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Bull Terrier LAD Awareness Website


Lethal Acrodermatitis, LAD, Zincer.

LETHAL ACRODERMATITIS - A lethal syndrome characterized clinically by retarded growth, progressive Acrodermatitis, chronic pyoderma and paronychia, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and abnormal behaviour. Jezyk et al, JAVMA 1986

When first born the LAD puppy is often the smallest in the litter and may look pink as they often lack pigment. The first indication is usually a restless, hungry puppy. Although appearing to suckle well from the dam it will not be getting enough if any milk. (you can test weigh before and after feeds to check)  By about four  weeks old a size difference will be noticed, the LAD pup will be much smaller than his/her littermates.

When weaning the puppy will lap milk but as the meals get more solid, difficulty in feeding can be seen. They also feed much slower than their littermates. The high arch of the top palate causes food to stick to the roof of the mouth. It will be easier on the puppy to liquidise food and to add water to it, LAD puppies have a shorter than normal tongue so find it difficult to lap water, adding water to food will ensure they are getting enough fluids.

At approximately 4-10 weeks of age crusted skin lesions can be seen developing between the toes which will be splayed, the footpads may be hard and cracked. The skin lesions progress rapidly including nail bed infections. Nails grow quite fast and will be distorted. The feet will look very deformed. Sore dry skin can sometimes be noticed around the mouth and eyes at around the same time.  LAD puppies have a half shut eye look and sight may be affected. By 8 weeks the LAD puppy will normally be at half the size or less of his/her littermates, the coat of a coloured will be distinctively faded from that at which he/she was born. The hips and back legs may look splayed and weak. Co-ordination is difficult and they tend to transfix on faces or objects.

LAD puppies may suffer with diarrhoea and can vary in severity this can also lead to dehydration. LAD puppies are also prone to respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Some have heart murmurs again with differing severity.

A medication plan was put together by Juliet Shaw (Badlesmere) after keeping her own LAD puppies, with trials and errors she came up with a treatment that is still working for these babies today. Medication of Steroids  (Prednisolone) and Antibiotics (Cephalaxine) given as soon as skin problems arise and creams such as Aloe Vera or if more severe Hydrocortisone creams or creams for athletes foot  applied can very quickly and dramatically lesson the severity of skin lesions leaving just dry crusty skin and thus a lot more comfortable and not at all painful for the puppy, medication can start as young as 6 weeks old. Feet washing in antibacterial wash and  cream applied can start as soon as the skin begins to look red, sore and/or splitting.

Many feel that LAD puppies are aggressive and quite often remove them from there litter mates at an early age. They do not bark but communicate by growling along with having no bite inhibition gives the impression of aggression. LAD puppies cannot keep up with littermates and get cross quickly, they prefer their own company or human company (they do love a cuddle). I do not believe they are aggressive I believe as I have already said that people confuse the growling with the hard bite and come up with aggression.

Sometimes a less experienced breeder will sell these puppies to unsuspecting puppy buyers, they may not necessarily know the puppy is LAD and will perhaps presume it is a runt. It can be difficult to know if skin symptoms do not show until past 8 weeks but they may be able to notice other characteristics and know all is not right and seek an opinion from established breeders, the breed clubs or their veterinarian, although not many veterinarians are aware of this problem, many LAD puppies die before 6 weeks of age or are PTS.

Please do not blame a breeder if you find you have a LAD puppy it is not always easy to spot, if the vet has diagnosed LAD or you suspect it please go straight to your breeder.  If he/she cares enough for the welfare of those they breed they will want to know and will want to help.

Nowadays with more breeders sharing experiences with LAD puppies they have kept, more breeders are keeping them or finding trustworthy homes for them. Sharing information on medication and general care has made it easier to give these special needs bullies a chance for a happy and content life even though it may be a short one.

It is not an easy decision to keep a Zincer, you need to be able to devote the time and love as well as the medical bills for the rest of it's life. It is very rewarding watching these babies grow it is also hard work. If you are considering a Zincer living in your family please get some advice first so that you know exactly what you are taking on.

Lethal Acrodermatitis is thought (but not yet proved) to be automsomal recessive gene. Both parents need to carry the faulty gene to pass it onto some or even all of their offspring.  There is no test as yet for Lethal Acrodermatitis however there is ongoing research into this disease. You will only know you have carriers when a Zincer shows up in your breeding line.

If you suspect you have a LAD puppy and your vet does not know what to do or is going through various treatments that are not working please email me for advice on treatment and care on the contact link at top of this page. I will be able to put you in contact with someone who has a lot of experience with Zinker puppies.


More information can be found at.


The Bull Terrier Club of America

Or by searching for Lethal Acrodermatitis in Bull Terriers



  bull terrier skin - arcazy bull terrier lad - lethal acrodermatitis

Lethal Acrodermatitis in Bull Terriers

Lottie in the middle was much smaller at birth

At two weeks Lottie laying long ways in the middle is already much smaller than her littermates

2 weeks old with rabbit like fur and a ragged look.

Splayed feet and rag tag look at 5 weeks

8 weeks and her coat colour is fading

8 weeks and the size difference is remarkable
Bull Terrier LAD Awareness Website



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