prevent getting it from worst:
- Excessive blinking
- Any kind of discharge
The most common cause of death for Pit bulls is?
All dog breeds are prone to some or other health issues, and Pitbull is no different from them. Heart issues are one of the most common reasons for a Pitbull to die from.
Hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and kneecap dislocation are some other health issues a Pitbull might have to deal with in its life.
Parvo is almost often lethal without treatment if you don’t get vaccinated.
Parvovirus can be found in any setting (lawns, homes, kennels, dog parks, etc.). It takes the virus 5-7 days to incubate before symptoms of infection appear.
Infected dogs discharge the virus in their vomit or feces, and this is how it spreads.
The best way to prevent it is vaccination during the puppy stage.
- Aortic stenosis
Pit bulls are more prone to suffer from aortic stenosis than other breeds. In this, the aortic valve(the valve that carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body) becomes narrow.
So the heart has to work more to pass on the blood, resulting in a weaker heart, leading to muscle failure.
Regular vet visits might help you find out if your Pitbull has it. However, mild cases require no treatment, but moderate to severe cases require medication.
- Valve malformations
There are four valves in your dog’s heart, from which the mitral valve usually leaks, making it difficult for the heart to work correctly. Infections, age, endocarditis, and congenital are some common reasons to cause valve malformation.
Pit bulls are prone to heart disease, so you should take extra care of them.
Maintaining a healthy life expectancy for your Pitbull through exercise
Walking and running are the best when you have less time for your dog but are they enough? Well, for a breed like Pitbull, who’s highly energetic and intelligent, it’s not!
Let’s have a look at a few other exercises that will keep your dog physically and mentally fit:
- Fetch the ball
You can spend hours with them playing and throwing a ball. Because you don’t have to move much, it’s a beautiful exercise alternative for dogs with pet owners who don’t want to spend much time or energy conducting exercise games.
- Dog agility training
Dog agility training is a sport in which you direct your dog through a series of obstacles in a certain amount of time. You must train your dog to be as quick and accurate as possible.
- Apart from these, you can take your Pitbull to swim, run, do mental games, do puzzles, etc.
The benefit your Pitbull will get from the following exercise:
- fulfills the jumping and running instinct of your dog
- Helps in reducing destructive behavior
- Satisfies their hunting needs
- Creates a friendly bond with their owners
It’s almost impossible to give you a Pitbull’s exact lifespan, but they generally live about 10-12 years. On the other hand, the life span of a pit bull mix depends on the breeds they are mixed with.
Pit bulls are fantastic pets for any family, don’t overlook the information regarding their expected Lifespan, as it’s very important to estimate the responsibility of owning them. And with proper care, diet, and exercise, your pittie can live a longer and healthier life.
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.