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What is the Life Expectancy of a Pitbull?

There are a lot of different factors that come together to create a pitbull’s life expectancy. Some dogs live for only a few short years, while other canine can live for decades on end. Find out how long pitbulls can live for when Dr. Jess answers, what is the life expectancy of a pitbull?

grey pitbull panting with smile on face

Pitbull Basics:

A “Pit Bull” in the pet world often refers to a few different breeds with similarities to one another.

The breeds that are sometimes included in this list of “bully breeds” differs from person to person, but can include: the American Staffordshire terrier, the American Bully, the American Pit Bull Terrier, etc., or a mix of any of those breeds. 

A pitbull is a substantially-built dog, identified by its short, muscular, stocky body, boxy head and wide forehead, and shortened nose.

Pitbulls can come in a beautiful blue (silvery-gray color), red (rich bright brown), black, brown, white, or spotted with a combination of any of the above colors.

Pitbull Life Expectancy Factors

A list of some of the more common factors affecting the average pitbull's lifespan.

1. Indoor vs Outdoor Pitbulls

Outdoor dogs are more vulnerable to diseases and casualties like car accidents and animal fights. Most outdoor dogs do get more exercise than indoor dogs so being overweight is usually not an issue, especially when combined with the fact that many outdoor pups must hunt for their meals - nutrition can be an issue.

Indoor canines tend to live much longer in general due to modern interventions like veterinary medicine and vaccinations, complete and balanced dog foods, and protection and shelter. Because indoor dogs tend to be more sedentary (because they typically don't hunt for their food, etc.) getting enough exercise and becoming overweight is a huge worry regarding their health.

2. Genetics/Overall Health

Conditions can be genetic or picked up from the environment or over time. From cancers, to infectious diseases, to genetic/inherited diseases, all health conditions can affect how long your dog can live for. Providing proper veterinary care, food, water, and safe environment can help some of these larger health issues when they do pop up.

3. Spay & Neutering

A spayed (female) or neutered (male) dog has a decreased chance of developing mammary cancer and no chance of ovarian (female), uterine (female), or testicular (male) cancers.

WIthout the reproductive hormones that were there before the spay or neuter, your pup will be much less likely to roam - and that will likely help with the chances of being hit by a car of getting into fights with other animals.

4. Nutrition/Diet

An ideal diet for your pitbull is a complete and balanced food. Not all commercial or homemade dog foods fit into this category. It is best to talk with your vet and discuss with them about the best food options for your pet, including amounts and time of feedings.

5.  Your Pitbull's Weight & Exercise

An overweight dog may have issues with bone, joint, liver, heart, lung, and other systems. Extra weight put on these systems can be incredibly detrimental to your pitbull's overall health. However, an underweight dog can have just as many problems.

Keeping your dog at an ideal body weight and allowing them plenty of opportunities to get exercise, will help mitigate weight issues in the long run. Contact your veterinarian to help you come up with the best weight and exercise plan specifically for your pet.

6. Veterinary Care

Hopefully by now it is pretty obvious that pitbulls who seek routine medical care and emergency care in times of need, are going to live longer, healthier lives. Veterinarians can administer preventive medicine to your dog to help prevent many diseases and conditions. They can also diagnose and treat concerns and diseases as they arise. Vets can also help formulate plan to increase your pup's happiness, comfort, and overall health to live longer.

7. Dog Breed

There are certain dog breeds with longer life spans, which are discussed later down in this article.

Pitbull Life Expectancy Factors:

There are many factors that can shorten or lengthen your pitbull’s lifespan. Here are the more common factors can affect a pitbull’s life expectancy:

What is the Life Expectancy of a Pitbull?

Many sources will say that the average indoor pitbull will have a life expectancy somewhere between 12-15 years.

However, there are many factors, many of which were discussed above, that come into play when talking about the length of a pitbull’s life.

Some pitbull’s will unfortunately live just a few months, while others will live on for over a decade.

In fact, the oldest dog on record as of the time of writing this article, was a dog named Bluey who was 29 years old. [source]

There are always going to be outliers. Some outdoor pitbulls may live into their teens, while some indoor pitties may only live a few months or years.

What is the Average Lifespan of an Indoor Pitbull?

With advances in modern medicine, modern diets, modernized dog products, modern indoor living, etc. pitbulls, as well as other canines, are living healthier for longer.

The average indoor domesticated pitbull will have a life expectancy somewhere between 12-15 years of age, depending on factors that were discussed earlier in this article.

Pitbull Type Breeds Average Lifespans:

Here are the average lifespans of some popular U.S. “bully” breeds. Many individuals fit all of these different breeds into the pitbull category. Also – keep in mind that these are assumed to be indoor dogs:

  • American Bulldog: 10 – 16 years [source]
  • American Pit Bull Terrier: 12 – 16 years [source]
  • American Staffordshire Terrier: 12 – 16 years [source]
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier: 12 – 14 years [source]
  • English Bull Terrier: 11 – 14 years [source]

I will be talking specifically about the American Pit Bull Terrier in this article, but all of the breeds listed in the above list that are sometimes referred to as “pit bulls”, have similar lifespans and health issues.

