Copyright 1993 by Schalene J. Dagutis.
- Schalene J. Dagutis 04/23/93 [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Updated by Schalene J. Dagutis on August 5, 1997
Table of Contents
What kind of dog is that? Where did you get a Bichon that wasn't
Havanese are part of the Bichon canine family, but are
a distinct breed. Havanese come in all colors and combinations of
I've never heard of that breed. Are they recognized by the AKC?
They were admitted to the American Kennel Club
(AKC) in 1995 and are at present in the miscellaneous class.
They will eventually be admitted to the toy class. You can learn more about the
Havanese on the AKC Internet site.
Can I get one from the pound or from a pet store?
No. Pure-bred Havanese can only be purchased from breeders.
They are a rare breed and the total population in the U.S. is only
Do they shed?
Havanese are non-shedding dogs.
Do they have to be professionally groomed?
No. Although most people prefer to have their Havanese
How often do they have to be groomed?
Usually every two or three months. However, it is essential
to brush their coats two to four times a week. Also, regular eye, ear,
and teeth care is required. Nails need to be trimmed every couple of
Are they good with children?
Havanese are extremely sociable and seem to like almost
every one. They are exceptionally good with children even when not
raised with children in the house. However, it is a good idea to
supervise any situation where dogs and young or unfamiliar children are
Are they too small or fragile for a home with children?
No. Actually, Havanese are a very good small breed for
families with children. They are a sturdy dog, similar to a small
terrier, an d lack none of the terrier's hard stamina. In fact, a
Havanese may be a better choice than some of the more fragile small
What type of activities can I do with a Havanese?
Havanese were bred as companion animals. They love to
be a part of the family. As well as conformation showing, several
Havanese owners compete with their dogs in obedience and agility trials.
Havanese are quick to learn tricks and love showing off to friends and
Are they just another "yappy" small dog?
No. They'll alert you when someone is at your dog and
to strange noises outside your home. Otherwise, they are quiet.
Although, some Havanese are more "vocal" than others.
The Havanese is truly one of the most delightful of the small breeds.
They are exceptionally intelligent and quick-witted. Their love of
attention comes from their adorable little "show-off" natures. They
are curious and busy constantly. They are natural clowns and enjoy
interludes of rowdy, madcap play.
The Havanese's expression tells you that they miss nothing going on
around them; they love to sit somewhere high -- especially on the
back of sofas and chairs. They never let strangers approach
unwelcomed. The thrive on human companionship, and are at their best
as a participating member of the family. They love children and will
play tirelessly with them at any game in which children delight.
If raised near water or exposed to water at an early age, they become
powerful swimmers, diving in and out of the water like tiny seals.
The Havanese also have a natural herding instinct. In Cuba, they were
used to herd the family chickens and geese.
If the Havanese were listed in Daniel F. Tortora's book, "The Right
Dog for You," they would rank as follows:
- Activity Level:
- Indoors: very active
- Outdoors: moderate
- Behavioral Vigor: gentle
(This dimension relates to the force of behaviors regardless of how
often they are produced.)
- Variability/Constancy: moderate
(This dimension relates to the "stick-to-it-iveness" of a breed.)
- Territoriality: low
Havanese are low in territoriality and generally only consider the
owner's home and property as their own.
(Submissive dogs approach most familiar and unfamiliar people
and dogs with submissive displays.)
- Strange dogs: submissive
- Familiar people: submissive
- Emotional Stability/Vacillation: stable
(This dimension is defined by how frequently an animal changes from
one emotional state to another.)
- Learning Rate: fast to very fast
(The ease with which a breed is able to form associations between two
or more events determines its trainability.)
Obedience training is achieved with very little effort. Fast to
learn and anxious to please, they are a charming, open-hearted breed.
- Obedience: very good
- Problem solving: very good
- Watch/Guard Dog: alert/unsuited
Havanese are good watch dogs, making sure to alert you when a visitor
arrives, but will take their cue from you and welcome the guest when
all seems well with their owner.
- Sociability/Solitariness: very sociable
(The number of people a breed can tolerate in one location. A very
sociable dog can tolerate, even enjoy crowds. A very solitary dog
would get irritable, fearful, or aggressive in a crowd.)
