The Havanese is one of the Bichon type breeds which includes Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Coton de Tulear, Lowchen and Maltese. They are a playful small dog, a toy dog that were bred to be good companions so they are good with children. They like to have attention and will do tricks to catch people’s attention. This need for attention does not make them an ideal choice for a working couple. They will often follow owners around the house, but are rarely overly possessive of their “family” so are good with other dogs, pets and other animals. They often like to eat with someone in the room so stay there when they are eating otherwise they may take their food with them and eat it as they walk, which can be messy. They are a “true dog”, playing games such as tug of war with gusto. Like many toy dogs, they do not require long walks, but they do love attention.
One advantage of the Havanese is that they do not shed much. You may see on lists that they do not shed, but this is misleading as all hair follicles will have a cycle of growing and dying, shedding its hair, but this is variable and not often so there is no strong cycle of hair shedding. The coat catches the hair and dander internally so many people think it is non-allergenic, but they all release dander that can aggravate allergies. If you have an allergy sufferer in the house, have the dog to stay for a few days to check.
The Havanese has a slight wavy double coat, which is soft and light, with a heavier undercoat.
The Havanese should be brushed every day as the fur has a tendency to mat. If you are not showing the dog, you can trim the coat. Whilst they have fur, they do suffer in extreme cold although in London you should be OK, but some people do buy sweaters for them. When you bath them, dry with a towel and allow them to dry off naturally inside as they are susceptible to skin problems if dried with a hair drier. It is a breed that the kennel clubs prefer and dictate a natural look, avoiding the bows and preferring the hair over the eyes that protected their eyes from the Cuban sun.
The original Harvanese were white, but now they occur in all types of coat colours and patterns.
Whilst the Havanese is a toy dog, it is solid and sturdy. The Havanese weight ranges from 4-6Kgs (10-15 lbs). Its height measured at the withers is 220-290mm( 9-11 inches). The back raises from the withers to the rump which is unusual in dogs.
They have a sprightly agile movement. Whilst they are relatively good swimmers, they generally shy away from water, but be careful when near water if there is something for them to chase.
The Havanese have almond eyes, with medium sized ears that are well covered and hang down. They are susceptible to ear infections so regularly check their ears and clean them. Sometimes they may need inner hairs to be plucked by hand or tweezers. The tail arches over the back and is also well covered. They have very sensitive noses and are trained in some countries for search. They are easily trainable so are often used in circus shows, tracking, hearing assistance dogs, mould, termite and drugs searches.
Havanese generally live between 14 to 16 years. Like many other pure breeds, they suffer from a few genetically linked disorders. The most common being liver disease, heart disease, cataracts and retinal dysplasia (streaks and dots on the retina). It is recommended only to buy Havanese from parent dogs who have clear eye certificates. Havanese sometimes develop brown tear stains, which is especially noticeable on those with white or light coats.
The dog was bred from the now extinct Bichon Tenerife and was taken to Cuba by traders and settlers. Being popular in Havana in Cuba, internationally, the Havanese is a new breed, taking off in the 1970s from only 11 animals in the US. Though they were common prior to the Cuban Revolution, they, like many trappings of aristocracy, were culled. It is now one of the fastest growing registrations in most country kennel clubs. For this reason, it may be difficult to acquire one so the best of luck.
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