Staffies are muscular, robust, medium-sized dogs; they typically have a good track record regarding their health. However, even the healthiest of dog breeds can succumb to genetic health conditions, and unfortunately, Staffies are no exception.
Are Staffies Healthy Dogs?
Staffies are less likely to suffer from genetic diseases if you choose your breeder diligently. Reputable Staffy breeders can screen for several genetic conditions that could affect your Staffy through their lifetime.
For your sake and your new puppy’s, you must insist on seeing evidence for health clearance certificates for your puppy’s parents and as far back as possible of the ancestry line. Only this way can you ensure you’re reducing the risk of your puppy inheriting health conditions that will severely impact their life.
I would advise you to stay well away from any breeder that either refuses to show you health clearances or admits they haven’t done them. However, it’s not a cast-iron guarantee your puppy will avoid some conditions, but it does provide you with some reassurance.
What Health Problems Do Staffies Have?
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Common Health Issues
Hereditary cataracts are a severe problem with Staffies; they can appear when the dog has reached eighteen months old and can lead to blindness. PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) can also occur in some Staffies; this condition will always lead to the dog going blind.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia:
Two other conditions commonly found in Staffies are hip and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation For Animals in America evaluated Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s hips and elbows for dysplasia. The foundation’s results found of the 937 Staffies tested for hip dysplasia, 15.8% were abnormal, and of the 442 Staffies tested for elbow dysplasia, 18.8% were abnormal; those are pretty shocking statistics.
L2-HGA – L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria:
Staffies can be prone to neurological conditions, with symptoms that include epileptic seizures, tremors, and “wobbly gait.” This disease is a neurometabolic disorder that’s genetic and is seen via increased levels of L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid in the dog’s urine, blood plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid.
A DNA test developed by the Animal Health Trust can detect the disease in dogs and detect dogs without the disease but are carriers.
Follicular Dysplasia of the Coat:
Should there be any abnormality in your Staffy’s hair, it can cause follicular dysplasia. This is another inherited condition, and Staffies are prone to inheriting cyclic follicular dysplasia.
This version of the condition occurs in the early spring. You’ll notice the hair along your Staffy’s flanks start to thin out; the hair will re-grow, but it can take up to six months. It doesn’t give the dog any pain; however, if you live in an area where the summer months are scorching, you might need to use sunblock if the hair thins out down to the skin.
Other Staffordshire Bull Terrier Common Health Conditions
Deafness (genetic), thyroid, and heart disease can also occur in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Staffies with shorter muzzles than average can develop brachycephalic syndrome; it’s easy to spot because of the increased amount of snorting and grunting, especially in hot weather.
One of the more common ailments is an allergic reaction to the environment, called atopy. Environmental factors including dust, pollen, fungus, and mold are mostly seasonal but will cause your Staffy to itch like crazy. Humans affected by these allergens sneeze and have red, swollen eyes, but dogs get itchy skin. It can get so bad owners have seen their Staffies scratch away the fur and inflame the skin; it’s incredibly distressing for the dog.
Amstaff Health Problems
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia in Amstaffs:
Like Staffordshire Bull Terriers, the Amstaff also has significant hip and elbow dysplasia problems, even though some breeders will have you believe this is not the case. However, the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals also backs up the statistics with their tests on the American Staffordshire Terrier.
These evaluations are the latest results through December 2020. The OFA tested 1212 Amstaffs for elbow dysplasia and found that 17.6% of those dogs had abnormal elbow joints. The organisation also tested 3,791 Amstaffs for hip dysplasia and discovered an even more distressing situation because 26.6% presented with abnormal hip joints.
Other Orthopedic Diseases:
Amstaffs are known to suffer from two other orthopedic conditions; they are luxating patella and osteochondritis.
According to the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals, when they tested 380 American Staffordshire Terriers for Hypothyroidism, 16.6% showed abnormal results.
Heart disease, especially subaortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy, are seen to be on the increase.
This is a skin condition caused by “Demodex Canis,” a mite that lives in the dog’s hair follicles. The mites cause inflammation and hair loss; they are incredibly contagious, and humans can catch them from dogs.
American Staffordshire Terriers are prone to severe eye conditions such as PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), entropion (which causes the eyelids to roll inwards), and cataracts.
Skin conditions linked to allergies are common in Amstaffs. These can become pretty serious and lead to pyoderma (bacterial skin infections).
What Illnesses Are Staffies Prone To?
As I mentioned in the article above, there are several conditions Staffies are prone to. While there are no guarantees, your Staffies will not inherit or develop any of the health conditions in this article, ensuring you see all relevant health clearance certificates of the ancestry line of your puppy will reduce the chances.
The main illnesses afflicting both the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are hip and elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, and skin allergies.
The Staffy does have some health concerns, as does every dog breed. Many illnesses are manageable, and Staffies can still live a happy and wonderful life with loving and caring owners, even if they contract a disease. It’s crucial to find and deal with only reputable breeders if you’re looking for a Staffy puppy.
While it’s incredibly disheartening to think your dog might end up with a debilitating disease, it’s still best you are forewarned of the possibility. Staffies are unique, and it’s a privilege to own such a dog, don’t let the thought of a health condition that might never happen put you off becoming an owner.