How long do Pitbulls live? It depends. An undisciplined, inbred animal left to run wild will have a short lifespan. A canine receiving training and evidence-based care will likely enjoy a long, fulfilling life. The answer to the question about life expectancy is relative. In this post, we’ll cover all the necessary steps for giving your pitbull the best possible lifespan. Look up explanations of words in bold italics in the glossary at the end.

So how long do Pitbulls live? In short, Pitbulls can live 12-15 years or longer with proper care. Generally, all the “bully breeds” and pitbull types live about the same length of time. It’s generally true that big dogs live shorter lives than small dogs.

You can expect a Pitbull/Great Dane mix to have a shorter lifespan than a Pitbull/beagle mix. What’s more, mixes frequently have longer lives than purebreds. Purebloods with years of controlled breeding accumulate a concentrated gene pool of inherited traits often resulting in medical problems. Dogs of mixed ancestry enjoy a rich and varied gene pool.

What Is a Pitbull?

Technically there’s no such thing as the pitbull breed. It’s a generic term referring to “bully breeds,” a group of related bulldog-type terriers developed in England through crossbreeding. The UKC (United Kennel Club) recognizes four breeds in the pitbull-type category. The AKC still doesn’t recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier as an official breed, but the UKC and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) do.

The other three in this category are the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bully. Over 20 breeds and mixes share similar physical characteristics and are often mistakenly labeled as pitbulls. Non-pitties include the Bull Mastiff, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Cane Corso, and even the Boxer. We’ll talk more about pitbull types in a moment.

Why Are Pitbulls So Misunderstood?

Pitbulls have been getting a bad rap for years. Did you know they’re often called “pibbles” by their adoring fans? Another nickname is “boopers” because you boop their snoots. We can’t forget “blockheads” and “pitopotamuses.” You’ll hear “wiggle butts” a lot because tail-wagging starts halfway up their backs. How long do Pitbulls live? If you’re lucky enough to live with one of these critters, check out our Happy Tails post to learn ways to prolong their delightful lives.

People have handpicked individuals in breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers to develop their aggressive tendencies. Dogfighters created athletic, combative strains of bully breed mixtures with gameness genetically programmed to fight to the death. Even though dogfighting is illegal, it’s a money-making industry worldwide.

The Tide Is Turning For Pitbulls

pitfall life expectancy

Along with genetics, early training generates warrior dogs with the same techniques the Spartans used in ancient Greece. The result today is that any dog resembling a pitbull type is often labeled a dangerous dog. Thanks to active advocacy groups, breed-specific legislation (BSL) is starting to disappear. A Nevada law now specifies that “A dog may not be found dangerous or vicious based solely on the breed of the dog.”

A word about statistics: inaccurate data collection yields inaccurate results. For example, sled dogs in Canada are responsible for more fatal dog attacks than other breeds. However, there are more sled dogs than other types in certain parts of Canada.

Thanks to active advocacy groups, breed-specific legislation (BSL) is starting to disappear. A Nevada law now specifies that “A dog may not be found dangerous or vicious based solely on the breed of the dog.”

When getting a dog, even a pedigree is no guarantee of temperament. Most myths about pitbulls are based on public misinformation and gossip. Pitbulls are naturally friendly and affectionate but they require awareness of their natural tendencies. Early training brings out their many positive qualities. Dog pounds and shelters are full of Pitbull-type dogs whose owners didn’t understand them or were unwilling to meet their needs.

paw prints

A Little Pitbull History

Over 6,000 years ago, the Greeks used Mastiffs in war and for guarding. Jump ahead a few thousand years. The Mastiff blood lives on in the European bully types. In the 1800s, British breeders crossed Old English Bulldogs with terriers for dogfighting. Powerful and fearless bulldogs were best for bull-baiting and bear-baiting.

However, faster and more agile dogs were more effective for dogfighting. The result was called the “bull and terrier,” the ancestor of most modern pitbull-type dogs. The term “pit” refers to the baiting pit where animals were confined with a dog or two. They fought to the death while spectators made bets.

To make the fighters more streamlined, breeders usually cropped the ears and docked the tails. Any dog could serve as a pit bull if it would attack another animal. For their own safety, breeders worked to eliminate any aggressive tendencies toward humans.

Pitbulls: All Purpose Helpers

British immigrants brought their dogs here for all-purpose helpers on the frontier. Duties included herding livestock, assisting during hunts, protecting the household, providing companionship, and babysitting children. For many years they were known as “nanny dogs” for their gentleness, insight, and loyalty. Stories abound of their courageous service on the battlefronts during both World Wars.

