How Long Do Pitbulls Live? Average Lifespan and Health Tips 

By Britt Kascjak

Pit bulls are often unfairly judged in our society due to the many myths that exist about the breed. They are actually sweet, lovable dogs. The Pitbull was even once referred to as the “nanny dog”. But, how long can you expect to share your heart (and home) with this adorable breed? The average lifespan for a Pitbull dog is 12 to 14 years. 

How Long Does A Pitbull Live?

If you are considering adding a new dog to your home, it’s expected lifespan is important.

For some dog owners, their love of a dog breed overrides their concern about lifespan. But, others fear falling in love with a dog only to have it for a short time.

The Pitbull breed with the longest lifespan is the American Staffordshire Terrier. They live on average 12 to 16 years.

The breed with the shortest lifespan, at 10 to 12 years, is the American Bulldog.

But, these are only predictions. There are many factors that can influence how long your Pitbull will live.

Pitbull Lifespan: How Long Do Pit bulls Live on Average?

The average Pitbull lifespan ranges from 8 years to 16 years.

Why is there such a big range of ages? This is because the Pitbull itself isn’t a dog breed. Instead, it’s a label applied to a group of dog breeds with similar characteristics.

To understand the expected life span for your dog, you will first need to identify the dog breed (or breeds in a mixed breed dog).

But, the average lifespan with all dog breeds considered is approximately 12 to 14 years.

Life Expectancy of Each Pit bull Sub-Breed

There are at least 5 different dog breeds that are regularly referred to as “Pit bulls”. Although, the term can mistakenly be used when referring to an even larger number of dogs.

Studies have shown that more than 60% of dogs labeled as “Pit bulls” have less than a 50% DNA concentration of Pit bull dogs.

Each of these breeds shares the same physical traits. This includes a muscular body and a broad head.

The average pit bull life expectancy of each of these dog breeds is:

  • American Bulldog: 10-12 years
  • American Pit bull Terrier: 12-14 years
  • American Staffordshire Terrier: 12-16 years
  • English Bull Terrier: 12-13 years
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier: 12-14 years

Of course, many factors can influence your dog’s life expectancy. This includes the fact that most Pit bull dogs are actually mixed breed dogs.

How Old was the Oldest Pit bull?

The oldest living Pit bull on record was a Lousiana dog named Max.

Living in New Iberia, Lousiana, Max celebrated his 26th birthday on August 9th. That is the equal to being an incredible 182 years old!

Max was a mixed-breed dog, being part Terrier. But, he was legally considered a Pit bull due to the percentage of Pit bull in his DNA.

His owner Janelle DeRouen completed the paperwork for Guinness World Records.

Unfortunately, he fell just short of the current record holder. The World’s Oldest Dog is a 29 year old Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey from Australia.

Factors That Affect A Pibull’s Lifespan

Why is it so challenging to identify your dog’s expected lifespan? This is largely due to the many different factors that can affect it.

Understanding these factors is the first step to giving your dog the best possible life.

Breed and Size

One of the most visibly obvious factors is the breed of Pit bull and your dog’s size. This is the foundation for your dog’s lifespan, before applying the other factors.

Of course, each of the lifespans listed above are an approximate and show a range.

But, you are more likely to see an American Staffordshire Terrier live to 16 than an American Bulldog. Although, it’s not impossible.

Additionally, on average, smaller dogs live longer than larger dogs due to how they age.


One of the biggest factors influencing your pit bull’s lifespan is his diet.

A dog that eats nothing but “junk food” his whole life will be at risk for a long list of health issues. A dog that is fed a high-quality diet will fuel his body optimally.

This includes feeding poor quality commercial foods.

Often the cheaper dry foods experience a higher number of recalls. They are also full of fillers to keep production costs down. By reducing the quality ingredients, they also reduce the nutritional value.

Pit bull owners that make homemade dog food may also fall short of their dog’s nutritional needs.

Lack of the right information often leads to poor diet in dogs.

Also, don’t forget your dog’s treats! While they may not be his primary food, they can still impact his health.

Eating too many treats can cause obesity and other health problems. Poor quality treats can also contain unhealthy or unwanted ingredients.

It’s also important to note that too much of a good thing can become harmful. Even after choosing the optimal food for your Pit Bull, make sure you’re feeding them the right amount.


