How Long Do Pitbulls Live? Here is What You Need to Know

pitbull looking at something

If you own a pitbull or consider getting one, you may be keen to learn more about their life expectancy.

The average life expectancy of a pitbull is 12-16 human years, and it varies from one dog breed to another. With that said, you cannot tell with certainty how long your pitbull will live as its lifespan is affected by factors such as genetics, health condition, and lifestyle.

However, you can take steps to enhance its quality of life and increase the chances of living to its life expectancy.

This article will discuss the life expectancy of the various breeds categorized as the pitbull breed. It will also look at the factors that affect the lifespan of a pitbull and provide tips for prolonging the pitbull life expectancy. It is all good information to have as a dog owner.

Average Lifespan of Various Pitbull Breeds in Human Years

  • American Bulldog – 10-15 years
  • America Pitbull Terrier – 12-24 years
  • Jack Russell Terrier – 13-16 years
  • American Staffordshire Terrier – 12 to 16 years
  • English Bull Terrier – 10-14 years
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier – 12-16 years
  • Red nose pitbull – 10-14 years
  • Blue nose pitbull – 10-14 years

Factors Affecting the Life Expectancy of Pitbulls


Pitbulls refer to a range of dog breeds. They are athletic and strong. Typically, they have large heads with a square-shaped face, a stunted nose, powerful jaws, a wide forehead, and strong necks. Their bodies are short and bulky. The hind legs tend to be low snug, while the front legs are muscular.

However, the various breeds present specific genetic characteristics that shorten or lengthen their lifespan. For instance, terriers have a genetic composition that predisposes them to many life-threatening diseases, such as heart disease, thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, inflammation, and cataracts.

The health condition of the parent dogs can be passed down to the offspring. For instance, if one of the parent pitbulls died of cancer or heart disease, the offspring can ail from the same. Similarly, if a pitbull is a crossbreed, its lifespan is also a factor in the breeds’ average life expectancy.

Health Condition

Healthy pits usually outlive those that have an underlying health issue.


Like humans, female pitbulls have a longer life expectancy than males. The average expectancy of female pits is 15 years, while that of males is 13 years.

Spaying/ Neutering

Spaying or neutering affects the lifespan of a pitbull in that those that are spayed or neutered are less prone to health issues such as prostate cancer, intestinal issues, and pyometra. As such, if you do not intend to breed your pitbull, spay or neuter it as soon as possible.


Nutrition plays a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of a pitbull and, ultimately, its lifestyle. They require a diet that is rich in healthy proteins. It should also meet the daily recommended caloric requirement for your pitbull’s specific dog breed and weight.

A healthy pitbull’s diet should also contain carbohydrates, fats, probiotics, and fiber. You also want to provide a dog food rich in glucosamine, an amino sugar that promotes healthy cartilage.

Conversely, if they are overfed, they tend to gain weight fast, leading to obesity or other diseases. On the other hand, if they are underfed, they lose weight excessively and may become malnutritioned.

Avoid bad protein sources such as heavily processed meat and poultry, slaughterhouse leftovers, or dead animals. Also, watch out for additives and artificial flavors infused in dog food.

Whole grains and corn are incorporated into some pitbull foods to act as fillers. Large amounts can lead to excessive weight gain and digestive issues. They can also lead to malnutrition if used as a replacement for protein.


Pitbulls are high-energy animals. They need to be provided with ample space and regular activities to expend excess energy. Otherwise, they can become aggressive and present other behavioral problems. Also, lack of exercise is a predisposing factor for obesity.

Notably, domesticated pitbulls provided with healthy, nutritious foods and regular physical activity tend to outlive those who live outdoors. Pitbulls that stay outside for extended periods are at a higher risk of contracting disease and infections, getting into fights with other animals, or getting into accidents.

Top Causes of Death for Pitbulls

black pitbull dog

Health Issues

The most common diseases in pitbulls include:


Often results from limited activity and excessive calorie consumption. Pitbulls have a large appetite. Therefore, you need to pay attention to how much they eat to avoid exceeding their daily recommended intake.

It will also help determine how much exercise is an adequate amount of physical activity to burn excess calories. Regularly check in with your vet about your pitbull’s weight to ensure that it is within a healthy range.

Below is an overview of the healthy weight range for various pitbull breeds:

  • American Bulldog – 60-110lbs
  • America Pitbull Terrier – 35-65lbs
  • American Staffordshire Bull Terrier – 25-40lbs
  • English Bull Terrier – 50-80lbs
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier – 25-40lbs
  • Red nose pitbull – 10-14 years
  • Bluenose pitbull – 10-14 years

Hip Dysplasia

It is often an inherited condition whereby the hip joint is not fully-formed. The femoral ball does not fit into the hip socket properly, causing pain, difficulty walking, total immobility, or arthritis.

Skin Problems

Pitbulls are particularly prone to skin infections and allergies throughout the year. Since they have light-colored fur and less hair on the body, they are prone to sunburns and skin cancer – particularly squamous cell carcinoma, which often manifests as tumors on the skin.  

