Beulahbred Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Type ~ Temperament ~ Soundness

Hereditary and Non-Hereditary Diseases

The following might seem like a long list of diseases, but the Stafford is usually a healthy and robust breed, and a lot of these conditions are rare among Staffords - they can be prone to them however or even carry the genes for some, like L-2-HGA and HC.

L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2-HGA)

L-2-HGA is a neurometabolic disorder causing progressive deterioration of the central nervous system function.  Elevated levels of L-2-Hydroxyglutaric acid in urine, plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid produce neurological defects, including psychomotor retardation, altered behaviour, seizures and ataxia.  Between 6 and 12 months of age clinical signs may become apparent and can include: 

~ Epileptic seizures

~ Unsteady stance/walk

~ Tremors

~ Muscle stiffness; particularly as a result of exercise or excitement

~ Altered behaviour

A DNA test that determines the genetic predisposition to L-2-HGA can be done through Animal Network or ASAP Lab.  L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria is an autosomal recessive disease.

Hereditary Cataract (HC)

HC are an inherited disease of the lens of a dogs eye, and are the most common cause of blindness in dogs.  The clear lens of the eye becomes opaque in varying degrees, interfering with the dogs vision and putting strain on the eye resulting in blindness.  HC can be present from birth or may develop later.  The disease is progressive and the dog can become completely blind by the time it reaches two to four years of age.  Early detection is critical in order to prevent blindness.  Affected dogs show opacity of their eye lens when examined, and they may also display signs of impaired vision.  Some dogs may not exhibit severe signs of visual impairment, and the disease may go unnoticed.  This disease can be managed through surgery in it's early stages, but there is no cure for blindness in dogs.  A DNA test that determines the genetic predisposition to HC can be done through Animal Network or ASAP Lab.  HC are an autosomal recessive disease, requiring two copies of the gene variant for the disease to be expressed, and a gene test can determine whether a dog is affected, a carrier, or clear.

Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV)

In this congenital condition there is a developmental defect in the normal regression of some of the intraocular structures of the eye.   PHPV can be very mild where dogs rarely show any visual impairment, or severe causing haemorrage within the lens and results in blindness, though PHPV is not progressive.  Dogs can be tested through the Australian Canine Eye Scheme.

Distichiasis

This condition is sometimes referred to as a double row of eyelashes.  Extra hairs grow from the edge of the eyelid and rub against the eye.  The effects can vary from mild irritation to corneal ulceration.  Treatment is difficult and involves surgery to permanently remove the extra hairs.  Success is difficult to achieve, and the dog may suffer with this condition for life.

Entropion

This condition is caused by an excess of eyelid tissue, a small eye, or both.  Some of the hair-covered eyelid can turn in and rub against the eye.  It is often very painful and the damage caused can result in blindness.  Most dogs are affected by six months of age and display symptoms such as excessive blinking, fear of light, excess tear production and mucous discharge.  Sometimes the condition can correct itself as the dog grows, but usually surgery is required to turn the eyelid away from the surface of the eye.  If treated as soon as the condition is noticed, surgery often has good results. 

Ectropion

In this condition the lower eyelid turns out or droops away from the eyeball and exposes the third eyelid and the conjunctiva, causing conjunctivitis.  It can be corrected through surgery where the eyelid is lifted and shortened, and this usually has good results.  Sometimes further surgery is required to completely change the shape of the eyelids.

Posterior Polar Subcapsular Cataract (PPSC)

PPSC, which manifests itself as small punctuate cataracts can occur at any age.  The cataracts do not generally cause blindness.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA describes a number of inherited retinal degenerations, divided into either Generalised PRA or Central PRA.  Blindness at night time is an early indication of Generalised PRA and eventually the dog becomes completely blind.  Cataract is commonly a secondary symptom of this disease.  In Central PRA the dog does not display night blindness, but vision is severely affected, although the dog may not become totally blind.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a genetic disease eventually causing various degrees of arthritis, pain and lameness.  The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, and in hip dysplasia the socket does not cover the ball sufficiently.  Most dogs actually grow out this disease by the time they reach 14 months of age.  Dogs can be tested through the Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Scheme.

Luxating Patella

This condition occurs when the patella (kneecap) pops out of a special groove (luxates) in the femur where it usually sits, resulting in a leg that is locked straight with the knee unable to flex.  The condition varies, sometimes the patella will return to it's groove almost immediately and won't require treatment.  In a more serious case surgery is required to correct the problem and the results are usually fairly good.  Trauma, hereditary causes or abnormal development can cause this more serious luxating patella.  The condition unfortunately also leads to secondary osteoarthritis in the knee.

Cruciate Disease

In young Staffords with this disease, the cranial cruciate ligament in the knee degenerates over a period of time, accompanied by osteoarthritis, leading to tearing or rupture which causes severe lameness.  The disease is treated by surgery, often replacing the diseased ligament, and is usually successful. 

Osteochondrosis

This is a developmental joint disease, normally in the shoulder, elbow or knee, where the articular cartilage covering bone in the joint is not formed properly - leading to flattening of the cartilage and a flap of cartilage will eventually form.  In the more severe cases, this flap may be released into the joint causing severe pain and lameness, requiring surgery to remove the flap.

Atopic Dermatitis

An atopic dog is one that is susceptible to allergic reactions.  When allergens like grass, pollens and mites come into contact with the dog, it can have an allergic skin reaction - it can be likened to hayfever in humans.  Staffords can develope the disease between six months and three years of age, and severe itching (pruritis) is a main indication.  The dog will scratch at the irritation and this can lead to infection.  The condition can be diagnosed through intradermal skin tests and blood test. 

Demodicosis

This skin condition is caused by a mite, Demodex canis, which can cause problems in some dogs but not others.  The mite normally inhabits the dogs hair follicles, but sometimes the population of mites grows and causes skin problems - usually between six and nine months of age.  This can result in hair loss usually around the face and forelimbs.  In most cases the dog will recover by itself, but sometimes the condition can spread over most of the body.  Demodicosis can be treated by killing the mites responsible, and this usually works well, but in rare cases there may be no cure and the affected dog may need to be put to sleep.

Resources: http://www.animalnetwork.com.au/ ; The Ultimate Staffordshire Bull Terrier - Clare Lee & Joyce Shorrock

DNA Profiling & Disease/Trait Testing

DNA Profiling, DNA testing for L-2-HGA and HC, as well as coat colour testing can be done easily through Animal Network or ASAP Lab 

A sample of DNA is collected from inside the dogs mouth using the collection kit provided, either by a vet for certified results, or by you, then it is simply mailed to the lab and tested. 

Once a dog is tested clear for certain hereditary diseases, the progeny of the dog can be Clear by Parentage through the use of DNA Profiling.