The Havanese is a small, sturdy, short-legged dog with a unique gait that is exceptionally lively and springy, accentuating the dog’s happy nature. The coat is double, with both under and outer coat soft. The profuse outer coat is very long, reaching 6 to 8 inches in length, and ranges from straight to curly, with wavy preferred. The curly coat is allowed to cord. The Havanese has a gentle expression.
The Havanese is one of the Barbichon (later shortened to Bichon) family of small dogs originating in the Mediterranean in ancient times. Spanish traders brought some of these dogs with them as gifts for Cuban women, allowing them to establish trading relationships. In Cuba, the little dogs were pampered as the special pets of the wealthy. They became known as Habeneros, and eventually some found their way back to Europe where they were called the White Cuban. They became quite popular, not only as pets of the elite but also as performing dogs. Their popularity as pets waned, however, and their stronghold remained in the circus, where they performed throughout Europe as trick dogs. Eventually the breed declined in numbers to such an extent that it was almost extinct not only in Europe but also in its native Cuba. A few remained in Cuba, however, and three families with their Havanese left Cuba for the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. Most present-day Havanese descend from these dogs. It has gradually aroused attention from dog fanciers and pet owners, and in 1996 the first Havanese entered an AKC show ring, and was accepted for regular recognition as a member of the Toy Group as of the first day of 1999. The Havanese is also known as the Havana Silk Dog.
This is a busy, curious dog, happiest when residing at the center of attention of the family. The Havanese loves to play and clown and is affectionate to family, children, strangers, other dogs, and pets—basically everyone! This breed is willing to please, learns easily, and can tend to be vocal.
Although energetic, the exercise needs of the Havanese can be met with a short walk or a good play session. Coat care entails a full brushing two to four times a week. This is a non-shedding dog. Loose hairs are caught in the outer hairs, tending to tangle, unless they are combed out regularly.