10 Common American Staffordshire Terrier Health Problems

Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 02:35 am

Are you ready to learn more about the common health issues that American Staffordshire Terriers may encounter?

Whether you’re a new American Staffordshire Terrier owner or have been a lifelong breed enthusiast, you must know the common health issues that may impact your beloved companion.

This guide will explore the prevalent health conditions that can affect American Staffordshire Terriers.

From genetic predispositions to environmental factors, we will delve into each condition’s causes, symptoms, treatments, and preventive measures.

By equipping yourself with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to provide exceptional care for your furry friend, promoting their overall well-being and quality of life.

1: Hip Dysplasia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for ASTs

Lovers! Let’s talk about a health issue that’s pretty common among our muscular and adorable American Staffordshire Terriers (ASTs) – hip dysplasia. It’s a big word but stay with me. We’re going to make it simple, promise.

Hip dysplasia, simply put, is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to joint damage and pain for our furry friends. It’s a hereditary condition, meaning if a pup’s parents have it, the dog also has a higher chance of developing it. But don’t worry; environmental factors like diet and exercise also play a significant role. 


  • Genetics: As mentioned, hip dysplasia is typically hereditary, passed down from parents to their pups.
  • Weight and Diet: Overweight pups or those fed a diet too high in calories can be more prone to hip dysplasia, as the extra weight strains their developing joints.
  • Rapid Growth: Pups that grow too quickly may develop hip dysplasia, as their bones and joints might not develop properly.


Wondering what to look out for? Well, your pup might be suffering from hip dysplasia if they show the following signs: 

  1. Difficulty getting up or lying down.
  2. A decrease in activity or exercise.
  3. A swaying or “bunny-hopping” gait.
  4. Unusual aggression or irritability due to pain.


Okay, now we know what hip dysplasia is, what causes it, and how to spot it. But what can we do about it? How can we help our precious ASTs in this situation? Here are some treatment options: 

  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce the strain on your dog’s joints.
  • Physical Therapy: Regular, guided exercise can help to improve joint mobility and decrease pain.
  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be prescribed by your vet to help control pain and inflammation.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to correct the hip joint. Always consult with your vet for the best course of action.

2: Skin Allergies: Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Skin Problems in ASTs

American Staffordshire Terriers (ASTs) can be prone to skin allergies like many other breeds. Various factors, from environmental elements to food intolerances, can trigger these. Understanding these allergies’ signs, causes, and treatments is crucial to ensure your furry friend remains comfortable and healthy.

Identifying Skin Allergies 

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms, which may indicate your AST is suffering from a skin allergy: 

  • Excessive scratching: If your AST is constantly itching, it could indicate an allergic reaction.
  • Red, inflamed skin: Allergies can cause the skin to become irritated and red.
  • Hair loss: Persistent scratching can lead to patches of hair loss.

Treating Skin Allergies 

Once a skin allergy has been identified, treatment options may include: 

  • Medication: Your vet may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to alleviate the symptoms.
  • Topical creams: These can soothe and heal irritated skin.
  • Immunotherapy: In severe cases, your vet may suggest this treatment involving injecting small amounts of allergen to build immunity.

Preventing Skin Allergies 

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some preventive measures: 

  • Dietary adjustments: If food allergies are suspected, changing your AST’s diet could help prevent flare-ups.
  • Regular grooming: Keeping your dog’s coat clean can help prevent skin irritations.
  • Avoid allergens: If a specific allergen has been identified, keep your AST away as much as possible.

Remember, each AST is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Always consult your vet to ensure your pup gets the best care possible. Your AST’s health and happiness are worth it!

3: Heart Conditions: Recognizing and Managing Heart Diseases in ASTs

Our beloved American Staffordshire Terriers, affectionately known as ASTs, have hearts as large as their personalities. But sadly, these big-hearted fur babies can sometimes suffer from heart conditions. As caring dog parents, it’s important to recognize and manage these potential heart diseases to keep our pets’ tails wagging for years. 

  • Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle itself, resulting in a weakened heart that can’t pump blood efficiently. Symptoms may include fatigue, fainting, and even sudden death. If diagnosed early, certain medications can help manage the condition.
  • Heart Murmurs: These abnormal heart sounds can indicate an underlying heart condition. They’re usually detected during routine vet check-ups. Treatment depends on the root cause, which could be anything from heartworm disease to valve disorders.
  • Heartworm Disease: This condition is caused by a parasite in the heart and blood vessels. Mosquitoes transmit it, and it can be fatal if left untreated. Thankfully, heartworm disease is preventable with regular, vet-prescribed medications.
CardiomyopathyFatigue, fainting, sudden deathMedication, if diagnosed early
Heart MurmursAbnormal heart soundsDepends on underlying condition
Heartworm DiseaseLethargy, cough, weight lossPreventive medication

4: Cancer: Types of Cancer That Affect American Staffordshire Terriers

 They, like most purebred dogs, are susceptible to specific health problems. One of these concerns is cancer, a disease that can affect any dog breed but has been noted to have a higher prevalence among ASTs.

