Your Pitbull’s Ribs Are Showing: Is This A Problem?

Keeping your dog healthy should be a top priority for dog owners. Whatever you can do to ensure the good health of your dog is important, and one often concern is a dog’s ribs showing.

Many pitbull owners share concerns over the health of their dog due to their often visible ribs. While it is a fair concern to have, experienced pitbull owners will tell you that visible ribs are not necessarily a bad thing for your dog to have. 

Situations vary, and your dog’s visible ribs may be an indication that it is unhealthy, but visible ribs can also be a sign of a healthy and lean dog! In this article, you will learn more about what your dog’s visible ribs say about its health, as well as what signs to look out for in a healthy or unhealthy dog.

Is Your Pitbull Unhealthy Or Lean?

New pitbull owners might start to see their dog’s ribs after a year or so. Visible ribs on a pitbull are quite common and often indicate a healthy dog! However, each situation varies, and if your dog starts to show signs of fatigue and weakness, it might be malnourished or sick. Keep an eye out for these signs. 

If your pitbull is still relatively young and is already showing ribs, it might be a sign that it is unhealthy. Small pitbulls fill out their shape more than older pitbulls. Their belly is firm, but you should still be able to feel their ribs when you are rubbing that area. You will know if you are overfeeding your pitbull if their belly is too thick. 

There are several signs you can look out for to determine the health status of your pitbull. Visible ribs can be confusing because they can be a sign of both a healthy and unhealthy pitbull. If you are not sure if your dog is healthy or not, use these signs to help you understand its health. 

Visible muscle definitionRibs are visible on the side of the body
Active and energetic Constant panting 
Good appetite and metabolism Lack of muscle definition

You can compare visible ribs on a pitbull to the abdominal section of a human. If the abdomen is boney and lacks muscle definition, it is likely malnourished. Muscle and visible definition are signs of a healthy and athletic dog. If you pay attention to your pitbull’s body language, you will be able to pick up intel on its current health status. 

How Much Should You Feed Your Pitbull

Dog owners will often correlate visible ribs with malnourishment. Pitbulls grow to be strong and active dogs. Prioritize feeding your pitbull the proper amount of times a day and make sure they have time to go outside and run around to stay active. The amount of food your pitbull should consume depends on a few factors.

  • Age
  • Size
  • Lifestyle

Most pitbulls should be eating three times a day. Feed your pitbull an equal portion of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Small pitbulls should also eat three times a day, but their meal portions should be about ⅓ smaller. The older your dog gets, the more you should monitor its weight and activity levels. 

While visible ribs might not always be ideal, you do not want to overfeed your dog either. A younger and more active pitbull will likely be more active and exert more energy than an older pitbull and might need to eat an extra meal a day. Lifestyle also comes into play when deciding how much your pitbull should eat. 

Pitbulls usually grow to be strong and lean dogs. You will notice muscle definition in a pitbull’s legs, back, and body. The more active your dog’s lifestyle is, the more likely you will see definition such as visible ribs. Typically, if you feed your pitbull three times a day and keep him active throughout, its ribs will be the equivalent of abs on a person. 

How Much Should A Healthy Pitbull Weigh?

A healthy pitbull’s weight varies on its height. Younger pitbull’s can weigh as low as 30 pounds and still be considered healthy. The highest recommended weight for an adult pitbull is 85 pounds. As mentioned before, pitbulls grow to be strong dogs, so muscle should be factored into the weight of your dog. 

The bigger your pitbull gets, the more it should weigh. If your dog’s ribs are showing, but the muscle definition in their legs and body are visible, your dog is likely in lean shape. Your pitbull’s ribs do not need to be visible for it to be strong, but not being able to see any of its ribs at all can also be a seeing that it is out of shape. 

American pitbulls grow to be between 18 to 21 inches. The three inches between an 18 and 21-inch pitbull can make a big difference. A fully grown 18-inch pitbull should be between 45-65 pounds. Each extra inch in size for a pitbull should account for a 5-pound increase in the lowest and highest recommended weight. 

You should also factor in any extra treats or snacks you feed to your dog throughout the day. Treats tend to be harmless in the long run, but they can add up through time and have a negative impact on the weight of your pitbull. 

What To Do If Your Pitbull Is Unhealthy 

Although it is common for pitbulls to have visible ribs, there is always a possibility that your dog is unhealthy. If your pitbull lacks muscle definition and strength and its ribs are visible, it can be for several reasons. If you believe you have been feeding your dog the proper amount of food, but it is still visibly unhealthy, it could be caused by one of these.

  • Worms
  • Lack of activity 
  • Bad reaction to food 

Your best course of action is to contact a vet for a second opinion on what your dog might be going through. You can take your dog to the vet for a fecal and take some of the dogs poop for DNA tests. If your pitbull looks unhealthy, worms might be the cause. If your recently started showing signs of weakness, it might also be the food. 

It is common for dogs to react negatively to a change in food. If you have been feeding your dog food from the same brand for years and just recently changed to a new brand, it might be having nutritional effects on your dog. Make sure to pay close attention to the ingredients of the dog food so that you can pick up on patterns of what not to buy. 

If your pitbull is not reacting well to a change in food, you will notice it rather quickly in its body shape. Pitbulls are supposed to be strong and active dogs. If a pitbull’s diet is off, you will see its ribs become more visible, and its muscles start to diminish. If your dog starts to vomit, you can all but confirm the food is at fault. 


Pitbull owners should not worry if their dog has visible ribs. Pitbulls are one of the strongest and leanest breeds of dogs. Visible ribs are typically a sign of a healthy pitbull. Lack of muscle definition, skinny legs and torso, and lack of energy correlate to an unhealthy dog. Make sure to differentiate between muscle and unhealthiness. 

If you are concerned about your pitbull’s visible ribs, do not hesitate to take it to the vet. Worms might be the cause of your dog’s body issues, or it might be a change in the food you feed them. Watch for new and unusual signs to help you better understand whether the visible ribs of your pitbull are a problem or not. 


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