Action Needed on Border Terrier Syndromes

Breeders in the UK are increasingly concerned about two neurological conditions that are seen in Border Terriers, namely, Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS) and Shaking Puppy Syndrome (SPS).


CECS was first seen in Europe and America, and was later reported in Great Britain. Initial symptoms of gastric or muscle cramps are now accepted as the neurological origins of CECS.  It is thought that the condition has been present in the breed for many  years, but has proliferated since the 1980s.



Both the Border Terrier Club and the Kennel Club have carried out surveys and found that neurological seizures are seen in around 4-5% of the breed, from around the age of 4-5 years.  With no reliable diagnostic test, veterinarians are reliant upon symptoms to diagnose the condition.  


Characteritally these will be, anxiousness, distracted attitude, and lip licking, leading to seisure type episodes although dogs remain conscious of their surroundings.  Afterwards they generally appear quite normal.


Currently, research is being carried out to gain greater understanding of CECS and to find ways of combatting and eventually eliminating this devastating condition, although it is complicated by the fact that there are thought to be a number of gene mutations rather than a single gene defect. 


Shaking Puppy Syndrome (SPS) is less well documented in Border Terriers , although it is known in Weimaraners, where symptoms include uncoordinated tremors.  In a recent edition of Dog World,(1) breeder Janet Lee warns that action must be taken before it is too late.  She claims that SPS is now in more than 80% of show lines, and the condition is being seen world wide.  



Obviously both CECS and SPS are serious conditions, and research is desparately needed to find reliable diagnostic procedures, and ways of eventually total eradicatng it from the breed.   


Whatever breed demands our devotion, we all want our doggy friends to be happy, healthy and free from genetic defect.  


Obviously, breeders have a responsibility to only have litters with genetically sound dogs in breeds where diagnostic testing is possible.  It is also the responsibility of purchasers to report back to breeders if their beloved pup develops a verfied genetic defect at any time in its life.  


It is not enough to leave it to veterinary professionals to address the issues. Whether we have show dogs, breeding 'stock' or beloved pets, we must play our part in ensuring the world is full of super, disease free pooches.  


Emma Teckel











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© Diana Bailey