Havanese Guide

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The Havanese is a small, sturdy, short-legged dog. Its unique gait 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 expression is gentle.

This is a busy, curious dog; it is happiest when it is the center of attention. It loves to play and clown and is affectionate with its family, children, strangers, other dogs and pets — basically everyone! The Havanese is willing to please and learn easily, but it tends to be vocal.


FAMILY bichon, companion, water dog


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION lapdog, performer


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 8.5-11.5 Weight: 7-13

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 8.5-11.5 Weight: 7-13

OTHER NAME bichon Havanais

Energy level High energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Low tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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Although energetic, the Havanese can have its exercise needs met with a short walk or a good play session. It is not a dog that can live outside. Coat care entails brushing two to four times a week. This is a nonshedding dog, which means that loose hairs are caught in the outer hairs, tending to tangle, unless they are combed out.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: PRA, otitis externa, cataract
• Suggested tests: knee, eye
• Life span: 12 – 14 years
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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 the breed was 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. The breed 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.
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