The Outdoor Pitbull Lifespan:

Unfortunately, the threats of living outside far exceed the threats that an indoor dog will typically face in its lifetime.

Therefore, it is common for an indoor dog to have a much longer life expectancy when compared to an outdoor pup.

Outdoor dogs will likely encounter fights with other animals, cars and other industrial/manufacturing equipment, severe environmental conditions, possible encounters with serious diseases and illnesses without medical help or with less veterinary care, etc.

With all of these things, plus more, in front of them, it is easier to see that their lives may be drastically shorter than their indoor counterparts.

white pitbull with red collar on outdoor hiking trail

How Old Is My Pitbull in Human Years?

Your pitbull’s teeth and eyes are a good place to start for a veterinarian to guesstimate what age your dog is.

The condition of the heart, coat, and other body systems can also help your vet determine an approximate age of your dog.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to bring your canine friend in for a vet exam to help determine their age if you do not already know.

Once you know your pitbull’s age (or age range), many pet owners want to know how old their dog is in human years.

It is a well known thought that for every year old your dog is, they are 7 times that number in human years.

However, this may not be true.

Science Magazine came out with an article explaining in very simple terms, what this newer belief entails:

The new formula, which applies to dogs older than one, says that a canine’s human age roughly equals 16 ln(dog age) + 31. (That’s the natural logarithm of the dog’s real age, multiplied by 16, with 31 added to the total.)

An NBC News article explains the same equation this way [source]:

“Using that equation:

  • a 1-year-old dog is like a 31-year-old human;
  • a 3-year-old dog is like a 49-year-old human;
  • a 7-year-old dog is like a 62-year-old human.”
black and white pitbull face

Pitbull Age Groups Defined:

Another big component around pitbull lifespans is how pits are defined by their ages. In general, this is how I identify different age groups of dogs:

#1- Puppies:

  • up to 6-9 months.
  • From birth to months old, a puppy will be learning so many things about their world, and growing so so much. They will learn to become more and more independent during this stage.
  • This is the best time to sterilize (spay or neuter) and start a vaccine routine, recommended by your veterinarian.

#2- Juveniles/Adolescents/Teenagers:

  • Up to 1.5 – 2 year of age.
  • Your puppy will turn into a dog, meaning that they will continue to grow for some time, but will eventually reach their full adult size during this phase of life.
  • Your dog will have many of their habits and quirks in place by the time this stage of life ends and they move on to mature adulthood.

#3- Adult/Mature Dogs:

  • 2 – 10 years old.
  • This is equivalent to early to midlife for your pet. They may tend to slow down a bit (even though they may still have bouts where they revert back to puppy behavior espcially when playing).
  • This is the time frame when many indoor dogs start to gain weight and develop other medical issues, such as heart and teeth health concerns.
  • It is important to keep up with veterinary care through these enjoyable years.

#4- Senior Dogs:

  • 10+ years old.
  • Most dogs will slow down and tend to sleep more and be less active.
  • Many diseases may arise such a heart, kidney, joint, and dental diseases to name a few.
  • Routine veterinary care is extremely important to help identify and treat many of these diseases.
brindle pitbull with blue collar outside by trees

Increasing Your Pitbull’s Life Expectancy:

Now that we understand the factors that can influence your pittie’s lifespan, we can try and help your dog live their life to the fullest and longest.

Remember that some of the factors that can affect a dog’s life expectancy include: diet, genetics, exercise, environment, veterinary care, etc. Some of these factors we can manipulate to help our pitbull’s potentially live longer.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Keep Your Dog Indoors: This will help with what veterinarians call HBC’s, or “hit by cars”. Keeping your dog indoors will also help decrease the chances of dog fights, other animal fights, and some potential diseases. This does mean that your dog does not go outside to potty, play and go on walks and exercise. It just means that they have protection inside and are monitored by their owners so that they stay safe from threats outside the home.
  2. Exercise Your Dog: That’s right. If your pitbull is spending its days inside, it is more likely to not move around as much as its outdoor counterparts. Your indoor dog will need to exercise and play inside to keep their body moving and healthy, and to keep those extra lbs off their frame. It is also very good for their mental health to be moving and get the blood pumping.
  3. High Quality Diets Only: One of the single biggest factors to the health of your pet pitbull is their diet that you offer to them. That is why it is extremely important to feed them a complete and balanced diet. That includes dog treats and fresh water too! Have a conversation with your vet as to what you should or need to feeding your dog before changing their diet and do it immediately if your dog stops eating or drinking or has a hard time breathing.
  4. Spay and Neuter: Spaying or neutering your dog can help decrease the chances of your dog succumbing to certain cancers later in life.
  5. Medical / Veterinary Care: Everything from spaying and neutering, to routine vaccinations and other preventatives, oral care, and emergency care, will all likely be a part of keeping your dog around for longer than if veterinary care was not available to your pitbull.

Pitbull Lifespan Summary:

There are so many factors that can affect the lifespan of your pitbull.

There are things that you can do for your dog that may help them live a healthier longer life.

Contacting your veterinarian and discussing options about your pit’s lifespan and health is going to help you and your dog with how to proceed through life in a healthy and positive way!

veterinarian signature

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.