The Havanese

"Havanese (singular or plural, the name’s the same) are happy little dogs with a spring in their step and a gleam in their big, brown eyes. A curled-over tail is a breed hallmark, as is the gorgeous silky coat, which comes in a variety of colors. Some owners enjoy cording the coat, making it look a little like a Puli, and others prefer to clip it short to reduce grooming time. Happily, Havenese are just as cute no matter what hairdo you give them." -from the AKC breed info page.

We couldn't have said it any better except they left out funny, intelligent, and outgoing, but you can't help but have a spring in your step when you are with a Havanese. The Havanese is relatively new to the AKC becoming their 142nd breed in 1996. They currently sit as the AKC's 23rd most popular dog. Despite being a new bread to the AKC the Havanese enjoys a interesting and storied history.

Origin of the Havanese

The Havanese is the National dog of Cuba and the Country's only native breed. Trade ships sailing from the island of Tenerife (the Canary Islands) in the early 16th century recorded the transport of these dogs to Cuba. Tenerife is also a breed of dog from which the Bichon family also descended and indeed the Havanese do share some similarities with the Bichons. In Cuba the Havanese found happy homes with Cuban aristocracy made rich in the plentiful sugar trade. Spain restricted trade into Cuba for many years mainly though Tenerife and as a result, Havanese developed without much outside influence. In Cuba they were breed as companion dogs, playmates for children, and for use in chicken herding.

The Havanese became popular in the mid 18th century with reports of Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens having owned them. The Havanese was once called the Havana Silk Dog or the Spanish Silk Poodle. In fact, the coat looks very warm but actually serves as a silk-like insulating barrier from the sun and overheating in warm climates like Cuba or Houston where we currently live.

Havanese Standard Colors and Markings

The Havanese come in a wide array of colors and markings that are recognized by the AKC. The combinations of colors add to the interest and beauty of this breed. 

Listed below are several of the standard colors Havanese come in:

Black, Black & Silver, Black & Tan, Black Brindle, Chocolate, Cream, Fawn, Gold, Gold Brindle, Gold Sable, Red, Red Brindle, Red Sable, Silver, Silver Brindle, White 

While part of the breed standard Havanese can be found in these colors as well:

Black & Silver Brindle, Black & Tan Brindle, Blue, Blue Brindle, Chocolate Brindle, Chocolate Sable, Fawn Brindle, Fawn Sable, Silver Sable

Below are several of the standard markings that can accompany the colors:

Cream Markings, Irish Pied, Parti Belton, Parti-Color, Silver Markings, Silver Points, Tan Points, White Markings

Havanese Temperment

 Basic obedience training will teach skills you will use on a daily basis. The time you spend in training, especially during the first year of your pet’s life, will be repaid by giving you a well-behaved companion that is bonded to you and your family for the rest of his life. Today Havanese are seen in many areas of dog activities and competitions that are sanctioned by the AKC. Havanese excel in all levels of competition in Obedience, Rally, Agility and Tracking as well as Conformation. The Havanese are happy little athletes and loyal family companions. As therapy dogs, Havanese bring smiles to faces in hospitals, nursing homes and libraries around the country. The Havanese is trainable and intelligent and possesses a naturally affectionate temperament, which makes the breed an ideal family pet. Although a toy dog, they remain energetic and require some form of daily exercise.  

Their small but sturdy bodies, adaptable nature, and easy way with people make Havanese perfect city dogs. Not that Havanese need a city to be happy. They’re thrilled to be anyplace where they can be the center of attention for their family. Havanese are smart, trainable, and natural clowns—in fact, some have worked in circuses. But the breed isn’t all fun and games. Havanese are excellent watchdogs and take the job seriously, but won’t annoy you with a lot of yapping. 

-from the AKC breed info page