Havana silk health




Why is health
testing so important to this breed?

This really seems like a
strange question to ask, but then why do people continue to buy Havanese
that haven’t been health tested or health guaranteed? Quite frankly, one look at a cute little puppy and
really-its no big deal- what could my new puppy possibly have that can’t
be taken care of with a small vet visit?  

You, the consumer and owner,
assume the health of this little one for his or her lifetime. It is
a big deal! The question is, do you want to pay for the extra expense
of having a health tested puppy  from health tested parents
in the beginning or do you want to pay later with expensive tests
and surgeries along with any heartache should things turn out for the
worse? The choice is up to you.

Heritable Diseases of the
Havanese Breed

Don’t be
fooled, be wise and informed.
The Havanese is known to have health issues and you
should ask questions of the breeder about the health history of this
puppy and the health history of the Sire and Dam.
In fact, you can even
request copies of these records or look them up yourself online with the
databases available to you. It is very easy to do and won’t require much
more of your time in the long run… really, a drop in a bucket.

The following
are just a few of some of the diagnosed diseases in the breed:


(leading to blindness)


dysplasia (HD)

oseteochondrodysplasia (OCD)




Because I have a Havana Silk
Dog, does this mean that I won’t have health issues?

necessarily. But one thing I can tell you for sure. Based on solid
research by Dr. Keith Murphy of Texas A & M (released in 2007), the
shorter front (dwarfed) bowed legs of the Havanese breed were found to
be directly related to eye problems and difficulty in the Havanese being
able to synthesize cholesterol:

http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/98/5/510. Dogs have an amazing ability to take in
more cholesterol than humans normally and they are extremely efficient
in breaking it down in their system. But a dog with OCD can not break
down the cholesterol and like humans, their arteries around the heart
get clogged and they most often die of heart attacks at a very young age. Dogs with
these and other types of health issues were dying within the first 5
years of their life. There are other health issues linked directly to
this OCD, but it would take continued money and time to  to explore
this in the research. It makes me sad to think that anyone would
knowingly breed a Havanese with bowed front legs now that we know the
direct link to the diseases of the eyes and the heart because of this
great research.

Dogs with the
straight, long front legs were not susceptible to this OCD. So while
still it is possible for a silk dog to have cataracts, the chances that
they would get it from OCD is unlikely because we have eliminated 
breeding to the short legged (dwarfed) fronts of some of the Havanese
known for this disease. We intentionally breed away from all health
issues and we breed like to like.

How breeding can help and hurt

When you
breed by outcrossing, there can be a greater chance that you will pick
up heritable diseases in the breed that have been hidden as 
recessive genes until you do the mating. Certainly it is a way to bring
variety back to the gene pool, but it carries its risks. Likewise, by
inbreeding, you could also lock in a heritable disease in the breed, so
you absolutely want to make sure that the dog is free from any carriers
as far back as the 4th or even 5th generation to eliminate the
probability before locking in the details. I am not an expert in
genetics but I do understand enough to be a responsible breeder.
Linebreeding is  a safer way to ensure consistency with like to
like breeding and can help to wean out some of these known heritable
diseases although, again, it is still possible to pick up a recessive
gene. So again, can the Havana Silk Dogs have health issues? Yes,
they can…anything is possible as we are just starting to fully look at
this with the breed now that we are really focusing in on breeding
towards the original 1963 FCI standard that came over with the original
Cuban dog. I would imagine, in a few years or more down the road, we
will have enough data collected on the Havana Silk Dog breed to evaluate
the health issues more in-depth. In the meantime, because we are still
related to the Havanese, and some of these Havanese having been of the
original affected types (see AZ type), we still test for the diseases
that are important to screen for in the Havanese and we continue to
breed away from these health issues by researching the genetic
backgrounds of the dogs we breed to in order to ensure the health of a
wonderful family dog for the lifetime they were intended to have.



What are
soaps? We at Hurricane Ridge Havana Silks and other Havana
Silk and Havanese breeders are dedicated to soaping our dogs to evaluate
them as puppies and as they mature into adulthood to honestly assess
their structure and whether they would be of good breeding stock to our
programs. We also soap our puppies so that you can get a very good look
at what is underneath the hair as an informed puppy buyer to know that
you have a healthy straight legged front on your dog. DO NOT BUY A
Responsible breeders, both Havana Silk and
Havanese alike, will soap their puppies because they take great pride in
producing sound structured dogs. And if they don’t have one done, they
should be more than willing to produce one for you. Then, once you have
seen the soaps of your puppy, ask to see the soaps of the Sire and Dam.
Are they straight-legged as well in the front? Have you seen what a
bowed leg does to a dog? The bone softens and can eventually no longer
support the weight of the dog. I have seen some amazing and horrific
photographs of these poor dogs that made me want to cry. Responsible
breeders would NEVER breed a dog with dwarfed bowed legs. Why take a
chance when  buying a puppy? Ask for a soaped picture!

