Best Practices For 
Owners, Breeders, and Exhibitors

(amended and approved by Board of Directors 12/11/18)



Many of the decisions made by breeders and owners today will impact the future of the Havana Silk Dog. Sometimes, through lack of experience or simple lack of forethought, breeders and owners alike make decisions which they realize in hindsight were not in the best interest of the breed, their own breeding programs, or an individual dog.

The following practices are the result of many combined years of experience on the part of the organization′s most experienced breeders and are offered as an educational tool so that others may avoid the pitfalls and problems our members have encountered over the years.

The Best Practices represent what the HSDAA Board of Directors considers the most ethical course of action that HSDAA members can take in the areas discussed, and all members are encouraged to strictly adhere to the norms expressed below. However, the Best Practices are not intended to be binding rules, but are instead guidelines suggested by the Board of Directors based on the most up-to-date information available to it in the fields of Canine Genetics, Canine Anatomy, Canine Health, Animal Husbandry, and Sportsmanship. Failure of a member to comply with any specific guideline in any particular situation does not automatically mean that member has engaged in unethical behavior, it means that the member has not done the most ethical thing he or she could according to the HSDAA’s Best Practices.


Article I Section 2 of the HSDAA Constitution states as an object of the Club:

2.      To do all possible to promote, preserve, and protect the rights of responsible ownership of dogs in general and Havana Silk Dogs in particular;

This statement is both straightforward and not subject to interpretation. Very simply put, responsible dog ownership today is critical to the preservation of the right to own them at all in the future, and members of HSDAA are expected to do their part.

1.     No owner should keep more dogs than they are capable of managing, bearing in mind that Havana Silk Dogs are extremely social animals requiring individual attention as well as optimum nutrition, adequate, safe, and comfortable areas in which to sleep and exercise, regular veterinary care, and regular grooming in order to thrive. Any member endorsing an applicant for membership in HSDAA certifies by their signature that they have personal knowledge these conditions are being met by the applicant, and confidence that they will continue to be met in the future.

2.     The only acceptable method of transporting a Havana Silk Dog by air is in the cabin of the plane. Havana Silk Dogs are extremely good travelers and do very well when transported in the cabin of a plane in an appropriate carrier under the seat in front of its owner.  In no event under any circumstances should a Havana Silk Dog be transported as cargo or in the belly of a plane.  

3.     Owners who find themselves unable to keep their Havana Silk Dog for any reason should contact the breeder of the dog first, and breeders are obligated to assume responsibility for all animals they have produced. In the event that the breeder cannot be reached or is no longer available, the owner should contact HSDAA for assistance. Under no circumstances should a Havana Silk Dog be turned over to a shelter.

4.       Owners and breeders alike should have in place a workable emergency plan for the animals they own, and those entrusted to their care, in the event of a natural or made-made disaster. Keeping more animals than you can fit into your vehicle(s) in an emergency situation engenders significant risk for their well-being.


The breeding of purebred dogs in general, and Havana Silk Dogs in particular, is both an extremely gratifying undertaking and a responsibility which should not be undertaken lightly.  In the current climate, where the basic right of dog ownership is becoming more imperiled daily on a local, statewide, national, and even global level, dog breeders have found themselves on the front lines of the battle whether they wish to be there or not. 

Therefore, the ability of dog organizations in general, and the Havana Silk Dog Association of America in particular, to defend the ethics, decisions, and practices of their breeder/members is ultimately critical to the continuance of the sport of purebred dogs.


It is important that breeders examine their motives before undertaking any breeding.

1.     Breeding should always be done selectively, with the sole intention of producing healthy, sound dogs of correct breed type and proper temperament. Under no circumstances should a dog displaying aggressive behavior such as growling and barking aggressively at people (or dogs without provocation) or showing its teeth to humans be bred.

2.     Breeding should be undertaken only when the breeder is in a position in terms of both time and finances to properly care for the bitch and the litter.  Although Havana Silk dogs tend to be naturally competent mothers, leaving the bitch alone to whelp or care for a new litter because of obligations in your “real job” is unfair to the bitch at best, and at worst can result in total disaster.

3.     No fancier should attempt breeding until they have an understanding of both the breed standard, and the basic principles of genetics and animal husbandry. This knowledge generally takes some time and effort to acquire, and can be enhanced significantly by working with a mentor whose knowledge and skill is reflected in the consistent success of their own breeding program over the years.

