Question about BAER testing: I spoke with a reputable breeder the other day who told me that all the tests had been done on a dam/sire except BAER...because the clinic in her area didn't have the requisite machine. The dam had two previous litters; this would be her third/last. Sire is GC (not hers). She said that of all the tests, this was the one that posed the least concerns, yielded the fewest problems...was more concerned about eyes, patella etc, all of which have been done. No probs with earlier litters. She was candid about sire/dam, giving lots of details re health/temperament.
How many tests do you do on the pups before you relinquish, in addition to dam/sire?
BAER is the only "test" done on puppies before they leave for their new families, as they are too young for any of the other testing. It's also easier on puppies than it is on adult dogs, because they must be held very still for the testing to be accurate. Often, with older dogs they must be sedated, and tested while sleeping, which is harder on them and, of course, more expensive.
Only you can decide how important it is to you. Unilateral deafness is an issue in the breed, and we've had several people come on the forum, all of excited about their new puppies, only to find they are difficult to train, and eventually to find that the REASON the puppy is hard to train is deafness. I personally know one Havanese who is deaf in one ear and another who is completely deaf. I train my dogs for perfomance. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to reach high levels of sports with a deaf dog. And it's a pain in the neck even around the house. You have a dog who can't hear when you call, can't clicker train and can't get even get the feed back from you of, "Good boy!"
So for me, pups without BAER testing would be a deal breaker. If I REALLY wanted a pup from a breeder who didn't BAER test, I would AT LEAST get it written into the contract that I would have the testing done and the puppy could be returned for a full refund if it had abnormal results.
I've heard other breeders complain that it's too expensive and/or too time consuming to have BAER testing done. No local clinic that I know of does it. You DO have to go to a major university hospital in most cases. Both of the breeders I have purchased puppies from, plus my friend that I just helped with this litter, had to take a full day out of their schedules to travel to the hospital with the whole herd of puppies and everything needed to care for them to get it done. They still did it.
Just because the previous two litters didn't have hearing problems doesn't mean none will. And if a puppy has unilateral hearing loss, you would never know it UNLESS the dog lost its hearing in the other ear later in life. When it's too late to do anything but keep the dog. The Havanese I know who is completely deaf, because he was so attentive to his owner, (I swear, he reads lips
) she didn't know he was deaf until he was an adult, and couldn't learn certain things. He's also a TERRIBLE barker... probably because he can't hear himself. If someone doesn't care, and wants to take on a puppy with unilateral hearing loss, or even a completely deaf one, fine! But they should have that information going in, not pay full price for a healthy puppy and find it out down the road.
Oh, and just to make things clear, I am NOT A breeder. I just know a number of good breeders and really respect all they do to produce great puppies for us.