The Havanese Club of America, Inc.








The 2022 Search for the Oldest Havanese


Who is the Oldest Havanese ?   The Health Committee of the Havanese Club of America, Inc. conducted an informal survey to get a better sense of the actual upper end of the lifespan of Havanese.  Click on the following link to view the results of the survey:



Since the breed was recognized in 1996, The Havanese Club of America, Inc. has sponsored two large general health surveys (one in 2004 and a second one in 2012). In 2017, a third more focused survey was conducted to evaluate the longevity of the breed and in 2018-2019 a fourth survey was conducted to better understand the leading causes of early mortality in the breed. Now spanning almost two decades, these four surveys suggest that the Havanese breed has remained healthy overall, with a natural lifespan of about 15 years. As with any breed, there are inherited diseases that affect Havanese, but we are fortunate that most of those problems are non-life-threatening. Our most recent surveys however point out the need for watchfulness, especially as dogs progress through their middle years, to proactively address issues which may impact quality of life in old age. Through diligent health testing protocols that are guided by these regular surveys, Havanese breeders hope to continue maintaining the health of the breed. The reports from the 2004 and 2012 general health surveys, the 2017 Longevity Survey and the 2018-2019 Rainbow Bridge Survey are available below.


2018-2019 Rainbow Bridge Survey

The 2018-2019 Rainbow Bridge Survey is a new and more detailed follow-on survey that is distinct from the 2017 Longevity Survey.  One of the surprising results of the 2017 Longevity Survey was that while most Havanese will typically live to 15 years or older, about 20% of males and females appear to die much earlier than the rest of the population – closer to about 9½ years of age.

The new 2018-2019 Rainbow Bridge Survey compiled information about the deaths of 156 dogs provided by the members of the Havanese Club of America, Inc. and the broader community of Havanese owners. The new survey has been able to isolate the most frequent causes of death as a function of age and sex within the Havanese population and also explores correlations with the canine’s lifestyle and spay/neuter age. 

Indeed, it provides a detailed picture of all the most commonly occurring health issues in the breed and their individual contributions to the lifetime distribution of males and females. This information allows us to define what we call the “natural lifespan” of Havanese.

Evidence is presented for distinct differences between males and females, both in the frequency and age of occurrence of certain categories of diseases. These differences explain the observations of the 2017 Longevity Survey: namely, that one or more health issues are sufficiently prevalent to lead to a lifetime distribution wherein a modest portion of the population succumbs at an age well below the natural lifespan of Havanese. 

The Health Committee would like to recognize the owners of all the dogs that have been included in this survey, for taking the time to participate in and to provide detailed information about the health and lifestyle of their Havanese. For while they have passed over the Rainbow Bridge, their legacy is now being preserved. The information compiled in this report, will no-doubt prove invaluable for developing more effective testing protocols which may result in the improved quality of life for many dogs.

You can read the Executive Summary of the 2018-2019 Rainbow Bridge Survey Report at the following link:

          Executive Summary

You can view the full Rainbow Bridge Survey Report at:   

          Rainbow Bridge Survey Full Report

For questions about the survey results, please feel free to contact one of the authors:

          Dr. Rafe H. Schindler:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

          Dr. Adam King, DVM: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

          Sara Dellorto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


2017 Longevity Study

The Health Committee of the Havanese Club of America gathered data in the last quarter of 2017 to estimate the longevity of today's Havanese and the age distribution of older-living Havanese. The survey includes data on 512 Havanese, largely from HCA members. The results of the survey have been analyzed and can be found by clicking on the link below. For your convenience, a brief summary has been included at the beginning of the report.

Link to 2017 Longevity Survey Report

If you have comments or questions, feel free to send them to Rafe Schindler, (Chair of the Health Committee)


 2012 General Health Survey

 The 2012 Survey     To download and review the document... click here
 1721 Dogs  
 68% Owner and 32%  Breeder  
 44% Male and 56% Female   


2004 General Health Survey                                                    

The 2004 Survey   Part 1    Overview and Results    
719 Dogs  Part 2    Results (cont)
46% Male and 54% Female     Part 3     Results (cont)
  Part 4     Appendices
  Part 5     The Survey