The Havanese is growing in popularity as a great family pet. He is a happy dog who loves children, other dogs and even cats. The Havanese is relatively easy to train because he just wants to please his family. He is not an overly vocal dog which is surprising since he is a toy breed. He does not like to be alone for long periods of time and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone too long. The Havanese is a high maintenance dog and requires daily grooming to keep his coat silky smooth. He does not shed much but is also not hypoallergenic.
The Havanese was named after Cuba’s capital city, Havana. He is a member of the Bichon family which also includes the Coton de Tulear, Bichon Frise and the Bolognese. The Bichon breeds are thought to have originated in the Mediterranean and then were taken to various parts of the world as people migrated. It is suggested that the Havanese were brought to Cuba by Spanish settlers sometime during the 18th century. Historians think that the Havanese developed from two breeds, both of which are now extinct. The Bichon Tenerife and the Blanquito de le Habana were small dogs with long, silky hair similar to the Havanese. There are ship manifests from Tenerife that were bound for Cuba that list small dogs brought aboard by passengers. A few Havaneses made their way into the United States around 1959 when the Cuban Revolution occurred. Refugees brought these little dogs with them into the United States. In 1979 the Havanese Club of America formed with just nine members. Today, there are about 400 members. In 1996, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Havanese as a member of the Toy Group. These little dogs are becoming more and more popular. They are currently ranked number 31 in popularity among all the AKC recognized breeds. While the Havanese is a pretty adaptable dog, they thrive in warmer climates such as in the southern United States. They do not do well in cold climates and need to be monitored closely when exposed to colder weather.
The Havanese has a long coat that is silky to the touch. It should be soft and light in texture. They do have an outer coat and an undercoat. The outer coat should carry slightly more weight than the undercoat. His coat needs to be long and wavy. The Havanese should not have a straight coat, it needs to have a slight wave to it. However, a frizzy, curly or wiry coat is not desirable. The coat should look fluffy but also flow easily with movement. The ideal coat will allow for the natural lines of his body to be seen, not covered up. Puppies will have a softer texture to their coat and it will be shorter. The Havanese can come in any color but the most common colors include black, white, fawn, mahogany, tobacco and Havana brown. Patterns or parti colors are also acceptable in the Havanese. Some Havanese will have different colored skin and that is also acceptable.
The Havanese is a high maintenance dog and does require daily grooming if kept in full coat. When he is in full coat, his hair can grow to eight inches in length. If he has a full coat, then he will need to be brushed daily and also have weekly baths. If his coat is cut into a puppy cut, or cut short, then he will need to be clipped every six to eight weeks. He will also need a bath every two weeks instead of every week. Puppy cuts still require that he be brushed several times each week. The Havanese has a coat that will naturally cord or it can also be trained to cord. This look is great for those who do not want to constantly brush their Havanese. When the coat is allowed to cord, or mat into ringlets, it does not require brushing. The corded coat does require weekly bathing to keep them from smelling and to remove any debris and dirt that is being collected.