How long do pit bulls live? Do they have a longer lifespan than other dogs? Is there a way to increase my dog’s lifespan? These are all questions I’ve been asked before by concerned dog owners. One of the greatest joys in life is having a furry companion. It also hurts dearly when you lose them as well. That’s why so many people want to know how long they have left with their faithful friend.
Hi, my name is Mike and I’ve had the honor of working with dogs for most of my adult life. Over the past few years I’ve gotten a lot of questions so I decided to start this website to help answer some for people like you. Today we will be discussing dog lifespans. Specifically, we will be looking at the lifespan of the pit bull breed. How long do they generally live? Lets find out.
How Long Do Pit Bulls Live?
There are several different types of pit bull and they all have about the same general life span and health issues. Most vets agree that the average lifespan for a healthy pit bull is between 12-15 years. Now your pit bull may live to be 19 or 20. It could also pass away early due to other health complications. The breed gives us a good baseline but it does not tell the whole story when we ask the, “how long to pit bulls live?” question.
I’ve worked with several different types of pit bull over the years and they all have generally the same health concerns and life span. There are ways to increase their lifespan and mitigate the environmental risks that they face. Sadly, there is not much we can do about genetic predisposition. If their genes are bad, they will usually suffer from one health condition or another.
One thing to also remember is that pure breed animals tend to have more issues than mixed breed when it comes to genetic health issues. Also, there is something to be said about buying from puppy mills or pet stores. They generally don’t care much about the genetics of the breed and are only in it to make money. This can mean that they cut some corners when keeping their animals healthy that could cause genetic issues in future breeds or current deficiencies in their pups for sale. More on that later. Lets talk Genetics.
Pit Bull Genetics And Lifespan Explained
Pit bull breeds all have the same basic genetic traits are thus exposed to the same genetic health deficiencies. Lets talk about a few of these more in depth.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is a deformity in the growth of the hip ball and socket joints. This will usually occur during the puppy years and get progressively worse into adulthood. The dog’s body may try to overcompensate for this by developing a limp or more swollen joints. They can use the extra fluid to attempt to create a balance but this does not last for long and eventually pain and decreased range of motion will be experienced. The worst cases can require surgery or euthanasia.
- Heart Disease: This disease can greatly decrease the life span of your dog. It starts with genetics but can be exacerbated by diet and lifestyle. Essentially, the blood flow is weak in the body and can cause all types of problems including poor circulation. The heart is constantly working in overtime but eventually, it won’t be able to keep up and the dog passes away.
- Hypothyroidism: This is where your dog’s body will begin to break down in various ways because it’s thyroid is not producing enough of the proper hormones to keep it healthy. Namely thyroxine. This is the hormone that controls metabolism. This is a treatable disease and can be managed without decrease in quality of life for your dog.
- Cataracts: This is a genetic issue that causes blindness or clouded vision. Most dogs won’t develop this issue till much later in life. Most of the time, the issue goes untreated and the dog will get a little more clumsy or move slower as they have difficulty seeing.
Pit Bull Lifespan: Factors We Control
Listed above are genetic concerns that are hard to fight against because they involve the genes of the dog itself. Below I’m going to go over several things we do have control over and how to best keep our dogs happy and alive for as long as possible.
How Long Do Pit Bulls Live: Exercise
exercise is one of the key factors to prolonging your dogs life. This goes double for highly active dogs like pit bulls. You want to make sure that your dog is getting an adequate amount of exercise each day. How do you do this? Generally, a good 15-30 min walk in the morning followed by several other short walks and play sessions is enough to keep your dog active and healthy. This can help them fight off environmental health concerns like obesity and diabetes.
Exercise also goes a long way towards keeping your dog obedient and willing to listen to you. Dogs that have some exercise each day won’t be brimming with untapped energy. That energy can cause mischief if not channeled correctly and head aches for you if not careful.
The more exercise you can give your dog the better when it comes to keeping your things intact as well. Bored dogs tend to be bad dogs. They get into things they aren’t supposed to or chew on things they shouldn’t. If they don’t have this abundance of energy in the first place, there’s much less of a likelihood this will occur.
Lack of exercise can cause depression and acting out in your dog. It can also be a contributing factor to things like heart disease and hypothyroidism. Get your dog out for some exercise each day!
