About the Breed

Health Report 

The Health Survey was re-launched during 2005 to obtain further information from a new generation of Border Terriers. Around 250 new reports have been received to date but Border Terrier owners are welcome to submit a report to the health survey at any time.

Whilst the reports take some time to put into the database, the current database contains information on approximately 850 dogs and further analysis has revealed some interesting information. The information was grouped into time periods 1960 -1989 (181 dogs); 1990-1994 (238 dogs); and 1995 -2000 (433 dogs). Dogs were allotted to a time period according to their date of birth. The reports were then assessed for relative rates of incidence of various defects and behavioral problems and comparisons made between the groups.

The findings were as follows:


Cataracts were found at a rate of 7.7% in the 1960-1989 group but were below 1% in the other two. This supports the previous finding that cataracts in border terriers tend to be related to age. Veterinary reports have suggested that cataracts in Border Terriers are late onset in type.

Deafness appears to also be an age related problem having a similar distribution with 8.9% incidence in the 1960-1989 group and less than 1% in the other two. Deafness appears to be also an age related problem.

Tail defects (predominantly tail kinks), are found at a rate of 3.9%; 2.9% and 2.5% across the three groups respectively. This shows a decreasing trend, which is encouraging. Tail kinks are a congenital defect (being present at birth) and therefore age is not a factor here. The decreasing trend suggests that selective breeding may be having a beneficial effect in reducing the incidence of tail kinks.

Conversely, fertility problems seem to be increasing with an incidence rate of: less than 1%; 3.4% and 3.9% respectively. Further analysis will be needed to establish what are the potential causes at the root of this rising trend.

Heart defects were reported at very low rates in the first two groups and at 0.9% in the 1995-2000 group. This is a very low incidence but the increase in the last five years is a statistic that should be watched.

Behaviour Related Problems

Aggression (to other dogs) has a mixed pattern of occurrence with the respective rates being 7.1%; 9.24% and 6.24%. This suggests we still have some way to go in controlling this undesirable behaviour trait.

Similarly, Seizures show a mixed pattern too. 5.5% in l960-89; 8% in l990-1994 and only 1.85% in l995-2000. The low figure for the later group is potentially misleading as incidence of Seizures can be expected to rise with age and therefore this figure can be expected to rise over time.

Sporadic reports of suspected cases of Spikes Disease (CECS) have been received but confirmation of diagnosis is difficult and reports are often received indirectly. Further analysis of CECS will continue but incidence overall remains low compared to aggression, infertility, cataracts and deafness.

 Prof Steve Dean BVetMed MRCVS DVR
Breed Health Representative

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