Breed Health

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is generally a very healthy breed with very few genetic conditions. Due to responsible breeding and careful selection of stud dogs, the conditions mentioned below have virtually been eradicated. However, you will still see or hear these conditions being referred to so brief details are provided below:

  • L-2HGA
  • L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria

Details About The Disease

L-2-HGA is a neurometabolic disorder (a metabolic disorder that effects the nervous system), characterised by elevated levels of L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid in urine, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid.

Clinical Signs
L-2-HGA affects the central nervous system, with clinical signs usually apparent between 6 months and one year (although they can appear later). Clinical effects include epileptic seizures, "wobbly" gait, tremors, and muscle stiffness as a result of exercise or excitement and altered behaviour.

How it is inherited
The disease is described as an autosomal recessive condition. This means that a dog must inherit two copies of an abnormal gene (one from its mother and one from its father) before its health is affected. A dog that inherits only one copy of the abnormal gene (from its mother or its father) will have no signs of the disease, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.

HC-HSF4
Hereditary Cataracts

Details about the disease
A cataract is an "opacity", or loss of transparency of the lens of the eye. The opacity may be confined to a small area of the lens, or it may affect the whole structure. A complete cataract affecting both eyes will result in blindness, whereas small non-progressive cataracts will not interfere with vision. Primary cataracts occur in some breeds; in other breeds the cataract may develop secondarily to another inherited disorder such as progressive retinal atrophy or glaucoma.

Clinical signs
Obvious cataracts occur between 9 and 15 months of age with further progression and maturity of the cataract between 2-4 years. This is a blinding condition if left untreated.

How it is inherited
A number of breeds are known to suffer from HC and there are almost certainly different genetic causes for a number of these. Mutations in one gene called HSF4, has been shown to cause HC in a number of different breeds (Australian Shepherd, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog and Staffordshire Bull Terrier). One of the HSF4 mutations causes bilateral cataracts, in Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs, that can be diagnosed as early as 8-12 weeks of age, but are not congenital.

In these breeds the mutation in HSF4 is an autosomal recessive condition. This means that a dog must inherit two copies of an abnormal gene (one from its mother and one from its father) before its health is affected. A dog that inherits only one copy of the abnormal gene (from its mother or its father) will have no signs of the disease, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.

PHPV - PERSISTENT HYPERPLASTIC PRIMARY VITREOUS

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 dog's life.

PHPV & HC can be operated on, but it is a serious operation and can be traumatic and very expensive. It is not always covered by insurance due to the hereditary nature. Even though the genetic test is now available for Hereditary Cataracts, it is still important to screen for PHPV.

PPSC - POSTERIOR POLAR SUBSCAPULAR CATARACT

This type of cataract is found in other breeds, particularly the Labrador and Golden Retriever. It usually remains as a small, punctuate cataract and doesn't usually lead to sight problems in these two breeds. It is on schedule 3 of the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme because a number of Staffords that have been brought through the Scheme have been found to have this type of cataract. This type of cataract cannot be detected through litter screening. The mode of inheritance is unknown and has a variable age of onset.