Pit Bull Lifespan And Diet
This is another key factor that we can control with our dogs. Diet is something that can cause or prevent almost all of the metabolic issues that pit bulls can face today. I’m talking specifically about things like obesity and diabetes. Both of those issues can contribute to the risk factors around other genetic problems like heart disease and hip dysplasia.
How do we handle diet correctly though? For every dog the situation is going to be a little different but for the most part, a proper, well rounded diet with no human snacks is a great start. You don’t want to feed your dog too much food and constantly fill them with treats. This can cause metabolic issues like diabetes on its own over time. The best bet is to get your dog into a healthy eating schedule with snacks thrown in on very rare occasions.
Another option would be to give your dog low calorie low sugar snacks like cucumbers (one of my go to snacks for any dog). This is a great snack to keep their weight in check and also give them something to snack on that is healthy for them.
I generally feed my dog twice a day with little to no snacks in between. If I do give them a snack, its usually a vegetable or a bone from a steak I just ate. This is a great way to keep them on track diet wise. If you can see your dog’s ribs poking out your going to far but you also don’t want your dog to look like a giant Twinkie either!
Pit Bull Environment
The environment in which you raise your dog can have a serious impact on their quality and length of life as well. What do I mean by this? First off, do you have a Siberian husky in a small studio apartment? That’s not an ideal environment for a dog like that. If this is the case, you should be getting them out for walks lots of times each day and make sure they have plenty of things to keep them active.
Environment can also mean the way your dog is treated in general. Do they have a strong training foundation? Are they being loved and paid attention to? These are very strong factors that come into play with your dog on a daily basis. A depressed or bored dog is more prone to health conditions. This is just the way of things with dogs. They are companion animals. If they feel that they are being ignored or dismissed, they will either act out or shut down completely.
I’ve heard horror stories of dogs like this being taken away from homes and dying in pounds because they just couldn’t find the right living balance to thrive in. Long story short, read up on your dog. Help them to have the ideal environmental balance. This doesn’t mean you have to get them a 20 acre forest to run through every day but it may mean you have to take a few more walks with them each week.
How Long Do Pit Bulls Live: Controlling Risk Factors
When we talk about how long do pit bulls live, one of the things we need to understand are risk factors. Risk factors are contributing issues to major known problems that can cause the stated problem. For example, obesity is a risk factor for diabetes. If your dog is overweight, they have a better chance of being diabetic as well. This goes the same for many other genetic predispositions.
A good example for pit bulls would be their hip dysplasia. This misalignment of the socket and ball joint of the hip will usually occur during the puppy phase when your dog is growing very rapidly. A lot of owners will overfeed their pits to ensure that they grow up big and strong. By doing this, they are actually contributing towards this genetic issue. One of the main causes of hip dysplasia occurs during puppy hood when the dog puts on too much extra weight. This contributes to joint and socket misalignment which can increase the severity of the dysplasia itself.
We can see the same types of issues for heart disease in pit bulls as well. A lack of exercise and poor diet will cause this condition to be markedly worse and could absolutely shorten the lifespan of your furry friend. Get their diet and exercise under control and you’re 90% of the way there when it comes to risk factors.
How Long Do Pit Bulls Live Summarized
We have covered a good amount of information in this article. Hopefully I was able to successfully answer the, “How long do Pit Bulls Live?” question. We now know that pit bulls live an average of 12-15 years. we also know that their lifespan can be greatly affected by many different factors including genetic and lifestyle based.
When we talk about genetics, I’m referring to specific problems like hip dysplasia, heart disease, cataracts and hypothyroidism. All of these issues are rooted in gene expression and come passed down through the pit bull’s family tree. The breed will give you a good starting point but every dog will also have their own personal risk factors to add as well.
When we talk about lifestyle risk factors, I’m referring to things like environment, diet and exercise. A good diet and exercise are the cornerstones to a well lived life. A lot of the time, if you keep these factors in balance, your dog will have a good life with very little sickness. They will still have their genetic risk factors but they will also have their personal health and life to fall back on if these two areas are kept in check. Lastly the environment makes up a big portion of their well being as well. Make sure to pay attention to your dog and give them the companionship that they require to survive. You will be very glad that you did in the long run.
Every dog is different and life spans are a bit of a question mark. I believe that every day with your faithful friend by your side is a good one. Cherish the times and maybe make a few changes if warranted.
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