Pitbulls even made their way to Hollywood. Since popularity leads to demand, backyard breeders profited from selling dogs to anyone for any purpose. Illegally raised for dogfighting by evildoers, the “All American Dog” was unfairly recast as Public Enemy #1.

Different Types of Pitbulls

Earlier we mentioned bully breeds and breeds that resemble pitbulls. “Pitbull” is a description rather than a breed. However, the American Pitbull Terrier is a breed. Hundreds of types and bloodlines exist:

  • Blue Nose Pitbull: Their noses are gray rather than blue, but their skin, eyes, and toenails are blue-gray. Their silky coats are silvery-gray. Although medium-sized, they’re densely muscular, sometimes reaching 85 pounds. How long do blue nose pitbulls live? Their lifespan ranges from 8-15 years.
  • Red Nose Pitbull: In 19th-century Ireland, a strain of red-nosed pitbull-type dogs emerged, known as Old Family dogs or Irish Old Family Reds. Inbred for their color, ferocity, and large size, they usually had copper or brown coats and amber eyes. They can be aggressive but respond well to training.
  • Colby: In 1889 John Colby began breeding a line of high-quality pitbulls known by pittie people for their even temperament and willingness to complete any task. They remain one of the most popular lines.
  • Razor’s Edge: This bloodline is famous for making wonderful family companions. Unaggressive, their mild temperament makes them special. In appearance, they have a large head with a short muzzle, a wide back, and a glossy coat.
  • Pynat: Thin but muscular, they’re often used for hunting.
  • Stuffawler: Originally bred for fighting, they’re larger and have a characteristic smile with a gasping expression.

Think of pitbulls like horses: beautiful, lovable, but bred for different purposes.

Proper Nutrition = Enhanced Lifespan

how long do pitbulls live

You know what “hangry” means: “angry” because you’re “hungry.” What if you constantly eat your fill but only junk food? Your belly is full but you’re restless and unsatisfied because your nutritious needs haven’t been met. Imagine spending your entire life like that. Never satisfied. You’re never at the top of your game because you’re missing nutrients your body craves.

On the other hand, think about how good you feel when you’ve eaten a fresh, well-balanced meal with different flavors and textures. In the wild, the wolf ancestors of dogs consumed raw meat and bones from a variety of prey animals. They also devoured the organs. The wolf ancestors sometimes ate plant material including prey’s stomach contents, grasses, roots, and fruits for fiber and moisture. Modern canines, through their association with humans, are now omnivorous, feeding on a variety of foods.

A Nutrient Dense Raw Diet

The best diet for your beloved pitpooch is a combination of fresh, natural, nutrient-dense foods. Because it’s easily digested, there’s much less poop for you to clean up. Different kinds of foods in the right proportion will make your dog healthier, happier, and calmer. A frustrated dog is irritable and less receptive to training.

Studies prove how important breakfast is to kids’ ability to learn in school. Cheaply manufactured kibble made with fillers, preservatives, dyes, unneeded chemicals, and discarded meat scraps will affect your dog’s learning ability. To bring out the best temperament and responses to training, provide a BARF-type diet or supplements. BARF refers to Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. How long do pitbulls live? The right foods will extend your dog’s life by supporting every body system every day.

A Healthy Diet Makes a Healthy Weight

But wait! There’s more! How long do pitbulls live? Weight is one of the major factors controlling human and pitbull life expectancy. Research concludes that excess weight can shorten dogs’ lifespans by a few years. Obesity is a significant problem for pets in the US and UK. P

itbull-type dogs range in weight depending on the type. You can determine a healthy canine weight in several ways. The easiest is checking your Pibble’s profile for fat pads and the absence of visible ribs.

paw prints

Teeth and Gum Health

A quick look at teeth AND gums reveals much about health. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Did you know that dental disease can take years off your pooch’s life? Dental disease is preventable. Dogs don’t love having their teeth brushed, but early training teaches them to accept it. A tiny food bribe also convinces them that brushing isn’t so bad, especially since canine toothpaste contains yummy flavors like chicken.

The #1 choice for oral hygiene for dogs will bring them joy: raw bones! Remember BARF diets? Fresh raw bones are soft, meaty, chewy, and delicious, satisfying their urge to chew. The elastic bone membranes, as well as the gristle and the bones themselves, help scrape off accumulating tartar. RAW is the keyword here. Cooked bones are dangerous. Heat destroys the fat and connective tissue, leaving the bones dry and brittle.

