R'Gang Havanese Havanese for Sale in California  

Havanese Health.

The Havanese is overall a healthy, happy breed with few health issues, especially when compared to more popular breeds. In order to continue keeping the Havanese breed genetically strong, breeders need to be aware of all potential health issues and the importance of proper testing and certification. Also see: Havanese Origin and History

Havanese Puppies California

As a breeder, R'Gang Havanese is very proactive in our stance towards limiting the proliferation of health issues within our breed. You can help us in this effort by becoming an informed consumer and insisting on only purchasing your Havanese puppy from a breeder who health tests. Please support the best possible future for the Havanese breed!

Heritable Cataracts
Heritable cataracts are the most frequent health problem seen in Havanese. Responsible breeders and owners should have their dogs' eyes examined annually by an ACVO Diplomate (American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist). The exam results should then be registered with CERF - Canine Eye Registration Foundation, the Purdue-based organization that maintains a registry and research database of information generated by all such examinations. During the painless procedure, the dog's eyes are dilated and examined to look for abnormalities. It only takes a few minutes, costs are minimal and the benefits are enormous.

As a breeder, the annual CERF exam is the only way to know the current status of your dogs' eyes and to avoid breeding any dog that fails an exam. As a pet owner, the annual CERF exam allows early intervention via surgery to correct the cataract while still operable and to provide the best outcome.

When researching the parents of a litter, it is vital that every potential buyer verify that the parents are indeed CERFed and that the date of the exam is within the last 12 months. Do NOT ever take someone's word that a CERF test is current. Check for yourself. To reach the CERF website to do your own research, click on the following link: CERF - Canine Eye Registration Foundation.

Unilateral and bilateral deafness has been reported in the Havanese breed. Although deafness does not appear as frequently as cataracts, it is certainly easier to diagnose and control through careful breeding practices. A one time test known as the BAER - Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test is used to confirm the presence of normal hearing or to diagnose unilateral or bilateral deafness. The test is relatively painless as electrodes are placed on the scalp of the dog. Then foam earplugs are placed in each ear to emit a tone. The electrodes measure the brain's response to that tone and if the dog had normal, bilateral hearing a nice pattern of waves will be shown on the screen.

Again, the BAER test is not expensive and is painless for the dog. Holding them still for the few minutes it takes to perform the test is usually the greatest challenge. A unilaterally deaf Havanese can still make an excellent pet as they can compensate almost completely for their lack of hearing in one ear. Although we absolutely would not breed a Havanese that is unilaterally deaf, some breeders feel comfortable with that level of risk and do breed them. Of course, the biggest risk takers of all are those breeders who have no idea of the hearing status of the dogs they are breeding since they refuse to BAER test. Click on the following link to locate a BAER testing site near you.

Patellar Luxation
As in many toy breeds, the Havanese can have a problem with their patellas (kneecaps) "slipping" out of the trough in the bone where nature intended them to slide. Puppies should be specifically examined by a vet for this problem prior to being placed in their new homes. After the age of 1 year, your vet can also check the patellas and you can submit the test result to OFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for certification. OFA certifies the patellas as "normal" or "abnormal" and also assigns severity grades to the abnormal . Depending upon your dog's symptoms and the severity of the patellar luxation problem, surgery may be required. The following link will take you to the OFA - Patellar Luxation website for more information on patellar luxation.

Hip Dysplasia
Havanese rarely have a problem with hip dysplasia. Although not a widespread issue, it is still recommended that all dogs have hip x-rays done prior to breeding. After the age of 2 years, OFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals will grade these x-rays and will issue an OFA certificate to those who pass. Passing grades include Excellent, Good and Fair ratings. OFA also assigns a Borderline rating as well as Dysplastic (abnormal) ratings of Mild, Moderate and Severe. If a breeder plans to breed a dog prior to the age of 2 years, it is recommended that a prelim hip x-ray be done and evaluated. The following link will take you to the OFA - Hip Dysplasia website for more information on patellar luxation.

Although the Havanese breed has several well-known and frequently-used sires who have a hip rating of fair, we see little focus from breeders to improve hip health. The average hip rating in our breed is "good" or better and OFA recommendations for improving hip health within a breed involve breeding only dogs whose hip rating is at or above the average rating for the breed. They also recommend looking at the number of fair ratings within both the depth and breadth of your pedigree before choosing to breed a dog. Even though we've not ever produced a dysplastic dog, we're committed to continual improvement of hip health here at R'Gang Havanese. We simply intend to keep it that way if at all possible by being diligent in this area and "bucking the trend" in our breed.

Another skeletal abnormality seen rarely in Havanese is Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP). The same x-rays used to evaluate hips can also be used to evaluate the dog for LCP. If a breeder first has the hips evaluated by OFA, they can then use that OFA number to have the x-ray evaluated for LCP. In my opinion, this is an easy opportunity for breeders to screen their dogs for yet one more potential health issue.

