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Hereditary Eye Problems in Havanese

Like many other breeds, Havanese can have hereditary eye disease. The most well known of these disorders is Cataract.

Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, leading to loss of vision. Not all cataracts are hereditary, so for example they can form after an eye injury. As breeders, we are mostly concerned about the hereditary form (Hereditary Cataract) that can be passed on from parents to offspring.

There are a number of other disorders that can occur, including Cherry Eye (a prolapse of glands in the third eye lid in the inner corner of the eye) and Distichiasis (stray eye lashes growing on the inner surface of the eye lid). For more information on hereditary eye disease in dogs, please click on the button below.

Responsible breeders will regularly screen their Havanese for eye disease, and show you official certificates of eye testing for both of the puppy's parents, not older than 12 months.

THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO DNA TESTS AVAILABLE FOR ANY EYE DISEASES IN HAVANESE, so genetic testing can't be performed at this point in time, only a clinical examination of the eye.

Eye testing

Any testing must be undertaken by a veterinary ophthalmologist registered with the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club (BVA/KC) Eye Scheme Panel (also referred to as 'panellist'). It's NOT enough for a general vet to have examined the dog.


When eye testing should be done:

1. Litter screening: this refers to an eye examination of puppies before they leave the breeder's home, and is usually done at 6-8 weeks. This early tests can certify that there were no cataracts present from birth (congenital cataracts), but it will not predict whether or not cataracts or other eye disorders will develop later in life.

2. Annual screening: The majority of Hereditary Cataracts in Havanese will not be present from birth, but will develop at some point after the age of 6 months. It is therefore recommended that breeders have their dogs  formally eye tested on a yearly basis.

Eye testing is not exclusive to breeding dogs, pet owners are also welcome to have their dogs tested. This would provide information on the wider Havanese population.

The BVA publishes a list of Eye Scheme panellists, so you can find one near your location. Also, there are often testing sessions organised by Breed Clubs or at shows- these are usually advertised in the canine press.
Your dog needs to be microchipped, as per UK law, and you will need your dog's Kennel Club registration papers for the examination.

Importance of reporting

Problems can occur even in puppies from responsible, conscientious breeders. As there is no genetic test, we have no way of reliably identifying carriers, and have to rely on health testing and reporting of problems to try and eliminate hereditary eye disease.  If your dog is diagnosed with a hereditary condition, it is very important that this is reported to the Breed Health Co-ordinator. It provides information on the health of the Havanese breed, and enables the Club to plan any necessary measures to safeguard the future of the breed.

You should also inform the breeder of your Havanese of any health problems identified in the dog's lifetime, so that they can take it into account in planning their breeding program.

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Next HCGB Eye Testing Clinic

Our next eye testing clinic will take place on Sunday 23rd October at Nether Whitacre Village Hall, with panellist Ms Lorna Newman.

Email (or phone 07525069870) for further information and bookings.

*HCGB Member discount*
Fully paid up members of HCGB who submit a copy of eye certificates on the day will receive a Club subsidy of £5 for first dog, and £3 per additional dog.

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