The Havanese, also known as the Bichon Havanais, the Havana Silk Dog, and the Bichon Havanese, is a breed of dog in the Toy Group. The little intelligent and sensitive Havanese is best described as a friend to all as this breed gets along with all animals and people of all ages. The Havanese was recognized by the AKC in 1996 and AKC approved in 2001.
The average Havanese stands 8 to 12 inches high at the shoulders and weighs between 7 and 13 pounds. Their long silky coat requires regular brushing, but the coat itself does not shed much.
The Havanese is originally from Cuba and it is the only native dog breed of this country. The Havanese was created sometime in the late 1800's to early 1900's, and their ancestors include the Bichon. This breed was developed solely as a lap dog and human companion.
The Havanese is a long lived healthy breed with an average life expectancy of 14 to 15 years, and health risks associated with the breed include eye disorders and dry skin.
Havanese pack a lot of personality into a tiny little body. They are spunky little dogs who enjoy being the center of attention, but they don't demand it like some other toy breeds. They'll simply do their best to charm and entertain a person in order to get a reaction. Havanese are good with children and are sturdy enough to withstand living with a clumsy toddler. They are easy to train and travel well, and they will want to come with you wherever you go, because they hate to be left alone. They were bred in Cuba to be companion animals and are just as well-suited for empty nesters as they are large families. As long as the Havanese has a loving family to call his own, he'll be a happy dog.
Though they have energy to spare, Havanese don't require too much exercise to maintain an even temperament. A couple of daily walks and time to play, either indoors or outdoors is good enough. This is not an outdoor dog – Havanese are inside dogs and you may have to pick them up to get them to go outdoors. Their size and low activity requirements make them ideal apartment dogs and they are better suited for city life than country living.
Havanese are highly trainable dogs and can often be found performing in the circus. They will do anything for attention, and when training is conducted with positive reinforcement and treats, a Havanese catches on quickly. Harsh discipline will get you nowhere – a Havanese will shut down completely if his trainer yells or pulls.
Early and frequent socialization is important. Though Havanese like attention and are generally good around new people, they can sometimes be overly protective and wary of strangers. Teaching them early on that new friends are good can save a lot of eardrums from a Havanese bark.
This breed is difficult to house train and requires up to a year of crate training. Some Havanese never quite catch on, so if possible, a doggy door may be necessary.
Barking is a common complaint of Havanese owners. Many report their dog's favorite spot to be a perch where they can look out the window and announce what is happening outside. Early training is important so that your Havanese obeys commands to cease barking.
Separation Anxiety is another common problem with Havanese. They are companion dogs who are highly dependent upon the people they love. People who are not home very often would be doing this breed a disservice. They are best suited for retirees or families with a stay at home parent.
The Havanese is a small, sturdy dog of immense charm. The native dog of Cuba, he is beloved as a friendly, intelligent and playful companion. He is slightly longer than tall, with a long, untrimmed, double coat. The Havanese has a short upper arm with moderate shoulder layback and a straight topline that rises slightly from the withers to the croup. The plumed tail is carried arched forward up over the back. The unique springy gait is a result of the breed's structure and playful, spirited personality. These characteristics of temperament, coat, structure and gait are essential to type.
Size, Proportion, and Substance
The ideal height is between 9 and 10 1/2 inches, with an acceptable height range from 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches. Height at withers under 8 1/2 inches or over 11 1/2 inches is a disqualification, except that the minimum height shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of age.
The height is slightly less than the length from the point of shoulder to point of buttocks, creating a rectangular outline. The Havanese is moderately boned and should never appear coarse or fragile.
