Havanese Club of Northern California




The Havanese Club of Northern California strives to improve the overall quality of the breed through our support for the Havanese Club of America as well as the breed standard approved by the American Kennel Club (AKC). We feel passionate about the Havanese breed and would like to help you navigate through the process of purchasing a Havanese puppy.

One of the first thoughts that you may have regarding buying your puppy is, “I have done my homework and I know that I want to buy a puppy from a breeder of integrity, but how do I choose this breeder?”

First let's talk about what defines a breeder of integrity.


A breeder of integrity takes their role as a steward of the Havanese breed seriously. The Havanese Club of America (HCA) recommends that the dogs used for breeding pass their CAER (annual eye certification), BAER testing (congenital deafness), hip dysplasia, and patella luxation (knee). All breeding stock should have an OFA Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) number, and all tests should be a passing grade.
The HCA also requires that the test results be posted on the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Dogs, ofa.org, so that they are available to the public to review. In addition, many breeders will also perform the OFA Congenital Cardiac examination, Legg-Calve-Perthes, and other OFA Orthopedic tests as well as blood panels to check for other potential issues.

Breeders will have their puppies examined by a veterinarian before making the puppies available for adoption. No breeder can guarantee that a puppy will not develop a health issue at some point in its life; however, if the puppy’s parents passed basic health testing and the puppy is healthy at the time of adoption, the risk is less that a dog will develop health issues as the dog ages. 


A Havanese breeder of integrity may show their dogs in conformation at AKC-sanctioned dog shows. The show ring tests a dog's physical and mental soundness as well as the breed standard approved by the HCA and the AKC. “Mental soundness” means that the Havanese is friendly, outgoing, and able to adapt to a variety of people and situations. “Physical soundness” means that the dog’s conformation (structure) promotes physical health and athletic ability, and the dog is able to move soundly and according to the breed standard. These characteristics are desirable in a family pet and likely to be found in a litter raised by a breeder who wants to maintain the integrity of the breed.


A reputable breeder [also known as a hobby breeder] does not breed to “make money” and likely spends a great deal more money acquiring, showing, health testing and breeding Havanese than he or she makes from puppy sales. Responsible breeders provide the best care for their dogs and puppies from nutrition, cleanliness, veterinary services, socialization, and their need for lots of love!

Be prepared to have as many or more questions asked as the breeder wants to find the best home for each puppy. In addition, these breeders will be there for you, the buyer, before, during, and after the adoption process so the puppy buyer can have the benefit of the breeder’s knowledge and assistance.


A reputable breeder will help educate a prospective puppy buyer about their new puppy. The breeder will advise the buyer about the equipment they will need to make the puppy’s first days, weeks, and months at its new home optimal for the puppy and its new owner and will also talk with the buyer about the proper food, veterinary needs, grooming, training, and other care.


A breeder of integrity will have a written contract that details not only what the breeder expects of you but also what you can expect of the breeder. As a potential buyer it is important that you make yourself clear to the breeder in the first point of contact as to what type of puppy you are looking for, be it a pet quality or show quality. Both will still be healthy and loving, have a great temperament and be a wonderful family member. A show quality puppy will be required to be shown to its AKC Championship and have complete health testing and be at least over the age of two before being used for breeding.

The HCA suggests that sales contracts include a clear and complete statement of the terms and conditions agreed on between the breeder and the buyer including a stipulation that the breeder be notified if the buyer is unable to keep the Havanese at any point in its life. It is also worth noting that it is against AKC Rules to be charged by the breeder an additional price for registration papers.

There are two types of AKC Registration:

AKC Limited Registration: This means that the puppy may not be shown in conformation except Juniors, or used for breeding, and is on a spay/neuter contract. Any puppies your dog may produce cannot be registered with the AKC and can be repossessed by the breeder. Limited Registration dogs may still be shown in Obedience, Rally or Agility.

AKC Full Registration: This means the puppy is eligible to be shown in any type of competition that the AKC offers for the breed, and any puppies it produces may be registered. The contract should also state the circumstances under which the breeder will transfer the puppy's AKC registration application or papers to the buyer.


