In general, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a healthy, robust breed. There are, however, a couple of hereditary health issues which need to be considered when you are buying a new puppy or if you are planning to breed from your dog/bitch.
In the past few years a small number of Stafford’s have been diagnosed with a metabolic disorder; its clinical title is L-2 hydroxyglutaric aciduria or L-2 HGA.
This condition has manifested itself in varied ways with dogs exhibiting behavior changes and dementia (staring at walls, getting stuck under tables and in corners, loss of obedience and house training),anxiety states, having full blown seizures, as well as exercise intolerance, ataxia (unsteady gait), tremors and muscular stiffness.
Dogs from differing bloodlines have been found to be sufferers and the number of affected dogs diagnosed has risen.
The disorder (and a similar linked disorder, D-2 HGA) is found in humans, again very rare, but nevertheless, devastating for the families affected by it. The disorder has an autosomal recessive method of inheritance, meaning that both parents must be carriers of the defective gene to produce affected offspring.
Research into the disorder as it affects canines was undertaken at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, as well as at universities in Holland and USA. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) shows changes in the grey matter of the brain in all the dogs.
There is NOW a genetic screening test to determine which dogs are carriers of the gene that causes L2. It is recommended that ALL BREEDING STOCK should be screened in order to eradicate this condition in the future.
TESTING CAN TAKE UP TO 6 WEEKS FOR RESULTS TO COME BACK SO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SUBMITTED BLOOD SAMPLES LONG BEFORE YOU PLAN YOUR MATING.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE TESTING CAN BE FOUND HERE.
HC, PHPV & PPSC
For many years now the breed has been aware of two hereditary eye conditions, HC (Hereditary Cataract) and PHPV (Persistent Hyperplasic Primary Vitreous) You may already have seen elsewhere on the site reference to this.
It is known that HC is inherited by an autosomal recessive path (i.e. that both parents must be carriers of the defective gene to produce affected offspring).
HC is a progressive condition and this means that although the puppy is not born with cataracts they will start to develop at a juvenile stage (maybe from 8 months onwards) and will progress until the dog is totally blind.
The condition is bi-lateral, meaning that it will affect both eyes equally.
The mode of inheritance for 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 dog’s life.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE AHT IS NOW ASKING FOR BLOOD SAMPLES FROM PHPV AFFECTED SBTs, THEIR SIBLINGS, PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS TO ENABLE THEM TO PROGRESS THEIR RESEARCH.
Either condition can be operated on but it is a serious operation, obviously quite traumatic and expensive. It is not always covered by pet insurance due to the hereditary nature.
It is important that dogs are screened and either DNA tested for HC or certified ‘unaffected’ for PHPV before being bred from.
The Animal Health Trust offers the DNA test for HEREDITARY CATARACT.
If you wish to test your dog for both L-2-HGA and HC you can do so at the combined cost of £109. You can download a combined form and submit 3ml blood for both tests.
Posterior Polar Subcapsular Cataract (PPSC)
This type of cataract is found in other breeds, particularly the Labrador & Golden Retriever. It usually remains as a small , punctuate cataract & doesn’t usually lead to sight problems in the Lab.& Golden.
It has been placed on Schedule 3 of the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme because a number of Staffords that have been through the Scheme have been found to have this type of cataract.
It is advised that as this type of cataract can’t be detected through litter screening, the mode of inheritance is not known and has a variable age of onset, breeding stock should be tested annually to determine that the dog is certified clear at the time of mating.
More detailed information about these and any other health issues can be found on the AHT Website.