4.     Responsible breeders choose the best sire for their bitch based on results of his health-screening and production record, and require soaped photographs of all sires under consideration. When choosing a sire comparing the conformation evaluation of the prospective sire and dam to make sure they complement each other is critical.  Sharing the results of any genetic testing done on the prospective sire and dam is encouraged to avoid production of unintended phenotypes by either party.

5.     Because a pretty coat can hide faulty structure, responsible breeders also make soaped (adult) photographs of the bitch available to the stud dog owner before breeding, as well as to all prospective puppy buyers, as a matter of course so that informed decisions can be made by all parties. 

No bitch should be intentionally bred until such time as all health-screenings currently required for Certified Registration have been completed and passed by OFA and HSDAA Certified Registration is received. 

Certified Registration is available for bitches 18 months of age or older who have completed and passed all required health testing.  This is with the intent that she will have ample time to complete her health testing with flexibility given for hormones during heat cycles and still receive certification prior to the time in which she is ready to be bred.

The age at which a bitch should be bred,  the span between litters and the number of litters over the course of her life is dependent upon the unique qualities of the bitch and the life circumstances of the owner.  The appropriate age at which any bitch is ready to carry, whelp, and care for a litter should be determined by the individual owner and their veterinarian.  Breeders should use common sense, assure themselves that good homes are available for the puppies, and have an exam performed by their veterinarian to assure that the bitch is in optimum health before each breeding.

Under no circumstances should a breeding be planned prior to completing all health clearances and receiving Certified Registration.  Breeders are expected to keep their bitches in season in separate quarters from intact males in order to assure their safety. All breeding should be well planned and supervised. 

Litters born as the result of an accidental breeding prior to completion of certification of either sire or dam will not be eligible for registration and are not eligible to be advertised on the HSDAA website until such time as both the sire and dam have received Certified Registration.     

1.     Havana Silk Dogs are generally easy whelpers. C-sections in this breed are usually the result of “mechanical” difficulties caused by the relatively large birth weights of the pups in relation to the size of the bitch, which does not give them a lot of “wiggle room” when they are poorly positioned in the uterine horn. Breeders whose bitches display hard labor without results should consult with their veterinarian.  

2.     Havana Silk Dogs are naturally competent and attentive mothers. Breeders should be aware that the daughters of bitches displaying poor mothering skills generally display the same deficiency themselves when bred.



Because he can produce significantly more offspring over his lifetime, males in any species generally have far greater impact on future health, soundness, and breed type than females do. Founder′s Syndrome is the name given by geneticists to the widespread dissemination of a deleterious gene throughout a breed which can be traced to a single widely-used sire many generations before. This indisputable fact of animal husbandry is the reason why males must be held to a higher standard than females when evaluating them for breeding. 

Experienced breeders understand that all intact males are not automatically great sires, or even great stud dogs, no matter how well-loved or good-looking they are. Because many serious health issues do not show up until maturity, many a big winner over the years has done serious damage to his breed′s gene pool before being removed from public stud when that damage was finally discovered.

A. Responsible breeders see that their males have all health-screenings required for certified registration, and pass all such health-screenings, before being used for breeding. Stud dog owners should disclose any known disease, defect, or condition he is known or suspected of carrying to bitch owners  Under no circumstances should a dog displaying aggressive behavior such as growling and barking aggressively at people (or dogs without provocation) or showing its teeth to humans be bred.

B. Responsible breeders offering a dog at public stud should make soaped adult photographs as well as the conformation evaluation available to the owners of prospective mates as a matter of course so that they may make fully informed decisions regarding their choice of the dog as a potential sire.
Whether failure to disclose skeletal abnormalities or other deviations from the standard which may be hidden by coat in a sire is intentional or unintentional on the part of the stud dog owner has unfortunately little bearing on the result, and it is the hapless puppies produced who end up ultimately paying the price. It is a practice which is simply not in the best interest of any breed.

C. For the same reason, the owner of the stud should require soaped photos, the conformation evaluation and health-screening results on all bitches brought to him, and honestly inform the owner if he believes that his stud dog is not right for his bitch. The profit in accepting a stud fee from a bitch who produces mediocre pups with your sire′s name on them is short-term at best, and neither the dog’s reputation as a sire nor the gene pool are well-served in the long run.

D. No male displaying obvious deviations from the standard in the areas of either soundness, breed type or temperament should be used as a sire if progress is to be made in the breed.

