Some pet owners know the person they adopt a dog from, so when the dog comes into their possession, there’s no question of its age. As for you, you adopted your Pit Bull from an animal rescue group that’s not sure how old the dog is. How can you tell how old your Pit Bull is?
The best way to determine your Pit Bull’s age is to look at the size and condition of their teeth. Other measures you can use include:
- Gauging their level of activity
- Checking their build and muscle
- Testing their hearing
- Inspecting their eyes
- Reviewing their coat color
- Evaluating their ear shape
In today’s article, I’ll discuss why it’s useful to know at least roughly how old your Pit Bull is. I’ll also elaborate further on the above ways of gauging your dog’s years. Whether your Pit is a young’un or you suspect they’re older, you won’t want to miss this.
7 Ways to Determine Your Pit Bull’s Age
You certainly want to figure out your Pit Bull’s age, but you’re in a situation like that which I described in the intro. You adopted your Pit Bull through someone who’s not sure how old the dog is.
Fortunately, you’re not without options for learning the age of your dog. Through one or a combination of the following measures, you’ll have a better idea of how many birthdays your Pit Bull has already celebrated!
Inspect Your Dog’s Teeth
By far, the most accurate gauge of your Pit Bull’s age is through their teeth, says The Humane Society of the United States. You don’t have to flip back your Pit Bull’s lips and inspect their chompers; your vet can do this for you during a routine checkup.
If your Pit Bull is four weeks old or younger, then they may not even have teeth yet. Puppies up to eight weeks old will have very small yet incredibly pointy teeth.
These teeth are temporary and will soon fall out, typically around the three-to-four-month mark. The teeth that then come in are permanent.
A dog’s teeth are at their whitest within the first year the permanent teeth arrive. As time goes on, plaque, stains, and yellowing may occur on the teeth, especially those further back.
Some yellowing is expected of a dog that’s three years old, and more yellowing along with tartar by age five. Dogs in this age range will also have some teeth wearing from years of biting, chewing, and playing.
By the time a dog is 10 or older, they may have lost some of their teeth. The ones that are left may be cracked and even loose, about to fall out.
Your vet will look for the accumulation of tartar, plaque, and discoloration as well as your Pit Bull’s history of dental disease to paint a picture of their age. This picture isn’t always 100-percent accurate though, and that’s for a few reasons.
If a dog had very good care in their earlier years, then they could be older but have shining, white teeth. In that same vein, a Pit Bull with no care or very poor care could be younger but still have poor teeth quality.
Gauge Your Dog’s Level of Activity
If you need some supporting clues to help you sort out your Pit Bull’s age, their activity level is a good thing to pay attention to. Pit Bull breeds are considered very energetic, especially as puppies.
Their energy may taper off somewhat in adulthood, then even further in seniority.
Besides simply watching how active your Pit Bull is, study how mobile they are as well. Can they get up easily or do they struggle? Are quick maneuvers difficult for your dog?
Do they need to take breaks often or can they go and go like the Energizer Bunny?
A dog’s activity level doesn’t necessarily tell you the whole story of their age, as lots of outside factors can impact how active a canine is. For example, injury, illness, and disease can all slow down what is otherwise a young Pit Bull.
Check Your Dog’s Build and Muscle
If you’re still not certain about how old your Pit Bull is, feel for their build and muscle. Pit Bull breeds are some of the most muscular dogs around, but they’re not always born that way.
They may have some muscle as puppies, but for the most part, their bodies are soft and round.
As your Pit Bull puppy grows, eats a healthy diet, and gets regular exercise, they’ll begin developing that telltale muscle.
Then, as the dog reaches its golden years of seniority, your Pit Bull might have more weight on its bones than anything else. Their muscle tone could wear away in later years and your Pit could be bony if they’re not overweight.
Test Your Dog’s Hearing
When you call your Pit Bull, do they come running? Does this happen every single time or only some of the time?
This unofficial test alone isn’t enough to say definitively that your dog has hearing loss. If you’re concerned, you should schedule an appointment with your vet to get a legit hearing test done.
Your vet will check the Pryor’s reflex of your Pit Bull, which is how the dog’s ears might twitch or move if they hear a sound. Radiographic imaging, lab tests, and brainstem auditory evoked response procedures or BAERs are also favored by most vets.
BAERs read brain activity on an electrical level when your dog hears a clicking sound. Deaf dogs or those with severe hearing loss won’t have much if any brain activity while a dog with good hearing should have an active electrical response in reaction to the sounds.
Since lack of hearing is usually associated with older dogs, you would likely assume your Pit Bull is in their senior years if they have hearing loss. Remember though that diseases and physical trauma can rob younger dogs of their hearing as well.
