The Havanese is a member of the Bichon family of dogs. The progenitors of the breed are believed to have come from Tenerife. Ship manifests from Tenerife bound for Cuba list dogs as passengers brought aboard, and these dogs were most probably the dog of Tenerife. Some believe the entire Bichon family of dogs can be traced back to the Tenerife dog, while others theorize that the origins are in Malta, citing the writings of Aristotle, and other historical evidence of the early presence of such dogs in Malta. Whatever the actual origins of Bichon dogs, these little dogs soon became devoted companions to the Spanish colonists in Cuba and were highly admired by the nobility.
As part of the Cuban Revolution, upper-class Cubans fled to the United States, but few were able to bring their dogs. When American breeders became interested in this rare and charming dog in the 1970s, the US gene pool was only 11 dogs.
With dedicated breeding, and the acquisition of some new dogs internationally, the Havanese has made a huge comeback and is one of the fastest growing breeds of dogs in the American Kennel Club (AKC)
If never primped, clipped or altered in any way, the Havanese gives a rugged impression in a little dog. The legs are strong and allow for free and easy movement. The dark eyes and long tail are covered with long, silky hair. The profuse coat varies from wavy to curly to corded. The corded coat is recognized by both the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club). The Havanese is a double-coated breed with soft hair, both on the outer coat and undercoat. The adult coat reaches 6 to 8 inches, and has a pearly sheen. Some Havanese carry a shorthaired recessive gene. If two adults with this recessive gene have a litter of puppies, it is possible that some of the puppies will be born with smooth coats. A Havanese with a short coat cannot be shown, as it is a serious fault in the show arena. Some have nicknamed the Havanese born with short coats Shavanese. Eye rims, nose and lips are solid black on all colors except the true chocolate dog. The Havanese comes in any color, including cream, gold, white, silver, blue and black. Also parti and tricolor. In North America, all colors are recognized; no preference is given to one color over another. Black and chocolate are preferred colors with many North American breeders. A chocolate Havanese must retain at least a 1 inch (2.6 cm) patch of chocolate hair. Chocolates also have green or amber eyes. In some European countries the black and chocolate dogs were not always recognized, but the black dogs have been recognized for several years, and the chocolate dogs are now recently recognized. The gait is unique, lively and ”springy," which accentuates the happy character of the Havanese. Tail is carried up over the back when gaiting. The breed is of solid physical type and sound constitution. The Havanese is sturdy, and while a small breed, it is neither fragile nor overdone.
The Havanese is a very playful dog that tends to be quite clever in getting attention. Havanese can often be seen performing tricks in order to get the attention of new guests in the home. In fact, because of their propensity to do tricks, this breed has long been used in the circus. This is a great family dog, because they are small enough to be easy to keep in the house, but they are not snappish or yappy like many other toy breeds. They love children and make very good playmates for them. Unlike other toy breeds, they can tolerate clumsy and sometimes rough play of children. Havanese are intelligent and very playful. They want to be near their owners and they want attention and playtime. This dog is known to follow their owners around from room to room. They can be taught to do tricks and are eager to please their owners. However, as much as they love their owners, they are not possessive of them nor aggressive when their owners express affection for people or other animals. In fact, Havanese do quite well with other pets in the home and often make playmates of them. Havanese are not prone to excessive barking, but they will bark to alert you to visitors and will be wary of strangers until you have welcomed them. Once the dog observes that you're comfortable with a visitor, however, he will be very friendly. These dogs are not prone to shyness. And, despite their size, they do not show any fear. Their combination of friendliness, eagerness to please and comfort will all kinds of people and animals makes this one of the best dogs, particularly for families with allergies or who need a small pet.
Height: 8 - 11 inches (20 - 28 cm)
Weight: 7 - 13 pounds (3 - 6 kg)
Havanese are good for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard. Havanese are born to live in your home, and not in a patio or a kennel, but at the same time, they require plenty of exercise.
The Havanese has an energetic nature that requires walking, a play session, or a swim. However, they do not require an inordinate amount of exercise. They do well in apartments and also homes with small yards. Since they are adept at learning tricks, they benefit from this activity. The Havanese are moderately active indoors but do need toys and social stimulation so as not to become bored and irritable.
The Havanese is very intelligent and eager to please. These two qualities make them quite easy to train. They are eager to do tricks to entertain you, so once you've completed the basics of training, they'll be eager to learn some fun tricks. They have an exceptionally good sense of smell and will love to play games of "find" where you hide an object and they hunt it down. Your Havanese should be very easy to house train, as they will quickly understand your displeasure when they use the bathroom indoors. Because of their size and sensitivity to the cold, many owners choose to paper train their Havanese if they live in a very cold climate. This allows them to avoid sending the dog outside in cold weather and snow. Whichever method of house training you choose will work well with a Havanese. Havanese are said to never eat alone. This is because they want to always be in the same room with their owners. So, if your Havanese is eating and you leave the room, you can expect him to follow you, likely with food in his mouth, which he will drop on the floor and eat. This can be a bit annoying, so many owners have a set feeding time for their Havanese, and only have food available at this time. Then, they either confine the dog to the room where the food is waiting, or stay in the room with the dog while he eats. Whenever you're training a puppy, use a firm voice for commands and admonishments is important, as your dog will respond to the firmness in your voice. However, it is very important that you not be too harsh in speaking to your Havanese, as it will only frighten him and make it difficult to accomplish any training results.
About 14-15 years
The profuse coat needs to be thoroughly combed at least twice per week. A Havanese with a dense or curly coat will be more prone to tangling and matting, thus requiring more frequent combing, than one with a silky, slightly wavy coat. If not showing the dog, it can be trimmed shorter to require less brushing. Many pet owners clip their dogs into a 1–2 inch long "puppy cut" for ease of maintenance.
If they go out in the snow, ice clumps will stick between their paw pads; just rinse off in warm water or buy booties. When you give them a bath, make sure to dry them. Some in shorter clips can blot and air dry, but most will need to be blown dry. You should also comb their hair out after bathing so as not to dry in mats. Use high air but low heat to protect their sensitive skin. Hot air can damage the skin.
Hair that grows on the bottom of their feet between the paw-pads needs trimming to allow traction on smooth floors. Some develop tear staining. A veterinarian might suggest treating red yeast issues to help diminish or eliminate staining; sometimes diet allergens are to blame and switching to a food without common allergens can be helpful. Excess tearing is sometimes a result of hair getting into the eyes; it is recommended that hair below eyes be allowed to grow out instead of shaved out. Havanese can wear a topknot or small braids to keep the hair out of their eyes during everyday activities.
As with any dog with dropped ears, the ears must be kept clean to help prevent ear infections. A cottonball can be placed just inside each ear before bathing to prevent excess water from entering in. After bathing, since it may be moist, pluck a few hairs inside the dog's ears to let air circulate through, preventing fungus from building.
The Havanese is not a yappy dog, but will alert its owners to approaching people. Usually acknowledging that you have heard their alert is enough to make them cease. Some have strong attachment issues, known by their owners as "velcro dogs", following household members everywhere, even into the bathroom.
The Havanese is a small, sturdy, short-legged dog. Its unique gait is exceptionally lively and springy, accentuating the dog's happy nature. The coat is double, with both under and outer coat soft. The profuse outer coat is very long, reaching 6 to 8 inches in length, and ranges from straight to curly, with wavy preferred. The curly coat is allowed to cord. The expression is gentle.
This is a busy, curious dog; it is happiest when it is the center of attention. It loves to play and clown and is affectionate with its family, children, strangers, other dogs and pets — basically everyone! The Havanese is willing to please and learn easily, but it tends to be vocal.