Havanese Health Problems – Find Out What They Are.

The Havanese, a Dog Without a Care in the World

Havanese Health Problems is a list so long that you might think that the breed is doomed!  Not so.  All dogs get sick from time to time. To make it easy to understand, there are only two types of health problems in dogs:

First; Those health issues that are common to all breeds, and include infectious diseases, parasites, allergies to environmental toxins, food indiscretions, and so forth.

Second; The other group of problems we see in dogs related to their genetic makeup.  Many breeds are prone to similar diseases, but when it is your dog, you want to know what diseases are most likely to occur.  Does it mean your dog will get those diseases?


It just means that the breed has been studied through many surveys,  and certain problems have been identified that are MORE LIKELY to crop up in that breed.  These are the ones considered to have a genetic basis.

The Havanese suffers primarily from luxating patella, liver disease, heart disease, cataracts and retinal dysplasia, all of which are also common in many small breed dogs. Do not let this list of Havanese health problems prevent you from considering the breed, if you think you’d like to own one.

The chances are small that any one dog will develop one of these problems, let alone many.

The best way to assure that you get a healthy Havanese puppy is to purchase through a reputable breeder that does health tests and screenings on all of their breeding dogs.

Havanese Health Problems

Juvenile Cataracts

As with humans, a cataract in dogs leading to impaired vision and blindness and is due to clouding of the lens inside the eye.   

The clouding may be confined to just one area, or it may affect the entire lens.  If it affects the whole eye, then the result will be blindness in that eye.  Juvenile Cataracts are present very early in life.

Cherry Eye

As the name implies, dogs with a cherry eye have a red colored gland in the corner of their eye that looks a little like a cherry. 

This happens when there is a weakening of the tissue holding the tear glands of the third eyelid in place.

The gland pops out and is visible.  The tear gland can become irritated and infected or even cease to function. There is a simple surgery that can correct this problem. 

Some vets will suggest that you wait and see if there does not appear to be any infection. 

Hip Dysplasia

This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. It can cause pain and lameness and leads to arthritis in older dogs.

Patella Luxation (Slipping Kneecap)

Kneecaps that slip in and out of position is a a common problem especially in small dogs and is caused when the patella (kneecap) slips causing an unusual walk, lameness and leading to arthritis.

Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP)

This condition occurs in the hip joints of many small breed dogs.  When the ball of the hip joint is damaged due to lack of blood supply, the dog begins to limp and feel pain. 

This condition usually occurs early in life between 5 to 12 months and can lead to arthritis. 

To assure that you are getting a healthy dog, ask your breeder what types of tests are performed on the breeding stocks. 

Liver Shunts

A liver shunt happens when a portion of the blood bypasses the liver and goes directly to the heart. 

The blood that would usually be cleaned of toxins in the liver builds up and leads to neurological signs.

Symptoms include poor appetite, lethargy, depression, weakness, and lack of reasonable balance, blindness seizures, and coma.  Kidney problems can accompany the disorder. 

Special Diets and surgery may be necessary.  Symptoms begin before 6 months of age.


More common in breeds that have been deliberately breed down from a larger size, it is being seen in the Havanese breed. 

Affected dogs will have short limbs that appear to stick out to the side and can range in severity from nearly normal to lameness to crippling. 

Dogs with this condition should not be bred.


This is a Havanese health problem that has been recently identified within the breed and is a major problem for dogs and their owners.

 All dogs that are used for breeding should be tested and not used if their test comes up positive.  Breeders are encouraged to test puppies also. 

Reference and Further Reading

Click on the images below for further information.

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