Health Issues


Please take the time to read all the information below - it is relevant information if you are thinking about purchasing a puppy of either breed x

Problems associated with the breed

Hot weather is a danger to bulldogs,their faces are called brachycephalic it means short faced which also means there are problems breathing, they particularly struggle in the heat, travelling in hot cars , sunbathing(which they are partial to) all can result in a dangerous situation which has been known to cause death. immediate but slow cooling down is needed to save an overheated bulldog. White bulldogs can lack protective pigment and may suffer severe sunburn if allowed out in the hottest part of the day, its safer to walk bulldogs in the early morning and late in the evening during the summer.

One of the reasons bulldogs are expensive to buy is they are very expensive to breed as unfortunately they often need a Caesarean section to deliver their puppies,and although they are good mothers they are also clumsy and a 24 hour per day vigil for the first three weeks by the whelping box is necessary to avert the very real danger of the mother overlaying the pups.Unless you are at home all the time, breeding is not an option with this breed and I feel it is not a novice breeders best choice as rearing a litter properly is very time consuming and its very important to get the feeding right. As they are a rapid growth breed if they are not reared well they never achieve the bone, power and stature that is characteristic of this wonderful breed.

The following are a list of other problems that breeders have tried to eradicate but it must be mentioned at this point:

  • Entropian this is an eye condition, hereditary caused by eyelids inturning
  • Heart murmurs.. sometimes found in puppies and in various degrees of seriousness
  • Skin problems.. due to Hormones in bitches
  • and in some breeding lines Demodetic mange
  • Allergies that can be helped by feeding special diets ie:chicken and rice
  • Some hip problems are in the breed but there is no recommendation for the scoring of bulldog hips,as in some breeds.

Its worth mentioning here that bulldogs don't react well to anaesthetics, and it is very important you find and befriend a bulldog knowledgeable Veterinary Surgeon before entrusting your precious friend for an operation.

Insuring is a wise precaution as any treatments are likely to be expensive.

Daily Care

So if you have bought your bulldog this is your daily care......

  • A quick rub down with a hound glove to remove that moulting and give the coat a shine
  • Washing with a damp cloth the wrinkles of the face, putting a cream in them ( a nappy rash type ) or putting baby talc or chalk in to dry them.
  • Wash under the tail if its tight fitting to the body and cream this.. this is very important as this area if neglected can cause so much pain to your dog it can completely change its character. and in severe cases require the tail to be surgically removed.
  • A regular walk, good diet as recommended by your puppies breeder.

The Disease

Hyperuricosuria is characterized by elevated levels of uric acid in the urine. This disease predisposes dogs to form stones in their bladders or sometimes kidneys. The trait can occur in any breed but is most commonly found in the Dalmatian, Bulldog and Black Russian Terrier where Dalmatians are considered to be homozygous for hyperuricosuria.

Hyperuricosuria is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive trait.

Sire   Dam   Offspring
Clear x Clear > 100% Clear
Clear x Carrier > 50% Clear + 50% carriers
Clear x Affected > 100% carriers
Carrier x Clear > 50% Clear + 50% carriers
Carrier x Carrier > 25% clear + 25% affected + 50% carriers
Carrier x Affected > 50% carriers + 50% affected
Affected x Clear > 100% carriers
Affected x Carrier > 50% carriers + 50% affected
Affected x Affected > 100% affected

Clear

Genotype: N / N [ Homozygous normal ]
The dog is noncarrier of the mutant gene. The dog will never develop Hyperuricosuria and therefore it can be bred to any other dog.

Carrier

Genotype: N / HU [ Heterozygous ]
The dog carries one copy of the mutant gene and one copy of the normal gene. The dog will never develop Hyperuricosuria but since it carries the mutant gene, it can pass it on to its offspring with the probability of 50%. Carriers should only be bred to clear dogs. Avoid breeding carrier to carrier because 25% of their offspring is expected to be affected (see table above).

Affected

Genotype: HU / HU [ Homozygous mutant ]
The dog carries two copies of the mutant gene and therefore it will pass the mutant gene to its entire offspring. The dog will develop ricosuria and will pass the mutant gene to its entire offspring

Source: Laboklin UK www.laboklin.co.uk


Although the Stafford is basically a healthy breed there are two known inherited problems for which we are fortunate to have a DNA tests. When planning to breed or when buying a puppy it is IMPERATIVE that you know the DNA status of both sire and dam for the two conditions Hereditary Cataract (HC) and L-2-Hydroxyglutaric acidurea (L-2-HGA). Breeding from DNA tested clear stock means that all resultant progeny will be clear of the conditions. If one of the parents is a carrier for either condition all puppies in the resultant litter should then be DNA tested by the breeder before they are sold so that their individual status can be determined.