The #1 choice for oral hygiene for Pitfalls will bring them joy: Raw Bones!

See our post: Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Bones? Why They Should!

Chemical-Free Clean Water

You cannot trust the purity of water anywhere. Enforcement of local laws varies greatly. Even with state-of-the-art water treatment plants, old pipes bringing water to your home are crusted with decay. Choosing bottled SPRING water water is a good option. The safest water possible comes from investing in a home purifying system such as a relatively inexpensive under-counter system. How long do pitbulls live? They’ll live longer without lead, chromium, copper, pesticides, and other contaminants in their water.

How long do pitbulls live? They’ll live longer without lead, chromium, copper, pesticides, and other contaminants in their water.

The Great Indoors And Outdoors For Your Pibby

You could write this paragraph yourself! Think about the best environment for someone you love: that’s what your pets need. How long do pitbulls live? You want healthful lives with quality in the quantity of their years. That means a clean, safe, peaceful environment with comfy spots to rest inside and out. They need fresh air, absence of toxins, structure and predictability, and freedom from fear.

Pitbulls’ Special Needs ~ Don’t Miss This Section

These dogs are athletes! With their bouncing energy and active minds, they need exercise and mental stimulation. Being left in the back yard is not enough:

  • Having powerful jaws and jaw muscles means an inborn urge to chew. Play tug-of-war with them and provide supervised sessions with raw bones.
  • They need to dig. Look at those muscular arms and fingers! Create a special place just for digging, even a kiddie pool filled with sandy soil.
  • Like other unpredictable pooches, they shouldn’t be left alone with other dogs because you don’t know their personal triggers.
  • All dogs need their own belongings to possess: a crate, a bed, bowls, their special toys, and their own cuddly stuffed animal.
  • They need you. They need to love you and you to love them.

Dogs need fresh air, absence of toxins, structure and predictability, and freedom from fear.

Happy Dogs Are Well Trained Dogs Increasing Longevity

Many dogs end up in the pound because their humans didn’t choose to train them. How long do Pitbulls live? Training can mean life or death. Just as learning is an ongoing lifetime process for humans, your dog needs continual training:

  • Start from the first day. Your pup will soon look to you to take the lead.
  • Give tiny food rewards often for correct behavior.
  • Learn canine communication so you can read your pet’s body language. Pay attention.
  • Train together to strengthen your leadership, mutual understanding, and partnership.
  • Have short, frequent, enjoyable sessions.
  • Use only positive reinforcement and reward good behavior. No yelling or punishment.
  • Combine voice directions with hand signals; some trainers suggest sound training with clickers or whistles.
  • Socialize with other people, dogs, and situations early.
  • Housetrain with scheduled outdoor breaks first thing in the morning, after meals and playtime, and before bedtime. Reward successes. Respond quickly to pooch requests to go out.
  • Choose a thick, sturdy leash or chain to prevent chewing; use a harness if desired. Retractable leashes are dangerous.
  • Puppy-training classes taught by professionals will start you both together with basic manners, safety practices, skills, and socialization. Lifesaving words include “come,” “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “no,” and “leave it.”
  • Eventually involve other trusted people.

Pitbulls want to be lapdogs. Along with being strong-willed, big, active, and smart, they’re also eager to please. As professional trainer Blake Rodriguez says, “You’re going to get what you routinely allow.”

Professional trainer Blake Rodriguez says, “You’re going to get what you routinely allow.”

pitbull characteristics

Natural Pitbull Characteristics Compared to Other Dogs

Here’s a list:

  1. Barking: Moderate but usually for a reason
  2. Chewing: A natural urge
  3. Cold Tolerance: Most comfortable over 50 degrees
  4. Digging: Provides exercise, fun, and pretend prey-chasing
  5. Drooling: Low to average
  6. Energy level: High; strong, vigorous, agile; like to do what their human is doing
  7. Grooming needs: Weekly brushing with a bristle brush or curry comb; monthly baths using a dog shampoo for sensitive skin
  8. Guarding: Better as watchdogs warning rather than attacking; prefer to befriend people
  9. Heat Tolerance: Prone to overheating in temps over 80 degrees
  10. Motivated by: Food!
  11. Pack behavior: Prefer human company; depending on upbringing and socialization, may be reactive and unpredictable around other dogs; need supervision
  12. Playfulness: High; love active games
  13. Prey drive: Often high
  14. Sociability: High; affectionate; people-oriented; attuned to human needs; eager to please; emotionally responsive; love children; often clingy, may have separation anxiety
  15. Trainability: High; eager to please; need ongoing training to maintain structure and boundaries
  16. Water Behavior: Not good swimmers due to heavy muscles, but generally love shallow water, sprinklers, and mud
  17. WARNING: Pitbulls are among the kissiest dogs you will ever meet! Ask anybody who has one!

