A Healthy Border Terrier


As a breed, BT's are generally healthy. A good diet, plenty of exercise, regular grooming, routine veterinary care with the necessary inoculations and a heartworm preventative, should keep a Border in good health. Borders should be fed a measured amount of a high quality dry dog food. Since they gain weight easily, care should be taken to match food intake with proper exercise. A Border should be well-muscled, not fat. You should be able to feel the dog's ribs.

One of the reasons the BT is a fairly healthy breed is years of concerned, responsible breeding. Genetic problems occasionally found in Borders are hip dysplasia, heart defects, PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) and Juvenile Cataracts (forms of blindness), seizures, allergies, bite malocclusion and undescended testicles. Though these conditions are a concern, the incidence is limited compared to other breeds. These defects have not become widespread in the breed because of careful, selective breeding by BT breeders.

Borders have been known to have problems with anesthesia because they may be slow to induce. This should be mentioned to to the veterinarian. The anesthesia dosage should be adjusted to the weight of the dog. Another thing to remember is that Borders are very stoic. If they are suddenly withdrawn and quiet, they must be checked carefully since they do not show pain or discomfort when they are not feeling well. The problem could be anything from a thorn in a paw to the ingestion of a toxin.

puppy face

A breeder may offer a show quality or a pet puppy. Many breeders sell their pet puppies with limited AKC registration, which denies offspring AKC registration unless revoked, or with a spay/neuter contract. Although some people may consider this an intrusion, it is a sign of a responsible breeder, one who cares about the future of the breed. It means that the breeder has determined that this puppy, although a wonderful companion, is NOT so superior an example of the breed that it should be bred. What your breeder is doing will help maintain the high quality standards of the breed and his decisions and the contract should be honored.

pup and mat

If you are interested in a show puppy, bear in mind that the most perfect eight week old puppy may not turn out to be show quality. The bite can go off, or a testicle may not drop, for example. These unforeseen problems happen to the best of us. Showing is a time consuming, expensive commitment, but let us assume that all goes well and that you have a champion. Should you breed? Many champion dogs and bitches are not bred. Keep in mind that dogs do not need to be bred to experience a full life, as many people assume. Not all AKC champion dogs and bitches should be bred. Your breeder can help you decide if breeding this particular Border will contribute to the future of the breed. If the breeder agrees that you should breed your champion Border, he can suggest appropriate mating. However, it is very important to x-ray for hip dysplasia first. Your veterinarian will explain the procedure required and submit the films for evaluation and certification to the OFA. A dog must have had its second birthday before it can be certified as clear of hip dysplasia. Owners who plan to do advanced obedience, flyball, or agility work should also check hip conformation. It is also recommended that your dog be screened for inheritable eye problems before you breed. An eye exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist can be obtained at minimal cost at dog shows offering an Eye Clinic, or your veterinarian can help you locate a specialist practicing in your area. These things are important. No Border with genetic or temperament problems should ever be bred.

Puppies and blocks

A female puppy should have her first season between six to ten months of age, and subsequent seasons about every six months thereafter. Usually the heat cycle lasts twenty-one days. Throughout this period, she needs to be confined to protect her from being bred accidentally. Most veterinarians advise waiting to breed until at least the third or fourth season. There is always a risk to the mother and the puppies during any pregnancy and whelping. A veterinarian should be consulted before breeding and worked with closely during gestation and delivery in case problems arise.

Should you decide to breed, you will become a breeder. Being a breeder is rewarding, but can be heartbreaking, as any breeder will tell you. Whelping and rearing puppies properly is very time consuming and costly. You will NOT make money breeding dogs and you ultimately must be responsible for each and every puppy you bring into the world. Many concerned breeders accept this responsibility for the entire life of the dog. Should you become a breeder, you will share the responsibility for the future of BT's with other breeders and, hopefully, will strive to maintain the wonderful temperament and health that the Border now enjoys.