Our first show havanese, Bailey, at 8 weeks old.
The Havanese is a small, sturdy dog that originated in Cuba. The Havanese was recognized by AKC (the American Kennel Club) in 1999. Since then, they have been slowly growing in popularity. The Havanese ranges in size from around 8 to 13 lbs. They come in any color and have beautiful almond-shaped eyes. They are extremely friendly and are willing to please. They catch on to learning tricks easily. One of the most unique things about a Havanese is its very soft, profuse double coat. Although they can grow long coats, they do not shed. They are said to be hypoallergenic because of this. In our home, my daughter is somewhat allergic to dogs, yet does not react around the Havanese. Also, they seem to be odorless, meaning that the pads of their feet usually do not give off the "dog smell" like other breeds.
Because the Havanese is still a relatively rare breed, they do not have many of the health problems that come from poor breeding. They are generally not "barky" dogs and are sturdy for their size. In my experience, they do not dig, and get along well with young and old people as well as other pets. In our home, we have a parakeet that lives peacefully with our dogs because they know not to harm the bird. Also, one of our Havanese is a therapy dog, and regularly visits nursing homes.
The Havanese excels in obedience as well as in agility and conformation. "Then why are these wonderful dogs not well-known and extremely popular," you may ask. Well, this is probably because AKC only recently recognized them and they are still relatively rare. The Havanese is not perfect because they do encounter some of the problems that come with being a small dog, such as being somewhat harder to house train than larger dogs.
The Havanese Club Of America suggests several health tests that should be completed on adult Havanese. Usually breeders will--and should--complete these before breeding. OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals, www.offa.org) hips, elbows, patellas tested, BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) hearing tested, CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) eye examination, some also do bile acid tests and thyroid tests. If at any time dogs that are tested are found to have health issues, they should not be bred and should be spayed or neutered. Although the occurrence of major health problems in the breed is rare, it is important to test dogs before breeding to assure the Havanese breed continues to be healthy!