American Staffordshire Terrier Health Issues 

By Britt Kascjak

Do you share your heart and home with an American Staffordshire Terrier?

As dog owners, we want to do everything in our power to give our dogs the best life. But, to do that, we first need to know what risks we may be faced with.

The following are common American Staffordshire Terrier health issues you may encounter.

Common Health Issues Faced by the American Staffordshire Terrier

Cerebellar Ataxia

This is a condition caused by changes to or damage to the cerebellum of the brain.

One variation of Cerebellar Ataxia is associated with a genetic mutation. This mutation is genetically carried by approximately 30% of American Staffordshire Terriers.

This condition had a direct impact on your dog’s motor movement. Some common signs of cerebellar ataxia in dogs include:

  • Tripping or stumbling
  • Uncoordinated gait
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Leaning to one side when walking
  • Heat tilt

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia

This condition refers to abnormal development of the elbow or hip joint as a dog is growing.

As a result, the joint doesn’t function properly. This can lead to a malformation or degeneration of the joint.

It can cause significant pain, limping, or loss of mobility.

Heart Disease

There are several forms of heart disease that can be inherited by the American Staffordshire Terrier.

Some of the more common conditions include:

  • Mitral Valve Dysplasia
  • Pulmonic Valvular Stenosis
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis

While these conditions can’t be prevented completely, you can take steps to reduce your dog’s risk. You will need to incorporate a heart-healthy diet and daily physical activity.


This condition occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce hormones effectively.

Signs of hypothyroidism include hair loss, dry skin and unexplained weight gain. In time, it can also contribute to heart and blood vessel problems.

While there is no cure, you can manage the condition with the help of your veterinarian.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This condition is a deterioration of the photoreceptor cells in a dog’s eyes.

There are two different types of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

Early-onset PRA, also called retinal dysplasia, is often diagnosed at 2-3 months old. Late-onset PRA isn’t usually seen until 3-9 years old.

Over time, progressive retinal atrophy can progress to blindness.

How to Promote Good Health in Your American Staffordshire Terrier

Many of these health issues can’t be prevented, but there are steps that you can take to reduce the effects.

But there are steps you can take to manage your dog’s illness and delay or lessen the impact on your dog’s health. In doing so, you can improve your dog’s quality of life.

One of the most important things to consider is your dog’s diet.

Your dog’s food is the fuel to keep their body running. Feed high-quality food and pay attention to the feeding guidelines on the packaging.

By keeping your dog’s weight and body condition under control, you can better manage joint problems like hip and elbow dysplasia.

Another great option is to incorporate supplements or multivitamins into your dog’s diet.

General multivitamins provide the nutrition to address all the potential issues. Another option would be to use supplements targeting a specific issue like heart health or joint support.

Don’t forget to provide regular physical and mental exercise to keep your dog happy and healthy!

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.