History of the Havanese Breed
Known as the national dog of Cuba, the Havanese is related to the Bichon Frise. Originating in the Mediterranean and brought to Cuba by Spanish traders to be presented to Cuba women to encourage trade relations, the Havanese became a symbol of wealth. As such, the little dog became a pampered family pet. This dog was specifically bred for the ruling class and it was never sold; the Havanese was always acquired as a gift. Because of its clowning personality and its desire to be the center of attention, some were trained as performing dogs and in this way gained popularity. During the Cuban Revolution the wealthy families sought refuge and migrated to the United States, but few were able to bring their precious pets. The breed would have most certainly reached extinction if it had not been for one woman. However, in the 1970s, Mrs. Goodale, an American breeder, sought out the refugees in Florida who had the good fortune to bring their beloved dogs with them and saved the breed from extinction. She successfully bred the Havanese using six dogs that came from Cuba and five other dogs from Costa Rica. Today, approximately 4,000 Havanese reside in America, thanks in good part to Mrs. Goodale. The AKC recognized the Havanese in 1996.
Size and Appearance of the Havanese Breed
Small yet sturdy, the Havanese is slightly longer than it is tall and features long, wavy hair. The front legs are straight and short while the hind legs are moderately angled. This gives the breed a lively, springy gait that is at the same time elegant. The feet are small and feature well-arched toes. The dark brown, almond-shaped eyes are large and wide-set, giving the Havanese a mischievous, intelligent expression. Medium-length ears are set high on the head and feature a defined fold at the base. The ears lift at the base when the dog is alert. The muzzle is rectangular and full with a square, broad nose. The moderately long neck is slightly arched and blends with the shoulders in a smooth line. The high-set tail is covered with silky long hair and curves forward over the back. The tail is not docked. Soft and silky in texture, the double coat of the Havanese is usually wavy and plentiful. The Havanese comes in many colors including: black, blue, champagne, chocolate, cream, gold, and silver. The coat can be solid or a combination of colors.
Friendly, curious, and responsive, the Havanese is a joyful companion dog that becomes very attached to its family. This breed is good with children, adults, other dogs, and other pets. It enjoys being the center of attention, and it is generally easy to obedience train. Sometimes patience is required for housebreaking this breed, as it may take up to a year to successfully train. While some claim that the Havanese tends to be vocal, it can be taught not to bark unnecessarily. It is not an aggressive or timid breed. This dog can be a loving addition to the family and is interested in every move its humans make.
Havanese Recommended Maintenance
The coat of the Havanese requires regular maintenance unless it is not intended to be shown, in which case the coat can be clipped for easier grooming. If the coat is kept long, it must be brushed and combed thoroughly two to four times a week. The Havanese is a non-shedding breed – loose hairs are caught in the outer coat – which means that brushing and combing are essential to prevent tangling. The hair between the pads of the feet should be trimmed regularly. Routinely check and clean the ears to prevent ear infections. Nails should be clipped as needed and the teeth should be brushed weekly. While full of energy, the Havanese does not require long daily walks as exercise. Short walks and play sessions will generally suffice. This dog should not live outside and it is appropriate for apartment dwellers as long as time is taken to exercise the dog properly. Overall, the Havanese is a healthy breed, but it can be prone to knee and eye problems.
Life span: 12 - 14 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: patellar luxation
Occasionally seen: PRA, otitis externa, cataract
Suggested tests: knee, eye