Charming, lively and friendly, the Havanese is a loving and devoted companion to his family. This hardy little breed nearly became extinct in the 1950s. Today, the Havanese are known for their spunky personality, fun loving nature, and being very good with children.
The history of the Havanese goes far back. Early settlers brought bichon-like dogs to Cuba in the 1600s. They thrived in the homes of resident Spanish aristocracy. Due to trade restrictions, the dog developed without much outside influence, shaped only by the hot climate. By the 1800s, Cuba prospered and Havana has become a favorite vacation spot for the European aristocrats. On their return home, they brought the charming little dog with them. Soon Havanese graced the homes of Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens.
Meanwhile, the situation in Cuba was changing. The aristocracy gave way to a middle class and the adoptable Havanese fit right in. They kept children company, earned their keep as a reliable watch dog, and even tried their hand at herding poultry flocks. With political unrest in Cuba during the Cuban revolution, the Havanese faced extinction. A breed enthusiast was able to find 11 dogs with traceable pedigrees in the United States and save the Havanese. These days, Havanese enjoy their growing popularity and hold down a permanent spot as a great family pet and a faithful friend.
While the Havanese are of a small stature, they are not dainty or fragile. They are sturdy dogs with a long, wavy coat. The Havanese coat is soft and silky. It hardly sheds, so regular brushing is required to keep it mat free and to remove dead hair. Havanese come in any color including cream, gold, white, silver, blue, black, parti and tricolor.
The Havanese are naturally affectionate, friendly and happy dogs. They have a very distinctive, "springy" gait which only highlights the easy-going personality of the Havanese. They are a very trainable breed, quick learners and eager to please their person, making them a popular circus performer. Make sure to socialize your Havanese to avoid the dog becoming overly shy with new things and people.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: The Havanese is a small sturdy dog of immense charm. He is slightly longer than tall, and covered with a profuse mantle of untrimmed long, silky, wavy hair.
Height, Proportion and Substance: The height range is from 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches, with the ideal being between 9 and 10 1/2 inches, measured at the withers.
The Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba and is the only native Cuban breed. It is believed that during the days of the Spanish Empire, the Havanese were a favorite among the Spanish aristocracy and were given as gifts to the wealthy senoras to win their favor.