How Long Do Pitbulls Live? Average Lifespan & Causes of Death

Pitbull lifespan how long do Pitbulls live

Pitbulls are massive dogs known for their guarding abilities and strong physique. These dogs make wonderful pets and loyal best friends. But what about their life expectancy? How long do Pitbulls live?

The lifespan of a Pitbull is between 8 and 16 years. Their exact life expectancy largely depends on which Pitbull sub-breed they belong to. On average, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers live the longest lives among the Pitbull breeds.

If you are interested in knowing all about Pitbulls’ life expectancy, make sure to read this guide thoroughly.

This guide will tackle everything about Pitbull life expectancy, from the different factors affecting their lifespan to the different ways of caring for a senior Pitbull. Let’s get started!

Pitbull Life Expectancy: How Long Do Pitbulls Live on Average? 

Before diving into the actual lifespan of Pitbulls, it is important to first understand what Pitbulls are.

To put it simply, “Pitbull” is not a dog breed. Instead, it is a term used to refer to a family of dog breeds that descended from hybrids between bulldogs and terriers.

The main breeds included in the Pitbull family are the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The American Bully, a breed developed as an extension of the American Pit Bull Terrier, is also a part of the mix. 

Here is the life expectancy of each Pitbull sub-breed:

Pitbull Sub-breedAverage Lifespan
American Pit Bull Terrier8 to 15 years
American Staffordshire Terrier12 to 16 years
Staffordshire Bull Terrier12 to 14 years
American Bully8 to 15 years

As you will learn in the succeeding sections, there are other factors affecting the life expectancy of Pitbulls aside from their breed.

Moreover, you will also learn that Pitbulls, when well-taken care of, will not only live full lives but can even exceed their expected lifespan! 

The Oldest Living Pitbull: How Old Was the Oldest Pitbull That Ever Lived? 

The oldest recorded Pitbull of all time reached 26 years of age. This dog is from Louisiana and its name is Max. Max is a Terrier-cross dog which qualifies him as a Pitbull. 

According to an article from Go Pitbull, Max unbelievably reached and even surpassed the equivalent of 182 years old in human years. Max only eats kibbles and a few treats but never table food.

It was in 2009 when Max’s owners applied for a spot at the Guinness Book of World Records.

However, Max was never officially listed as one of the world’s oldest dogs. That said, it is still undeniable that Max was one of the oldest Pitties to ever exist!

Aside from Max, there are tons of unverified claims of Pitbulls reaching way beyond 20 years of age. These cases only serve as proof that it is possible for Pitbulls to live beyond their expected lifespan. 

Who knows, maybe if you take care of your Pitbull well enough, it will one day be the oldest living Pitbull! 

Factors That Determine the Lifespan of Your Pitbull

Factors affecting Pitbull lifespan

Lifespan is an important thing to consider whenever getting a new pet. It determines how long your four-legged best friend can serve as your companion.

Moreover, it also gives dog owners a big picture of how long they will need to provide for their pets.

If you are looking at a Pitbull as your potential new pet, you would be delighted to know that, in terms of lifespan, their range is quite wide.

You can always pick a Pitbull sub-breed that lives longer if you are looking for a long-term buddy. Aside from breed, however, there are other things that affect the lifespan of Pitbulls.

Some factors affecting the life expectancy of Pitbulls are the following:

Health and Genetics

As with other dog breeds, health and genetics go hand in hand in determining a Pitbull’s life expectancy.

A healthy Pitbull has a better chance of living a full life than a Pittie suffering from some kind of health issue. However, the health of a Pitbull is largely dictated by their genetics.

Genetics is perhaps the biggest determining factor when it comes to a dog’s overall well-being. If you want to get a Pitbull, it is highly advisable to buy only from a reputable breeder.

They employ strict DNA screening tests for all of their parent dogs to ensure that their puppies for sale are free from genetic faults. 

On the other hand, if you are planning to adopt instead, you may need to have your pup checked for underlying health conditions as soon as possible.

It is important for Pitbull owners to get a grasp of their pet’s health level as early as their pet’s first few months. 

That said, health is not solely dependent on genetics. As you will learn in succeeding sections, Pitbulls also have a fair share of health issues that stems from causes other than genetics.

READ NEXT: Best Pitbull Breeders (2021): 10 Places to Find Pitbull Puppies for Sale

Spaying and Neutering

Still related to the health of your pup, spaying/neutering plays an important role in determining a dog’s lifespan.

In general, a spayed/neutered dog is less likely to develop health problems such as prostate cancers, pyometra, difficulty with bowel movements, and more. 

If you do not plan on breeding your Pitbull, it is highly advisable to have it spayed or neutered once they reach the appropriate age. By doing this, you are significantly extending the lifespan of your Pitbull. 

Exercise

Exercise plays a big role in your dog’s life expectancy. According to Pets WebMD, pet owners should always look for ways to keep their pooches active and moving. 

