Stacks Image 160
Stacks Image 162

About the Havanese


History


Although it is new to the AKC, the Havanese is quite an old breed in "dog years". Its history is fascinating and important to defining type, as it is unique in many respects. The Havanese is the National dog of Cuba and its only native breed. The flag of Spain was first raised over Cuba by Christopher Columbus in November of 1492. In the ten years following, colonization was begun on the island by Spain, who owned it for the better part of the next four hundred years.


The first settlers came from two distinct classes- farmers primarily from the island of Tenerife, and the "segundos", or second sons of the Spanish aristocracy. Ship's logs of the early sixteenth century reveal that dogs were brought along on these early colonists' voyages, and logic tells us they were most likely the dog of Tenerife, common ancestor to all the Bichon family. Because of the draconian trade restrictions imposed on its colonies by Spain, Tenerife remained one of the only ports open to Cuba for trade, and it would appear these little dogs, who soon found their way into the homes of the resident Spanish aristocracy, developed without much outside influence. They did, however, develop in response to the climate of this tropical island. The Havanese of today is still a remarkably heat-tolerant little dog, due in no small part to the unique coat. Once called the Havana Silk Dog, or the Spanish Silk Poodle, the coat is like raw silk floss, profuse, but extremely light and soft, and insulating against the tropical rays in much the same way that yards of silk sari protect the women of India. In its native country, the coat was never clipped for this reason, and the hair never tied into a topknot, as the Cubans believe it protects the eyes from the harsh sun.


In spite of the trade restrictions, Colonial Cuba developed and prospered. By the 18th Century, it was the cultural center of the New World, with an elegance that surpassed anything the British had managed in ITS colonies! The aristocracy of Europe found the city of Havana to be a great vacation spot, with its operas, theatres and palacios. On their return to Europe, they brought back the little Dog of Havannah, which found favor in the courts of Spain, France and England. In both Spain and in the court of Louis XVI, they were shorn in the manner of poodles, and were much admired for their diminutive size.  The English, on the other hand, appeared to leave them au natural, and called them the white Cuban, although they were as often found in parti-colors and shades of fawn.


By the mid-eighteenth century, they were downright trendy in Europe. Queen Victoria owned two and Charles Dickens had one, beloved of his seven children and named Tim. They were exhibited in the early European dog shows and type was well-established. In Cuba meanwhile, the times were changing. The aristocracy of the sugar barons was dying out and a new class was emerging, the bourgeoisie, and the little dog of Havana, adaptable as always, became a family dog extraordinaire. It is a position he has held there for the past hundred and fifty years.

With the advent of the Cuban revolution, the class of Cubans who owned Havanese was the first to leave. A handful of them found their way to this country, and by the end of the 70s a gene pool was being rebuilt. All the Havanese in the world today, save those from the "iron curtain" countries and those remaining in Cuba, stem from those 11 little immigrants. Remarkably, through all their travels, Havanese type has remained virtually unchanged from that of the dogs painted in the eighteenth century. To preserve it now and for the future is the challenge.

Portrait of Federico II Gonzaga by: Titian

Below is the standard for all Havanese as described by The Kennel Club, UK.
You may find the information below by clicking
HERE as well.

Breed Standard
last updated January 1997 by the Kennel Club UK

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch section of the Kennel Club website here http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/watch for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.

General Appearance

Small, sturdy, slightly longer in body than height at withers. Profusely coated, tail carried in plume over back.

Characteristics

Lively, affectionate and intelligent

Temperament

Friendly, outgoing

Head and Skull

Nose to stop and stop to occiput to be equal in length, skull broad, slightly rounded, moderate stop. Muzzle not snippy or blunt, cheeks flat.Nose and lips solid black, although for brown shades the pigment may be brown.

Eyes

Dark, large, almond shaped, gently expression, eye rims black. In brown shades eyes can be a slightly lighter color, eye rims brown.

Ears

Moderately pointed and dropped, set on just above the eye level, slightly raised, height fly away nor framing the cheeks.

Mouth

Jaws strong with perfect regular scissor bit, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Neck

Medium length.

Forequarters

Legs straight, medium bone. Shoulders well laid.

Body

Equal in height from withers to elbow as from elbow to ground. Slightly longer from point of shoulder to point of buttock than height at withers, level top line, slight rise over loin, well sprung ribs, with good tuck-up.

Hindquarters

Medium boned, moderate angulation.

Feet

Small, tight, hare foot.

Tail

Set high, carried over the back; profusely feathered with long silky hair.

Gait / Movement

Free with a springy step, legs moving parallel along the line of travel.

Coat

Soft, silky, wavy or slightly curled, full coated with an undercoat.

Colour

Any color or combination of colors permissible.

Size

Ideal height 23-28cm (9-11 inches).

Faults

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog's ability to perform it's traditional work.

Note

Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

~ The above copyright The Kennel Club UK