- Social Dimension
- Owner/family: open-family
(Open-family dogs can discriminate between family members and
non family members. However, they readily accept new members
into the family after one or two playful experiences with
- With strangers: very friendly
(Very friendly breeds are described with the following terms:
"likes everybody," "very friendly," and "likes people." These
breeds may be very playful and jump on people who enter and
continuously nuzzle, smell, and rub up against visitors. They
are basically indiscriminate in their friendliness. They can
be a pleasure to people who love dogs but an annoyance to
people who do not.)
- With children: exceptionally good
(Breeds that are exceptionally good with children can usually
withstand the physical taunts of children; be calm in response
to rapid movements; react unemotionally to loud and sometimes
peculiar noises and modulate their physical strength in
relation to the size of the child.)
They are non-shedding and odorless and their soft coat is easy to
keep with frequent brushing or combing and periodic bathing. The
coat ranges from a slight wave to curly. The color of coats range in
shades of white, cream, champagne, gold, chocolate, silver, blue, and
black or a combination of these colors.
The Havanese is a sturdy, short-legged small dog with a soft profuse,
untrimmed coat. His plumed tail is carried curled over his back. He
is an affectionate, happy dog with a lively, springy gait.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The height ranges from 8-1/2 to 11-1/2 inches, the ideal being 9 to
10-1/2 inches. The weight ranges from 7 to 13 pounds, the ideal being
8 to 11 pounds. Any dog whose weight deviates greatly from the stated
range is a major fault. Any dog measuring under 8-1/2 or over
11-1/2 inches is a disqualification. The body from the chest to
the buttocks is longer than the height at the shoulders and should not
appear to be square. Forelegs and hindlegs are relatively short, but
with sufficient length to set the dog up so as not to be too close to
the ground. The Havanese is a sturdy dog, and while a small breed, is
neither fragile nor overdone.
length proportionate to the size of the body. Eyes are large,
almond shaped and very dark with a gentle expression. In the blue and
silver coat shades, eyes may be a slightly lighter color; in chocolate
coat shades, the eyes may be a lighter color. However, the darker eye
is preferred. Eye rims are black for all colors except chocolate shaded
coats, whose eye rims are self-colored. Small or round eyes; broken or
insufficient pigment on the eye rim(s) are faults. Wild, bulging
or protruding eyes are a major fault. Total absence of pigment
on one or both eye rims is a disqualification. Ears are
set nei ther too high nor too low and are dropped, forming a gentle fold
and cove red with long feathering. They are slightly raised, moderately
pointed, neither fly-away nor framing the cheeks. Skull is broad
and somewhat rounded with a moderate stop. The cheeks are flat and the
lips clean. The length of the muzzle is equal to the distance
to the stop to the back of the occiput. The muzzle is neither snipey
nor blunt. Nose and lips are solid black on all colors
except the true chocolate dog, whose nose and lips are solid,
self-colored brown. Dudley nose, nose and lips other than black,
except the solid, self-colored brown on the true chocolate dog are
disqualifications. Scissors bite preferred; a level bite is
permissible. Full dentition of incisors preferred for both upper and
lower jaws. Crooked or missing teeth are faults. Overshot or
undershot bite, wry mouth are major faults.
Topline, and Body Neck of moderate length, neither
too long or too short. Toplin e is straight with a very slight
rise over the croup. Flanks are well raised. Ribs are
well rounded. Tail is set high, carried curled over the back
and plumed with long silky hair. While standing, a dropped tail is
are well boned and straight, the length from the elbow to the withers
equal to the distance from the foot to the elbow. Dewclaws may be
removed. Feet are compact, well arched, well padded. Any foot
turning in or out is a fault.
Legs are relatively short, well boned and muscular with
moderate a ngulation; straight when viewed from the rear. Dewclaws may
be removed. Feet are same as front feet. Fault is same
as the front f eet.
Coat The Havanese is a
double-coated breed with soft hair, both in outer and undercoat. The
hair is very long and profuse, shown completely natural. The coat type
ranges from straight to curly, the wavy coat being preferred. The
curly coat is allowed to cord. The adult coat reaches a length of 6 to
8 inches. No preference shall be given to a dog with an excessively
profuse or long coat. Short hair on all but puppies is a fault.