Some ways to do this involve going on frequent walks, engaging in intense workouts such as hikes and swimming, or playing a quick game of fetch.

However, make sure not to overwork your Pittie! Plus, you should also provide enough water after every exercise session. 

Diet

Diet is also one of the factors affecting the average lifespan of a Pitbull. Much like a person with a poor diet, a Pitbull with a poor diet is likely to develop health issues at an early age.

To keep their diet in check, always make sure to give the right kind of kibble to your dog. 

You may need to read the labels on every dog food to find the one that matches their activity level and age.

Homemade dog food and treats are also good alternatives from time to time. It is best to consult a dog nutritionist if you want the best diet for your Pittie. 

Living Conditions (Indoor vs. Outdoor)

In general, outdoor dogs live shorter lives compared to indoor dogs. Outdoor dogs are more likely to get involved in accidents, dog fights, and other casualties.

Also, dogs that are exposed to the elements are known to be the most vulnerable to diseases. 

On the other hand, indoor dogs tend to live longer lives. They are less likely to meet road accidents as they are less prone to chasing after a moving vehicle or stray animals.

How to Identify the Age of Your Pitbull in Human Years?

Although it is a common belief that a dog’s age in human years can be obtained by multiplying its real age to seven, recent reports suggest that this may be inaccurate.

So what’s a better way to identify the age of your Pitbull in human years?

According to Science Magazine, you may need a calculator to convert your dog’s age into human years. The formula goes like this:

16 ln (Your Pitbull’s Age) + 31 = Human Age

First, take the natural logarithm – the “ln” function in your calculator – of your dog’s age, multiply the result by 16, then add 31 to get the final answer.

Sounds tricky? Here’s another way to think of it. A one-year-old dog is 31 years old in human years; a two-year-old dog is 42 years old in human years and; a three-year-old dog is about 48.5 years old in human years. 

Applying the formula to the expected lifespan of a Pitbull which ranges between 8 and 16 years old, we will arrive at about 64 to 75 years old in human years.

If you’re still quite confused, here’s a recent news article from NBC News about this topic. Give it a quick read and you’ll surely get a good grasp of it!

READ NEXT: 10 Best Pitbull Rescues for Adoption (2021): Our Top 10 Picks!

What Do Most Pitbulls Die From? 

Two Pitbull dogs sitting on grass

Pitbulls are typically healthy dogs; however, there are a handful of factors that may cut their life short. These may range from some common health concerns to other things such as trauma, drug side effects, and more. 

Pitbull Health Issues

In general, Pitbulls are healthy dog breeds. When well cared for, these dogs will live a full life free from any form of sickness.

However, while some Pitbulls die from old age and natural causes, others die from life-threatening health issues. 

If you want your Pittie to live a long and healthy life, there are some things you need to keep an eye out for.

Some common health issues in Pitbulls are the following:

Heart Disease

In general, heart diseases are the result of obesity or genetic causes. Although it is not as common as in humans, heart diseases in dogs are still something to watch out for. In the case of Pitbulls, the most common heart disease is known as aortic stenosis

Aortic Stenosis is a condition where a ring of fibrotic tissue in a dog’s subaortic region develops. This results in a weak pulse and an audible ejection murmur from the dog’s heart.

It is also worth noting that Aortic Stenosis is more commonly diagnosed in large dog breeds such as Newfoundlands, Boxers, Rottweilers, and Pitbulls. 

Gastric Dilation Volvulus

Also referred to as bloating, gastric dilation volvulus is a serious health issue that requires urgent medical attention.

It occurs when the blood flow towards the stomach of a dog is suddenly cut off. Oftentimes, bloating happens after a large meal that has not been digested properly. 

Almost all dog breeds have been reported to have experienced bloating. That said, the most common breeds to experience this type of health issue are large dog breeds. 

Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis is known to be common in Terrier-dog breeds. That said since Pitbulls are part Bulldog and part Terrier, they are also at a higher risk of developing Ichthyosis. 

This health condition targets the skin of a dog. It is commonly characterized by scaling, drying, or thickening of a dog’s skin.

If you are noticing that the outer layer of your Pitbull’s skin is thickening or developing a dandruff-like coating, it is best to have your dog checked right away. 

Cataracts

While cataracts are not exactly deadly for Pitbulls, it is still a health condition that will affect your dog’s quality of life.

Cataracts in Pitties are usually a result of a genetic fault that occurred during breeding. However, it may also be due to natural causes brought about by age. 

Among all the Pitbull breeds, cataracts are known to be most common in the Staffordshire Terriers. This health condition is typically diagnosed when dogs are around the age of six or seven.

Other Factors 

Aside from health problems, there are also other factors that may cut a Pitbull’s life short. These may be brought about by their aggressive nature, their living conditions, or improper medication. 