Inspect Your Dog’s Eyes
If you want to confirm your Pit Bull’s age, you can also look into their eyes. The clearer their eyes, the younger and healthier your dog generally is.
Eyes that leak discharge and/or are cloudy can appear in dogs as early as six years old and as late as eight years old. The cloudiness might be cataracts, so follow up this eye inspection with a vet appointment!
Inspect Your Dog’s Coat Color
Here’s another good way to know whether you have a younger or older Pit Bull. Like we people start to go gray as we get older, the same thing happens in dogs.
If your Pit Bull is at least seven years old, they may be gray in areas like their haunches, chest, and muzzle. The reason for this is the same as in people; the hair follicle’s pigmented cells lessen and lessen over the years.
Even this method isn’t guaranteed, as an FYI. If your Pit Bull lived in a very stressful environment before they found you, this may lead to premature graying. That said, a dog with a gray coat who’s slow and has worn teeth is more than likely older.
Evaluate Your Dog’s Ear Shape
In another post, here on This Pet That Pet, I wrote about how some pet owners decide to crop their Pit Bull’s ears so the breed looks more ferocious. The process of cropping is a surgical one that involves clipping the Pit’s ears and then reshaping them over weeks of training. It’s cruel, ineffective, and only for aesthetics.
The youngest age a Pit Bull’s ears should be cropped is eight to 12 weeks old. Thus, if you adopted a Pit Bull with cropped ears, you can expect they’re at least older than 12 weeks. As for how much older, the context clues above can help you make a guess.
Why It’s Important to Know the Age of Your Pit Bull
Dogs aren’t like trees; there are no rings to count to give you a specific age. I’ll talk about this more in the next section, but the abovementioned measures for learning your Pit Bull’s age are not necessarily guaranteed.
Even if you’re not sure if your AmStaff Terrier is three or six years old or if your Staffordshire Bull Terrier is five or seven, if you have an age range, that’s better than nothing.
Here’s why you should have at least a general idea of how old your dog is.
To Provide a Diet Formulated Specifically for Your Dog’s Age & Health
The diet of a puppy is not the same as an adult dog just as a senior dog’s diet is also different. Without knowing whether you have a young Pit Bull pup or one on the cusp of adulthood can make it a lot harder to choose exactly which type of dog food you should be feeding them.
Dog foods are age-specific since certain formulas include ingredients a Pit Bull needs at various stages of life. A puppy that’s eating the wrong kind of dog food could develop nutrient deficiencies.
I’ve discussed this before, but a nutrient deficiency can lead to a myriad of symptoms in your Pit Bull. These include lethargy, increased rate of infection and/or skin disease, and hair loss.
Besides the type of food that you feed your Pit Bull at their different stages of life, the quantity of food is just as important. Puppies have boundless energy and a very high metabolism, so they must eat quite often to support their growing bodies. Adult dogs may eat twice, or even three times a day.
Senior dogs, given that they’re close to the end of their life cycle, have a much slower metabolism. By overfeeding a senior-aged Pit Bull enough, they could become overweight and even obese.
Over feeding a senior dog often puts more unnecessary strain on their already painful bones and joints, decreasing the dog’s quality of life.
Once you have at least a guestimate of your Pit Bull’s age, you can get them on the right diet with the appropriate food quantity ASAP.
Makes It Easy to Plan for Preventative Care
All dogs need preventative care, ideally the sooner, the better. For instance, when you first bring a Pit Bull puppy home (or any breed, really), you’re supposed to get them vaccinated.
Other areas of preventative care that will continue from puppyhood to adulthood include heartworm prevention, dental cleanings, blood tests, fecal tests, deworming, and vet exams.
Not knowing how old your Pit Bull is opens the floodgates to further questions. Did they receive all their vaccines? Has your Pit Bull recently been dewormed? Are they up-to-date on their heartworm medication?
Having answers to those questions is within the best interest of your Pit Bull’s health, as preventative care is important in extending the dog’s lifespan as well as their quality of life!
Indicates How Many Years You Two Have Left Together
The last reason–and arguably the most important–that you want even a loose idea of your Pit Bull’s age is for longevity.
The American Staffordshire Terrier or AmStaff may live 12 to 16 years and the American Bulldog 10 to 15 years.
In a perfect world, every dog would live to its expected age range and then some. In reality, poor health and disease can take a dog away from you sooner than you’d like.
Although we never know what tomorrow brings, being aware of your dogs age gives you a more realistic indication of how much time you two have left to enjoy. If you’re anything like me, your pet or pets are like your children. It’s that love for them that makes us want to provide the best care so they’ll be around for as long as possible.