The Animal Health Trust is a charity that has been helping dogs, cats and horses for more than half a century. We provide specialist veterinary clinical, diagnostic and surgical services and our successes in research have ranged from major breakthroughs in anaesthesia and surgical techniques to the development of vaccines against diseases such as canine distemper and equine influenza. Our scientists and veterinarians, many of whom are world leaders in their field, work alongside bringing together a wide range of expertise for a co-ordinated attack on animal diseases and injuries. By publishing scientific papers, speaking at conferences and talking to other veterinary surgeons about the cases dealt with, this knowledge is passed on to benefit the maximum number of animals.

The canine genetics group is a small team of skilled personnel that liases with clinicians, other scientists within and outside the Trust and dog owners and breeders alike.This unique partnership is what makes the AHT’s research and DNA Diagnostic Service so successful.The genetics group strives to understand the genetic basis of inherited canine disease.The long-term goal of the work we undertake is to identify the genetic mutations that cause inherited disease and develop DNA tests that identify those dogs which carry these causal mutations.

As with other breeds of dog the Staffordshire bull terrier suffers from its fair share of inherited disease.The AHT has been researching the genetic basis of two such diseases over the last few years, Hereditary Cataract (HC) and L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2-HGA) and is pleased to announce the development of DNA Diagnostic Tests for both these conditions are now available at the AHT.


L-2-Hydroxyglutaric aciduria

L-2-HGA (L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria) in Staffordshire Bull Terriers is a neurometabolic disorder characterised by elevated levels of L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid in urine, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid.L-2-hydroxyglutarate is normally metabolised to α-ketoglutarate but in affected dogs it is not, and builds up in the body with devastating results.L-2-HGA affects the central nervous system, with clinical signs usually apparent between 6 months and one year (although they can appear later). Symptoms include epileptic seizures, "wobbly" gait, tremors, muscle stiffness as a result of exercise or excitement and altered behavior.


Hereditary Cataract

Hereditary cataract in the Staffordshire bull terrier was first reported in the United Kingdom in 1976.The condition is not congenital, so puppies are born with normal eyes, but cataracts begin to appear at a few weeks to months in age, progressing to total cataracts by 2 to 3 years of age. This cataract is always bilateral, symmetrical in the two eyes, and progressive until total with resultant blindness.

Breeders can use the information gleaned from these tests to instigate appropriate breeding programmes that avoid the production of affected dogs and aide in the eventual elimination of inherited disease from breeds at risk.