Misc. Skin Problems
Skin and coat issues tend to be more of a cosmetic nuisance than a true health issue, but can run the gamut from poor coat quality and dandruff to sebaceous adenitis (SA), which is basically an inflamation of the sebaceous glands. Relatively little is known about SA, even in breeds who have been studying SA for years. In some dogs, SA is more of a cosmetic issue while in others it may present along with additional disorders (such as Cushings Disease) which can complicate the situation. While a skin punch biopsy is the "gold standard" in confirming SA, I don't see much value in it as a screening tool to rule out SA. Breeders who claim a dog to be free of SA on the basis of a one time biopsy are only fooling themselves I'm afraid.

Heart murmurs are reported within our breed and we make it our practice here to have OFA Cardiac Exams performed on our dogs. We do these every two years or more frequently for our older dogs. In general, I find that owners whose Havanese do indeed have cardiac issues do not report that publicly on OFA, so I feel these problems are understated in our breed. Hopefully at some point our parent club will include cardiac testing on the list of tests required to receive a CHIC number or health related award from HCA.

An article was published awhile back stating Havanese was one of the breeds who had a very high incidence of liver issues. We were surprised as that was not something borne out by our club's health survey, the health foundation's ongoing research or by personal experience by most breeders.

In looking at the data used for the article, it was found that the author used data only submitted through veterinary school clinics, which often require a referral (and a serious situation) in order to be seen there. The resulting numbers that came in for Havanese represented a very small population of the breed...so small that it was statistically meaningless. Nevertheless, you will read on some websites that all Havansese should have an SA320 blood test (paired bile acids) as a way to screen out liver disease prior to breeding. This claim is simply not borne out with facts.

Antech labs (who run the SA320) states in their documentation that both the sensitivity and specificity for this test is low in both areas and that there are many factors which can influence test results. In addition, as part of the health foundation's research, SA320s were run on over a hundred Havanese and did not seem to relate at all to liver disease in Havansese who were otherwise asymptomatic. The same Havanese could have the SA320 test run several times within a week or two and would have vastly different results from the labwork. Some results would be in the normal range, others would be abnormal.

If this test were used for routine screening in our breed, it appears that some Havanese who do not have liver disease would be labelled wrongly as having a problem and other Havanese might be seen as being normal when in fact that is not the case. What problems that could cause for breeders who are simply trying to do the "right" thing. Again, at this time I do not perform this test, nor do I recommend it as a screening tool. Of course, if your Havanese is small for its age or if it exhibits other signs of liver abnormality you should check first with your vet to see if this is part of further testing that may be needed.

Other Less Frequent Health Problems
All of the following have been reported but are less frequent than the issues I have mentioned above. Although they are less frequently reported, their severity can have a much greater impact on the health and quality of life for the dog. These problems include:

  • Cushings Disease
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Dysplasia

Also known as CD, this is basically a form of dwarfism in which the growth plates in the legs close prematurely causing short, bowed and/or asymmetric forelegs in the Havanese. In and of itself, CD is NOT a disease, but rather a skeletal abnormality. It is theorized however that a cluster of problems may sometimes accompany CD . Research into this is in the very early stages, but you can learn more at the HEART website, which serves as the health foundation for the Havanese breed.

A "Healthy" Breed???
I suppose by now, after reading all of the above, you may be wondering how the Havanese are often referred to as one of the most healthy breeds. Be assured that we have simply covered all possibilities and that the overwhelming majority of R'Gang Havanese live long, happy lives ranging up to 15 years of age. When obtained from a reputable Havanese breeder, your Havanese puppy will fulfill your every dream of the perfect family dog!

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When your family comes home, eagerly run to greet them.

Always gaze lovingly into their eyes and be ready to cuddle.

Do your best to pay attention and practice obedience.

If you make a mistake, look as cute as possible!

Be ready for a spontaneous joyride.

Go for the ecstasy of having the wind in your face.

Always invite your friends, the more the merrier!

Take long naps near the people who love you.

Wake up in a great mood.

Run, romp and play at every opportunity.

Give plenty of attention and encourage people to hug you.

On sunny days, lie on your back in the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lounge under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

When you're scolded, quickly forgive and be ready to try again.

Remember your past, but fill today with I love you.

Celebrate the simple pleasures of walking with a friend.

Notice what you are eating and insist on the best.

Stop when you've had enough.

Always be loyal, but spread the love around.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

When you want what's buried, go ask your Mom to get it for you.

When someone is having a bad day, sit close and nuzzle them gently.

R'Gang Havanese

This website is offered for informative purposes only and does not form a contract of any kind. As such, any information contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Copyright Jane Falkenstein, All rights reserved.

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