The Havanese is the only dog breed native to Cuba. It is an ideal pet for someone who is looking for a loyal companion. Havanese love to be at their owner’s side and make them laugh. Maintaining a show-quality Havanese can be a bit of work because it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain their long, shiny coats. That said, clipping it short is an easy way to make this breed a little easier to care for.
Havanese are ideal lap dogs. They typically weigh between seven and 13 pounds and are less than a foot tall. These dogs were bred to have long, silky hair though some owners keep it clipped short for easy grooming. Their coats come in a variety of colors, including black, white, fawn, mahogany, and Havana brown. They are also recognizable for their flopped-over tails.
When Spanish settlers headed to Cuba in 1492, they brought their small lap dogs with them. Isolated from the rest of the world by island life as well as trade restrictions, these dogs interbred until they took on a more homogenous look to resemble the Havanese we know today. This breed was preferred by wealthy families in Cuba and visitors from France, Spain, and England later took the breed with them back to Europe. Eventually, popularity waned until the breed almost disappeared. Only 11 were brought to the United States during the Cuban Revolution in 1959. In the 1970s, some American breeders were charmed by the descendants of these 11 dogs and set out to bring the Havanese back.
These dogs have the perfect personalities for a breed meant to be a companion. Havanese are gentle, affectionate, and attached to their people like Velcro. They often follow their owners from room to room and get anxious when alone. These dogs are also fiercely intelligent and love to make their owners laugh.
Havanese have thick coats that are soft and silky. They can be straight or curly and do not shed easily. Long coats are desirable for showing Havanese, but they take a lot of work to maintain. When kept long, coats require daily brushing and frequent baths. Keeping a long coat healthy and maintained is a difficult job that may be best left to a professional breeder. Most owners choose to keep their coats short, which is much easier to care for.
It is not known why but Havanese have watery eyes and tearstains are common. Most of the time, this is not serious. Wiping the eyes daily with a moist cloth can help prevent staining, and some pet stores sell products specifically for lightening these stains. While some tearing is normal, excessive tearing is not and can signal an eye problem. Owners should also brush the Havenese’s teeth at least twice a week and trim their nails once or twice a month if they do not wear down naturally.
Like most small dogs, Havanese have a lot of energy but tire quickly. A long walk, a game of fetch, or running around the yard for a bit is enough daily activity. These are not rugged outdoor dogs and should not be kept outside. They are happiest when they are with their family, whether they live in a house in the suburbs or a city apartment.
Every breed has different health conditions that it is prone to developing. Havanese are generally healthy, but owners should only get them from a reputable breeder. Ask to see health clearances. Havanese breeders should be able to provide clearances for hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and a clotting disorder called von Willebrand’s disease.
As a Pet
An ideal companion, Havenese are generally very easy to train because they really like to make their owners happy. Basic obedience training may be necessary, and housetraining can prove to be a little difficult. One of the biggest issues with a Havanese is separation anxiety. They can get very anxious when left alone for long periods. When it is necessary, it is best to crate them and leave plenty of toys to keep them company.
These dogs are friendly and get along with most other pets. That said, keep in mind their small size. It is easy for a Havanese to be injured by a larger pet, even accidentally. Keep an eye on the Havenese and other pets when they are interacting and do not leave them unattended if any problems are anticipated.
Because it is often difficult to housetrain Havanese puppies, crating puppies is necessary when the owners are not home. Puppies should also be socialized so that they get used to other dogs and people which can help them not be so possessive of their owner as they get older. These dogs also do well with a set routine which can help lessen their anxiety.