A reputable breeder only sells dogs that have passed veterinary checks, have all age-appropriate vaccinations and are, to the best of the breeder’s knowledge, healthy. The breeder will require that puppies placed in pet homes be spayed or neutered at an appropriate age (no earlier than six months).


The breeder of integrity almost always intends to keep a puppy from the litter to continue his or her breeding program. The pet buyer benefits from this intention as every puppy in the litter is bred and raised to be that one exceptional puppy that becomes an extraordinary show dog. Each puppy in a litter should be socialized, get regular veterinary care and be a clean, happy, healthy puppy.


A breeder of integrity is not in a hurry to place puppies. The typical age for a Havanese puppy to go to its new home is from 9-10 weeks. A breeder sometimes retains a puppy to see if it continues to develop as a show and breeding prospect but may decide at 3-6 months of age or older to place the puppy in a pet home. An older puppy or young adult that has been properly raised and socialized will adjust very easily to a new home and family.


Responsible breeders will not ship a puppy in cargo on an airline. If a breeder is interested in placing a puppy with you, the breeder is happy to have you visit to see their puppies and for you to meet the puppy’s parents and other relatives. If the breeder has bred the female to a male who lives elsewhere, the breeder should be able to provide pictures and a pedigree of the male. The dogs should be bright-eyed, healthy, and friendly, and kept in clean surroundings.


The purchase price for a puppy from a reputable breeder may be more than the purchase price for a puppy from a breeder that breeds just to sell dogs. This breeder wants to ensure that the puppy buyer sees the puppy as an important, long-term, and valuable family addition and that the puppy buyer will have the financial ability to provide appropriate veterinary and other care for the life of the dog.


The Havanese breeder of integrity may belong to the Havanese Club of America, a regional Havanese Club such as the Havanese Club of Northern California and/or a local all-breed club.

Membership in Havanese clubs is typically open to those who agree to abide by the club’s code of ethics, an important point for those looking for a companion or family dog. Before membership is granted, a committee may carefully review the applicant’s show, breeding and health testing practices as well as the applicant’s reputation in the dog world. Membership is sometimes rejected or deferred based on these reviews.

Not every responsible breeder wants to be a member of a dog club, but membership in these clubs is often indicative of a breeder who is accepted in and working as a part of a larger group that seeks to promote the welfare of purebred dogs.


  • Do you perform any Health testing on your sires and dams? The four recommended by the HCA are: • BAER • CAER• OFA Patella’s and Hips. Ask for proof of health testing results or for the sire’s and dam’s registered names so that you can look up their information on the OFA/CAER website, ofa.org

  • Are you a member of the Havanese Club of America? Are you a member of a local Havanese club?

  • Which one? Are you a member of an AKC licensed all-breed club? Which one(s)?

  • Do your dog’s compete in AKC events? • Conformation • Agility • Canine Good Citizen • Obedience • Therapy? What are the titles they have earned?

  • Are the sire and dam of your puppies AKC Champions, registered with AKC, and will you provide a three-generation pedigree for the puppy? If not, why?

  • Have any of your dogs or their off springs had any health problems?

  • Do you perform temperament testing on your puppies?

  • Are you able to tell me what approximate size, weight, and color my puppy will be as an adult? An experienced breeder will not be able to guarantee the size, weight of an adult dog but should be able to give a size and weight range. Depending on the puppy’s color genes, your Havanese may change colors during its lifetime or maintain its coloring.

  • Do you have both parents on-site that I can see? If the breeder only has the dam, you will want to ask to see a picture of the sire and his pedigree and health testing.

  • What choices do I have regarding sex and color?

  • Do you socialize your puppies? What methods do you use?

  • At what age can I bring my puppy home?

  • If a buyer is not nearby, how can they purchase a puppy?  Do you ship puppies?

  • Will you do any initial worming and or vaccinations of the puppies? How many times?

  • Do you provide a written contract? Is there a health guarantee in the contract? Can I take a copy of the contract home to preview it before I purchase my puppy? Do you require co-ownership of any of your dogs, and if so why and for how long?