So what are the
tests/certificates I should look for as a puppy buyer?

Exam- Brain Audio Evoked Response  test & certification both in
parents and puppies

Exam- Canine Eye Registry Foundation Eye Exam- done annually both
with parents and majority of puppies. Some eye diseases can only be
seen at a young age. It is debatable as to whether your puppy needs this
exam so young while their eyes are still developing, but by age 1 it
is a good time to start CERFing.


Dysplasia radiographs – Certificate after age 2 (prelims before age

Certificate # (comes as a result of having the above four tests


Congenital Heart Exam (optional)


A really nice
database is the OFA Database (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). OFA
keeps a wonderful registry of all dogs who have had tests like the
above and
others. All you need is a name/breed or registration number of the dog
you are researching to get your answers.

Go to:
www.offa.org and start plunking away!


Evaluation as a Health Evaluation

An evaluation
of the litter is done by a group of experienced breeders when the
puppies are 8 week-old for quality and health. Another special thing
about your puppy is that from the 3rd day of birth your puppy
receives �Early Neurological Stimulation� a program originally developed
by the military called the �Super Dog� Program. Carmelo Battaglia, Ph.D.
has written some very good information about stimulating and socializing
your puppy at an early age. Your puppy is a �High Achiever� because your
puppy will have participated in these exercises from Day 3 to Day 16 of
his or her life which benefits your puppy in:

  1. Improved
    cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
  2. Stronger
    heart beats
  3. Stronger
    adrenal glands
  4. More
    tolerance to stress and
  5. Greater
    resistance to disease

These puppies
are more active and exploratory than puppies that were not stimulated in
the research. See

www.breedingbetterdogs.com for more information.  Puppies will also
be socialized in our home with adults, children, and other pets. This is
the other critical part about developing a healthy puppy and is done
between weeks 4 and 16. Well socialized dogs make the best pets. We love
our Isabella and she is a bit spoiled. Havana Silks are the most rascally,
playful, intelligent, affectionate and gorgeous dogs I have ever had the
pleasure to own and experience. Don�t let the sweetness fool you� they
are mischievous and WONDERFUL! Life is great with a Havana Silk Dog! (Okay, I
am a bit biased!)


 Your puppy is health guaranteed against the main defects (eyes, ears,
hips and patellas) of the Havanese breed and Havana Silks for the
lifetime of your puppy. Your puppy�s parents were both thoroughly health-screened
for the diseases that the Havanese Breed is most susceptible to; they
have been screened for their eyes (CERF), ears (BAER), hips (HD), patellas and received a full blood panel check. Some breeders will do
even further health testing on the breed�s liver and heart. You should
purchase a puppy that has been bred from parents that meet at least the
first 4 criterion. All that to say, you are getting a sound, quality,
pup from healthy parents! You are responsible for seeing that your puppy
gets the best healthcare throughout his or her life by having him or her
thoroughly examined within the first 3 days of returning home as a
baseline and on a continual basis to compare back to. Should your puppy
show up with a major genetic defect that the sire and dame have been
screened against it is your responsibility to
contact the breeder as soon as possible to discuss your options. You
have the choice of returning your puppy for another one or returning
your puppy for a refund
(minus your deposit). I will not assume any veterinary costs that you
incur with your puppy nor will I be held responsible for any illnesses
that occur to your puppy based on environment and any neglect on your
part. As a dedicated Havana Silk
breeder I want nothing but the best for you and your new puppy. Once
your puppy goes home with you it is your turn to be a responsible owner.
Please note that should you decide at a later date that you are unable
to continue ownership responsibility for your Havana Silk Dog, I would appreciate you giving me the
first option to purchase back the dog, no questions asked. I will
have the option to purchase back your dog at the original purchase
price. It is important that no Havana Silk goes
unloved or to any home that will not meet his or her needs. You may have
figured out by now, AKC Havanese breeders and HSDAA Havana Silk Dog breeders are very particular about their dogs and only a
responsible breeder follows their puppies throughout their lifetime!
Havana Silk Dogs require a lot of attention, daily grooming with their beautiful
coat, and physical activity. If this seems like too much for you then a
Havana Silk Puppy is not for you.


All puppies
will go home with copies of their health record, a veterinary health check,
and current on
all vaccinations and de-worming, as well as having their micro-chipping,  BAER
& CERF results. Now why is health testing important? 



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