Despite the stigma surrounding them, Pit Bulls can be amazing family pets. If you’re thinking about adding one to your family, you’re probably wondering: How long do Pit Bulls live?
Sadly, no dog breed lives as long as we wish they would, but it’s nice to know about how many years you can expect to get with your furry family member. It’s also nice to know what sorts of things you can do to extend their lifespan, so we’ve included that information, too.
What is a Pit Bull, Anyway?
While there is an American Pit Bull Terrier, people often use the term “Pit Bull” to refer loosely to several different dog breeds, including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Bulldog.
We will be talking specifically about the American Pit Bull Terrier in this article, but all breeds referred to as Pit Bulls have similar lifespans and health problems.
Pit Bull Lifespan
The average Pit Bull lifespan is 12 to 14 years. Your dog may live as long as 20 years or die tragically early, but without any serious health issues or terrible accidents, you can expect to have at least a dozen years with your Pit Bull.
Factors Affecting How Long Pit Bulls Live
Apart from tragic accidents, there are a wide variety of factors that can affect a Pit Bull’s lifespan. Some things that can shorten a Pit Bull’s life expectancy include:
- Obesity causes many of the same health problems in dogs as people
- Poor diet can impact the health of your Pit Bull
- Hip dysplasia affects your dog’s mobility and quality of life
- Heart disease can dramatically decrease a Pit Bull’s lifespan
- Lack of training can lead to an aggressive Pit Bull that needs to be put down after attacking a person or another dog
- Not enough exercise can cause destructive behaviors that may cause owners to take their Pit Bull to a shelter, where they are likely to be euthanized
How Can You Help Your Pit Bull Live Longer?
While you can’t change something like congenital heart disease, there are some things you can do to help give your Pit Bull the best chance of a long, healthy life. Here are a few tips to help your Pit Bull live longer.
#1 – Keep Your Pit Bull a Healthy Weight
More than half of all pet dogs are overweight or obese. As with humans, obesity in your Pit Bull can cause things like:
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
- Kidney disease
- Reduced quality of life
- Shorter lifespan
How can you tell if your Pit Bull is overweight? When your dog is standing up, they should have a visible waistline when viewed from the side and above. You should also be able to feel (but not see) their ribs.
Just like with humans, the keys to keeping your Pit Bull a healthy weight are to feed them a healthy diet and give them plenty of exercise. If you like to give your dog treats, make sure to give them less kibble to make up for the calories, and don’t go overboard on the treats.
You can also substitute healthy fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs, like carrots, as healthy treats that won’t affect your Pit Bull’s waistline.
If your Pit Bull is overweight, talk to your vet about how to help them safely lose weight. Sometimes, simply feeding your dog less isn’t enough – you may need a reduced-calorie diet.
#2 – Choose a Pit Bull Breeder Carefully
Pit Bulls are genetically predisposed to several health conditions, including hip dysplasia, heart disease, thyroid problems, and allergies. Reputable breeders work hard to reduce how many genetic conditions are passed through their bloodlines and do certain tests to ensure the health of their dogs before breeding them.
Backyard breeders, puppy mills, and pet stores, on the other hand, are more interested in making money than they are in producing healthy puppies. Dogs from disreputable breeders like these are more likely to suffer from genetic problems, and they’re also more likely to suffer from deadly infections like parvo.
Here are some ways to make sure the breeder you’re looking at is reputable:
1. They should do health tests on the parent dogs
2. You should be allowed to see the puppies on site
3. They should answer all your questions and ask some of their own
4. You should be allowed to meet at least the mother dog
5. They should offer to take the puppy back if you can’t keep it for whatever reason
6. They may offer health guarantees
#3 – Get Regular Vet Care
Many health conditions are easier to treat the sooner they are spotted. Taking your Pit Bull to the vet at least once a year when young and twice a year when becoming a senior can help spot potential health problems before being severe enough to shorten your Pit Bull’s life.
#4 – Give Them Plenty of Exercise and Training
Pit Bulls are very active and require at least an hour of exercise every day. Without enough exercise, Pit Bulls are likely to become bored and destructive. A bored Pit Bull can start chewing up and swallowing things they shouldn’t, which can lead to intestinal obstructions that can be deadly without expensive emergency surgery.
While Pit Bulls are not necessarily any more likely to attack people or other dogs than any other breed, they do tend to cause massive amounts of damage when they do bite.
The best way to prevent your Pit Bull from aggressive behavior is to give them plenty of socialization and training, starting as young as possible. You need to learn to be firm and assertive without dominating your Pit Bull.
Positive reinforcement is a much more appropriate style of training a Pit Bull than domination or punishment styles of training.
#5 – Feed High-Quality Food
In general, people who eat a lot of junk food tend to have shorter lifespans than people who eat healthily. The same holds true for dogs. Do you know what’s in your Pit Bull’s food?
Most cheap dog foods are made with filler ingredients that don’t have any nutritional value, like corn or meat by-product (the parts of an animal that people won’t eat like beaks or hooves). Look for food that has real meat as the first ingredient, no by-products, and no corn.
For suggestions on dog food for Pit Bulls, check out our article on the 5 Best Dog Foods for Pit Bulls.
#6 – Brush Their Teeth
Most people never think about brushing their dog’s teeth, but a dog’s dental health can impact the rest of their health. You see, if you don’t brush your Pit Bull’s teeth, bacteria can grow out of control under the gumline, then enter the bloodstream and affect your dog’s internal organs, including their heart.
If you can, you should brush your Pit Bull’s teeth every day with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. If your dog doesn’t let you do that, check out the 5 Best Bones for Pit Bulls.
Chewing on bones helps remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and helps stimulate the gums – it’s the next best thing to brushing.
Final Words: Summing Up The Pit Bull Life Expectancy
While there is no way to guarantee that your Pit Bull will live a long, happy life, following these tips should help improve the chances that your dog can live for many healthy, high-quality years as a treasured member of your family.
With a little luck and a lot of love, your Pittie may beat the odds and live longer than the average Pit Bull lifespan of 12 to 14 years.