Home of Loving Havanese Companion & Show Dogs
THE HAVANESE, ITS HISTORY, TEMPERAMENT, COLORS & SUCH.
The ancestry of the Havanese is not absolutely known, but the consensus is that they likely originated in the western Mediterranean countries. The ancestors of the Bichon Habanero, came to the island of Cuba that had been an important trading center for hundreds of years. Some Cubans believe that the Havanese was brought to the island by Italian sea captains and were traded to the people or given as gifts. Many people of differing origins came together contributing to the cultural development and growth of the island. European families established their homes in Havana during the time that Spain and Cuba traded almost exclusively. It is likely that during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Maltese and the Tenerife dog, the Barbet, poodles and other lap dogs of these families and from the ships' companies were intermingled together and over time evolved into what has become the modern day Havanese.
Escobar's "Portrait of a Young Girl" circa 1897 (above), depicts the "Blanquito de Habana," a little dog with silky, white, curly hair. The Blanquito was the treasured pet of the moneyed people of Havana -- the aristocracy, if you will. The little white dog was described as having a plumed tail, long white silky hair that reached to the ground and bright dark eyes shielded by a curtan of long locks.
Dorothy Goodale, the patron of the Havanese in the United States, tells of the "Legend of a Romantic Tragedy" in her book, "Havanese, A complete and Reliable Handbook." Around the time of the First World War, Catalina Lasa, a beautiful Cuban aristocrat married to a wealthy sugar baron, had an affair and later married her lover, Juan Pedro Baro. Catalina was enamored of the Havanese and reportedly gave them as pets to her wealthy friends. Her house still stands in Cuba as does the mausoleum commissioned by her husband.One can imagine little Havanese playing their games in its great halls. Photos below.
The Bichon Habanero was the companion dog of the Cuban gentle folk until in 1959, the Cuban Revolution caused many wealthy families that opposed the new regime to migrate to the USA. Many Cuban families' beloved pets remained on the island with the "ordinary folk."
Dorothy Goodale recorded in her book that two Cuban families, Perez and Fantasio, fled to the United States and brought their little dogs with them in order to preserve the breed. Mrs. Goodale succeeded in acquiring six Havanese, including a bitch with 4 female puppies and a young male. She later acquired five more males from a Cuban man, Senor Barba, who was moving to Texas from Costa Rica. With these eleven dogs, the Havanese breed was developed in America. Mrs. Goodale began breeding her dogs in 1974 keepinig her own registry, and by 1979 she, her husband, Bert, and a few other Havanese lovers formed The Havanese Club of America. Havanese entered the AKC registry in 1995 as a Miscellaneous breed. In 1996, the AKC recognized the Havanese Club of America. And Havanese received full recognition as the 142 AKC breed in 1999.
Catalina Lasa, her residence and the Mausoleum
The Havanese is truly one of the most delightful of the toy breeds. Havanese pack a lot of personality into their little bodies. They are curious, spunky, charming, easliy trainable and energetic, being busy constantly. The Havanese is most affectionate, very devoted and loves to be the center of attention. Intelligent and sturdy, Havanese are extremely good agility dogs. These little clowns can be mischevious at times, have what we call a paper shredding gene, love playing run-like-hell together and thrive on the companionship of their human family. Havanese love to perch on sofa tops or other high places that permit them to look outside to see what is happening. While they are very alert and will notify their people of strangers and unusual noises, they are not a dog that barks incessantly.
Some Havanese can suffer separation anxiety because 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 families with a stay at home member.
The Havanese is a long lived, loyal breed that is lively and possesses great stamina. I test my 7 week old puppies for temperament using the Volhard Puppy Test and am constantly amazed at how accurate the test results turn out to be as the pup becomes an adult.
The Many-Splendored Colors of the Havanese
Havanese come in a wide variety of colors with a wide variety of markings. The AKC permits all colors and patterns to be registered with none having preference over another. Most pups are registered as the color that is anticipated to be their adult coat; however, it is sometimes difficult to determine the final color because Havanese coats may change from light to dark and back again. Havanese color changes are fascinating to behold. The most comprehensive information on color and pattern combinations can be found at "Colors of the Rainbow." A list of the colors and markings is shown below.
Black & Silver
Black & Tan
Black & Silver Brindle
Black & Tan Brindle
The Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba and Cuba's only native breed.
Despite its being a new breed to the AKC, the Havanese is an old breed, descending from breeds brought over from Spain to Cuba.
Havanese have a double coat that is its insulation against the sun.
Havanese have been called many names: The Havana Silk Dog, Bichon Havanais, Spanish Silk Poodle, White Cuban, Bichon Habanero and more.
Health and Wellness
Havanese health and wellness is important to all ethical breeders. There are several health tests available to breeders and sites in which to register the test results -- an action taken by responsible breeders, who make public the test results of their dogs used in their breeding programs.
BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test: This test detects congenital deafness in Havanese, which is not a widespread health problem in the breed. Deafness is an inherited disorder with a complex mode of inheritance. Hearing ability can be determined by a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test (BAER), which detects electrical activity in the ear and auditory pathways in the brain. It is a very simple test, takes only 10 minutes or so, and can be done anytime after a puppy is about 6 weeks old. It is a one time test.
CERF test. CERF stands for Canine Eye Registration Foundation. This exam is done by an opthalmologist who looks for heritable cataracts, which is a serious genetic disorder. Heritable cataracts can appear as early as 10-12 months of age, but may also appear as late as 7 years of age. Commonly a diagnosis is made at 3-4 years of age. The earlier the onset, the more significant may be the loss of vision. Cataracts occurring later, at between 4-7 years of age are slower growing, can break up in later years, and may minimally affect vision.
Patellar Luxation means slipping of the kneecap. It can occur as the result of an injury or there may be a genetic cause. This is a quite common occurrence in small breeds. Signs to watch for are hopping and/or skipping in the gait, limping, pain, difficulty straightening the leg. Surgical intervention may be required.
Hip Displaysia is the malformation of the hip joint, such that the ball and socket are improperly aligned, loose or malformed. This can cause arthritis, pain and difficult mobility. This is an inherited conditon and is diagnosed by X-ray of the hip joint. Corrective surgery may be indicated.
Legg-Calve-Perthes is necrosis of the femoral head whereby the head of the femur deteriorates due to a lack of blood supply. Diagnosis is by X-ray. Diagnosis usually occurs at between 4 months to one year of age. This is not an inheritable condition. Symptoms include pain, limping, limited movement, difficulty walking. Some cases require surgery, but sometimes may be treatable with enforced rest.
Chondrodisplaysia - or CD. Medically, CD is a disorder of the bone which may result in premature closure of the growth plates. This is a structural abnormality in Havanese, but may be the breed standard in other breeds, like the Corgi. As with other skeletal conditions, symptoms can be mild or moderate and not easily recognized or it can be quite severe and easily noticed. The growth plates of CD dogs close prematurely and sometimes unevenly. While some may have straight short legs, others may have bowed legs while others may have one straight leg and one bowed leg.