Looking at the various forms of cancer that can affect ASTs: 

  • Mast Cell Tumors: These are skin tumors commonly found in ASTs. Early detection and treatment are critical, while these tumors can vary from benign to malignant.
  • Osteosarcoma: This is a type of bone cancer that can affect ASTs. It isn’t very nice and quickly spreads to other body parts.
  • Hemangiosarcoma: This cancer affects the blood vessels and spleen. It’s known for being highly invasive and metastasizes rapidly.

Cancer in ASTs may show varied symptoms depending on the type and stage. Some common signs include: 

  • Unexplained weight loss that isn’t due to diet or exercise changes. This might be the first clue that your AST is not quite feeling himself.
  • A lump or swelling that grows quickly or doesn’t go away. This could indicate a tumor, so immediate veterinary consultation is advised.
  • Unusual sores or wounds that don’t heal, even with topical treatments. Persistent sores can be a symptom of skin cancer, a common condition in ASTs.

5: Heart Disease – A Silent Killer 

Like a stealthy burglar, heart disease in ASTs often slips in unnoticed. Commonly, it’s only detected when it’s already caused significant damage. Be watchful for: 

  • A persistent cough, especially if it’s worse at night or when your dog is lying down. This could be a sign of fluid buildup due to heart disease.
  • Difficulty or rapid breathing. If your AST seems to be gasping for air or panting excessively, it’s time for a vet visit.
  • Fatigue after moderate exercise. If your active AST suddenly acts like a couch potato, it might be more than laziness.

6: Joint Issues – The Bane of Active ASTs 

ASTs love running and playing, but joint issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis can turn playtime into pain time. Look out for: 

  • Limping or difficulty moving. If your playful AST starts moving like an old man, joint issues could be the culprit.
  • Reluctance to exercise. If fetch is suddenly a no-go, it’s time to consider joint health.
  • Visible joint swelling. If your AST’s joints look like they’ve been pumping iron, a problem may lurk underneath.

7: Eye Problems: Cataracts, Glaucoma, and Other Eye Issues in ASTs

 When it comes to the sparkling eyes of your American Staffordshire Terrier (AST), several health issues are lurking in the shadows, ready to dim that sparkle. Chief among them are cataracts, glaucoma, and several other eye problems.

Just like in humans, Cataracts in ASTs can obstruct the clarity of vision and even lead to blindness if left untreated. Cataracts often appear as cloudy or opaque areas in the eye, and while they can be hereditary, they may also develop due to old age or injury. 

  • Symptoms: Cloudiness or bluish-gray coloring over the eye, bumping into furniture, difficulty catching toys or navigating stairs
  • Prevention/Treatment: Regular veterinary check-ups can spot early signs. If necessary, surgical removal is a common treatment option.

Glaucoma, a condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye, can be particularly debilitating for ASTs. It can cause severe pain and irreversible damage to the optic nerve, resulting in blindness. 

  • Symptoms: Redness in the eye, tearing or discharge, eye rubbing, squinting, avoidance of light
  • Prevention/Treatment: Prompt veterinary attention is crucial. Treatment may involve medication or surgery to alleviate eye pressure.

Beyond cataracts and glaucoma, ASTs may also develop other eye problems, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), retinal dysplasia, and distichiasis. 

8: Digestive Issues: Understanding and Managing Gastrointestinal Problems in ASTs

 pooch, your American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) is a food lover, which makes digestive issues particularly distressing. Gastrointestinal problems are fairly common in ASTs, and with various causes, symptoms, and treatments, it’s crucial to understand these in detail.


Gastrointestinal problems in ASTs can stem from a variety of causes, including: 

  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Eating garbage or other inedible items (a behavior known as ‘pica’)
  • Parasites
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Stress
  • Medications


Signs that your AST is experiencing digestive issues might include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Changes in behavior


Treatment options for gastrointestinal problems can vary based on the cause and severity but may include the following: 

  • Dietary changes
  • Medications to control vomiting and diarrhea
  • Probiotics for gut health
  • Parasite treatments
  • Surgery in severe cases


While not all gastrointestinal problems can be prevented, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk: 

  • Feed your AST a balanced, high-quality diet
  • Avoid feeding them human food
  • Keep trash and inedible items out of reach
  • Regularly deworm your dog and keep them up-to-date on vaccinations
  • Manage their stress levels

9: Ear Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for ASTs

 American Staffordshire Terrier (AST) seems to be scratching its ears more than usual. The cause may be an ear infection, a common health problem in ASTs. Dogs, like humans, can be troubled by ear infections, but there are steps you can take to prevent and treat this issue.