The expression is soft, intelligent and mischievous. Eyes are large, dark brown and almond-shaped. Chocolate dogs may have somewhat lighter brown eyes. Eye rims are solid black for all colors except for chocolate dogs which have solid brown eye rims. Incomplete or total lack of pigmentation of the eye rims is a disqualification. Ears are broad at the base, dropped, and have a distinct fold. They are set high on the skull, slightly above the endpoint of the zygomatic arch. When alert, the ears lift at the base but always remain folded. Ear leather, when extended, reaches halfway to the nose. The skull is broad and slightly rounded. The stop is moderate and the planes of the head are level. The cheeks are flat. Length of muzzle is slightly less than length of skull measured from stop to point of occiput. The muzzle is full and rectangular with a broad nose. The nose and lips are solid black for all colors except for chocolate dogs which have solid brown pigment. Incomplete or total lack of pigmentation of the nose or lips is a disqualification. Any color pigmentation other than black or brown on the eye rims, nose or lips is a disqualification.Small depigmented areas on lips due to rubbing against canine teeth will not disqualify.A scissors bite is ideal and a full complement of incisors is preferred.
Neck, Topline and Body
The neck is slightly arched, of moderate length, blends smoothly into the shoulders and is in balance with the height and length of the dog. The prosternum is evident but not prominent. The chest is deep, well developed, and reaches the elbow. The straight topline rises slightly from the withers to the croup. Measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks, the body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. This length comes from the ribcage. Ribs are well sprung. The loin is short and well muscled. There is a moderate tuck-up. The tail is high-set and arches forward up over the back. It is plumed with long, silky hair. The tail plume may fall straight forward or to either side of the body. While standing, a dropped tail is permissible. The tail may not be docked.
The tops of the shoulder blades lie in at the withers, allowing the neck to blend smoothly into the back. Moderate shoulder layback is sufficient to carry the head and neck high. The upper arm is short. Elbows are tight to the body and forelegs are straight when viewed from any angle. The length from the foot to the elbow is equal to the length from elbow to withers. Pasterns are short, strong and flexible, very slightly sloping. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet have arched toes and point straight ahead. Pads and nails may be any color.
The hind legs are muscular with moderate angulation. Hocks are well let down; pasterns are parallel from hock to foot. The croup is slightly higher than the withers. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet have arched toes and point straight ahead. Pads and nails may be any color.
Silky to the touch, the coat is soft and light in texture in both outer and undercoat, although the outer coat carries slightly more weight. The coat is long, abundant and wavy. It stands off the body slightly, but flows with movement. An ideal coat will permit the natural lines of the dog to be seen. Puppy coat may be shorter and have a softer texture than adult coat. A single, flat, frizzy or curly coat should be faulted. A coarse, wiry coat is a disqualification. A short, smooth coat with or without furnishings is a disqualification. The coat may be corded. Corded coats will naturally separate into wavy sections in young dogs and will in time develop into cords. Adult corded dogs will be completely covered with a full coat of tassle-like cords.
All colors and marking patterns are permissible and are of equal merit. The skin may be any color.
The Havanese gait is springy. The characteristic spring is the result of the short upper arm combined with the rear drive. Front legs reach forward freely matching the moderate extension in the rear. On the move, the pads may be visible coming or going. The head is carried high and the slight rise in the topline holds under movement.
The Havanese is friendly, playful, alert and intelligent with a sweet, non-quarrelsome disposition. Aggression or shyness should be faulted.
Havanese should be shown as naturally as is consistent with good grooming. They may be shown either brushed or corded. The coat should be clean and well conditioned. In mature dogs, the length of the coat may cause it to fall to either side down the back but it should not be deliberately parted. Head furnishings are long and untrimmed, and may fall forward over the eyes or to both sides of the head; they may also be held in two small braids secured with plain elastic bands. The braids start above the inside corner of each eye and extend at least to the outside corner, forming the appearance of eyebrows. No other hair accessories are permitted. Minimal trimming of the anal and genital area is permissible but should not be noticeable on presentation. Hair on the feet and between the pads should be neatly trimmed. No other trimming or sculpting of the coat is permitted and is to be so severely penalized as to preclude placement. Havanese should be presented at a natural speed on a loose lead to properly assess the characteristic springy gait.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Havanese. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
Height at withers under 8½ or over 11½ inches except that the minimum height shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months of age.
Incomplete or total lack of pigmentation of the eye rims.
Incomplete or total lack of pigmentation of the nose or lips.
Any color pigmentation other than black or brown on the eye rims, nose or lips.
A coarse, wiry coat.
A short, smooth coat with or without furnishings.
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Sources: American Kennel Club