How Long Does a Pitbull Live? Pitbull Average Lifespan Explained

brown pitbull standing in alley

The term "Pitbull" is often thought to refer to just one breed, but it is actually an umbrella term used to describe multiple similar species. These breeds fall into the term "Pitbull" because they are "bully breeds." American bully breeds have similar builds, personalities, and histories. Their ugly past with dogfighting may have given them a bad reputation, but good dog lovers respect Pitbulls just as much as other dog breeds. They are distinctly built with short, muscular bodies and box-shaped heads with broad foreheads. These dogs are usually accompanied by long thin tails, shortened snouts, and pretty puppy dog eyes.

The average "Pitbull" term refers to the breeds American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog. In 2019, nearly 4.5 million Pitbulls were registered pets in the US, making up 6.5% of the population of all dog breeds in the US. These dogs are famous for their protection, affection, and loyalty. They have an average lifespan of 12 years. Confident and playful, these healthy dogs can be great family members in your household.

Some Pitbull mixes are more likely to develop health issues because of their difference in size. As mentioned earlier, "Pitbull" is a term encompassing groups of similar bully breeds, but this means that some of these breeds are large dogs while some are smaller dogs. The size of these breeds plays a huge role in how health problems and weight can affect their life expectancy.

pitbull dog standing in yard

How Long Do Pitbulls Live?

Pitbull breeds are medium-sized dogs. More often, medium-sized dogs live an average lifespan of 10 – 14 years. A dog's size has a big impact on its lifespan. Pitties average anywhere from 8 – 15 years because of the many different breeds the umbrella breed encompasses. For example, there is a difference between a blue nose Pitbull and a red nose Pitbull. Also, some of these breeds have more health issues than others, and some are just larger than others.

The American Pitbull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier live an average of 12 – 16 years. The American Bulldog has an average lifespan of 10 – 16 years. Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Bull Terriers both have an average lifespan of 12 – 14 years.

What are the Main Life Expectancy Factors?

Lots of different things can affect the life expectancy of dog breeds. A dog breeds' size plays a significant factor in life expectancy. Many small dogs can live long lives — up to 17 years old. Meanwhile, the Mastiff breed only lives up to an average of eight years.

Other factors affecting life expectancy can be related to poor diet or obesity. Lack of exercise is also alarming. These dogs are prone to joint issues, so not enough exercise can cause hip dysplasia. Sadly, many Pitbulls get put down due to poor training or lack of training altogether. In addition to being put down, many dogs die in car accidents yearly. All of these issues will be discussed in further detail throughout this article.


Female Pitbulls live longer than their male counterparts. Environmental factors contribute to the life expectancy difference between male and female dogs. For example, trauma — like dogfighting — can cause a dog to experience health risks that shorten its lifespan. Thankfully, dogfighting has been made illegal in most parts of the world, with the exception of Japan and some parts of Russia. Genetic factors like hormones and the aging process also contribute to female Pitbulls living longer on average. Females in a breed are typically smaller dogs, and as we know, size plays a role here.

Dogs that are neutered and spayed have fewer chances of developing certain cancers. A spayed female Pitbull can't get ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or mammary cancer. And a neutered dog cannot get testicular cancer. Also, because many Pitbulls like to explore, they are at a high risk of getting hit by cars. Fixed Pitbulls are less likely to roam without their reproductive hormones.

pitbull sitting in field

Genetics and Health Issues 

This breed carries its fair share of health issues. Aortic stenosis, as well as cancer, can happen. Valve malformations are common and can lead to irregularities in heart rhythm. These heart issues can go unnoticed for a long time because symptoms don't usually show until the Pitbull get older. The longer these issues go unnoticed, the harder it is to treat them.

The skin issues Pitbulls get can cause pain and severe health issues. They can get terminal diseases, mast cell tumors, or melanoma. When a Pitbull gets cancer that originates from the skin, it may be deadly. Owners must be proactive about taking their dog to vet visits.