Ear infections in ASTs can be attributed to a variety of factors: 

  • Allergies: Like humans, dogs can develop allergies to certain foods or environmental factors. These reactions can lead to inflammation and, subsequently, an ear infection.
  • Moisture: Water trapped in the ear canal after swimming or bathing can create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast growth.
  • Foreign bodies: An object lodged in your dog’s ear can lead to infection.


If your AST has an ear infection, you may notice the following symptoms: 

  1. Scratching: An infected ear can itch, causing your dog to scratch it frequently.
  2. Redness and swelling: Inflamed tissues can lead to redness and swelling in and around the ear.
  3. Odor: A foul smell from the ear is often a telltale sign of an infection.


Treatment options for ear infections in ASTs include: 

  • Medicated ear drops: Your vet may prescribe ear drops to treat the infection.
  • Oral medications: In severe cases, oral antibiotics or antifungal medications might be necessary.
  • Ear cleaning: Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears can help prevent future infections.

10: Managing Weight and Nutrition for American Staffordshire Terriers

Lean meats: Chicken, turkey, and fish are excellent sources of lean protein that can help build and maintain your AST’s robust musculature.

  • Eggs and dairy: These are also high in protein and can be integrated into your dog’s diet in moderation.Healthy Fats:
    • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for your pet’s skin and coat health. They can be found in fish, flaxseed, and canola oils.
    • Monounsaturated fats: Foods like olive oil and avocados contain these healthy fats which are beneficial for heart health.

But let’s not forget, despite their need for nutritious food, ASTs can quickly pile on the pounds if overfed. Here’s where portion control comes into play. 

Weight of DogRecommended Daily Calorie Intake
40 lbs900-1000 Cal
50 lbs1100-1200 Cal
60 lbs1300-1400 Cal
70 lbs1500-1600 Cal

Preventive Measures: Tips for Keeping Your AST Healthy and Happy

‘t just about belly rubs and playtime – it’s also about proactive health care. So, buckle up as we delve into some essential preventive measures to keep your four-legged friend in top shape.

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Consistent visits to the vet can help identify potential health problems early. Catching issues at the budding stage can make a huge difference in your AST’s health and longevity.
  • Proper Nutrition: A well-balanced diet packed with vitamins and nutrients is vital to your dog’s health. Speak with your vet about the best food options for your AST.
  • Exercise: ASTs are known for their energy and athleticism. Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent hip dysplasia and heart disease.
  • Genetic Testing: It’s a good idea to have your AST undergo genetic testing. This can help identify any potential genetic diseases before they start causing havoc.
  • Vaccinations: Keep up with your AST’s vaccination schedule to prevent infectious diseases. Vaccinations are crucial for your dog’s overall health and well-being.

Tips for Finding a Reputable Breeder of American Staffordshire Terriers

Find a reputable breeder who prioritizes the breed’s health and temperament. Here are some tips to guide you in your quest:

  • Research: Start with a thorough online search for breeders specializing in ASTs. Visit their websites and look for signs of professionalism and a genuine love for the breed. This could be demonstrated through detailed information about the breed, testimonials from satisfied clients, and clear terms and conditions.
  • Ask for References: A reputable breeder will be happy to share references. These could be previous clients or even other breeders. Reaching out to these references will give you an idea about the breeder’s reputation.
  • Health Checks: Ensure the breeder conducts necessary health checks and genetic testing for common AST health issues. This is a sign of a responsible breeder who is invested in the long-term health of their dogs.
  • Visit the Breeder: If possible, visit the breeder’s location. This will allow you to observe the environment in which the dogs are raised, the behavior of the parent dogs, and the breeder’s interaction with the puppies.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good breeder will be patient and willing to answer any concerns you may have. They should also ask you questions to ensure their puppies go to a good home.

Remember, acquiring a puppy is a long-term commitment and should not be taken lightly. Taking the time to find a breeder committed to their dogs’ health and well-being will ensure your AST has the best possible start in life.

The Role of Veterinary Care in AST Health Management

Your vet, thus, plays a significant role in your dog’s health management.

Regular Check-ups:

  • Regular check-ups help vets detect potential health issues early. Early detection means early treatment, preventing serious complications, and improving your dog’s quality of life.
  • These check-ups typically involve a comprehensive physical examination, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and dental check-ups.
  • Young puppies usually require several visits for vaccinations and boosters, while adult dogs generally need an annual exam.

Nutritional Guidance: 

  • Ensuring your AST receives a balanced diet is crucial for their well-being. Your vet can provide dietary advice tailored to your dog’s age, weight, and health condition.
  • For instance, puppies require a diet rich in nutrients for growth, while older dogs may need a diet that supports joint health.

Disease Management: 

  • Veterinary care is also essential in managing diseases common to ASTs, such as hip dysplasia, heart disease, and skin allergies.
  • Your vet can provide treatment options, monitor your dog’s progress, and adjust treatment plans.

By understanding the role of veterinary care, we can ensure our American Staffordshire Terriers lead healthy, happy lives. After all, they’re not just pets; they’re part of our family.

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