Havanese should undergo regular eye testing by a BVA veterinary opthalmologist, to allow early detection of a number of heritable eye disorders.
Havanese health is good, with few health issues. However, the Havanese Club of GB recommends annual eye testing with the British Veterinary Association. It is very important that you ask to view any health test results especially any eye test certificates.
Our Havanese are tested above the recommended miniumum and you can view all of our health certificates.
Like many other breeds, the Havanese can develop cataracts. Cataracts of concern are not those developed in old age, but the juvenile form that affects relatively young dogs, and can lead to blindness. The mode of inheritance is presumed to be mostly recessive, so both parents have to carry the mutation and pass it on to the offspring for cataracts to develop in the offspring.
Unfortunately there is no genetic testing for cataracts in Havanese, only clinical eye exams. Sadly, clinical eye exams can only diagnose existing cataracts; eye exams cannot predict which dogs are going to develop the disease in future, and cannot identify carriers.
Multifocal retinal dysplasia is a progressive disorder of the retina. In many breeds it is a huge problem, causing blindness at a young age. In Havanese MRD does occur occasionally, but tends to be mild and non progressive in this breed, rarely resulting in blindness. Unfortunately, no genetic testing for this condition is available in the Havanese, and again we have to rely on annual clinical eye examination by a specialist.
Progressive retinal atrophy is a progressive degeneration of the retina at the back of the eye- this condition also leads to blindness. It is not common in Havanese, but can occur from time to time. No genetic testing is available in Havanese.
There are a number of other eye disorders, including Distichiasis- this is a condition where eye lashes grow inside the eye lids. Mild forms are very common in Havanese, although they are not routinely reported in eye tests.
Another relatively common disorder is the Cherry Eye. This is caused by a prolapse of the gland situated in the dog's third eye lid. Because it is a structural defect, the only treatment effective in the long term is surgery.
Apart from the above eye disorders Havanese can also suffer from orthopaedic conditions such as Patella luxation, elbow dysplasia, Legg Pathes disease and hip dysplasia.
Autoimmune disorders such as thyroid disease, Sabaceous adenitis and allergies are rare but have been noted in the breed.
Lastly heart conditions have also been noted in the breed such as cardiomyopathy.
As responsible breeders we choose our breeding lines carefully, so that our puppies will be healthy and fit for their purpose of being a companion dog for many happy years.