If you are planning to buy a puppy please only ever buy from stock which is tested. It is the only way you can be certain that your puppy will not suffer from either condition. If a puppy is tested as a carrier it means that although the pup will not develop the condition it will be able to pass on the rogue gene if it should be bred from in future. This needs very careful consideration.


For anyone planning to breed from their Stafford please ensure that you have the DNA status for your breeding stock prior to mating. Do not agree to mate a tested dog to an untested one.  In this age of litigation you may well find yourself in court if you should produce an affected puppy from untested stock.


A brief explanation of the conditions is:


Hereditary Cataract (HC):
This is a cataract which develops in young stock, often from around 9 months old. It will affect both eyes and the dog will end up totally blind. It is operable but the operation is a major one, traumatic and not always 100% successful. It is also a very expensive operation.


L-2-HGA:
This is a neurological condition, similar in type to epilepsy, whereby the dog has seizure episodes. It can manifest from around 5 months onwards and may range from mild affliction to very severe.  It is not curable and although it can be maintained in milder states with medication in its severest form the dog is usually euthanased.


PHPV & PPSC:
As well as the DNA tests available through the Animal Health Trust you should also clincally eye test all breeding stock for two other eye conditions : PHPV (persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous) and PPSC (posterior polar subcapsular cataract).  Both of these conditions are types of cataract found in Staffords although as yet no-one is aware of their mode of inheritance. By clinically testing at least you can be sure that the dog being mated is not affected by the condition, although it may be capable of passing the defective gene on to its offspring.


It is also possible to screen a litter for PHPV from 6 weeks of age.  As PHPV is known to be congential (there from birth) if a puppy is screened at 6 weeks and declared unaffected it will not develop the condition later in life.  If buying a puppy it is advisable to seek a puppy that has been screened as you can then be sure that your puppy will not be affected by PHPV.  Anyone breeding a litter is strongly advised to take the whole litter for screening before sale.


The Animal Health Trust is researching PHPV currently and it will be hoped that at some future stage a DNA test may be developed.

Below the conditions are explained more fully:

L-2-HGA (L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria) in Staffordshire Bull Terriers is a neurometabolic disorder characterised by elevated levels of L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid in urine, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid.

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

The mutation, or change to the structure of the gene, probably occurred spontaneously in a single dog but once in the population has been inherited from generation to generation like any other gene. The disorder shows an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance: two copies of the defective gene (one inherited from each parent) have to be present for a dog to be affected by the disease. Individuals with one copy of the defective gene and one copy of the normal gene - called carriers - show no symptoms but can pass the defective gene onto their offspring. When two apparently healthy carriers are crossed, 25% (on average) of the offspring will be affected by the disease, 25% will be clear and the remaining 50% will themselves be carriers

The mutation responsible for the disease has recently been identified at the Animal Health Trust. Using the information from this research, we have developed a DNA test for the disease. This test not only diagnoses dogs affected with this disease but can also detect those dogs which are carriers, displaying no symptoms of the disease but able to produce affected pups. Carriers could not be detected by the tests previously available which involved either a blood or urine test detecting elevated levels of L-2-hydroxyglutarate or magnetic resonance imaging. Under most circumstances, there will be a much greater number of carriers than affected animals in a population. It is important to eliminate such carriers from a breeding population since they represent a hidden reservoir of the disease that can produce affected dogs at any time.

The test is available now and information on submitting samples is given below.

Breeders will be sent results identifying their dog as belonging to one of three categories:

CLEAR: the dog has 2 copies of the normal gene and will neither develop L-2-HGA, nor pass a copy of the L-2-HGA gene to any of its offspring.

CARRIER: the dog has one copy of the normal gene and one copy of the mutant gene that causes L-2-HGA. It will not develop L-2-HGA but will pass on the L-2-HGA gene to 50% (on average) of its offspring.

AFFECTED: the dog has two copies of the L-2-HGA mutation and is affected with L-2-HGA. It will develop L-2-HGA at some stage during its lifetime, assuming it lives to an appropriate age.

Carriers can still be bred to clear dogs. On average, 50% of such a litter will be clear and 50% carriers; there can be no affecteds produced from such a mating. Pups which will be used for breeding can themselves be DNA tested to determine whether they are clear or carrier.

This test requires 2mls EDTA blood (or mouth swabs can be taken). Samples should be sent together with a completed DNA Testing form (along with payment which is approximately £110.00 if you have the 2 tests done together) Genetic Services, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7UU.

DNA testing forms can be downloaded from the East Anglian Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club Website, or Contact the Animal Health Trust, and they will forward the mouth swab kits)