Blue Ridge American Bulldogs

As with every breed, American Bulldogs do have some genetic issues, but the most common are ACL tears, Hip and Elbow dysplasia, Cancer, Ichthyosis, Canine Hyperuricosuria, Neuroronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses, Nemaline Myelopathy and Degenerative Myelopathy. Bulldogs typically living 10-12 years of age.


 This class of inherited neurological disorders are diagnosed in American Bulldogs and other breeds.

Through the use of DNA Testing, we can identify whether the dog  possesses and or has the genetic mutation, which can be passed on to its progeny. So far, Embark is the only DNA testing facility offering the testing for it genetic mutation.

The owner with an American Bulldog who suffers from this genetic mutation will see physical symptoms worse  during stressful times. Initially, you may notice a change in their gait and posture, uncoordinated movement. 

As the disease progresses worsens, the dog will establish a wider-base stance starting in the rear, then involving all four legs and possible muscle twitching.

Ichthyosis is a skin disorder that can be found in American Bulldogs that is a result of a recessive genetic mutation. The mutation prevents the outer layer of skin from developing properly.  The puppy's skin will resembles fish scales with the skin being rough and covered with thick, greasy flakes that sticks to the hair. Also, there may be areas where the skin is thicker than others with increased pigment. 

DNA testing from Embark or Wisdom tests for this genetic mutation. This disease is not life threatening, it will be uncomfortable for the dog and it will take a lot of work from the owner because of the itching, excessive scaling.
 Caninine Hyperuricosuria

HUU is an inherited disorder causes elevated levels of uric acid in the urine, which could lead to the formation of bladder and kidney stones.The stones can often be removed surgically and also hard to treat.  Other factors such as liver disease and diet also my contribute.

HUU is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive defect. HUU can occur in any breed but is very common in Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Black Russian Terriers.

A dog with HUU may never suffer from Kidney and bladder stones, but it is more susceptible to present with the same.  Using DNA panel test from Embark or Wisdom will test for HUU, as well as NCL, ICH, DM, HM and many other diseases.

NM and DM are more rare, they are genetic disorders that be tested through DNA panel tests using Embark or Wisdom.  

NM' clinical symptoms in affected dogs include generalized muscle weakness, exercise intolerance and tremors, which starts around 2 months of age. Reports that their dog since early age is constantly shaking and is reluctant to exercise. The affected dog has a generalized atrophy, and the myopathy is relatively non-progressive. 

Compared to the healthy muscle affected American Bulldogs showed a marked variability in myofiber size and present generalized atrophy. In most muscles, a rod-like inclusion bodies could be found, which are not present in healthy muscle.

DM is an inherited neurologic disorder caused by a mutation of the SOD1 gene known to be carried by American Bulldogs. This mutation is found in many breeds, thought it is not clear for American Bulldogs where all dogs carrying two copies of the mutation will develop the disease. 

The variable presentation between breeds suggest that there are environmental or other genetic factors responsible for modifying disease expression. The average age of onset for dogs with DM is approximately nine year of age.

The disease affects white matter tissue of the spinal cord and is considered the canine equivalent to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) found in humans. Affected dogs usually present in adulthood with gradual muscle atrophy and loss of coordination typically beginning in the hind limbs due to degeneration of the nerves.

The condition is typically not painful for the dog but will progress until the dog loses the ability to walk. The gait of dogs affected with degenerative myelopathy can be difficult to distinguish from the gait of dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis of joints of the hind limbs, or intervertebral disc disease.

Late in the progression of disease, dogs my lose fecal and urinary continence and the forelimbs may be effected. Affected dogs might fully lose the ability to walk 6 months to 2 years after the onset of symptoms.

Affected medium to large breed dogs such as the American Bulldog, can be difficult to manager and owners often elect euthanasia when their dog can no longer support weight in the hind limbs.


Hip and elbow dysplasia are one of the most common skeletal disease found in large breed dogs. When it happens, the ball and socket of the hip or elbow joints has abnormal growth with insufficient coverage, which  then makes the joint become unstable and loose. Long -term issues cause scar tissue around the joint.  Bone spurs can develop, and the pain associated with it increases with time.

Unfortunately, some dogs have this as an inherited skeletal disease. It is very important when breeding dogs that they are certified OFA or PennHip, this helps breeders make sure they are passing the best genetics to the litter of their dogs. Dogs with good hips and elbows are less likely to produce litters having this disease.




"NM" Nemaline Myelopathy

"DM" Degenerative Myeloypathy

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Neuronal Period Lipofuscinoses