The Havaneser, or Havanese, is a cute and cuddly toy dog of Cuban origin that sports an adorable soft, long coat and a pleasant disposition. In fact, it is the National Dog of Cuba and its only native breed. Being an ideal companion dog, the Havaneser thrives in the company of humans and pets to grow really attached to its setting.
Bichons, originally introduced into Cuba from Europe during the 17th century, in response to the local conditions, evolved into the original Blanquito de la Habana, aka Havanese Silk Dog with a pure white coat, and adorned the homes of Cuban aristocracy. The Blanquito is believed to be a descendant of Bichon Tenerife, which is now extinct.
Thanks to a subsequent craze for other European Bichons, the now extinct Blanquito was crossbred with Poodles during the 19th century, resulting in the modern-day Havaneser. Bichon Havaneser bears close resemblance to its Cuban ancestors than Poodles.
First lines of the Havanese that emerged in 1974 were officially recognized by kennel clubs across the world.
The Havanese is a docile, happy and entertaining companion that can peacefully share and enjoy the living space with both humans and pets. In fact, they are quite attached to humans and are dependent on them.
Curious, intelligent, eager to learn and participate, they make wonderful play companions for children. The breed is naturally outgoing and responsive and should be socialized adequately for it to exhibit its innate traits without any fear or shyness.
The Havaneser is also a sensitive dog, reacting to vocal tones and firm handling during training or at other times. He can get stubborn, choose to be dominant, or simply break into incessant barking sprees. This behavior, however, is not characteristic and needs to be set right at the early stages to ensure that his company is not a nuisance.
This breed is small, robust and medium built, with strong legs and a rectangular body literally covered by two coats of soft smooth hair and longer outer coats (6-8”). The ideal height of a Havaneser is about 10-11”, while it can weigh up to 6 kg.
The Havaneser can get colorful – in the sense, the color of the coat can be anything from gold, cream, silver, white, black, chocolate, and even blue. Mix of colors and markings are quite common.
A straight, yet not level topline, unique energetic gait and springy movement are characteristic of the Haveneser.
The Havaneser has genetic predisposition to a short-haired recessive gene, which when present in both parents, manifests in the form of a short smooth coat, instead of the long, wavy fur.
Health and Care
Considering the fact that this breed has a long life-span of about 15 years, health care is an important aspect that needs attention. Eye and ear problems are common and need preventive checks. Some of them are prone to kidney, heart and liver diseases. Hip and limb health also needs regular attention for the pet to stay in good health.
The thick and long coat needs meticulous care and combing as there is no pronounced shedding. Show dogs will need to be groomed as per acceptable norms to qualify for participating in specific events.
Training a Bichon Havanese is not a strenuous task. Establishing a firm and gentle line of command, calm and patient interaction strategies are enough for the task. Games, long walks, and moderate activities keep the pet happy.
Main challenges, however, reportedly are housebreaking, excessive barking and separation anxiety when left alone, leading to destructive chewing.