E. Because the owner of a stud dog has in reality little control over the puppies his dog produces, and to minimize the possibility of his dog unwittingly having a deleterious effect on the breed′s gene pool in the future, untried sires ideally should be judiciously bred and the resulting puppies carefully placed and evaluated for health, temperament, and quality before the dog is made available at public stud.  





There is no single contract which is right for everyone. What is important is that all transactions involving the sale and purchase of puppies and adult dogs, and the use of dogs at stud, be accompanied by a written contract which should be examined and understood by both parties prior to the transaction, and that all contracts be signed, dated, and include the relevant registration numbers.  ALL HSDAA members′ contracts should explicitly state that the dog may be returned to them at any time in its life should the situation warrant. 

1.     Ethical breeders advertise their puppies and stud dogs in a factual manner. The HSDAA′s championship system (which includes judges′ score cards), along with the OFA′s CHIC program, all provide excellent and objective material for owners to utilize in advertising the merits of their dogs and litters.

2.     Puppies should be placed carefully in screened homes. Even when a buyer is referred by another breeder one knows well, it is prudent to do one′s own research as to the quality and suitability of the home.

3.     Puppies intended solely as pets should always be sold with Companion registration. These dogs may compete and earn titles in both HSDAA Companion events and several all-breed Performance venues, which provide an excellent opportunity for novice owners to become involved with both the breed itself and dog sports in general.

4.     Responsible breeders are extremely cautious regarding show prospects, especially when selling a puppy too young for anything other than the first (8 week) or second (6 month) evaluation. “Guaranteed Show quality” should clearly be explained to mean replacement of one puppy with another (if that is the breeder′s intent) rather than a positive guarantee of the puppy itself as positively show quality.

5.     Experienced breeders are cautious in selling show/breeding prospects to enthusiastic novices who appear to be acquiring and finishing dogs at a rapid rate. It is wise to remember that the average length of time actively spent in the sport of dogs is about 5 years, and a houseful of dogs is a decided inconvenience when a novice reaches the 5-year “burnout”.  Unfortunately all too often, those Champions end up back with their breeder/mentors to be rehomed.

6.     All breeders should provide new owners a three-generation pedigree, a completed health exam record dated and signed by a licensed veterinarian, registration application or certificate, complete inoculation and worming records, feeding instructions, and a signed sales contract clearly spelling out the terms of sale and guarantees provided. In addition, because there have been multiple reports of adverse effects resulting from over-vaccination, a protocol for breed-specific vaccinations should be provided. Good breeders also make themselves available after the sale as needed.

7.     A conditional sales contract which encourages or requires the breeding of a dog with part or all of the resulting litter to be returned to the breeder (so-called “puppies-back” contracts) in lieu of or in addition to a cash price constitutes a  “pyramid-scheme” of questionable ethics and legality and is considered unacceptable practice for members of the HSDAA.

8.     Experienced breeders enter into co-ownerships cautiously with all terms and conditions clearly written out in the sales contract, and discussed well beforehand to avoid misunderstanding. In no case does the co-ownership involve future offspring of the dog.

9.     Responsible breeders do not under any circumstances consign dogs to pet stores, brokers, or commercial kennels and do not donate dogs or stud fees as prizes for any raffle, auction, or contest.

10.   To avoid misunderstandings after the fact, the services of a stud dog require a written contract in which all possible outcomes of the contracted breeding are clearly covered from a monetary standpoint.

11.   All breeders are expected to keep accurate and thorough breeding records.

12.   All breeders should accept the return of all dogs they have bred that display aggressive tendencies or inappropriate temperament for a Havana Silk Dog and return to the buyer the entire purchase price that was paid for the dog.  The breeders contract should contain a provision to this effect.




1.     The Havana Silk Dog Association of America expects its members to practice good sportsmanship.

2.     Sportsmanship is practiced not only at dog shows, but while traveling, staying in hotels, at meetings, in relationships with other dog people, and any place where one is representing the Sport of Dogs.

3.     Good Sportsmanship includes taking time to assist new people, mentoring and guiding them as they gain experience. It is important to remember that everyone was new at one time, and the “newbie” of today may become the great breeder or judge of tomorrow.  

4.     Good Sportsmanship should also be practiced among members of the Havana Silk Dog Association.  Respect and courtesy should always be extended to fellow members at dog shows, meetings, during  online communications and on social media.