Activity and Exercise

Everything you do with your dog strengthens your bond. Pitbulls have high exercise requirements and need to burn off energy. How long do Pitbulls live? They won’t do well without space to run, play, and dig. Keep these points in mind:

  • Practice safety
  • Avoid temperature extremes
  • Check their feet and toenails before setting out
  • Bring water
  • Bring treats to reinforce training
  • Bring poop bags
  • On all kinds of outings, start easy and advance over time
  • Go at their pace so they can look around, listen, sniff, taste, and leave their calling card (pee)
  • Maintain leash control in case of surprises
  • Use a dog seat belt in the car
  • On water outings use a flotation device and bring another person who can swim
  • Use stable boats and kayaks that won’t tip with the weight of a moving dog
  • Practice obedience courses and nose work such as identifying scents and tracking
  • Try sprinkler play, hide and seek, and fetching
  • Avoid high-impact exercise with growing pups to prevent bone damage

Mental and Emotional Health

All sentient beings — conscious of themselves and able to feel — need mental enrichment. Stimulation means going new places, trying new experiences, playing different games, doing food puzzles, and participating in any training activities. For emotional support, sentient beings need acceptance in a “pack” of like-minded creatures. They need affection, jobs to do, and appreciation for accomplishments.

You can make almost any activity with your pitbull into a bonding opportunity providing mental and emotional satisfaction. You can walk together and play tug-of-war together. Brush your pooch while doing an ear/skin/foot/toenail check and make that back leg kick with delight! How long do pitbulls live? Also called “luvabulls,” they live longer with mental and emotional experiences shared with you.

  1. Each dog is an individual with a unique personality formed by genetics plus life experiences. Here’s what your Pitbull needs to thrive:
  2. Understanding of bully breeds’ distinctive needs
  3. A safe, toxin-free environment
  4. A fresh, balanced diet of nutrient-dense Raw food to maintain a healthy weight
  5. Daily exercise
  6. Your participation in early obedience training and socialization
  7. Leadership with kindness and affection
  8. Mental stimulation
  9. Being neutered or spayed
  10. Outside time

Bringing Up the Rear (The Wiggly Butt Rear)

To decide if a pitbull is right for you, consider if you’re right for a pitbull. If you’re prepared to spend part of your daily life meeting their needs, then you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettably loving and faithful partner. Think of your pibble not as your dog, but as your partner in the adventure of life.

Glossary

  • Advocacy: Defending or supporting a cause
  • Chemical: Any substance with a defined composition; some chemicals are manufactured for purity like chlorine while others occur naturally like water
  • Chemical-free: Our world is composed of chemicals; in common use the phrase indicates being free of toxins and contaminants
  • Ear cropping: Trimming the ears of domesticated animals for style or human convenience; commonly performed on dogs used for fighting and hunting; deemed “not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient” by the American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Evidence-based: Strategy or practice based on recent proof gained through testing by professionals
  • Gameness: Willingness and determination to face hardship; courage; pluck
  • Omnivorous: Surviving on a wide variety of animal and plant foods
  • Sentient: Conscious and aware of self and others; showing realization and perception; experiencing emotions
  • Tail docking: Amputating domesticated animals’ tails for style or human convenience; deemed “not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient” by the American Veterinary Medical Association; banned in many countries
  • Tartar: Calcified deposits of food and bacteria on the teeth and under the gums, causing gum inflammation and dental decay

References

Pitbull history and advocacy:
https://love-a-bull.org/resources/the-history-of-pit-bulls/
Bully breeds, pitbull types:
https://www.pitbullinfo.org/pit-bulls-breeds-and-pictures.html
Cropping ears and docking Tails:
https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/avma-policies/ear-cropping-and-tail-docking-dogs
Canine weight related to the lifespan:
https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2019-03-01/study-finds-overweight-dogs-live-shorter-lives#:~:text=New%20research%20with%20data%20provided,with%20a%20healthy%20body%20weight.
Online dog training:
https://www.braintraining4dogs.com/get-btfd/?hop=sage0591