Havanese Health Issues

Havanese Health Issues

Havanese & Health

For small dogs, Havanese are exceptionally healthy. They live for up to 16 years and never lose their cuddly, happy energy. They don’t have any serious respiratory problems, they don’t have heart issues, And I don’t have a lot of the other serious health conditions that can plague small dogs. 

That said, Havanese can still suffer from some fairly common health issues. While most of these issues are fixable, if left untreated they can become severe. If you ever suspect your Havanese is having problems with their health, the first thing you should do is get off The Internet and go to the vet. 

Also read – Havanese Training

Most Common Havanese Health Issues

  • Cataracts
  • Cherry Eye
  • Chondrodysplasia 
  • Deafness
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Liver Shunts
  • Legg Perthes
  • Slipped Kneecaps 


Cataracts are a high risk in Havanese dogs. It is an issue in which a small area or ‘cataract’ takes over a part of the lens of your dog’s eye. It can happen in one eye or both eyes, and cataracts can be small or large. Cataracts are also common in people, and the effect is like trying to look out of a fogged glass window. They can dramatically affect how well your dog sees the world. 

If the cataract grows too large and affects both eyes, your dog will go blind. However, small cataracts are not going to affect their vision too much. The best way to prevent cataracts is to have your Havanese dog checked annually by a certified veterinarian. 


Inflammation is just a general catch-all for disease or issues within the body. It’s usually something that happens when the body is trying to fight off disease or infection. When it comes to dogs, there are case of chronic inflammation and general inflammation.

There are also medicines and other best practises you can use to help.

One of those is Previcox, which is more for muscle pain, inflammation and arthritic pain. And there is Duralactin which is specifically for inflammation.


This is a major issue for Havanese. It is not super popular in these dogs, but it is one of the most common afflictions that are found. Basically, chondrodysplasia is a sort of metabolic disorder in the skeletal development of an animal. This can exhibit itself through growth deficiency, a problematic bowing of the legs, and abnormally short stature.

In essence, chondrodysplasia is an irregularity in the size or shape of your dog’s bones. The result of a horrible case of chondrodysplasia is skeletal dwarfism with your dog’s front legs being short and crooked. 

You will notice pretty quickly if this is a problem with your Havanese dog, as they will appear warped from the front. You will definitely need to consult your veterinarian and take X-rays. If a case is confirmed, your veterinarian will discuss how to proceed. Typically, there is no surgery required for this type of problem.


Deafness is relatively common with Havanese dogs. It tends to take place more frequently when the dog is older. It is important to get your dog tested for deafness as they begin to age, or if they show signs of not being able to hear when you call to them. The test is very easy and only takes about 10 or 15 minutes.

Hip Dysplasia

If your Havanese is displaying pain or lameness in their hips, they may have hip dysplasia. This is an abnormality in the development of your dog’s hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist either with clinical signs or without them. It generally happens on one or both of the rear limbs, and when untreated, severe arthritis can develop in the hip joint.

This is generally something that happens during the growth period, and if your dog is exhibiting pain after they are fully grown then you need to take them in to get tests done. The good news is that hip dysplasia yet can be treated if it is caught in time, either medically or surgically.

Read our article on Best Supplements for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia

Legg Perthes

As you may have noticed by now, hip joints can be a big problem for Havanese dogs. Legg Perthes, or LCP, can occur when the ball portion of your dog’s hip becomes damaged due to a lack of proper blood supply. The symptoms of this will appear generally between 5 and 12 months of age. You will see your dog limping, being in pain, and if untreated this can lead to arthritis. 

This condition must be confirmed with X-rays. As for treatment, it really depends on the severity. There may be atrophy of the affected leg, and severe atrophy can slow your dog’s recovery considerably. They may need medical therapy and they may need surgical treatment to completely recover.

Liver Shunts

This is really the only internal issue that you might find with your Havanese dog. Luckily, clinical symptoms generally start to show prior to six months of age, so you may catch it early. The only problem is that with liver shunts, you may not notice any signs until much later in their life. If your dog is displaying loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, poor balance, blindness, weakness, or disorientation, you definitely need to see the vet and do some tests. Obviously, these symptoms are quite vague, so it is not easy to identify. 

A liver shunt is what happens when blood bypasses the liver – which it definitely shouldn’t because the liver is there to clean toxins from the blood – and goes straight to the heart. What happens is the toxins will then build inside the bloodstream and cause serious damage.

An untreated liver shunt can lead to serious kidney disorders. The only good news is that a liver shunt is able to be treated often by a special diet. However, depending on where the shunt is located and what the severity is, your Havanese dog may need to go for surgery.