It is permissible to braid the hair on each side of the head above
the eyes, but the coat may not be parted down the middle of the back. No
scissoring of the hair on the top of the head is allowed, nor trimming
or neatening of the coat of any kind permitted except for the feet
which may be neatened to avoid the appearance of "boat" or "slipper"
feet. Coat trimmed in any way except for neatening at the feet is a
disqualification. All colors, ranging from pure white to shades
of cream, champagne , gold, black, blue, silver, chocolate, or any
combination of these colors including parti and tri. No preference is
given to one color over another.
gait is unique and "springy" which accentuates the happy character of
the Havanese. The forelegs reach straight and forward freely from the
shoulder with the hindlegs converging toward a straight line. The
tail is carried up over the back when gaiting. Hackney gait, paddling,
moving too close in the rear, and tail not carried over the back
when gaiting are faults.
dog under 8-1/2 or over 11-1/2 inches.
Total absence of pigment on
one or both eye rims.
Dudley nose; nose and lips other than black,
except for the solid, self-colored brown on the true chocolate dog.
Coat trimmed in any way except for neatening at the feet.
The Havanese coat should be long, somewhat flowing, with an abundance
of undercoat. Caring for the show coat requires regular grooming to
keep it in peak condition. The following is a summation of how to
care for a show coat and a pet coat.
The goal in grooming the show coat is to retain as much of the length
and fullness to the coat as possible. The following tools are
recommended for grooming:
One of the most important steps in grooming a Havanese is brushing.
For growing and maintaining a coat between shows, it should be
brushed two to four times per week. The coat should be brushed in
layers. Each layer should be sprayed with a coat oil or similar
dressing before brushing to lessen the static electricity which will
break off the hair ends. The correct brush is the small or medium
pin brush depending on the size of the dog. You may also use a
slicker brush on the feet.
- Small or medium pin brush
- Small slicker brush
- Half fine/half medium comb
- Nail clippers (scissors or guillotine type)
- Coat oil or similar dressing
- Tweezers or hemostat
Begin by brushing the hair under the chest. Spread the body coat out
to the sides and spray the hair with a light oil or coat dressing.
Using the pin brush, begin at the stomach and work up to the front
legs, brushing the hair in layers from the skin out. After the chest
hair is brushed, comb through the rest of the coat.
After the hair has been brushed, use the half fine/half medium comb;
combing thoroughly through the coat. If you should find a mat,
moisten it with coat oil and rub apart with your fingers. Then brush
using the pin brush and comb out.
See to it that the nails are trimmed and the hair has been removed
from the ear hole. Use either your fingers, a tweezers, or hemostat
to remove the hair from the ears; removing only a few hairs at a
time. Finally, put one drop of mineral oil into each eye to avoid
irritation from non-tearless shampoos.
Set the dog into the tub. Wet thoroughly with very warm water,
excluding the head. Pour shampoo onto the wet coat. Gently squeeze
the shampoo through the coat and rinse thoroughly. Then shampoo the
head in the same manner as the body. Next, apply a cream rinse and
rinse again. Squeeze excess water from the coat and remove the dog
from the tub. Blot lightly with a towel. Set the dog onto a grooming
table and dry using an electric dryer. Use the layering method as in
brushing and fluff the coat as it dries. After the drying process is
complete brush the dog lightly.
Scissor the hair from between the pads. Then, place the dog in a
standing position. Comb the hair out on each foot and scissor around
the pads into a round shape. The hair on the head may be either
brushed back and allowed to fall in a natural manner or parted in the
center and combed to either side allowing the eyes to be partially
visible. The hair may also be parted in the center, gathered, and
plaited down either side. At no time is the Havanese to enter the
show ring with hair drawn to the top of the head in one or two pony
First, follow the same instructions as the long coat for bathing and
blow drying. Then, use a scissors or an electric clippers to trim the
hair from around the edge of the foot. Follow the entire outline of
the dog's body and legs, shortening the hair to 1-1/2 to 2 inches in
length. Shorten the hair on one-third of the tail, leaving the rest
in a natural plume. Also, leave the hair on the ears natural. Round
off the top of the head and cheeks leaving more hair over the eyes.
Do not trim the hair on the top of the head in the style of a topknot
or the exaggerated manner of the Bichon Frise. The head of the
Havanese should be trimmed to show its natural outline, except for a
bit over the eyes. The whiskers and the beard should be left natural;
blending the outline where the whiskers meet the hair of the cheeks
The Havanese is recognized by at least the following organizations:
- Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
- United Kennel Club (UKC) -- only those Havanese registered with
the Original Havanese Club (OHC).
- American Kennel Club -- for which the Havanese Club of America
is the parent club
- American Rare Breed Association
The Havanese is part of the Bichon canine family of small breeds which
probably originated in the Mediterranean area in pre-Christian times.
