Havanese Dog Temperaments and Care
You might not have heard of the Havanese or Havanese Silk Dog, but this breed has a long history that dates back to the 1500s. When Spanish colonists claimed what is now Cuba as a colony, they had brought their dogs with them, called Bichons. Over the centuries, these toy dogs came to be known as Havanese, named after the city of Havana. They developed their own characteristics and became the national dog of Cuba.
Their fur got long and silky, became wavy or curly with two layers. Some shorthaired Havanese do appear, but they are not considered show-worthy. The eye rims, nose, and lips are always black. Havanese were considered luxury items and the dogs of the upper class. When the Cuban Revolution took place in the 1950s, the upper class fled to America and Europe and brought their dogs along.
Today the Havanese is still considered a rare breed, but it is steadily growing in numbers and popularity. As well as show-dogs, Havanese are popular pets for apartment-dwellers. They are comparatively long-lived and healthy in comparison to some other toy breeds, though some are prone to dry skin and luxating patella. Their long, silky coats can be clipped for easier grooming. They don’t need a yard, but they will insist that you play with them indoors at least once a day.
The National Dog of Cuba, the Havanese, which took centuries to develop and was nearly wiped out during the mid-20th century. This is but a part of the story behind Havanese dogs, which today live mostly in the U.S. Because of the specific breeding that Havanese dogs have undergone, understanding the history of the Havanese may help you to better work with your own pet. Although some of the history is a bit hard to trace, there is plenty of good information out there about the Havanese standard to give you a good understanding of your dog.
With their almond-shaped eyes, small smile, and fine coat of long hair, Havanese standards seem more mischievous than cute. Their temperaments, however, are fun-loving and caring, making this breed one of the best for children and older adults. Bred into aristocracy in Cuba, the Havanese has gone through many career changes over the years, from companion to royalty to working poultry farms.
Because the Havanese breed is playful and alert, they are extremely trainable with a cooperative disposition. Typically, they will present little feistiness during training and the Havanese standard shows them to be very docile, friendly animals.
While small in stature—typically standing between 8-1/2-inches and 11-inches tall at the withers—the physical size of this toy dog breed belies its strength and muscular build. It can work as a guard dog. It will only barks if it thinks it is being approached by a stranger and will quickly stop the vocal warning upon learning that its owner acknowledges the approaching person.
Havanese Showdog Requirements
In the show ring, the coats of the Havanese should appear brushed and clean. Any trimming of the coat, other than around the extreme bottom of the feet, will lose the dog points in competition. When judging the Havanese standards, its typical height will be between eight-and-a-half to 11-inches. Ideally, the animal should measure between nine and 10-and-a-half-inches, measured at the withers.
The profile of the dog should slope up slightly from the withers to the rump and the tail. It should be coated with hair to match the rest of the animal that curls downwards around its rump. The back, other than the slight rise, should be straight with no small arch in the middle. The tail should create a feather-like appearance with the hair falling either straight or to the side.
Coat types, according to Havanese standards, will be one of three types: smooth, curly, or wavy, with the most sought-after being soft and wavy. Some adults may have short hair. A short, tight curly coat can cost points in the Havanese standard competition.
The intelligent expression on a Havanese dog’s face will draw focus to the eyes. The eye pigment i is solid black around the rims, except on chocolate dogs whose eyes are rimmed in chocolate colors. A Havanese without black eye rims, except the chocolate, will not meet the Havanese standards for judging. The leather of their medium length ears should reach halfway to the nose and be set high on the head.
The ears, when the dog is on alert, will rise from their widest point on the skull to form a slight arch.
Care and Training
The Havanese dog is a very popular breed today, especially in the United States, where these puppies can sell for a premium price. This is good news to a breed that suffered a crisis in the 20th century, and has now come back with a vengeance.
One of the reasons that the Havanese dog was able to regain its popularity so effectively, is the fact that this dog makes a great companion or family pet for many. He can get along well with children and other pets in many cases, and despite his toy stature, he makes a pretty fierce and vocal watch dog. This breed is always on the hunt for someone to play with, and he needs plenty of quality time with his family, and playtime to burn off his abundant energy. A Havanese will remain playful and generally happy throughout his life, unlike some breeds that tend to get grumpier as they age. Havanese pups are fiercely loyal to their families, and have plenty of love to offer.
The Havanese dog is characterized by a submissive temperament that is intelligent and eager to please his master. Unfortunately for Havanese owners, this doesn’t always mean that these dogs housebreak quickly and easily. In fact, the opposite is often true, and Havanese tend to take longer to get through the process than other breeds. To assist in the process, some breeders are now recommending the use of a litter box that contains a hard, cylindrical paper pellet. This pellet can attract the dog to the box, encouraging the pup to use the box earlier and more often. This has become a popular method of housebreaking a number of toy breeds, including the Havanese.
Because this dog has a lot of energy, a fenced back yard will allow him a safe place to run and play. He will also want to spend plenty of time with his family, in play and cuddle time, so make sure you have the time to give him. A Havanese that does not receive sufficient attention from him family may become destructive.
Due to his fierce loyalty and courage, you may also find that your tiny Havanese pup will be an effective watchdog as well. While his size might keep him from looking too intimidating, his noise can be an effective deterrent to intruders. If you are interested in finding a Havanese puppy for your next family pet, make sure that you purchase your pup from a reputable breeder. This helps to ensure that you get a puppy that is healthy and well-bred.