Staffordshire Bull Terrier Health Problems
The Staffordshire bull terrier looks like a tough dog, and as far as health concerns go, looks aren’t deceiving. The breed suffers relatively few genetic health issues, but the few issues they are prone to can result in early death or poor quality of life.
When purchasing a Staffordshire bull terrier puppy, ask the breeder to provide documentation that the parents have passed all Canine Health Information Center tests for the breed.
The neurological disorder L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria affects people, but the only breed of dog in which it occurs is the Staffie. Dogs can’t break down hydroxyglutaric aciduria in their bodies due to lack of an enzyme, so it accumulates in their spinal fluid and blood.
Symptoms usually appear by the dog’s first birthday, although they can appear in older animals. Signs of the disorder include difficulty walking and balancing, behavioral changes, seizures and tremors. Affected dogs usually don’t live long, and euthanasia is probably the kindest option. There’s no cure for this hereditary condition, but DNA testing can identify vulnerable dogs.
Staffordshire bull terriers may be born with congenital orthopedic issues, especially hip or elbow dysplasia. Hip dyplasia involves a malformation of the hip joint, leading to lameness or the early onset of arthritis without surgical correction.
Elbow dysplasia leads to loose joints and lameness, with control requiring a combination of pain medication or weight loss. Severe cases may need surgery. Patellar luxation, or slipped kneecaps, also occur in Staffordshire bull terriers. While slipped kneecaps are a nuisance for mildly affected canines, those with serious luxations need surgery.
Juvenile cataracts, hereditary in nature, appear early in a Staffordshire bull terrier’s life. Without treatment, they can render the dog totally blind by age 3.
You or your vet will notice cloudy lenses in a young dog’s eyes. Prompt cataract surgery allows a dog to retain some vision.
Staffordshire bull terriers are prone to atopic dermatitis, which usually results from an allergic reaction to fleas, food or other triggers. Besides chronic itching, dogs with atopic dermatitis usually experience hair loss and possibly secondary bacterial infections in lesions created by all that scratching.
Demodectic mange appears in the breed, also resulting in hair loss and skin infections. Your vet can determine the cause of your Staffie’s skin issue and prescribe appropriate treatment.
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