All Bichons are descended from the same bloodlines that produced the
Barbet, or water spaniel; the Poodle; the Portuguese Water Dog; and
others. The Barbet or "Barbichon" -- later shortened to Bichon canine
family -- consists of several distinct breeds, including the Havanese.
In order of popularity in the U.S., these breeds are: 1) Maltese, 2)
Bichon Frise, 3) Havanese, 4) Lowchen, 5) Coton de Tulear, and 6)
During the days of the Spanish empire, Bichons travelled to Cuba with
sea captains who used them as presents for the women of Cuban
households. By gaining entry into wealthy Hispanic homes, which were
otherwise closed to outsiders, the captains were able to establish
lucrative trading relationships with rich Cuban families.
Once in Cuba, the Havanese (Habeneros in Spanish) lived exclusively in
the mansions of the highest social class of people. Havanese were
never raised commercially or sold but were sometimes given as precious
gifts to a friend or someone who had performed a valuable service.
Like the Victorian-age wealthy Hispanic women who owned them, the dogs
were not seen in the streets or public areas. They lived in the rooms
and interior courtyards of their tropical homes and occasionally rode
in carriages with their owners.
The Havanese found its way to Europe where it became very popular and
was recognized by the European Kennel Club. It was known in England
as the "White Cuban." Queen Anne is said to have admired a troupe of
performing dogs that danced to music in almost human fashion.
As happened to many other dog breeds, the Havanese' popularity waned
over the course of time. For awhile they were used in circuses as
trick dogs throughout Europe, but eventually they became almost
extinct -- even in their native Cuba.
Only three families are known to have left Cuba with their Havanese
during the political turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s. It is assumed
that by that time there might not have been very many of these dogs
kept by anyone. These three exiled families worked alone in Florida
and in Costa Rica for over a decade to preserve the breed.
After raising Irish Wolfhounds and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers for
many years, Dorothy and Bert Goodale of Colorado began looking for a
small breed to raise which would have the calm temperament and
intelligence they cherished in the larger breeds. After a few years
of investigation, elusive references to the Havanese had their
attention, but no one knew where the Goodales might obtain them.
In the mid 1970s, they chanced upon an advertisement which resulted in
the purchase of six pedigreed Havanese: a mother, four daughters, and
an unrelated young male. Completely enchanted with the outgoing,
intelligent, and affectionate nature of the breed, they endeavored to
locate more of the little exiles.
Mrs. Goodale placed advertisements in Latin papers in Miami offering
to purchase Havanese. After several months, she had received only one
response. A Florida man wrote to say that a friend of his had five
Havanese that he wished to sell. Mr. Eziekiel Barba had fled Cuba
and settled in Costa Rica. Because of failing health, he had decided
to move to Texas to live with his daughter and could no longer care
for his "brood" of Havanese.
The Goodales arranged to purchase Mr. Barba's five dogs. This second
group had the same look and gentle temperament as the first. All
these dogs, as adults, averaged around 10 pounds and stood about 9 to
10 inches tall at the shoulder. Using the 1963 FCI breed standard
(the only standard available), Mrs. Goodale began a breeding program
to prevent the extinction of this breed.
Currently, there are approximately 4,000 registered Havanese in the
The Havanese is also making a comeback in its native Cuba. The Bichon
Habanero Club is working from a foundation stock of approximately 15
dogs and is closely supervising the breeding program.
In fact, this year (1997) the first Havanese was exported from Cuba to
The Havanese is a healthy, long-lived breed. However, like all dog
breeds, they are susceptible to some medical problems. Regular
veterinary care is essential.
The Havanese Club of America's (HCA) Health Committee recently
completed a health survey among its members. A computer database
will be established to house the information relating to health
issues. In time, this information may help in making better breeding
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is characterized by degeneration of the cells of the retina,
leading eventually to loss of sight. The latest HCA health survey
indicated that some Havanese do suffer from PRA. In order to control
the disease in Havanese bloodlines, breeders are now required to
include The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) registration on
pedigrees. Any affected Havanese should no longer be used for
A cataract may be defined as a loss of the normal transparency of the len
s of the eye. Any spot on the lens that is opaque, regardless of its siz
e, is technically a cataract. Some cataracts are clearly visible to the
naked eye, appearing as white flecks within the eye, or giving a milky-gr
ay or bluish-white cast to the lens behind the pupil. Cataracts are rela
tively common in older dogs (over 8 years). Junior cataracts develop in
much younger dogs.