Health Concerns Based on Hairstyle

The Havanese dog is one of those breeds that can have a number of different hairstyles. We have our little Nessie dog cut pretty short usually, with the ear hair cut short as well. It is the easiest to maintain and keep her cool in the summer months.

There are however a number of different hairstyles you can choose from for your pet, but each of them come with some different concerns. Let us look at those.

The Corded Havanese

The Corded Havanese looks like a person with dreads. Here are something to consider when it comes to the health of this type of style.

When discussing “corded” Havanese, we’re referring to those whose coat naturally mats into cord-like structures, similar to the Puli or Komondor. Cording is a unique look and can also have specific health implications. Here are some health concerns for the Havanese, with additional notes related to the corded coat:

Some of these are coat related and some are not.

  1. Skin Issues:
    • Cording: The corded coat can trap dirt, debris, and moisture. This environment can be a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, potentially leading to skin infections.
    • Allergies: Havanese are sometimes prone to skin allergies. Cording might exacerbate skin issues if allergens are trapped close to the skin.
    • Regular checks: Owners of corded Havanese should inspect the skin under the cords regularly for signs of redness, inflammation, or infection.
  2. Eye Problems:
    • Havanese can be prone to various eye issues such as cataracts, cherry eye, and dry eye. While not directly related to the corded coat, it’s essential to keep the hair around their eyes clean and trimmed to avoid eye irritation.
  3. Hearing Issues:
    • The Havanese can be prone to early-onset deafness. This isn’t related to their coat, but it’s essential to be aware of it.
  4. Orthopedic Issues:
    • Patellar Luxation: This condition involves the kneecap slipping out of place. It’s relatively common in smaller dog breeds.
    • Hip Dysplasia: Although more common in larger breeds, small breeds like the Havanese can also suffer from hip dysplasia.
  5. Dental Issues:
    • Due to their small mouth size, Havanese can be prone to dental problems. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential.
  6. Liver Shunt:
    • Some Havanese may develop a liver shunt, which means that blood bypasses the liver, leading to toxins not being filtered out.
  7. Heart Conditions:
    • Like many small breeds, the Havanese can be susceptible to heart murmurs and other cardiac issues.

For corded Havanese, it’s crucial to maintain good grooming habits. Regularly inspect the cords for matting beyond the intended cording, debris, or signs of skin issues. Keep the cords clean and dry to avoid infections. It’s always a good idea to work with a vet and, if possible, a groomer familiar with corded breeds to ensure your dog remains healthy.

The Silky Havanese

When considering the silky coat of the Havanese, there are particular care requirements and potential health concerns related specifically to that hairstyle:

  1. Mats and Tangles:
    • The long, silky coat can easily become matted and tangled, especially if not brushed regularly. Mats can cause discomfort and can pull on the skin, potentially leading to skin issues or infections beneath them.
  2. Skin Issues:
    • Hair trapping: Long, silky hair can trap dirt, debris, and moisture close to the skin. This can sometimes cause skin infections, irritation, or fungal growth.
    • Hair follicle inflammation: Infrequent grooming can lead to folliculitis, an inflammation of the hair follicles.
  3. Eye Irritation:
    • Hair around the face, especially when long, can get into the eyes, leading to irritation, increased tear production, or even infections. Keeping the hair around the eyes trimmed or tied up can help mitigate this.
  4. Ear Infections:
    • Havanese with long, silky hair around their ears can be prone to ear infections. The hair can trap moisture in the ear canal, promoting bacterial or yeast growth. Regular ear cleaning and trimming hair around the ear can help prevent this.
  5. Hygiene Concerns:
    • The hair around the rear end can sometimes trap feces, leading to hygiene issues and potential bacterial growth. Regular trimming in this area or keeping it clean is crucial.
    • Similarly, the long hair on their belly can become wet and dirty when they drink water or urinate. Owners may need to clean and dry this area regularly.
  6. Increased Heat:
    • In warmer climates or seasons, the long, silky coat can cause the Havanese to overheat. It’s crucial to ensure they have a cool place to retreat to and monitor them for signs of heat stress.
  7. Footpad Issues:
    • Hair between the footpads can become matted or trap debris, leading to discomfort or potential injury. Regularly checking and trimming the hair between the pads can help prevent problems.

Owners of Havanese with silky coats should prioritize regular grooming and inspections of their dog’s coat and skin to identify and address potential problems promptly. While the coat is beautiful, it requires diligent care to ensure the health and comfort of the dog.

Up to You

Most of these medical issues you have no control over as an owner. There isn’t much you can do to stop hip problems or bone deformation. However, it is up to you to take your dog in to get them checked every year. This is something you should do annually. Always check for any of the medical problems mentioned above. 

Pet insurance may cover some of these conditions, so if you are concerned about the cost related to these issues, check pet insurance plans and coverage for details.