Is your dog physically active, or do you have a couch potato? This could have a direct impact on his lifespan.

As with people, dogs need regular exercise for a healthy life. This could be daily walks, swimming, or hiking your local trails.

Lack of activity can increase your dog’s risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

But, too much exercise can also have negative effects.

Overexercising can cause dehydration and extreme exhaustion. It can also increase the risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Spaying and Neutering

When to spay or neuter your dog is often a cause for debate. This is due to conflicting information about the best time to fix a dog.

Many dog owners, veterinarians, and other experts have strong opinions.

Regardless of when you believe a dog should be fixed, there are some benefits to consider. For example, it’s an effective way to reduce the risk of intestinal issues. Some pet owners also claim that neutering a pit bull may help calm them down.

Spaying a female Pit bull will significantly cut her risk of mammary cancer. It’s also a way to prevent pyometra, an often fatal infection.

For male Pit bulls, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

Finally, fixing your dog is also a great way to address behavioral issues that could lead to problems.

For example, neutered males are less likely to run away or wander in search of females. This helps to reduce the chance of your dog being hit by a car.

Underlying Health Problems

Your dog’s genetics may mean that he’s predisposed to some health complications.

Some examples include heart disease and many types of cancer.

Regardless of what you do to prevent illness, a dog’s genetics may trump your efforts. In this way, it’s no different than people.

This is the reason why responsible breeders do DNA screening. In doing so, they can identify many underlying health issues before the dog goes to their new home.


The environment that your dog is raised in can have a considerable impact on his lifespan.

Dogs that live their life outdoors are at a higher risk of accidents like being hit by a car or getting into a dog fight. They are also less protected from diseases transmitted by wildlife.

Outdoor dogs are exposed to the elements. This puts them at a higher risk of heatstroke or hypothermia.

Of course, not all indoor environments are ideal.

Like people, dogs who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at a higher risk of respiratory issues. This includes their risk of lung cancer.

They are also more likely to have eye infections and allergies.

Does a Dog’s Color Affect Lifespan? 

With several breeds under the Pit bull label, it should come as no surprise that they are available in many colors. 

But, does the color of a dog’s coat give us any evidence of how long he will live? 

The short answer is no. Your dog’s color will not have an impact on his lifespan , but it could warn you about potential health complications. 

Merle Pit bulls

Merle is not actually a color. It is a specific pattern that can exist on a dog’s coat. 

This pattern features mottled patches of color on a solid coat.

The merle gene can also have an impact on your dog’s skin pigment or result in blue or odd-colored eyes. 

Double merle dogs, or those that are born from two merle parents, often have health issues. The most common of which are that they are deaf or suffer from vision issues

Albino Pit bulls

Albino Pit bulls have a genetic mutation that causes a complete lack of pigmentation. This includes in the dog’s skin, hair, eyes,and blood vessels. 

As a result, albino dogs are usually white with a pinkish tinge and pink eyes. 

This does not mean that every white Pit bull is albino. It is a very specific genetic make-up that results in a true albino dog. 

The lack of melanin in the body means that albino dogs are highly sensitive to the sun’s rays. They should be protected with shirts, hats, and body suits on sunny days. 

If your dog is an albino, he will also need doggy sunglasses as his eyes are highly sensitive. 

Will These Health Conditions Affect My Dog’s Lifespan?

Both of these colors (or patterns) can directly impact your dog’s health. 

But, these health conditions aren’t generally considered life-threatening. That means that they don’t directly shorten your dog’s lifespan. 

But, there are some concerns you should be aware of. 

Dogs that are blind or deaf are at a greater risk of accidents if they do get loose. This makes it even more important to focus on keeping your dog secure indoors and out. 

The lack of melanin in Albino dogs can also lead to greater problems if not addressed properly. More specifically, unprotected exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. 

These are all risks that can be addressed and accomodated to give your dog a happy, healthy life.

How to Tell Your Pit bull’s Age (Human Years Vs Dog Years)

It has long been accepted that you can figure out your dog’s age in human years by multiplying it by 7. But, new research has revealed that’s not entirely accurate.

Dogs don’t all age at the same rate. Instead, their age varies based on a dog’s size.

The larger a dog is, the faster they age.

Smaller dogs are considered to be “senior” at 7 years old. Meanwhile, larger dogs reach their senior years at approximately 5 to 6 years old.

