Health problems in Border Terriers

The Border Terrier is, in general, a sturdy, healthy little dog. However, like all breeds, there are certain health conditions which can be inherited in this breed. Here are the major ones to familiarise yourself with.

Hip dysplasia

Most dog breeds have a risk of developing this genetically inherited hip problem. It happens when the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into its socket in the hip joint. The condition causes lameness and can be very painful. Later in life it can develop into arthritis. The good news is that today’s breeders know enough about this condition to screen against it before breeding. But just to be sure, you should check with your breeder whether their dogs have been given a “hip score”.

Heart conditions

Some Border Terriers are prone to heart defects like pulmonic stenosis which is where one of the heart valves is narrower than usual. A heart murmur is a good indicator that a heart condition is present.

Patellar luxation

When the patella or knee cap fits loosely into its socket, this causes a lot of friction and pain. You might notice that an affected dog will stop mid-walk to pop the knee back into place. They may walk with a hop or a limp. They might have a bow-legged appearance. The condition is present from birth but often the symptoms won’t become apparent until the dog is older. Surgery is sometimes possible to treat it.


Seizures are caused by neurological abnormalities and can be controlled with medication. When a seizure happens, you will see your dog trembling, shaking and falling unconscious for brief periods. There is very little you can do during a seizure other than wait for it to pass. Regular seizures usually come with a diagnosis of epilepsy, a condition which can be managed but not cured.


When the thyroid gland is under active, it results in a condition called hypothyroidism. Weight gain, a dull coat, dry skin and a slow heart rate are common symptoms. A dog with this condition will need to be on medication for the remainder of its life.

Now that you know some of the most common health issues in Border Terriers, the best thing you can do to avoid them is to get your puppy from a diligent, responsible breeder who will only breed from stick that is completely healthy.

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