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.
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.
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.
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.