top of page


Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Subsequent to the demise of the Animal Health Trust, Dr Cathryn Mellersh and her Team are now working with the Kennel Club Genetics Centre (KCGC) within the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge. They are largely funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. It is unlikely that they will be able to carry out the detailed work required to launch a full-scale DNA testing service at the University of Cambridge for some months.

The Border Terrier Breed Health Co-ordinator Eddie Houston has therefore been in discussion with Dr Mellersh about bringing forward a testing facility for SLEM (formerly known as Shaking Puppy Syndrome) in Border Terriers. Many health-conscious Border Terrier breeders would like to be able to test their dogs for the SLEM mutation prior to breeding, without the need to send DNA samples to the USA. There is added concern that if the lack of a UK facility goes on too long, more and more breeders will get out of the habit of carrying out the tests.

The Border Terrier Breed Health Group, working with the Cambridge Team and with the Border Terrier Club, has introduced an interim DNA testing solution for SLEM until Cambridge is able to fully open its DNA testing service for business.


An online order form will be used to order the Test Kit/s. See for details.

Payment by the owner at the rate of £50 per Kit (£60 for outside UK) is to be made to the Border Terrier Club which has made a donation to Cambridge in advance for the Kits and the testing service.

Ronnie Irving has been asked (working with Euan Castel Treasurer of the BTC) to distribute the swab kits to owners wishing to test their dogs.

Owners not able to make on-line payment to the Border Terrier Club, will require to send by post an order and payment by cheque to Ronnie Irving at Greenfields House, Banbury Lane, Kings Sutton, Banbury, Oxon, OX17 3RX.

On confirmed receipt of payment, the kit will be sent to the owner by post.

The owner will then swab their own dogs and return the swabs to the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at Cambridge at their own expense.

Owners will take five swab samples from each dog.

Some of the buccal swabs will be used to conduct the SLEM Test. The KCGC will extract and store the remaining Border Terrier DNA samples, with the objective of retaining these DNA samples for future research purposes. Potential research purposes might include investigations to identify novel disease-associated genetic variants, estimate the frequency of specific genetic variants within the UK population and/or study other genetic aspects of the population.

Owners completing the Sample Submission Form included with the Kit, will be required to provide written consent for the DNA to become the property of the University of Cambridge and be used for research purposes.


All owner information will be retained in a secure database and will not be shared with anyone outside of the KCGC.

SLEM Test results will be communicated by the Cambridge Team to the individual owners and to the Kennel Club Health Department for publication in the KC Breed Records Supplement and for inclusion in the dog’s Kennel Club registration records. Summary reports may be provided to the Border Terrier Breed Health Co-ordinator (BHC) periodically, to confirm the number of dogs tested and the frequency of the SLEM mutation within the population tested.

Any financial surplus remaining with the Border Terrier Club when the interim arrangement ends, will be transferred to the Border Terrier Breed Health Fund held by the Joint Border Terrier Clubs’ Treasurer.

Eddie Houston the Border Terrier Breed Health Co-ordinator said: “We hope that this interim arrangement will be of great help to breeders in the fight to eliminate SLEM from the breeding population of Border Terriers. Our thanks go to the Kennel Club Genetics Centre for their co-operation in the project and to the Border Terrier Club for helping with the administration of the scheme. We hope that all breeders will avail themselves of this service so that the SLEM status of their dogs, if it is not yet known, can be established before they are bred from


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page