The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba, and is descended from a group of small lapdogs known as Bichons. These charming dogs
originated in Europe, and were brought to Cuba in the 17th century. Because of the climate and cultural differences between Europe and Cuba, the dogs progressively became smaller, and their curly coat became smooth and silky. These were then crossed with Poodles to create the Havanese dog we are familiar with today.
During the 1960′s, Cuban families migrated to the United States, taking their pets with them. The Havanese has been bred in the USA since the ’70′s, and was recognized by the AKC in 1996.
The Havanese is a very beautiful creature and if you own one, be prepared to be stopped in the street by total strangers wanting to pat your dog. Their dark eyes will melt even the hardest heart.
These little dogs have a solid sturdy build, and although they are small, they are definitely not fragile. At around 11 inches at the shoulder, and weighing up to 13 pounds, they are classified as a toy breed. One of their most distinguishing features is their long wavy coat. It can grow up to 8 inches long and comes in a wide variety of colors, including gold, silver, cream, blue and black.
Interestingly, there is a short coated variety of Havanese. This is caused by a recessive gene, and if a dog is born with two copies of this gene, it will have a smooth short coat. This isn’t acceptable in the show ring, but these short coated Havanese still make delightful pets.
When your Havanese is out for a walk with you, he’ll carry his tail arched over his back, and walk with a lively spring in his step.
Many people believe small dogs to be yappy, and more inclined to nip. This isn’t true of the Havanese. These little dogs are very gentle, and love being with children. They bond closely with the human members of their pack, and are extremely affectionate. If you’re looking for a dog to share your activities and outings, and enjoy going everywhere with you, then the Havanese should be on your short list of breeds to choose from.
This breed is also very intelligent and quick to learn. They will master potty training and basic obedience very easily. It won’t be difficult to slot them into your household routine, and they will enjoy being a part of your family. These friendly and attractive dogs are sociable and get along well with other dogs and cats, as well as people of all ages.
You can expect your Havanese to bark when someone arrives at your home, but that’s the extent of their “watch dog” ability. When they see that you’re happy to see your guest, they’ll be happy to see them too, and make them very welcome.
The Havanese has quite a few potential health issues. Their eyes are often a cause for concern, with cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia all being a problem in the breed.
They can also suffer from hereditary deafness. It can affect one ear or both ears. If a dog is deaf in just one ear, it doesn’t affect their lifestyle; however deafness in both ears is more challenging to deal with.
Their legs are another problem area, as the Havanese can develop slipped kneecaps and Legg Perthe’s Disease. The latter is a degenerative condition where the ball of the hip joint degenerates due to lack of blood supply. Both of these orthopedic conditions are thought to have a genetic basis.
Responsible breeders will have their dogs BAER tested for hereditary deafness, eye tested for hereditary eye disease, and their legs checked for loose kneecaps or Legg Perthe’s disease. Before you purchase your Havanese puppy, ask their breeder for a copy of the test results for their parents.
If you have spent much time with Basset Hounds and Dachshunds, you’ll be very familiar with a condition known as Chondrodysplasia Punctata. This is the cause of those little bent front legs, and is the result of selective breeding for short legs. The Havanese hasn’t been bred for short stature, but some fanciers are seeing an increasing incidence of Chondrodysplasia Punctata in the breed.
If you are thinking that the long silky coat of the Havanese would take a lot of work, then you’re right. These dogs don’t shed, so you will need to brush and comb them several times a week to remove any dead hair. This also prevents knots and tangles that will pull on your dog’s skin and be painful.
If you aren’t involved in the show circuit and your Havanese is a family pet, you can choose to clip their coat short. This turns them into a low maintenance dog, and this is a better option for a busy family.
Keep in mind that although their coat is thick, it is very light. It doesn’t keep them very warm so if you live in a cold climate, your Havanese will enjoy a coat for the winter months.
The Havanese is a very energetic breed, and need daily exercise to keep them happy. This can be as simple as a good long walk, or even a game of ball in the backyard. They don’t need a lot of space to run around.
The Havanese is the ideal dog for families, because they are sociable little extroverts who love being with people. Because they are so sturdy, they’re great with children; they’re not fragile and aren’t as likely to get injured as a small sensitive breed.
It’s important to remember that this love of people means they’re not the best choice of breed if you’re out at work all day. Your Havanese will fret, and be very unhappy.
Because of their size, they’re the perfect dog for apartment living. Their exercise needs are easily met, and they will enjoy chasing a ball up and down your hallway.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Havanese doesn’t shed much at all, and this can make them a good choice of dog for those who suffer from allergies. However, many people are allergic to dander, or skin scurf, and they may still react to the Havanese.
If you think this companionable little breed is the right choice for you, you can expect to enjoy their company for 15 years or more.