Health and Genetics

Current issues, surveys, ongoing programs, and links to pertinent articles and organizations

Clinical Trials which may be of interest to Border Terrier owners/breeders

Information below is on some of the Clinical Trials that are being conducted. They are organized by University/Institution.

Where possible we have tried to eliminate trials that would exclude dogs the size of Border Terriers. This is a fluid field and new trials become available and others finish over time. In looking for a clinical trial, look at the University/Institution near you to see if they have an appropriate one.

Iowa State University – College of Veterinary Medicine


Clinical Trial/Study Name: Diagnostic utility of lung ultrasound for monitoring of congestive heart failure in dogs
Disease/Condition: Congestive heart failure
Description: Determine if lung ultrasound is as good (or better) than traditional measures of pulmonary edema used to monitor patients during the resolution of congestive heart failure.

Internal Medicine

Clinical Trial/Study Name: Incidence of aldosterone breakthrough (ABT) in client-owned dogs receiving angiotensin converting enzyme-inhibitors (ACEI) and/or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) for proteinuric chronic kidney disease (CKDP)
Disease/Condition: Kidney disease primarily affecting the glomerulus
Description: To determine the incidence of aldosterone breakthrough in dogs being given an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor and/or an angiotensin receptor blocker for the management of proteinuric renal disease. To determine if dogs with aldosterone breakthrough have a poorer therapeutic response

Clinical Trial/Study Name: Thyroid hormone status in dogs with Renal Proteinuria
Disease/Condition: Proteinuria for which a non-renal cause
Description: Our study aims to evaluate the thyroid function in dogs that are proteinuria

Clinical Trial/Study Name: Evaluation of StablePlateRx in Canine Thrombocytopenic patients
Disease/Condition: Critical bleeding due to low platelet numbers
Description: This study is designed to evaluate the efficacy of a new lyophilized (freeze-dried) platelet product in patients who are experiencing bleeding due to low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). The study is designed as a randomized clinical trial. By random selection, receive either DMSO cryopreserved (frozen) platelets (the current platelet transfusion product used at ISU), or StablePlate RxTM, the lyophilized platelet product under study.


Clinical Trial/Study Name: Randomized, open-label study evaluating the use of Immunocidin non-specific immunotherapy with concurrent doxorubicin-based chemotherapy for canine splenic hemangiosarcoma
Disease/Condition: Splenic hemangiosarcoma (HSA) and has had a splenectomy
Description: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the difference in overall survival between dogs with splenic hemangiosarcoma (HSA) treated with splenectomy, Immunocidin (a non-specific immunotherapeutic), and concurrent doxorubicin, compared to those treated with standard of care (splenectomy and doxorubicin).

Border Terrier Club of America Health Committee

The BTCA Health Committee has a new email:

For the last 50 years Marg Pough, our Health Chair, has received thousands of health questions, and because of connections with the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, was able to advise people. Historically, these questions have come by phone calls, by email, and now more frequently by messages and messenger, the volume and multiple methods of receiving, means that questions can get buried and sometimes get lost in the gobs of other things that arrive.

Marg is not getting younger. We now have a larger health committee that includes three veterinarians. As always information about owners, breeders, and individual dogs is confidential. It is always up to the owners to release information on identification.

  1. When you are asking a question, remember your own Veterinarian knows your dog, and should always be your first call. However, when consulting the health committee there are certain things you can do that will help you, your dog, your veterinarian, and the committee. Describe the signs you are seeing. Results of any workup’s your Veterinarian has done.
  2. Keep a log that should include: age of onset, how long has the condition been occurring, any treatment, diet changes, any improvements or decline.
  3. WRITE IT DOWN, it helps you remember, it helps your veterinarian, and it helps anyone that the committee consults with.

We cannot diagnose your dog, but we have a network of knowledge and of people we can consult with. We can only make suggestions. If a disorder is new to Border Terriers we will continue to let the membership know. We are in the planning stages of a new General Health Survey, and are discussing the possibility of an OPEN Health Database where owners can enter information on their own dogs.

A DNA Test for Shaking Puppy Spongiform LeucoEncephaloMyelopathy (SLEM) in Border Terriers

From the time they begin to support weight and attempt to walk, Border Terriers with SLEM show severe tremors predominantly in the hind limbs creating a characteristic side-to-side shaking sometimes called “rump shaking” or “rocking horse” movements. Most affected pups die at a young age or are euthanized due to quality of life issues, although with extensive supportive care, in some rare cases affected pups can improve with time. Collaborating researchers at the University of Missouri, at the Animal Health Trust, and at Wisdom Health have identified the gene harboring the mutation responsible for this disease. The disease is a recessive trait, which means that affected puppies have inherited a defective copy of the gene from the sire and a defective copy of the gene from the dam. The researchers have developed a DNA test that identifies which dogs are genetically normal (with 2 normal copies of the gene), which dogs are otherwise healthy carriers of the disease (with one normal gene copy and one mutant gene copy), and which dogs suffer from SLEM (with 2 mutant gene copies).

Border Terrier breeders wishing to avoid producing affected puppies in future litters can use the DNA test to ensure that at least one member of a breeding pair has a normal DNA test result. In addition, the DNA test can be used to confirm a diagnosis of SLEM.

