Health is a topic you must address first when thinking about getting a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Many are not even familiar with possible issues, to be honest – neither were we upon buying our first Stafford. But, we were lucky to get healthy dogs and later on to meet the right people who pointed us in the right direction. All of our breeding stock is fully health tested, with good locomotive system score and clear of genetic diseases.
Staffords are, in general, healthy dogs with a long life span (15 years, give or take), but compared to some other terriers (jack russells for example), they can be described as a bit more sensitive.
The disorders described here are possible, but NOT common in the breed.
L-2-HYDROXYGLUTARIC ACIDURIA / L2HGA is an inherited neurometabolic disorder caused by failure to break down L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid, raised levels of which are found in urine, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disorder.
Affected dogs often must be euthanized at an early age, and even the more mildly affected will never behave like a “normal dog.” L-2-HGA is now known to be transmitted by means of an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. A simple DNA test, using a small sample of the dog’s saliva or blood, is now able to identify carriers, clears, and affected dogs.
A dog who is a carrier has one copy of the mutated gene, but does not itself show signs of the disease. The affected dog has both mutated copies of the gene and develops L2HGA, while the clear dog has two normal genes. A carrier, if bred to another carrier, will produce on average one affected puppy, two carriers, and one clear puppy for every four puppies produced.
Nowadays, with a simple DNA test breeders can test their breeding stock, and upon the results, breed appropriately.
Under some research it has been noted that it is estimated (late 2006) that upwards of 15% of the Staffords in the U.S. are carriers of L2HGA, so it is of great importance for all breeders to DNA screen their breeding stock for this mutation.
More about L2HGA can be seen here.
HEREDITARY CATARACT (HC): are a clouding of the lens of the eye caused by a breakdown of tissue in the eye. This condition generally results in an inability to see clearly and can cause total blindness.
In canines, cataracts are often familial; this type is known as Hereditary Cataracts. A mutation in the HSF4 gene causes this type of cataracts in several breeds of dogs. In this case, the dog is typically affected bilaterally, in that both eyes are affected by the cataracts. The cataracts associated with HSF4 also occur in the posterior region of the lens. They usually start by being small and grow progressively, though the speed of growth is highly variable. Some cataracts will grow so slowly that the dog’s vision remains relatively clear, while others will grow such a way that the dog will quickly go blind. Corrective surgery is possible, though it is costly and is not always effective. Same as in L2HGA, a dog can be clear, carrier or affected, test are available and of utter importance for the breed.
More info on HC can be seen here.
PERSITENT HYPERPLASTIC PRIMARY VITREOUS – PHPV – The mode of inheritance of PHPV is not so clear, but it is known that it is a congenital condition (present at birth) and that it is not progressive. This means that if a puppy is born with PHPV it can be detected by ophthalmic screening from 6 weeks of age and if it is affected, whatever the condition of the problem at that stage it will not change throughout the dogs life.
HIP DYSPLASIA is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is a genetic (polygenic) trait that is affected by environmental factors. It is common in many dog breeds, particularly the larger breeds, and is the most common single cause of arthritis of the hips. Hip dysplasia may be caused by a femur that does not fit correctly into the pelvic socket, or poorly developed muscles in the pelvic area. Large and giant breeds are most susceptible to hip dysplasia (possibly due to the body mass index (BMI) of the individual animal), though many other breeds can suffer from it.
According to the latest American Kennel Club statistics (2006), with 379 Staffords having been evaluated using hip x-rays, 16.2% are rated abnormal (dysplastic), and 80.2% have both hips graded normal. The causes of hip dysplasia are considered heritable, but new research conclusively suggests that environment also plays a role.To what degree the causality is genetic and what portion environmental is a topic of current debate. However, if both parents have normal hips, there is a lessened possibility for one or more puppies in a litter to be later rated dysplastic.
More info on hyp displasia can be seen here.
Canine elbow dysplasia (ED) is a condition involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow joint. The elbow joint is a complex joint made up of 3 bones (radius, ulna, and humerus) (figure 1). If the 3 bones do not fit together perfectly due to growth abnormalities, abnormal weight distribution on areas of the joint occur causing pain, lameness, and the development of arthritis. Elbow dysplasia is a disease that encompasses several conditions grouped into medial compartment disease (fragmented coronoid process (FCP), osteochondrosis (OCD), joint incongruity, and cartilage anomaly) and ununited anconeal process (UAP). The cause of ED in dogs remains unclear. There are a number of theories as to the exact cause of the disease that include genetics, defects in cartilage growth, trauma, diet, and so on. It is most commonly suspected this is a multifactorial disease in which causes the growth disturbances. According to the AKC statistics (2006), with 105 Staffords having been evaluated using elbow x-rays, 14.3% of these Staffords have elbow dysplasia, while 84.8% are rated as having normal elbows.
More info here.
Pattelar dislocation is a condition where the knee cap rides outside the femoral groove when the knee is flexed. It can be further characterized as medial or lateral, depending on whether the knee cap rides on the inner or on the outer aspect of the knee respectively.
Patellar luxation is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs, the condition affects primarily small dogs. According to the latest OFA statistics (2006), with 21 Staffords having been evaluated radiographically (using x-rays), 100% were evaluated as “normal.” However, these statistics can ce considered misleading, as the precise cause of luxation remains unclear in the majority of dogs but is likely multifactorial.
More info here.
Staffordshire bull terriers actually have fairly sensitive skin, which can mean that you will have to choose their food, shampoo and grooming products carefully. The breed is also rather sensitive to developing skin infections, hot spots, and irritations as a result of poor nutrition or over grooming. Staffords can be prone to various skin allergies, causing them to scratch or lick their itchy places continually until the source of the problem is corrected. In order to resolve the issue, you will need to work with your vet to control the symptoms and their impact on your dog and if possible, determine the allergenic trigger itself and eradicate it. We do not practice nor condone the use of antibiotics, steroids or other traditional treatments in our daily routine. By switching the dog to a species appropriate diet and promoting the dogs own immune system, we feel strongly that all situations can be managed.
More info here.
DEMODICOSIS is also called red mange, is an inflammatory disease in dogs caused by the Demodex mite. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of a dog rapidly increase, it can lead to skin lesions, skin infections and hair loss (alopecia). The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite inhabiting the dog.
The demodex mite is a normal inhabitant of your dog’s skin. In low numbers, these mites cause no symptoms and may serve an important role as part of your dog’s normal skin micro fauna (similar to the way healthy bacteria is important in digestive health).
Even tho it may seem more connected to bull type breeds mange is not uncommon in other breeds, but it does show signs of a poor immune system (and can be cause by various other disorders)..
More info on mange can be seen here.