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How Long Do Pit Bulls Live? Average Lifespan, Data & Care

Quincy Miller

By Quincy Miller

American Pit Bull Terrier at sand beach with bluffs

Despite the (unfair) bad rap they get, Pit Bulls are wonderful dogs. They’re sweet, loyal, and loving, and they enjoy nothing more than crawling into your lap and licking your face for as long as you’ll let them.

When they’re cuddled up next to you, it’s understandable to think that you’ll never recover emotionally if something ever happens to them. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at the pit bull life expectancy.

Many factors affect a Pit Bull’s lifespan, but in general, you can expect these dogs to live 12-14 years. It can be several years less than that or a few years longer, though, depending on a few things.

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What Is a Pit Bull, Exactly?

The issue when dealing with anything related to Pit Bulls is that many people have no idea what a Pit Bull really is. Many other breeds are often lumped in with them, including American Bulldogs, Staffordshire Terriers, and even breeds like Boxers. This tendency to misidentify these dogs affects all sorts of statistics about their health and behavior.

For the purposes of this article, we’re looking solely at American Pit Bull Terriers and their life expectancies.

The good news is — as far as our purposes are concerned, anyway — that all the dogs that are commonly mistaken for Pit Bulls have roughly the same lifespans, health issues, and other problems that American Pit Bull Terriers have.

However, it’s also worth noting that many people consider a dog a Pit Bull if it has a drop of Pit Bull blood in them, so many mutts are simply labeled Pit Bulls when there may be several other breeds mixed in. These other breeds can have a huge impact on the life expectancy of a Pit Bull; for example, a Pit Bull/Great Dane mix likely won’t live as long as a Pit Bull/Labrador mix.

Old Family Red Nose Pit Bull
Image Credit: Joe Stoltz, Pixabay

How Long Do Pit Bulls Live?

The average lifespan for an American Pit Bull Terrier is 12 to 14 years. That’s because these are medium-sized dogs with a good mix of genes in their blood.

One of the biggest factors affecting how long any dog will live is their size. Larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, so Chihuahuas will usually outlive English Mastiffs. As you might expect, medium-sized dogs (like Pit Bulls) tend to slot in right between the two.

Another huge factor that impacts a dog’s lifespan is whether they’re purebred or a mix. Many purebred dogs have shorter lifespans, as inbreeding causes congenital health defects to spread like wildfire through the breed. On the other hand, the diverse array of DNA that comes from mixing several breeds can lead to much longer lifespans.


What Affects Pit Bull Life Expectancy?

Mixing in another breed with your Pit Bull will affect their lifespan, but there are many other factors involved in determining how long your Pit Bull lives. The good news is that many of them are within your control.

Perhaps the biggest issue is your dog’s weight. If you let your Pit Bull become overweight, their health prospects and lifespan will drop precipitously. In fact, having an overweight dog can shave as much as 2½ years off their lives. It’s important to feed your dog a high-quality food and practice strict portion control.

You’ll also want to make sure that they get as much exercise as possible. An hour or two of strenuous activity per day will keep your Pit Bull healthy, and it will also help keep them happy, as these dogs love to run. Just be careful about subjecting them to high-impact exercise, as it can be hard on their joints.

Keeping their teeth clean is another important thing to do. If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth regularly, plaque and bacteria can build up in their mouths and potentially enter their bloodstream, where it can then cause damage to the major organs. If your Pit Bull suffers from periodontal disease, it can knock off as much as 3 to 5 years from a pit bull’s life expectancy. Luckily, avoiding this is as simple as getting out a toothbrush.

Finally, don’t skip their vet visits. Semi-annual checkups will ensure that everything is going well with your dog, and on the off chance that something is wrong, they can allow you to catch it quickly, while there’s still time to fix it.

blue nose pitbull waiting to play fetch
Image Credit: J.A. Dunbar, Shutterstock

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What Are the Most Common Causes of Death for Pit Bulls?

For the purposes of this question, we’re only going to look at causes of death for Pit Bulls kept as pets. Unfortunately, these dogs are still euthanized in shelters at alarming rates, and many Pit Bulls are also kept (and killed) by criminals in the dark recesses of the world.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here are the things most likely to cause a Pit Bull to meet a premature end:
  • Car accidents (this is a big one, so keep your dog on a leash or safely in the house or yard at all times)
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Valve malformations
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer (especially mast cell tumors and melanoma)
  • Kidney disease

You should also know that there are other conditions, like hip dysplasia, that aren’t fatal in and of themselves but may cause the dog to experience so much pain that euthanasia becomes the most humane option.

Lack of training can also be a big cause of death for these dogs. Pit Bulls suffer from a stigma that says they’re inherently aggressive, so if your dog hasn’t been taught proper manners, they may behave poorly — and people tend to overreact to Pit Bull misbehavior. All it takes is one or two misunderstandings, and you may find yourself being forced to put your friend down. Make sure they’re well-trained and socialized.

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While you’ll have to say goodbye to your best friend someday, if you follow these tips and strategies, you can push that day as far into the future as possible. Pit Bulls are generally a healthy breed, so it doesn’t take much effort to ensure that they live long, happy lives.

Featured Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

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