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Official Site of the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America

​Home of the American Staffordshire Terrier

Health Committee

The mission of the STCA health committee is to:

  • ​Identify diseases and ailments of the American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Provide funding for health research projects beneficial to our breed
  • Provide support and information for owners needing help in a health crisis situation
  • Educate breeders and owners on diseases of the American Staffordshire Terrier and the importance of utilizing available health tests
  • ​Acknowledge breeders and owners participating in health screenings

​STCA Health Chairperson: Lacey Benítez

Members: Kelly Townsend, Gloria Otero, Jessica Branch, Rose Starky and John O’Hanlon.


STCA Recommended Health Testing for your Amstaff

The Staffordshire Terrier Club of America recommends health testing for the following conditions that do affect the American Staffordshire Terrier for your breeding programs.  You can also download the .pdf file by clicking on the button .

A note from the STCA Health Committee regarding the NCL-A Cerebellar Ataxia test for Am Staffs: There are a few genetic testing labs offering the NCL-A test for American Staffordshire Terriers. However, Optigen labs, is the only lab in the USA that uses the patented test from Antagene of France. For this reason, the Optigen NCL-A test is the only one recognized by OFA. Testing with any other lab is not eligible to be recorded in the OFA database. The STCA Health Committee recommends using Optigen labs for your NCL-A test. Discounts and clinics are offered throughout the year. Check the Optigen website for more information.

A note about Cerebellar Ataxia testing : There have been questions raised regarding the NCL-A cerebellar ataxia test offered by the Paw Print genetics laboratory. Because they have a cheaper cost than Optigen some members have chosen to use this lab for testing their dogs.
  Results from Paw Print genetics are not eligible for recording by OFA due to the fact that they do not use the patented Antegene test.
  Optigen is the only lab in the USA which uses the patented Antegene test developed by Dr. Natasha Olby in conjunction  with veterinarians in France.  Dr. Olby cannot comment on the integrity of the Paw Print genetics test. The STCA Health Committee feels that until such time that more information is obtained, members should continue to use the Antegene test offered by Optigen.
  Optigen periodically offers discounts on testing. Check their website for more information and a list of clinics.

Hip Dysplasia (must be 2 years old for final results for OFA and 16 weeks for PennHip)

  • OFA Evaluation 

  • PennHIP Evaluation

Congenital Cardiac Database

  • OFA evaluation with examination performed by a Cardiologist (Must be 1 year old to be in OFA database)

Autoimmune thyroiditis

NCL-A (Cerebellar Ataxia)

  • Optigen NCL test results registered with the OFA - the Staffordshire Terrier Club of America advises that 2 NCL carriers should never be bred together, and that affected dogs should never be bred.
  • First Generation Offspring of tested dogs eligible for Clear By Parentage.

Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist (Optional) results registered with OFA.

Elbow Dysplasia (Optional) usually done when evaluated for Hip Dyspasia

​The Staffordshire Terrier Club of America awards Members in Good Standing awards for Health Testing your Amstaff.
STCA Health Awards Page

Additional Health Information

​7th Edition of “Ocular Disorders Presumed to be Inherited in Purebred Dogs

Pages 63-66 includes Amstaffs

click here for Dental Dentition Database

At the request of the American Rottweiler Club, the OFA has developed a new dentition database. The database is used to certify full dentition and is open to all breeds. Any attending veterinarian may perform the examination. There is no minimum age, however, prior to certification, all adult teeth must be fully erupted. The database is intended to certify that all adult teeth are fully erupted and present. It is not intended to certify compliance with any specific breed’s standard.

