The Havanese Fanciers of Canada recommends that all breeding dogs be tested for at a minimun for Heritable Cataracts (CERF Testing) and Patellar Luxation.
The Havanese is basically a healthy breed, there are a few health concern that all Havanese owners should be aware of.
Heritable cataracts - At this time, heritable cataracts is a serious widespread genetic disorder in the Havanese. This is a somewhat unusual cataract. It cannot be defined as a Juvenile cataract; though it may appear as early as 10-12 months of age, it may also appear as late as 7 years of age. All breeding dogs should be screened yearly for cataracts by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist annually. The results submitted to CERF Canine Eye Registration Foundation.
Patellar Luxation - Is the slipping of the knee-cap out of position. The congenital form of medial luxation (kneecap dislocated to the inside of the knee) is most common in toy breeds, not excluding Havanese, and is considered inherited although the exact mode of inheritance is not known. Laterally luxating patellas can be congenital but are generally the result of trauma. Any dog used for breeding should have "normal" patellas and have them checked yearly.
Hereditary deafness in Havanese, while only mentioned recently, is not a new problem. Deaf Havanese have been appearing sporadically for years, but breeders? thinking it was an isolated incident, rarely shared the information. This heritable disorder has a complex mode of inheritance . It is not known at this time whether it is colour/ pattern linked as in other breeds with hereditary deafness. Hearing status can be positively ascertained by a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test (BAER) which detects electrical activity in the ear and auditory pathways in the brain . It is a very simple test and can be done anytime after a puppy is about 6 weeks old. It is a one time test.
Hip dysplasia, also sometimes referred to as HD, is abnormal looseness or laxity of the hip joints that leads to joint instability and degenerative bony changes. In a dysplastic animal, the normal tight fitting hip joint is much looser, allowing the femoral head to move around in the acetabulum (the socket portion of the ball and socket hip joint). This damages the joint surfaces and leads to degenerative changes and osteoarthritis which causes pain during movement and in extreme cases lameness. Hip dysplasia can severely curtail the activities and quality of life of a lively active dog like the Havanese that delights in running and jumping.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCP) is a disorder of hip joint conformation occurring in both humans and dogs. In dogs, it is most often seen in the miniature and toy breeds between the ages of 4 months to a year.
LCP results when the blood supply to the femoral head is interrupted resulting in avascular necrosis, or the death of the bone cells. Followed by a period of revascularization, the femoral head is subject to remodeling and/or collapse creating an irregular fit in the acetabulum, or socket. This process of bone cells dying and fracturing followed by new bone growth and remodeling of the femoral head and neck, can lead to stiffness and pain.
LCP is believed to be an inherited disease, although the mode of inheritance is not known. Because there is a genetic component, it is recommended that dogs affected with LCP not be used in breeding programs.