The Havanese, originally from Cuba, is a popular therapy and family dog and is absolutely suitable for beginners. The breed is popular for its silky coat and friendly nature. In our breed overview you will find out what makes the Havanese so special and which aspects to consider when buying a puppy.
External Characteristics of the Havanese
A clear identifying feature of purebred Havanese is their silky, long coat that hardly has any undercoat. The lively dogs are relatively powerfully built for their size. They are among the smallest dog breeds in the world – small representatives of the breed do not grow taller than 21 to 23 cm (measured at the withers). The ideal height at the withers is given as 23 to 29 cm for males and females. A specific weight is not prescribed: stronger specimens weigh up to 9 kilograms, petite Havanese weigh only about 3 kilograms.
The Havanese from head to tail: Bichon with long silk fur
- The fine outer hair grows very long all over the body (up to 18 cm in length) and is not shortened or cut. Only the hair between the eyes is tied into a ponytail or shortened if it impairs vision.
- The head appears square, the cheeks are hardly recognizable due to the hair. The forehead is broad and flat, the stop barely pronounced. The eyes are not always visible, but the nose is black or brown and clearly pronounced, even with light colors.
- The eyes are large, almond-shaped and darkly pigmented.
- The hanging ears are long feathered and lie on the sides of the head. In terms of color, they usually stand out slightly from the facial hair.
- The body appears slightly elongated, with a straight back and a slightly sloping croup. The lower profile line is clearly raised.
- The well-feathered tail is carried curled or curved over the back.
- The fore and hind legs are strong for their size. The Havanese’s gait is lively and lively.
Color variations in the Havanese
There are no restrictive color standards for the dog breed. They are bred in many different colors, with some colors being more common than others. In general, single-colored dogs are just as acceptable as dogs with spots or colored patches and tricolor coloring with colored branding. The coat color of puppies can change a great deal over the course of their lives, so a dark brown puppy can later lighten up to creamy white.
The long list of possible colorings
- Solid: Black, silver, greyish, Havana brown, rarely all white, fawn, tobacco, chocolate, sable, cream, wheat, gold/yellow, or red.
- Piebald: Colored with white patches, often with more white coat than colored coat (comes in all colors).
- Belton: Spots of color, usually on the back or legs.
- Brindle: red brindle, black brindle, gold brindle or chocolate brindle, also spotted and tricolor. Black and tan, chocolate and tan.
- Dilute: Diluted colors, blue (diluted black) and cream (diluted brown).
Differences from similar breeds
- Maltese are similar to Havanese, but their coat is always white or cream.
- The Bichon Frize, in turn, is similar to the Maltese, but its coat texture is very different from the silky coat of the Maltese and Havanese.
- The Shih Tzu differs from the Havanese in its shortened nose, which is typical of Asian dogs.
- The Bolognese is also white and has fine curls.
- The Lhasa Apso is slightly larger and more powerfully built than the Havanese, and its coat is two-layered.
Cuban Dog of European Origin: The History of the Havanese
Although the Havanese was named after its official homeland, the capital of Cuba, its roots lie in the Mediterranean. According to some sources, bichons from Tenerife (the Tenerife bichon is now thought to be extinct) were brought to Cuba by Spanish and Italian merchant ships. According to other sources, modern Bichon breeds such as the Maltese, Bolognese and Havanese have their origins in Malta.
A gift for the rich and famous
It is clear that small European bichons were often carried on ships during colonial times. They served as gifts for nobles and trading partners and were popular among the upper class behind Havana’s sugar industry. It is conceivable that local small dogs, the Blanquito de Havana, were crossed with imported companion dogs and small Argentine breeds. Possibly for this reason, Havanese come in numerous colors, while Maltese are only found in white.
Nature and Character of the Havanese
Young Havanese are happy, lively and fearless. They love children and other animals and see everyone as a potential playmate. The carefree dogs don’t seem to know anything about the dangers of this world – that’s why they sometimes have to be gently corrected when romping around. Because of their outgoing nature, Havanese are often chosen as therapy dogs. They are very adaptable and can live with any type of owner: whether as a city dog in a small apartment, as a pack member in households with several pets or as a companion for children and the elderly.
The Havanese as an office dog
Dogs of the breed are very affectionate and don’t tolerate being alone very well. If you want to get a Havanese as a single owner, take a few precautions so that the dog has to be left alone as little as possible. Many employers allow small office dogs to be brought along. You can quickly get your dog used to the daily change of location. If he has to stay at home during the day, he is better off with an animal playmate than alone.