Pit Bull Skin Problems

By Jack Rella

Pit bull breeds are prone to skin problems that are not as common in other dogs, including rashes, hives and sunburn. These conditions may cause scratching problems ranging from mild irritation to severe, vigorous scratching that can lead to hematoma and require surgical repair. With their short hair and sensitive hides, these breeds are also prone to skin cancer.

Color Variations

"Pit bulls" include several different breeds, such as the American pit bull terrier and the American and British Staffordshire terriers. These breeds are short-haired and come in a variety of color variations. Dogs with the "blue-nose" color variation, as well as those with chocolate- or cream-colored skin, may be more likely to develop skin problems. The cause of this variation is not fully understood, though level and type of skin pigment are believed to be factors. According to dog breeders at the Dalton Blue Pit Kennel in Georgia, a tendency toward skin problems is common in blue color variations of all dog breeds.


According to the ASPCA, the most common skin problem among "pit bull" breeds is seasonal allergies. Whether or not these allergies are associated with common airborne allergens or with annual changes in skin growth, such as summer shedding, is unknown, but the results are the same: Allergies cause dogs to scratch themselves, often to the point of removing skin and causing infections that can lead to more serious conditions if left untreated.

Hot Spots

Short-haired dogs, such as pit bulls, tend to develop dry skin. Dry skin can lead to hot spots -- bare areas of skin that become inflamed and extremely itchy. Dogs often scratch these areas incessantly until they remove the skin entirely, leaving raw tissue or sores, which can lead to further health problems.


Due to the sensitivity of their skin, pit bulls may react strongly to insect bites and stings, as well as to flea and tick infestation. They are also more sensitive to chemicals, including soaps, shampoos and other products, that come into direct contact with the dog, as well as products they contact indirectly, such as detergents used on dog bedding.


Because "pit bull" breeds seem to have more adverse reactions to skin irritants than other breeds, some veterinarians recommend applying skin softener or lotion to these dogs on a regular basis. Some owners recommend Skin So Soft for its moisturizing and medicating effects. Any product that is to be applied to your dog should be tested first in a small area before full application. Apply veterinary sunscreen to dogs who spend a great deal of time outside, keep your pit bull's flea and tick treatment current and ensure his play area is free of irritating insects such as flies and ants.