Border Terrier health problems

Dental problems

Dental disease is quite a common problem in Border Terriers, as food and bacteria build up along the gums leading to plaque and tartar and eventually inflammation of the gums. Eventually, this will result in bone, tissue and tooth loss. Dental disease can also have a direct impact on the health of your dog’s organs, leading to problems with the heart, kidneys and liver.

This can all be prevented by regular cleaning of your dog’s teeth, providing enough opportunities for chewing, feeding a good diet and booking dental checks with your vet.

Bone and joint problems

Elbow and hip dysplasia

Both elbow and hip dysplasia occur because of abnormal development of the joints while a puppy is growing, resulting in swelling, pain and arthritis. Affected dogs will show symptoms while they’re growing, with lameness being a common sign with both conditions.

While these problems can be inherited, care should be taken in choosing a diet and providing the correct exercise for pups as this can help prevent a dog from developing dysplasia. Border Terriers with the condition should not be bred from as this will help minimize the risk for the future generation of pups.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes is a condition where the dog’s hip joint starts to degenerate, which causes pain when moving. The signs usually start with limping on the affected leg which then progresses to complete lameness of the limb.

A dog with Legg-Cave-Perthes will probably be offered anti-inflammatory medication to manage their pain and a vet will be able to suggest the right treatment depending on the severity of the damage to the joint.

Border Terriers that have suffered from Legg-Calve-Perthes should not be bred from to prevent the condition from being passed on to their pups.

Two border terriers sat outside

Neurological problems


Seizures are caused by uncontrolled electronic activity in the brain and when a dog has the tendency to have recurrent episodes without an underlying cause it is known as idiopathic epilepsy. This condition can vary greatly in severity and frequency so treatment will be tailored if needed.

This condition cannot be prevented but order Terriers with epilepsy should not be bred from in case they do pass the condition on to their pets.

Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome

A condition that is often mistaken for epilepsy, Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome is a prevalent health problem in Border Terriers. It is a disorder that causes episodes of uncontrolled or abnormal movement in dogs which vary in length.

It is not known what causes some dogs to suffer from this condition, but some veterinary professionals recommend feeding them a gluten-free diet as some pets have responded well to this change.

Eye problems

Juvenile Cataracts

Juvenile Cataracts is a condition a dog can sometimes be born with or develop shortly after birth. The lens of an eye is supposed to be clear, but cataracts is an opacity of the lens which can affect a dog’s ability to see and sometimes result in blindness.

There may be a variety of different reasons a pup develops cataracts including injury, inflammation, poor nutrition or genetics.

Sometimes juvenile cataracts might not need to be treated unless it becomes problematic for the dog, but they should always be watched in case they suddenly change.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited disease that leads to eventual blindness in dogs as there is no effective treatment. Dogs affected by this condition might also develop cataracts.

As it’s a genetic condition, Border Terriers who have the disease should not be bred, to help prevent this problem in pups.


Skin problems

In humans, an allergy to pollen, mould or dust can cause sneezing and itchy eyes but with dogs, allergies can make their skin irritable and itchy. This is called atopy and Border Terriers are prone.

Their feet, belly, folds of the skin and ears are most commonly affected, with symptoms starting between the ages of one and three, and frequent ear infections being the most common sign.

Ear problems

Cleaning your dog’s ears once a week is essential for managing a chronic allergen-based inflammation known as otitis and for keeping infections at bay. Start from puppyhood if possible and keep ears clean and dry as much as possible.

Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.


Need dog insurance?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £7.8 million to more than 700 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.