A cataract is important only when it causes impaired vision. Blindness c
an be corrected by removing the lens (cataract extraction). While this r
estores vision, there is some loss of visual acuity because the lens is n
ot present to focus light on the retina. The operation is recommended fo
r the dog who has so much visual impairment that he has difficulty gettin
Slipping or dislocating kneecaps can be inherited, or acquired by
trauma. In order to register a Havanese puppy with HCA, the knees
must be checked before the age of six months. If there is evidence
of luxating patellas, owners are issued a restricted registration,
and the dog may not be used for breeding purposes.
Like all floppy-eared breeds, Havanese are susceptible to ear
infections. Regular cleaning of the ear will eliminate recurring ear
Brown stains in the corner of the eye -- or Poodle eye -- is peculiar
to some light colored toy breeds. Its exact cause is unknown in many
cases. One theory is that the pooling space at the corner of the eye
is too small to collect a lake of tears. Another theory is that a low
grade infection of the throat works its way up into the lacrimal duct
and causes scarring.
To help reduce tear stain, scissor the hair from the inside corner of
the eyes and treat with a tear stain remover or a dilute solution of
hydrogen peroxide (one part to ten parts of water). CAUTION:
Peroxide must not be allowed to enter the eye. Mineral oil should be
instilled first to protect against accidental contact.
When no underlying disease is found, symptomatic improvement often
results after giving the dog a course of broad spectrum antibiotics
(Tetracycline). Tetracycline, which is secreted in the tears after
oral administration, also binds that portion of the tears which cause
them to stain the face. When the improvement is due just to the
binding action of the drug, the face remains wet but not discolored.
Surgery may be considered as an alternative. The operation removes
the gland of the third eyelid (nictating membrane). This makes a
better lake at the inner corner of the eye. It also reduce the
volume of tears by removing the tear gland in the third eyelid.
The HCA health survey indicated that some Havanese suffer from dry
skin problems, which apparently affects dogs with black or dark
Because the Havanese is a rare breed, it is difficult to find
references to the breed in books related to the dog fancy. However,
the following books include some references to the Havanese:
American Kennel Club (ed.). The Complete Dog Book; Howell Book
House, New York, New York; 17th Edition, 1985.
Brearley, Joan M., and Nicholas, Anna Katherine. This is the
Bichon Frise; T.F.H. Publications, New York, New York.
Wilcox, Bonnie, and Walkowicz, Chris. The Atlas of Dog Breeds
of the World; T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey; 3rd
The Havanese Club of America (HCA) and the Original Havanese Club
(OHC) also have pamphlets about the Havanese that they will send to
anyone requesting information on the breed.
The HCA publishes "The Havanese Yearbook," which can be purchased for
$15. The most recent edition was printed in 1988. The HCA also
publishes a quarterly newsletter entitled Havanese Hotline which is
sent to all HCA members.
In late 1993, the HCA board of directors voted to establish a breed rescu
e committee. This chairperson is:
28 Piping Rock Drive
Waterbury, CT 06706
The HCA Corresponding Secretary maintains a breeders list of Havanese
breeders who are members of the HCA and follow the club's code of ethics.
The Corresponding Secretary is:
Ms. Karen Tamburro
4 Crestwood Drive
Suffren, NY 10901-7608
The Havanese Club of America (HCA) was established in 1979 for the
purpose of forming a national breed club for the Havanese with the
following goals in mind:
- To serve as a registry to record and preserve the present
bloodlines of the Havanese breed.
- To bring together all Havanese owners with the mutual
interest of eventual AKC recognition for this breed.
- To serve as a research center for the history of the
Havanese breed and to print educational information to
be sent out to all interested people.
- To sponsor rare breed matches and shows in order to
place the Havanese before public attention.
- To aid the members, whenever possible, in placing their
Havanese in approved homes.
- To present the membership with a regular newsletter
that will keep all informed on the latest animal medical
information, show bulletins, and current information
that will assist and unite the membership in a close
camaraderie; that will be of encouragement to achieve
our outlined goals.
The HCA is divided into 6 geographic regions. The regional director
for your area is the best person to contact for additional information
on the Havanese breed. The HCA Corresponding Secretary can direct you
to the person currently handling your region.