To complicate it further, dog’s age more or less at different stages of their lives. 

For a medium-sized dog, the first year is equal to approximately 15 human years, but his adult years are equal to 4 to 5 human years.

To discover your dog’s age, refer to the American Kennel Club’s chart “How Old is My Dog in Human Years?”

Ways to Help Extend Your Pitbull’s Life Expectancy

There is no guaranteed way to extend your dog’s life. But, there are steps that you can take to help improve his chances of staying with you longer.

Each option focuses on improving the quality of his life as well as preventing problems.

By making these a priority in your daily routine, you’ll give your dog a happy, healthy life. As for length, unfortunately, only time will tell.

The good news is that the odds will be in your favor!

Feed a High-Quality Diet

When shopping for dog food, pay careful attention to the ingredients list.

You want to select a high-quality, balanced dog food for your Pit bull.

Look for foods that list named animal proteins as the first ingredients. In a limited ingredient food, this may only be ingredient #1, but it could be the first 3 or more in some foods.

This means you want to see “chicken”, “beef”, “salmon”, or another recognizable source.

You should not choose foods that are made from “meat by-products”. This doesn’t even identify the type of meat!

Try to avoid artificial additives such as preservatives, coloring, flavors, or fillers.

Get Active

Plan some time in your day to get out and get moving with your dog.

A healthy adult Pit bull will need at least of 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day. Although most experts recommend 1 to 2 hours for optimal health.

Don’t be afraid to try new things to help keep this time interesting and enjoyable.

The more invested you are in your exercise plans, the more likely you are to follow through with them.

Keep Your Dog Safely Contained

Accidents like those involving automobiles can often be prevented with some added precautions.

If you have a fenced yard, take time to inspect the fence once a week. Walk around and check for loose boards, holes leading under the fence, or other concerns.

You should also double-check that your gate fastens securely.

For dog owners that use tie-outs, those should also be inspected regularly. Check for any areas that are weakened or at risk of breaking.

Finally, teach your dog a reliable recall. If a leash breaks or your dog does bolt out the front door, this could save his life.

Open Communication with Your Veterinarian

Contrary to some of the rumors flying around, most vets aren’t just “in it for the money”. They care about your pet and want to see him thrive.

But your vet isn’t the only person on your dog’s healthcare team.

You also play an important role. After all, you are the one around him on a daily basis, witnessing his behaviors and habits.

When you attend your dog’s annual exams, share any concerns you may have.

If you have an appointment for a specific concern, share as much information as possible. The more information, the better!

This will arm your veterinarian with a bigger picture of what’s happening.

Providing an indepth account of the problem can speed up the diagnosis. It can also improve treatment by better targetting the problem.

The sooner most health conditions are diagnosed and addressed, the better your dog’s chances of survival.

Most Common Causes of Death Among Pitbull Breeds

The main causes of death among Pit bull breed dogs are largely factors that are out of your control.

While Pitbulls are at risk of several non-fatal health conditions, like hip dysplasia, there are also fatal risks. Recognizing the risks can help you to take preventative steps to extend your dog’s life.

The main causes of death among Pit bull breeds include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Aortic stenosis 
  • Heart disease
  • Valve malformations
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Melanoma
  • Kidney disease

Some of these causes are preventable. For example, the fact that automobile accidents are one of the top causes.

As a Pit bull owner, this is a good reason to focus on training and make sure any fencing is secure. A reliable recall is a great way to keep your dog safely off the street.

When it comes to the medical conditions listed, the best option is to focus on proper nutrition.

Feed your dog a healthy diet with the right nutrients to help lower his chances of health problems. For example, adding salmon oil to your dog’s food for the omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent heart disease.

Final Thoughts: Breaking down the Pitbull lifespan

The average lifespan of Pit bulls is anywhere from 8 to 16 years old.

But, this will vary some depending on the specific Pit bull breed.

For example, the American Bulldog has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. At the same time, the American Staffordshire Terrier has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. The American pit bull terrier has an average life expectancy of 12-14 years. Blue nose pit bulls are expected to live between 8-15 years.

While you can’t accurately predict your pitbull’s lifespan, there are steps you can take to extend it and give your pup a long and healthy life.

This includes offering a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of physical activity. You can also take steps to supplement your dog’s diet to prevent common health problems.

When all is said and done, your dog’s genetics will be the final determining factor.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.