The life cycle of the pit bull follows along the life cycle of all other dogs. When a female becomes pregnant, she gestates for approximately 61 days before giving birth to a litter from five to 14 puppies. This is where the life cycle of the pit bull begins.
The First Few Days
Pit bull puppies are born blind, deaf and helpless, relying on their mothers for food, warmth and protection. During the first few days, the puppies depend on smell to keep them in contact with their mothers. The puppies also depend on the mother for assistance with urination and defecation as they cannot perform these functions on their own.
By Four Weeks
Within four weeks, the puppies become more mobile. They can now hear, see clearly and coordinate their muscle movements well enough to walk instead of dragging, though the periods of activity are usually short, followed by longer periods of sleep. They are now starting to supplement their diets with soft foods though they won't be completely weaned for several more weeks.
By Six Weeks
By the time the puppies reach six weeks of age they are able to play with one another and will be completely weaned from the mother. It is during this time that they begin to learn to communicate with facial gestures and body postures. This is the critical time for socialization with humans to begin.
By 12 Weeks
By the time the pit bull puppy has reached 12 weeks of age, if properly socialized, it will be a happy, healthy and self confident individual. It will have separated from its mother and litter mates around 8 weeks of age and have full control over all of its muscle movements. It will need to continue its education during this time in order to learn how to communicate with people and with other dogs. This is the critical time to start obedience training.
By 18 Months
At 18 months, the pit bull puppy has reached sexual maturity and is considered an adult. The puppy begins exhibiting typical territorial behavior as well as testing the waters in an effort to gain dominance. It is during this time that puppies may begin to exhibit individual personality characteristics, becoming more cautious, outgoing, aggressive or gentle. They will continue to fill out and gain weight until they have reached their genetically determined size.
The average life expectancy for a pit bull is 12 to 14 years. Pit bulls are a generally healthy breed but can experience both hip and elbow dysplasia, leading to premature death from euthanasia. As the dog ages, it can develop hypothyroidism and heart disease. Cancer is somewhat prevalent in this breed as well as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts, all of which can affect the lifespan of the dog.