Certain pitbull breeds are more prone to skin cancer, including the American pitbull terrier and bulldog. Watch for any new bumps or abnormal skin appearance on your pit, and have a vet check it out immediately.

Knee Problems

They mostly arise due to excessive or high-impact activity that causes the knee ligaments to tear. They are more prevalent in pits that are two years and older. The knee injuries may be painful or cause immobility.

Heart Disease

It is either inherited or arises as a lifestyle disease. The most common heart disease in pitbulls is aortic stenosis, whereby the aorta is narrow. It causes restricted blood flow from the heart leading to shortness of breath or weakened heart muscles.

Low Thyroid

Pitbulls also have a high risk of developing hypothyroidism. Common symptoms of the condition include mood changes and unexplained weight gain.

Degenerative Myelopathy

This is a genetic disorder due to defective SOD1 gene mutation. It causes spinal issues that lead to immobility, predisposing the dog to obesity and other related diseases.

Tooth Decay

Many pitbull owners often overlook their dog’s health, leading to the buildup of germs. If left untreated, the germs can cause infections or sepsis throughout the body leading to organ failure.


Due to their high energy, pitbulls can get into fatal or life-threatening accidents.


As pitbulls get older, signs and symptoms of aging begin to show. For example, greying hair, lethargy, loss of muscle strength, etc. These can expose the dog to other health issues that may cause death. Nevertheless, the dog dies in due time as it approaches its life expectancy.

Tips to Extend the Pitbull Lifespan

  • Select your pitbull carefully. If buying your pitbull, find out about its lineage. Were the parents crossbred? Is there a history of genetic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and myelopathy in the family? What was the cause of death for the earlier generation of pits in the family? If you are buying your pitbull from a family, ask for health records and the history of the pit. This is a huge responsibility that the dog owner needs to follow through with.
  • As a dog owner, take the necessary measures to keep your dog healthy. Provide it with a nutritious diet high in healthy proteins and regular and consistent physical activity. Also, keep up with vet visits, immunizations, and deworming appointments. If you notice any change in behavior or symptoms, see a vet immediately.
  • Train your pitbull puppies as early as possible. Experts recommend starting your pitbull training when the pitbull puppy is 3-8 years. Pits have a bad reputation of being too aggressive. However, if you train them early, you can manage and prevent aggressive behaviors and accustom them socially. That way, it is less likely to get into accidents or fights.
  • Monitor your pitbull’s weight closely. Weight is a key concern for pitbulls as they are prone to excessive weight gain that predisposes them to other diseases and lifestyle issues, such as immobility. Investigate the cause of any abnormal weight gain and intervene with diet and exercise. If there is no change, see a vet to determine if the dog has thyroid issues.
  • Groom your pitbull regularly. It not only keeps your pit clean to prevent allergies and mites, but it is also an opportunity to bond. When grooming, look out for any abnormalities in the skin, mouth, and the entire body that could indicate health issues.
  • Provide a nurturing environment for your pitbull. Ensure there is ample space for the pitbull to move around in your house or yard. Provide it with toys to keep it engaged and entertained as a way of using up excess energy. Also, keep away items that could cause injuries on the dog and safety proof your house, if need be.

Tips for Caring for an Elderly Dog

Pitbulls that are 10 years and above are considered seniors. While some seniors are still energetic and vibrant, others show obvious aging signs and require additional care and nurturing. Below are tips for caring for a senior dog:

  • Provide it with enough exercise. Senior pitbulls still require exercise to remain healthy or manage existing health conditions. However, they may not be fit for high-intensity and fast-paced, physical activities. The goal is to keep your pit relatively active without putting too much pressure on its joints. Walking and swimming are excellent low-impact exercises for senor pits.
  • Offer smaller food portions. Due to their reduced activity level and slower metabolism, they may not require as much food as they did when they were younger. Therefore, offer smaller portions of food and keep their daily caloric intake low but within a healthy range. You may need to moisten dry food or offer only soft foods if your dog has developed dental issues due to aging.
  • Minimize travels with the pitbull. Senior pitbulls are pretty toned down and may not be adventurous as they once were. Boarding a kennel and long trips may be grueling for them.
  • Watch out for behavioral changes. As pitbulls age, they may become less engaged with people. However, investigate any sudden change in behaviors such as impatience and crankiness as it may be a sign of distress, pain, or disease.
  • Provide a soft and warm bed for your pit. While younger pits enjoy a cozy bed, it is a must-have for older dogs. They tend to get stiff and lame, and a comfortable bed can help.
  • Groom them regularly. Older pits tend to have an odor that can be unsettling to people in your hose if left to linger. Their skin also becomes drier and itchy. Brushing can help to stimulate oil production.


With early and proper training, pitbulls become gentle, loving, fun, and loyal pets. One that you will want to keep for a long time. However, they have a relatively short life expectancy, and factors such as genetics, disease, injuries, and accidents can shorten their lifespan further.

Therefore, the pitbull breed requires delicate care throughout their life to keep them healthy and protect them from accidents. Thoroughly research what it takes for your pitbull breed to remain healthy. Research and talk with your vet about any life-threatening conditions they might be predisposed to. Then, take preventative measures.

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