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An Overview Of Some Of The Health Problems Common To The Little Havanese Dog From Cuba
The Havanese is the National dog of Cuba. He was once called the Havana Silk Dog or the Spanish Silk Poodle mainly because of the coat being like raw silk floss, profuse but extremely light and soft. In its native country of Cuba the coat was never clipped and the hair never tied into a topknot. The Cubans believed the hair falling over the eyes of the Havanese protected them from harsh sun.
The Havanese was brought to Europe in the 18th century where it found favor in the courts of Spain, France and England. By the mid-eighteenth century Queen Victoria owned two Havanese and Charles Dickens had one. In Cuba during this same time period the Havanese became the family dog, playmate of children, a watchdog, and herder of the family poultry flock.
Only a handful of Havanese found their way to the United States after the Cuban revolution. All the Havanese in the world today, except those from the iron curtain countries and those remaining in Cuba come from those 11 Havanese immigrants. Havanese type has remained almost unchanged from that of the dogs painted in the 18th century.
Health Problems of the Havanese
Cataracts in Havanese can develop early or late. They can cause blindness or be slow in growth and not progress to blindness. To date, all the early onset, blinding cataracts have been found in Havanese with chondrodysplasia.
Surgical correction of cataracts (removal) is best done before they become mature. For this reason, annual CERF exams are highly recommended for the Havanese.
Orthopedic abnormalities such as Chondrosysplasia are literally “faulty cartilage.” It can be manifested in a variety of ways:
•By premature closure of the growth plates of long bones either symmetrically or asymmetrically which can result in shorts legs (dwarfism0 that are straight or bowed either unilaterally or bilaterally.
Treatment for Chondrosysplasia is surgical in cases where deviations are severe enough to interfere with function. Surgical treatment consists of straightening the leg.
Luxating patellas is also a concern in the Havanese breed. It is one of the defects that is considered genetic by the AKC. Surgical correction renders the Havanese ineligible to compete in conformation shows. It is also not recommended to breed a Havanese with luxating patellas as this can be passed into future generations.
Legg-Calve-Perthes results when the blood supply to the femoral head is interrupted resulting in avascular necrosis or death of the bone cells. This also is considered genetic and it is recommended that Havanese dogs affected with LCP not be used in breeding programs.
Treatment for LCP involves removal of the head of the femur and the femoral neck on the affected side.
The incidences of hip dysplasia in Havanese are not known because of the low numbers of dogs that have been checked.
There appears to be a significant number of heart murmurs showing up in the Havanese breed. Treatment of cardiac problems may include drugs, diet and/or surgery.
Deafness has been found in the Havanese breed. Deafness can be diagnosed in Havanese pups as young as 5 weeks of age by use of BAER testing. The incidence in Havanese is not known as testing has not been widespread or consistent.
Other conditions with lower incidences found in Havanese include, but not limited to, seizures, kidney dysplasia, hypothyroidism and skin problems including sebaceous adenitis.
All these problems can be screened in breeding dogs. While there is no guarantee that health problems will not crop up, good, reputable breeders can certainly tip the odds in their favor by screening their breeding dogs for health issues in order to make intelligent breeding decisions.
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