Here are other factors that may shorten a Pitbull’s lifespan:

Physical Trauma

Physical trauma is another early killer for most Pitbulls. Due to their aggressive nature, they may sometimes pick a fight with a larger dog or attack an unsuspecting stranger.

Both cases will most likely result in physical injury or worse, your Pittie might be put down. 

Moreover, since Pitbulls are explorers by nature, they may wander off and end up in a road accident if left unattended.

It is best to train your Pitbull at an early age and provide a fenced area to avoid unnecessary aggression and unwanted wandering off.

Exposure to Toxins

Because some Pitbulls are kept outdoors, they are typically unprotected from the elements.

Exposure to toxic items such as pesticides, polluted water, and other chemical ingredients will surely shorten your Pitbull’s life. 

Also, you might need to check on your Pitbull’s feeder from time to time and make sure to clean them regularly.

Pet owners are also encouraged to invest in a high-quality feeding bowl. Low-cost plastic bowls are usually unsafe and might impart chemicals from plastics into their kibble. 

Drugs

As with humans, improper medication will lead to complications and sometimes even death.

So if your Pittie needs some kind of drug to avert sickness or to serve as a food supplement, make sure to double-check with your veterinarian before administering the drug. 

Moreover, be mindful of the proper dosage for the different kinds of vitamins and medicines you give your dog—overdosing is dangerous!

In addition, you should also remember that some medications should not be used together so make sure to always call the vet first.

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4 Tips to Help Your Pitbull Live Longer

Joyful and cheerful American Pitbull Terrier dog playing on grass

We all want our dogs to live their longest and fullest lives but for that to be possible, we need to help them.

If you are looking for tips to help your Pitbull reach and even surpass their expected lifespan, then this guide has a couple of tips for you. 

Here are four tips to help your Pitbull live longer:

1. Visit the Vet Regularly 

Regular vet checkups are not only necessary for sick Pitties, but it is also important for healthy ones. Visiting the vet will keep you and your dog steps ahead of possible future health conditions. 

Moreover, by doing so, you are making sure that you are not missing out on harder-to-spot symptoms or developing illnesses. As always, prevention is better than cure.

Plus, regular vet checkups will also make your Pitbull comfortable with the vet, which makes medication easier in the future, should the need arise. 

2. Give Your Pitbull a Balanced Diet

Now this one is not a secret, but it’s always worth remembering. A balanced diet is imperative for a longer life.

This holds true for Pitbulls as much as it is true for humans. In fact, diet is perhaps the biggest controllable factor in the lifespan of a Pitbull.

You should always be aware of what you are putting in your dog’s feeding bowl. A few excess foods here and there will eventually pile up and might result in obesity.

Unhealthy food or kibble filled with empty calories is always a recipe for a shorter life!

3. Exercise Your Pitbull Often

Pitbulls need to move a lot in order to stay healthy. Their massive muscles need ample exercise to remain strong and in shape. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to exercise your Pitbull. 

Taking your pet on regular walks or jogs will not only burn extra calories and prevent obesity but it will also uplift their mood.

You can also bring your Pitbull along with you on hikes if that’s something you enjoy doing. Some Pitties are also trained to join competitive weight-pulling, so you can try that as well!

4. Provide a Comfortable Shelter

As mentioned earlier in this guide, indoor dogs live longer than outdoor dogs. If you want your Pitbull to live its longest life, it is necessary to have it stay indoors. 

You need to provide a safe shelter for your Pitbull, preferably one with a comfortable bed. This will save their joints and muscles from early deterioration, and it will keep them warm during chilly nights. 

Caring for a Senior Pitbull

A Pitbull is considered a senior dog once it reaches around 7 to 10 years of age. During this time, you can expect a change in your dog’s behavior as well as in their needs. You may also notice a slight and steady decline in their energy levels.

The good news here is that there are many ways to keep your Pittie in tip-top shape despite being in their senior years!

Here are some ways to care for a senior Pitbull:

  • Watch out for health issues.
  • Lighten your dog’s exercise intensity.
  • Visit the veterinary clinic more often.
  • Pay attention to oral hygiene.
  • Regularly groom your Pitbull.
  • Always keep your Pitbull hydrated.
  • Spend more time with your dog.

These are just some of the things you can do to make growing older more enjoyable for your Pitbull. Always remember that senior Pitbulls need the same amount of love as Pitbull puppies, if not more.

If you want to learn more about senior dog care, here’s a helpful video you can watch:

Caring For Your Senior Dog

Final Thoughts

Pitbulls are a group of tough-looking dog breeds known for their massive size and muscular physiques. While they are not the longest-living dogs out there, they can surely put up a fight when it comes to living a long life!

If you want your Pittie to live its fullest life, make sure to remember everything you learned from this guide.

Always remember that the love and care you give to your Pitbull will ultimately determine how long a life it will live.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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