These dogs can have allergies, although it is often hard to figure out what specifically dogs are allergic to. If you are getting a Pitbull from a reliable breeder, they will know the dog's genetic history and predisposing conditions. Responsible breeders keep a list of any health conditions a dog's relatives may have suffered from and can help owners better prepare for caring for their new dog.

Obesity is a common factor as these dogs need a lot of exercise. Obesity can lead to high blood pressure and some types of cancer. Kidney disease and arthritis can also be caused, which can irritate their already sensitive joints. These health limitations can lead to reduced quality of life and a shortened lifespan.

Size and Weight

Pitbulls need a ton of exercise. Extra weight can be detrimental to these dogs, and an underweight dog will have almost as many health issues. Enough exercise and nutrition will take care of any weight issues in the long run.

The United Kennel Club states that Pitbull bloodlines have had muscular, physical attributes for over a century and a half. The UKC mentions that if these dogs stray from their athletic habits, serious health issues can ensue. Many health problems like heart disease and hip dysplasia can be caused by obesity. A healthy weight is one of the easy ways to prevent the many health issues that come with obesity and joint problems.

pitbull laying in grass

Other Things to Consider

Trauma can shorten a dog's lifespan. Dogs that experience life-threatening issues like heartworms, homelessness, or bloat may have more stress, and this can cause a shortened lifespan. When dogs have experienced trauma like dog fighting or abuse, they might have actual bodily trauma left over. Certain head trauma can lead to issues like epilepsy or other neurological diseases.

Also, aggressive natures may make dogs more likely to fight with larger animals, dogs, or people. Pitbull puppies are not inherently aggressive and just like any dog breed, they can be trained out of any negative traits with early socialization. However, most Pitbull puppies come from shelters, and a lot of the time these dogs have had to fight to stay alive and find food. This fighting attitude has proven to work for them in the past so they are more likely to trust this personality if they aren't properly trained by their owners. But this fighting mindset can lead Pitbull puppies into fights they will not win.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Lifestyle

Dogs that are primarily kept outside are always going to be less healthy than inside dogs. On the bright side, outdoor dogs get much more activity than inside dogs. Because Pitbulls have such high exercise needs, this is a great thing. Indoor Pitbulls live a much more sedentary life and are at higher risk of becoming obese.

But a predominantly outdoor Pitbull is at much higher risk of sickness, disease, other animal fights, or extreme weather. Pitbulls' coats are short and not built for cold weather. They need shelter that can protect them from the elements. Outdoor dogs are also usually malnourished compared to indoor dogs.

Lack of Training

Pitbulls are known to be aggressive because of their history in dogfighting. Because of this, they are more likely to be euthanized if they are ill-behaved or considered 'dangerous.' If you ever own a Pitbull and that dog bites a child, your dog will be euthanized. They might even nibble on the ankles of an adult neighbor and still get euthanized. The difference with this is that if a German Shepherd bit the hand of a neighbor, they might get in trouble but are not nearly as likely to be put down as a Pitbull would be. Pitbull owners need to be aware of the stereotypes held against these dogs, and realize that training them to be on their best behavior will help them have a longer life expectancy.

Also, trained dogs know to come when called, so they might be more likely to avoid getting hit by cars. Train Pitbull pups not to explore on their own, but always with their trusting owner. Rid them of any bad chewing, gnawing, or biting habits. Make sure to socialize them properly so they can get used to all people, places, and things.

pitbull with head tilted

Car Accidents

1.2 million dogs are hit by cars every year in the United States. Many of these dogs are Pitbulls that got out of their house or fenced yard. Pitbulls are determined, strong dogs. Some of them may go so far as to climb a fence to get over it. Their past with dogfighting makes them more susceptible to aggressive behavior. This aggressive behavior could lead them to becoming more stubborn.

