Most Common Health Problems of Pit Bull Dogs
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Most Common Health Problems of Pit Bull Dogs

Are pitbull terriers prone to any health problems? What are the common health concerns that pit bull dogs have? Are American Staffordshire terriers at risk for some health problems? Are pit bulls more prone to skin problems? Learn more about some of the common health issues often faced by pitbull type dogs.

Every breed of dog has some health problems they are prone to. It is always good for dog owners to be aware of the problems their dog may encounter. In some cases if an owner is aware of the potential for some problems they may be able to try to prevent them, in other cases they may just select a different breed of dog. Of course, it should go without saying, that buying a dog from a reputable breeder, one who has taken their dog to shows, and had it tested for genetic conditions (hips, eyes, ears) is usually safer in terms of genetic health, than when buying from just anyone.

When we talk about pit bull dogs it is very important to remember that there is not a specific breed of dog known as a pit bull, rather this term refers to several breeds including the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Skin Problems

Pit bull terrier dogs are more prone to skin problems, especially the lighter colored dogs. They often require special attention to their food, and are sometimes even allergic to grass. As far as food goes these dogs are often extra sensitive to ingredients such as corn, wheat, pork, beef, and soy. The symptoms of such problems can show as hot spots, itchy areas on the skin, or an outbreak of mites, leading to mange.

These dogs tend to be prone to mange in general.


Mast Cell Tumors are another condition that dogs of the bully breeds are prone to. These may look like warts, large pimples, or swollen lumps, on a dog's skin. They are not always malignant (cancerous) but can be. In some cases they are itchy, sometimes hair is lost on the tumor, but not always.

L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria

L2HGA is a metabolic disorder often found in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. It is inheritable, and breeding dogs should be tested for it. It affects the brain and will often result in epilepsy and dementia like symptoms.


The American pit bull terrier is often at risk of a heart birth defects.

Leg Problems

All pit bull type dogs are prone to some leg problems, either hip dysplasia, or patella problems. Again by having the parents tested before breeding some of these problems can be, hopefully, eliminated in puppies. Dogs with leg problems do require special care and should not be bred.


These dogs are more prone to some eye problems than other dogs. Pit bulls are at risk for hereditary cataracts. They are also often have a condition called Distichiasis, causing them to have an extra row of eyelashes. This is not always a problem and is often not even noticed, but it is linked to heart problems, the only concern for the dog is if the extra eye lashes rub on the eye itself. It can be a full row of eyelashes or just a few random extra ones. Another eye problem seen in pit bulls is Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous, or PHPV, in which vision is affected. This is one of the things that dogs should be tested for prior to breeding.

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Comments (5)
Ranked #5 in Dogs

thanks for educational tidbits about Pit Bull dogs

I think most canine breeds are susceptible to cataracts and other eye conditions. We found our pit bull on the side of the road and suspect he was a bait dog. Voted and +1ed, excellent info for all pit bull owners and those wishing to own one.

I have a year old PIT and having alittle trouble with one of his ears, on the inter side of the ear it looks swallen. I have dealt with places llike this on him before, he had one on his lip over the summer, took him to vet and it was infection. The vet just mashed it out and gave me some infection meds for him and it never came back, But this time with his ear, ( Its nothing except BLOOD in it) its filling up the top half of his ear and keeps coming back with in 2 day,,,DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT THIS COULD POSSIBLILY BE?

My older pit is having skin problems is and been breaking out with spots with black scabs on them he also has allergies real bad both seasonal and skin allergies and are pit puppy has a limp on his left back leg like maybe his hip maybe out of place thanks for the info we love are pits Jake and Gator

Donna - I know this is like 4 years too late, but I figured I would post in case others were having the same issue, it is a hematoma - pits get them a lot because they tend to bump into stuff without caring and they tend to use all those muscles to shake and bump their ears on stuff (also lips and once I saw an eye lid (YUCK). If it keeps refilling have a vet quilt it (sew to the front and back together) to stop it. Good Luck!