The Havanese dog breed, as its name indicates, hails from Cuba. It is in fact the national dog of that country. A descendent of the Little White Dog of Havana or Blanquito de la Habana, these Bichon type toy dogs come in a variety of colors.
The Havanese is a spirited little dog with a springy gait that goes well with its playful nature. Highly people-oriented, they make great companions and family dogs since they get along with everyone, including other household pets. They are Being highly adaptable and suitable for apartment living.
The origin of this dog can be traced to the Mediterranean region where the Bichon or Barbichon type dogs came from. They were first brought into Cuba by the Spanish traders as gifts for the womenfolk who greatly appreciated these little dogs, and might have helped boost the trade between these people.
Especially favored by the wealthy class, these dogs were treated as royalty in Cuba, and their popularity spread to the European countries where they were known as the Blanquito de la Habana or the White Cuban. These dogs were great entertainers, and did well in circus. Some mixing with poodle and other Bichon type dogs might have occurred during this period.
Al though being delightful little dogs, they did not have any practical use as working dogs or watch dogs, and their popularity eventually waned. They had almost become extinct in Europe, as well as in Cuba, by the middle of the 20th century.
But three Cuban families happened to bring these dogs into the United States in the 1950s, sparking some interest in the dog breeders. This resulted in the Havanese dog breed getting a new lease of life. The dogs of today have descended from these three dogs. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1996 and was accepted into the Toy Group in 1999.
The small-sized Havanese dog breed measures 9 to 11 inches at the withers, and weighs between 10 and 16 pounds. They have a sturdy body that is slightly longer than their height. The whole body is covered with a coat of long, soft, hair. Some dogs have a double coat, but many do not have an undercoat.
In addition to solid white, the coat comes in various shades of cream, beige, fawn, silver, black and blue, either in solid color coats or in bi-color, tri-color, brindle or sable patterns. The drooping ears have a profusion of long hair, as does the plume-like tail that is carried up on the back.
These friendly dogs are very loyal to their family members and often latch on to one person, following him/her throughout the day. They are ideal for people who love to teach their dogs tricks and have them perform in front of others. The Havanese dogs gladly oblige, as they are attention seekers and love to entertain people.
These dogs show affection to their family members and demand it in return too. They require constant company and should not be left alone in the house. Being friendly with everyone, they are useless as watchdogs.
Most toy breeds are difficult to housebreak, and the Havanese is no exception, but these clever dogs are relatively easier to train, and can be taught to use a litter box.
Grooming and exercise
The Havanese dogs have long, fluffy coats requiring a thorough brushing every other day. They do not shed, but regular brushing will keep their hair free of tangles and matting. Some owners try cording their dog’s hair to form strands similar to dreadlocks, while others keep their long hair trimmed for easy maintenance. But breed standards allow only light trimming around the feet.
These active dogs need some exercise or activity to keep happy and healthy, but a brisk walk can provide all the exercise they need. Being a tropical breed sensitive to cold, these dogs should be kept warm at all times. Their long coat is light and airy, and do not afford as much protection from cold as you would expect. Due to this, and because of their need for constant attention and companionship, the Havanese should be kept indoors with the family.
Common health issues of Havanese dog breed
These dogs are small in size but they have a robust constitution. They are not known to have any major breed related disorders. Like many other small sized dog breeds, they may be affected by patellar luxation though. They usually need nothing more than an occasional health checkup to ensure good health. The Havanese dog breed has an average life expectancy of 13 years, but many dogs may live for 15 years or more.