Ichthyosis (ICH)

Ichthyosis (ICH) is a genetic skin disorder that results in wrinkly, moist, and flaky skin. Afflicted dogs have a distinct smell.

ICH-afflicted puppies are usually culled by the breeder for this reason.

Ichthyosis (ICH) afflicted American Bulldog Puppy
Photo © by its respective owners and is used for educational purpose.

How genetics work for this disease:

Ichthyosis clear (1-1) – the dog is genetically clean. Offspring are guaranteed to only inherit the normal allele.

Ichthyosis carrier (1-2) – the dog is a carrier but is itself wholly unaffected and healthy.  One normal allele and one mutant allele.

Ichthyosis afflicted (2-2) – the dog is afflicted with the disease. Two mutant alleles.


Only two clean dogs (1-1) (1-1) or one carrier and one clean dog (1-2) (1-1) should ever be bred. Subsequently, if the breeding included a carrier, the resulting litter should be tested by the breeder to ensure no future breeding accidentally takes place between two carriers.

Ichthyosis can be tested cheaply and effectively through the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory.


All responsible American Bulldog breeders MUST test their dogs for Ichthyosis. The test only costs $75 . If you’re shopping for an American Bulldog and the breeder cannot produce ICH test results for both parents, we suggest you look elsewhere. Given the small cost and non-intrusive nature of this test, it is naive to assume that a given dog is not an ICH carrier if the breeder went through the trouble of doing other tests except for ICH. The more likely possibility is that the non-ideal test result is being withheld.