  • What are your requirements regarding spaying and neutering of a pet Havanese?

  • How many litters do you have in a year? Do you have a waiting list if you don’t have a puppy now?

  • How much do you charge for puppies?

  • You will find a wide range of prices for puppies, but the norm for a pet can be anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. It is not recommended that you pay that much money for any puppy whose parents have not been appropriately health tested, and the information is not posted to the https://www.ofa.org/ website.

  • If the buyer cannot keep a puppy or dog purchased from the breeder, will the breeder take back a puppy or dog under all conditions?

  • Will this breeder also be available to mentor a new owner for the life of the dog?


You may want to start out by visiting your local dog shows. Typically, it is best to arrange to meet with the breeders/exhibitors prior to the show, so that they can plan time to visit with you after the Havanese classes end. For information on dog shows in your area, please go to https://www.infodog.com/show/calendar.htm?

You may contact the Havanese Club of Northern California at http://www.thehcnc.com/.

In addition, you can check the Havanese Club of America’s Breeder Referral list at https://havanese.org/breeder-directory and its list of local clubs at https://havanese.org/about/local-clubs/52-local-clubs

When you are searching for a breeder for your new puppy or dog, you will want to remember that this breeder does not know anything about you or your lifestyle. In your inquiry, please do not forgot to share information about yourself, where you live, your family and your living situation. This information is very important to a breeder because these breeders consider their dogs as part of their family, and if a breeder sells one of their dogs to you, then you and your dog are likely to become an extended member of this family.

If a breeder does not have a puppy for you, he or she usually knows many other people in the Havanese world that they could refer you to that might have puppies.

Also, if you have tried to contact a breeder who does not respond to your first inquiry, you may need to try again in a different manner, i.e., email opposed to a phone call, etc. Lastly, don’t forget to take notes and ask questions with everyone you meet along the way.


Once you are in serious discussion with a breeder about acquiring a Havanese puppy, you should expect to visit the breeder's home to meet the breeder and their dogs.

The breeder will not require an immediate deposit to reserve a puppy, nor will they have a PayPal option to immediately purchase a puppy on his or her website. In addition, you should be given a blank copy of the contract (if the breeder uses one) so that you will be aware of what is expected of you as a buyer and of the breeder. Also, good breeders carefully screen their buyers through questionnaires, telephone calls, email conversations, and home visits, before accepting payment for a puppy. Lastly, you will probably need to be patient because the breeder may not have the puppy available at the moment you have planned. You will however be rewarded in many ways from not purchasing a puppy from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.


Does your breeder have a return clause in your adoption contract?  A breeder may offer or may even require, that any dog you buy from him or her be returned to the breeder if your situation changes and you can no longer keep the dog. Having a dog returned is very disappointing for all, but no breeder wants to have one of his or her dogs end up in a shelter, on the streets or passed from home to home because its owner couldn’t or wouldn’t keep him.

Alternatively, is your breeder agreeable to having your dog homed by Havanese Rescue Inc. (HRI)? If so, you can leave a bequest in your will or trust for the care of your dog. Let your Executor or Trustee and your family know your desires.


If you become ill and can no longer care for your Havanese, you can have the information available for your caregiver to reach HRI and get the process started.

Keep your dog's adoption contract and vet records available for reference when filling out the assistance form and to send with the dog.

Thank you for providing for your beloved dog's care!


1. The puppy's pedigree including the AKC numbers for both of the puppy’s parents

2. Copies of the current CERF or CAER Certificates and reports of the BAER, OFA x-Rays for Hips and Patella’s

3. An AKC Individual Registration Application with the puppy’s litter number which the puppy buyer will use to register with the AKC.

4. A copy of the puppy's shot record.

5. A copy of your contract signed by your breeder and yourself after reading it.

6. Information on how to feed and care for your puppy. You can also refer to the AKC’s website for further advice on how to care for and feed your puppy.


Many thanks to the following breeders for their invaluable contribution of information and advice:

Bellatak Havanese

La Tierra Havanese

Lil Pawz Havanese