This is yet another nasty disease for Miniature Bull Terriers 

Lethal Acrodermatitis is a serious inherited skin condition in Bull Terriers which causes early death. This disease causes severe retardation of growth, thick skin and painful blisters on the muzzle, eyes, nose, ears, feet, and mucous membranes which eventually leads to pneumonia and death. The most commonly affected areas are the muzzle, ears, feet, legs, and groin. Most breeders can recognize the disease in the puppy by the time it is six to eight weeks old because it is less than half the size of the other puppies in the litter and has flat, splayed feet with dermatitis. 

Symptoms of Lethal Acrodermatitis in Dogs

If your dog has lethal acrodermatitis, the signs will most likely be evident by the time he is about three to six months old. Some of the most often seen complaints are:

  • Thickened skin on legs and feet
  • Painful eruptions on toes
  • Pustules and lesions on face
  • Blisters on mucous membranes (lips, nostrils, mouth, genitals, throat)
  • Slow growth Standing with legs splayed apart
  • Deformed and broken nails
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty eating
  • Numerous bacterial infections
  • Frequent nasal discharge
  • Pneumonia (high body temperature, coughing, breathing difficulty)
  • Death

Up to now some relief from the condition could be gained from following a diet with foods high in zinc and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as fish, flaxseed oil, soybean oils, sunflower oils, liver, chicken, salmon, beef, and veal. Your vet may have also offered injections of supplements but these should only be administered by a vet.

This disease is almost always fatal and whilst some dogs may live for several years, but if your dog is in constant pain then its quality of life must be paramount.

The University of Bern, Switzerland, headed by Prof. Dr. Tosso Leeb, conducted a research programme into this disease, as a result of this the Animal Health Trust announced that with effect from Monday 15th January 2018 their DNA testing service have launched a new DNA test for Lethal Acrodermatitis in Bull terriers and Miniatures.

The test, is a simple mouth swab, and is available for the price of £48, and can be ordered on the AHT website:



  • Canine DNA Tests, then,
  • “B” for Bull Terrier, which brings up the listing for both Bull Terriers and Miniatures.

This is an amazing breakthrough which should, in time, eradicate this horrible disease. Please have your minis tested. 

Brenda Ford

Health Officer

Miniature Bull Terrier Club


A Plain Man’s Guide to the New DNA Test for LAD

LAD stands for Lethal Acrodermatitis, a hereditary disease which is unique to Bull Terriers and Miniature BTs. Everyone in these breeds is familiar with it so I will deal only briefly with its characteristics. It is inherited as a double recessive, so puppies suffering from it result from crossing two carriers. Both parents appear to be entirely normal, the affected puppies are typically significantly smaller than their siblings and are very prone to skin infections. They fail to thrive, they are unable to metabolise zinc and supplementation with zinc doesn’t help; breeders have generally referred to them as “zincys”. Breeders are dismayed when such puppies appear in litters from healthy parents. My own last litter, born in January 2007, was of five well marked bitches. Two went to breeders and both produced LAD puppies, it can happen to anyone! Now a test is available what should we do to prevent further LAD puppies?

To avoid getting LAD puppies we need to check that both intended parents are not carriers of the LAD gene. So we need to get them both DNA tested. If both are clear of the gene we can go ahead with the mating. If one is clear but the other is a carrier we can still go ahead with the mating as no LAD puppies will be produced. Some breeders may think that breeding from carriers should be banned, but our gene pool is already too small and we cannot afford to throw away good healthy specimens which are carriers. Of course if both intended parents are carriers we will need to choose a different sire which is clear. Evidently breeders can only make sensible breeding decisions i.e. ones which will not result in LAD puppies, if the LAD status of all potential parents is known. That is why the Kennel Club should be asked to adopt an official scheme and publish all of the results. A simple solution, if everyone cooperates we can say goodbye to this pernicious disease.

There is a clear parallel between LAD and Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) in MBTs. The “Mini” breeders have shown the way with PLL, I hope and expect BT breeders to be as successful in tackling LAD.

  Dr Brian E Hill  – Bull Terrier Breed Health Coordinator.

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