The Havanese Club of America, Inc.


The Havanese is a healthy breed overall with relatively few serious health issues. The Havanese Club of America, as the AKC Parent Club for Havanese, serves as caretaker and protector of the breed. To fulfill that role, we take pride in a proactive health program led by an active Health Committee functioning in an advisory role on matters related to the health and welfare of the Havanese.


Here in the Health section of the Havanese Club of America website, you can learn more about:

  • The innovative Top Paw Health Award system developed by the Havanese Club of America to encourage widespread health testing. Recognition is awarded not only to those dogs whose owners have health tested them at various levels, but also to those breeders and stud dog owners who are health testing their own Havanese in addition to mentoring other Havanese fanciers to encourage them to health test their Havanese.
  • Common canine health issues included in our extensive health testing programs are summarized in a HavaneseHealth Testing Flyer which may be downloaded and printed for quick reference.

paw.jpgOcular Abnormalities - 92.9% Normal*
*Source - Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) 2006 Havanese Statistics Report for Eye Disease

  • Definition - any condition for which the Havanese would not receive a passing CERF exam (primarily cataracts but also including rare cases of optic nerve coloboma, retinal atrophy, retinal dysplasia and lens luxation/subluxation)
  • Diagnosis - annual CERF exam

paw.jpgCongenital Deafness – 99.7% Normal**
**Source - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online breed statistics 12/2012

  • Definition - Congenital deafness in dogs can be acquired [caused by intrauterine infections, ototoxic drugs like gentamicin, liver disorders, or other toxic exposures before or soon after birth] or inherited. Inherited deafness can be caused by a gene defect that is autosomal dominant, recessive, sex-linked, or may involve multiple genes (more on this later). Within the Havanese breed, there have been reports of unilateral deafness and much less frequently of bilateral deafness.
  • Diagnosis - Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing performed at a BAER testing facility with results sent to OFA for OFA certificate.

paw.jpgPatellar Luxation – 97.1% Normal**
**Source - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online breed statistics 12/2012

  • Definition - The patella, or kneecap, is part of the stifle joint (knee). In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position..
  • Diagnosis - veterinary exam sent to OFA for OFA certificate number

paw.jpgCardiac – 99.3% Normal**
**Source - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online breed statistics 12/2012

  • Definition - Malformation of the heart or great vessels
  • Diagnosis - cardiac auscultation by a veterinary cardiologist, veterinary internist or general practice veterinarian

paw.jpgHip Dysplasia – 89.2% Normal Hips**
**Source - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online breed statistics 12/2012

  • Definition - Literally, this is faulty or abnormal development of the hip and is a genetic condition causing laxity of the hip joint which in turn may lead to various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis).
  • Diagnosis - hip radiographs sent to OFA for rating

paw.jpgElbow Dysplasia – 92.9% Normal**
**Source - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online breed statistics 12/2012

  • Definition -An inherited, polygenic disease in the dog's elbow. May consist of one or more than one of these conditions: Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP), Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD) or Ununited anconeal process (UAP).
  • Diagnosis - elbow radiographs sent to OFA for rating

paw.jpgLegg-Calve-Perthes – 99.9% Normal**
**Source - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online breed statistics 12/2012

  • Definition - Blood supply to the femoral head in the hip joint is interrupted, which in turn leads to avascular necrosis, or the death of the bone cells.
  • Diagnosis - hip radiographs sent to OFA for rating

The HCA participates in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) program to promote testing and reporting of health test results for the Havanese breed. CHIC is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).  Testing required for a Havanese to receive a CHIC certificate include OFA BAER, OFA Hips, OFA Patellas and annual CERF exams. It is not necessary for the Havanese to actually pass those tests as our intent with the CHIC program is to simply encourage widespread testing and the open disclosure of results through the OFA database.

HCA encourages Havanese breeders to use the OFA database to research the health pedigree of dogs prior to breeding. This provides an outstanding research tool for performing searches on individual dogs and also links health testing results of the dog’s related pedigree information (Parent, Offspring, and Sibling) , when those related dogs have been health tested.

It is fair to assume the vast majority if not all breeders have good intentions, as no one sets out to breed unhealthy dogs. Each breeder faces similar challenges as we work to translate good intentions into producing healthy puppies. Appropriate utilization of available information along with a continued commitment to health testing and research will ensure we meet our common goal ‘to encourage and promote quality in the breeding of purebred Havanese’.

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have questions or concerns about Havanese health.

Rafe Schindler, Chair 

Members:  Sara Dellorto,  Kim Gillette, Kathy King, Lucy Lancaster, Joan Little


ribbon.jpg GREAT NEWS . . . HCA's poster entry wins 1st place in the Health Policy Division and Honorable Mention in the Health Information Division at the 2007 National Parent Club Canine Health Conference!

Presenting HCA's new Havanese Health Awards System . . .
Want a Paw award for your healthy Havanese? Click here to see a helpful chart of requirements for all Havanese Paw Award levels. Or click here to view the entire Havanese Health Awards policy.

Print Top Paw Award Application Form here.

Are you a breeder who encourages Havanese health testing? The following special health awards are designed to honor your efforts to protect the health of the Havanese breed.

Print Top Paw Award and Top Paw Award of Excellence application forms here for Stud Dogs and Brood Bitches

Print Top Paw Breeder and Top Paw Breeder of Excellence Award application forms here.

Need to verify health testing results for a Havanese? Click here to verify Havanese health testing results using the OFA databases online.

Upcoming Health Clinics - access the calendar of upcoming health clinics here


BAER Testing Sites full info available at this link so you can test the hearing of your Havanese or your litter of Havanese puppies.

Other Havanese and Canine Health Links

HCA Health Committee Policy

Canine Health Foundation

Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)


Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)