On Monday October 9th DNA testing will become available from the University of Missouri ( and the Animal Health Trust ( ). Testing through a partnership with OFA ( , click the “ORDER DNA TESTS” link in left sidebar) should be available after mid-October. Orders placed through OFA use a cheek swab & barcoded card to collect DNA, and testing is done by U of MO. The OFA staff will send a kit and complete instructions for all orders. See the websites for further details.

The key individuals involved in this research include Dr. Ana Kolicheski and Dr. Gary Johnson (University of Missouri), Dr. Louise Burmeister (Animal Health Trust), and Dr. Oliver Forman (Wisdom Health). This research was possible because of support from the AKC Canine Health Foundation with funds from Border Terrier Club of America Donor Advised Fund, Wisdom Health, and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. In addition, Marg Pough, Health Chair of the Border Terrier Club of America, deserves special credit for providing the researchers with key samples and persistent encouragement.

BT-SLEM test request for samples already submitted to Missouri or to the CHIC DNA Bank These have been tested already and are at a reduced rate. YOU MUST get the Certificate if you wish to have the results in the CHIC Database (once it is up)

SEARCHING OFA to see if your dog is in the DNA Bank
Go to
Enter [your kennel name] as name and click on “Any part of name”
Scroll down to next area click on Terrier Group on Right
Select Border Terrier on Left
Scroll to where you see
RADIOGRAPHIC Evaluations and in that box scroll down to OTHER
Select DNA Databank
At bottom select Begin SEARCH
You can search for individual dogs that do not have [your Kennel] in their names by name or registration # and just see if they have a DNA Bank #.

The BT-SLEM test-new sample is for those who need results before the OFA swab test. You need to submit BLOOD and also send in the CHIC DNA BANK FORM and send in the fee to Missouri as well as the $20 fee to OFA as the sample will then go into the CHIC DNA bank for ongoing research on CECS, epilepsy, and other disorder

The AKC Canine Health Foundation has APPROVED the ACORN grant to search for the cause of Border Terrier leukodystrophy “shaking puppy syndrome”.

Dr Dennis O’Brien and his colleagues have had the Border Terrier samples in the queue to run the SNP chips just waiting for the go-ahead. Now that they have the funds, they can get that done right away. They will also get working on the whole genome sequence analysis of an affected dog. They have improved the computer algorithm that they will use to dig through that data to find the one change that is the culprit.

If they can identify additional affected pups while they are working on this, it will add power to their study and increase their chances of success. Please contact them (They will maintain confidentiality) if you think you have an affected pup. The more samples, the better.

Dennis O’Brien DVM PhD
Professor of Neurology
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Missouri

Ins and Outs of Pedigree Analysis, Genetic Diversity, and Genetic Disease Control

Below are links to the handouts from the seminar presented by Dr. Jerry Bell at the 2013 BTCA National Specialty.

Canine Influenza – 2/2016

Canine Influenza and acute respiratory disease (kennel cough) have been in the news in the past two months. If you have a dog that develops signs of any respiratory disease you should isolate it, and other dogs that have been exposed to it. AKC rules prohibit the exhibition, or the presence on the premises of a show, of dogs that exhibit signs of any contagious illness. Have your dog examined by a veterinarian.

ALL exhibitors should follow routine precautions that they would with any human influenza outbreak, or canine parvovirus outbreak. Wash your hands after handling dogs and before handling a different group of dogs.

  • Show the judge your dog’s bite. If handling other people’s dogs, wash hands
    between dogs.
  • Maintain sanitary conditions at your set-up and on the grounds.
  • Keep surfaces clean.
  • You should pick-up and dispose of dog feces in appropriate containers.
  • Wash your hands before handling other dogs.

There was much panic with the H3N8 Canine Influenza outbreak in 2009, yet
there were no cases reported from dogs at shows, or from handlers with strings of dogs. Animal Shelters, boarding kennels and dog daycare centers were the prime reservoir for that strain of the flu, and appear to be so with this strain. It is believed that the source may have originated from rescue dogs imported from Korea, and the virus then circulated in the US shelters and among rescue dogs in transit.

New Eye Certification Registry!

Visit the OFA website and find out about the new eye registry (ECR). The site explains what it is and how it relates to CERF. Since the new one is the one supported by ACVO (American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists), ECR is likely to be the one to use from now on.

Want a Way to Donate For Border Terrier Health?

If you want to give a donation for health – a donation to the Border Terrier Club of America Donor Advised Fund at the AKC Canine Health Foundation would be appropriate.

Donations need to be marked for the Border Terrier Club of America DAF – and if they are in honor of or memory of, that can be stated. If in Honor of, name and address of the honoree can be given, and they will be told that the fund has received a donation.

  • The BTCA Health Committee makes recommendations to the BTCA Board of directors on those AKC CHF Grants that we feel would best help the health of Border Terriers.
  • Our Donor advised fund (DAF) is then used to help fund those grants. AKCCHF is a 501c3 organization and all donations are tax deductible.
  • Our DAF is funded from individual donations made by Border Terrier owners and friends, and by the Border Terrier Club of America, and from the Purina Partnership program.
  • Our DAF has funded a number of grants, most partially, but some completely.

To donate to the DAF the money should be sent to AKC Canine Health Foundation,

American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 900061
Raleigh, NC 27675-9061