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Chocolate Havanese

Oldies - Saluting our seniors

Barring accident, illness or injury, Havanese are generally a healthy and long lived breed, with a life expectancy of about 12 -15 years. Many publications suggest that dogs become canine senior citizens to at 5-7 years old. Perhaps this is so for some breeds but certainly not for the Havanese. At this age, most are still in their prime. Havanese mature slowly and retain their youthful exuberance for many years. In a long lived breed like the Havanese, they really cannot be considered seniors till at least 10 years of age and even then, are still vibrant and delightful companions. Some calm down somewhat as they age while others do not.

Ten year old Sparky is a retired Super Dog and agility competitor. He still continues dazzling displays in Musical Freestyle as well as regular appearances as breed ambassador at canine events and Pet Expos. He remains a lively, energetic companion who has not slowed down much from his younger "Energizer" days. Ten year old Fievel behaves much like he did at 3 years. Still very loving and totally geared to his favourite person. He sleeps a bit more but that's about it. Both Sparky and Fievel have recently sired yet another litter each of outstanding puppies and are only two among other older dogs still used at stud. Both also occasionally still strut their stuff in the Veterans ring. Ten year old Silvi is still the family clown and carries on like a youngster tossing toys up in the air and behaving silly. She does take a few more naps than before but in general, not acting her age at all.

Fourteen year old Opal can be found either snoozing on the couch or solicitously tending a puppy or two. Though it has been years since her last litter, Opal's mothering instinct is very strong, and she takes her duties as grandmother to heart. She is self appointed den-mother, overseeing all the households activities, in particular keeping a watchful eye over young mothers and their broods. She is not above stealing a puppy or two to nurture herself. Opal is a baby thief...This golden aged dog that is slow moving and has trouble getting up and down from a couch, can climb over the top of a baby pen, steal a baby in her mouth, get back over the top of the pen and defend the baby against all comers.

My own Mitzi and Rags, as seniors,still competed in altered conformation and both earned new performance titles after their 10th birthdays. Mitzi earned her last title at 12&1/2 years of age. At 10 years old, many Havanese are nowhere close to retirement.

Stories like this are repeated all over. Havanese age slowly and gracefully. They may take life at a bit slower pace but still remain very much a vital part of the family. Signs of aging may include reduced eyesight or hearing, some tooth loss and perhaps a few arthritic aches and pains. Some may be a tad overweight. Most are still healthy and spritely. Treasure your devoted companions. No matter how long they live, it is never long enough.

2005 update - Just a quick update to show that Havanese can work and have fun for many years. Sparky just turned 13 and two things happened on his birthday, he earned his Novice Rally Obedience title (RN) making him one of the first Havanese to earn a title in this newly recognised event. He was also bred on the same day after the show. He is still dancing, riding his skateboard down a ramp and running the agility course. He still has not slowed down one bit.