NEW...Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy (JLPP)

click here for DNA Sample Handling

click here for DNA Sample

​JLPP is a fatal hereditary degenerative neurological disease that affects puppies after weaning age,with symptoms usually appearing at about 3-4 months old.  It begins with difficulty breathing which causes choking, aspiration, and possible pneumonia.  It progresses to the hind limbs causing difficulty getting up, and wobbly gait and eventually spreads to the front limbs.  There are a few breeds affected with this disease and among them are the Black Russian Terrier and Rottweiler.  For these 2 breeds the trait is autosomal recessive and a test has been developed.
   For a detailed description of the disease see this link on the Black Russian Terrier site:
Also visit the University of Missouri web page
The Health Committee just recently received some disturbing news that some people in the breed have been experiencing this disease in their AmStaffs over the past few years.  We were contacted by a person who has had first hand experience with a few of her dogs affected with the disease.  Her investigation led her to find out that there were many other cases in the breed but it was not being discussed.  Finding out about the genetic test developed by the research team at the University of Missouri Veterinary School, she contacted them and submitted samples.  It was determined that the AmStaff mutation was different from that of the BRT and Rottweiler.  Through social media and word of mouth, she was able to discover that there were a good number of cases, most sharing similar lineage, both here in the US and overseas as well.
     I am extremely grateful that we were given this information.  As it was a difficult beginning when we started the ataxia project, the membership came together and helped our researcher Dr. Olby develop a test.  We can do it again with everyone's help.
     I have been in contact with Liz Hansen of the University of Missouri veterinary research team headed by Dr. Dennis O'Brien.  Dr. O'Brien was instrumental in working with Dr. Olby on our ataxia research.  Some of you may remember that he came to the National while the project was active and he gave a presentation on ataxia.  The above link on the Black Russian Terrier Club of America website will also take you to a very informative video presentation he gave to their club on JLLP.  I urge you to watch it and learn about the disease and research process.
     Liz Hansen has agreed to work with us on a research project.  There are a few samples at their lab but they need many more.  We need your help with this.  All information including pedigree data will remain confidential.  Form and instruction sheet are attached below.  Liz will need DNA from affected dogs, clinical report from the veterinarian or neurologist who diagnosed, samples from normal siblings, parents, and grandparents if possible, brief history of clinical signs and disease progression, and necropsy report if available. Genetic technology has improved since our last research project and I am hoping this can have a successful outcome before we are faced with a major widespread problem in our breed. 
     I have contacted  Antagene and Biovet Labs and am waiting to hear if they have any additional information.  I have also reached out to Dr. Olby to see if she can be of any assistance.  As for funding, I have spoken with AKC Canine Health Foundation and we will work with them and the funding process.  As we did with the ataxia project, the committee will help offset costs of necropsies associated with this research.
   Contact information for Liz Hansen is ph#573-884-3712, email
Her information and mailing address also appears on the attached sample handling page.
     Please pass this information on to any AmStaff owner, member or non member, who may be able to help.
If you have any questions you can contact the health committee at or contact me directly at , tel#917-887-8760 

NCL-A (Cerebellar Ataxia)

Cerebellar Ataxia is an autosomal recessive neurological disease. The first signs of the disease usually appear between 3 and 5 years of age in affected dogs. They are: loss of balance, difficulty cornering, and falling when shaking their head. As the signs progress, most dogs seem to have difficulty initiating movements. When they became unable to walk without falling repeatedly, owners usually make the difficult choice to euthanize.The Antagene Cerebellar Ataxia (NCL-A) test detects the mutant, defective gene copy and the normal gene copy. The result of the test is a genotype and allows separation of dogs into three groups: Normal/Clear (homozygous normal), Carrier (heterozygous) and Affected (homozygous mutated). 

Please note the Cerebellar Ataxia test is done in France with Antagene but you must obtain the DNA test through Optigen.
Please look through the following links to find out more about Ataxia in the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Information from An​tagene about Cerebellar Ataxia
DNA Test for Cerebellar Ataxia - Optigen

Dr. Olby's Cerebellar Ataxia Presentation 

Antagene Video of Cerebellar Ataxia​

​OFA Clear by Parentage Policy for DNA Tests

AKC Canine Health Foundation link

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