The aggressive behavior Pitbulls are known for is often caused by abuse or neglect. However, in the past Pitbull-type breeds of dogs were used for bull baiting. Bull baiting was a medieval sport where a bull was tethered to a post and a dog was unleashed to attack the bull. This strange sport was done because it was thought that it made the bull's meat more tender and safer to consume.

Because of their past, aggressive behavior might be an inherited quality in Pitbull-type dogs. In fact, bull baiting was outlawed in the mid-1800s. However, socialization skills are still incredibly important for Pitbulls to have longer lifespans.

These dogs must always be in enclosed spaces or attached to a leash. Because of their natural energy and curiosity, they want to go exploring, but sadly this is what leads to so many deaths in car accidents. The best dog will come when called and not try to escape their yard or leash. The breeds of dogs that live the longest are usually smaller breeds, and breeds that are more easily trained. In order to give a Pitbull a long and healthy life, it's important to properly train and socialize them so they don't go running into the street.

How Can a Pitbull's Lifespan be Extended?

Pitbulls can have longer lifespans as long as they are kept indoors and healthy. Make sure your dog gets regular vet checks. Provide high-quality kibble and nutrients. Find the best dog treats. Make sure they get adequate amounts of exercise and spay or neuter them. A Pitbull's lifespan is majorly affected by their owner's choices. If you as an owner make the right choices to train, care, and socialize them, then your Pitbull should be free to live a long, happy life.

Proper Nutrition

Almost half of all fully grown pet dogs in the US are overweight and obese. It's important to feed dogs based on sex, activity, health, and age. Food does not work on a 'one diet fits all' basis for people, so don't expect it to work for dogs either. While the guidelines on dog food bags are helpful, they are guidelines. Talk with your vet to figure out proper dietary needs and consider buying supplements to make up for the lack of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, or other bone-friendly components. Pitbulls are strong, energetic, and muscular dogs. They need the proper diet to maintain their physical health.

pitbull standing in flower field

Regular Vet Visits

Regular vet visits starting at an early age will help regulate your dog's overall health and activity. Yearly vaccines can protect them from some of the risks of the outdoors, and yearly blood tests can keep an eye out for disease or illnesses.

Take your Pitbull to the vet once a year at least; however, twice a year would be great. After the age of eight, make sure to increase vet visits to a minimum of twice a year.

Exercise and Training Regimen

Pitbulls have tons of energy. These dogs want to use their power in ways they find exciting. Activities like running, exploring, digging, and other adorable quirks might be their chosen way of releasing energy. Help your dog find a way to meet their adequate exercise requirement. Many Pitbulls are obese, and this raises the likeliness of them developing health concerns, like joint problems. Obesity can cause other issues like diabetes and high blood pressure, which could end up making existing heart problems worse and shortening the Pitbull's lifespan. These dogs need daily running and playing. They can be susceptible to overheating because of their thick builds. Make sure your dog stays active to maintain peak health.

If you run your hand alongside your Pitbull's side and you can't feel his ribs unless you put pressure on his skin, he weighs too much. With a healthy diet you should be able to feel a Pitbull's ribs by just running your hand along their side with little to no pressure added.

Regular exercise and checkups can help keep Pitbulls healthy. A dog owner needs to provide Pitbull puppies one to two hours of exercise daily, and mental exercise and brain games can help keep their doggy minds sharp and slow down dog dementia. Providing your dog the correct vaccinations will only help them to live longer and stay healthier. Keep in mind that for the best diets, Pitbulls should eat dog food designed for their breed. Depending on your pup's years of age, gender, activity, and health conditions, you might need to provide them different diets and supplements.


A Pitbull's lifespan can range anywhere from eight to fifteen years long. Of course, the specific dog breed the Pitbull is can grant a more specific lifespan range. But no matter the specific breed, the owner of a Pitbull has a lot of control over the length of a Pitbull's life. A properly trained Pitbull who is socialized, exercised regularly, and fed properly should be able to live the longest lifespan possible. Regular vet visits and lots of love will only help your Pitbull puppy live a longer, happier, healthier life.

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