The Havanese is considered a great companion dog, cheerful and affectionate. Its small size and jovial character makes it an excellent companion for the family.
The origins of this dog are found between Spain and Italy, but the breed was eventually developed in Cuba and coexisted with the aristocratic class during the 19th century.
- Weight and Height. The Bichon Havanese typically weighs between 6.6-15.4 lbs and stands at a height of 8.3-11.4 inches at the withers.
- Coat. It’s worth noting the Bichon Havanese’s soft, silky, and fluffy coat, which can grow up to 17 inches in length.
- The hair is usually straight but can have some slightly wavy strands. This breed doesn’t shed much, making it a low-shedding dog.
- Color. The colors recognized by the FCI for this breed include:
- Pure white
- Havana brown.
- Fawn with black, brown, tobacco, or reddish-brown markings.
- In some cases, the coat color may lighten as the dog ages.
- General Build. The Bichon Havanese is a small-sized dog with lively movements. It’s slightly longer than it is tall, compact, and well-boned. Their medium-length, fluffy ears fall to the sides of their face, and they have a tail that curls over their back. Their almond-shaped eyes are dark brown, and their nose can be black or dark brown. The breed features a short, somewhat square muzzle, a straight back, and a distinctive, elastic and light gait known as the “Havanese dance.”
The Bichon Havanese is a very cheerful and alert dog, often appearing somewhat clownish. They enjoy playing and aim to please their owners, always displaying affection.
This breed is highly devoted without being possessive and craves constant attention and affection.
They are active and love going for walks, making them a great companion for outdoor activities. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them easy to train.
Proper socialization can help ensure they remain sociable and extroverted.
This breed is an excellent choice for seniors due to their low exercise requirements and high need for affection and companionship.
The Bichon Havanese has been used as a therapy dog for people with disabilities and is also a wonderful playmate for children, thanks to their playful nature.
Guard Dog. The small Bichon Havanese is always alert, making them an effective watchdog that will alert you with barks to any anomalies or the presence of strangers. However, they may bark excessively if left alone for extended periods.
Intelligent. The Havanese is an intelligent and docile dog, always eager to please. This makes them easy to train and suitable for first-time dog owners.
Activity. Although they don’t require excessive exercise, these dogs can participate in dog sports like agility and obedience training.
Training. When it comes to training, it’s essential to use positive reinforcement methods. Rewards work well in encouraging good behavior.
Socialization. Proper socialization is vital to prevent distrust and aggressiveness toward strangers. Socializing a Havanese puppy involves safely and progressively exposing them to other animals, people, and environments.
Tolerance for Solitude. The Bichon Havanese doesn’t tolerate being alone for long periods. Any time you leave them alone should be introduced gradually and kept short. Always make sure they’ve had a walk before you leave. Extended periods of solitude can lead to separation anxiety, destructive behaviors and stress.
Education. Puppyhood is the right time to teach basic rules, such as using a pee pad or newspaper for housebreaking. Living with Children and Other Pets. Due to the Bichon Havanese’s affectionate and playful nature, they get along well with children.
In general, they have a good temperament that enables harmonious coexistence with other animals, provided they’ve been properly socialized. It’s advisable for both pets to grow up together from a young age.
Exercise and Activity. This breed doesn’t require excessive activity. One or two daily walks and indoor playtime suffice because of their small size.
Coat. Brushing their coat once a day or every other day helps keep it clean, smooth, and free of knots. This grooming routine also helps remove dead hair. Regarding haircuts, you should know there is a specific breed standard cut, which involves trimming the hair on the legs and around the muzzle. If you plan to show your Havanese, you’ll need to maintain this standard haircut. If not, you can opt for a shorter puppy cut, which is both cute and easier to manage.
Hygiene. For full baths, it’s recommended to use breed-specific shampoo every one to two months. Remember not to overuse shampoo, as it can damage their skin. You can give them a water rinse whenever you feel it’s necessary.
Feeding. When it comes to feeding, ensure you provide high-quality, age-appropriate kibble for your Bichon Havanese. Watch for overfeeding, as the daily amount should correspond to their activity level.
Pros and Cons
Advantages of Bichon Havanese :
- The Havanese is an intelligent and accommodating breed, making them easy to train.
- They don’t need extensive exercise.
- They are good with children and other pets when socialized correctly.
Disadvantages of Bichon Havanese:
- This breed is very attached and doesn’t tolerate solitude well. Leaving them alone for extended periods can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.
- Regular grooming is required to maintain their coat.
Like all breeds, the Bichon Havanese is prone to certain health issues, including:
- Heart conditions.
- Progressive retinal atrophy.
- Patellar luxation.
- Ear infections.
Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to detect and address any health issues in a timely manner. Don’t forget to have their ears checked for excess wax, and their ear hair trimmed, their eyes checked for excessive tearing and tear staining, and their nails trimmed. Additionally, ensure they receive their required vaccinations. It’s not uncommon to find Havanese dogs with physical irregularities like an underbite, deformed paws, or nose depigmentation.
History and Origin
The word “bichon” is derived from the “barbet,” an ancient lap dog. The Bichon Havanese originated along the coasts of Spain and Italy. It was introduced to Cuba by sailors and became the companion dog of the island’s aristocracy.
Due to historical circumstances on the island, the breed nearly vanished. However, American breeders rescued it and continued its existence. There is speculation that the breed may have been crossed with small poodles.
The name “Bichon Havanese” may suggest a Cuban origin, but it actually refers to the breed’s color: Havana brown (tobacco color). Initially, these dogs were predominantly white and were known as “blanquitos de la Havana.”
Today, you can find Bichon Havanese specimens in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and some South American countries.
Recognitions for the breed include:
- Recognition by the United Kennel Club in 1991.
- FCI (Federación Cinológica Internacional) recognition in September 1963, with the last official standard published in October 2016. It falls under Group 9: Companion and Toy Dogs, Section 1: Bichons and Similar Breeds.
- The Havanese Club of America was founded in 1974.
The Bichon Havanese has gone by various nicknames, including “blanquitos de la Habana,” “Velcro dog” due to their attachment and need for contact with their owners, “Havana silk dog,” “Bichon de la Habana,” or “silk dog of Havana.”
Additionally, this breed loves to swim, so if you have the opportunity to take them to a safe and permitted swimming area, they’ll enjoy the experience.