rec.pets.dogs: Havanese Breed-FAQ

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Schalene J. Dagutis

Mar 18, 2004, 4:10:47 AM3/18/04
Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/havanese
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
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* Schalene J. Dagutis 04/23/93 []

Copyright 1993 by Schalene J. Dagutis.

* Updated by Schalene J. Dagutis on August 5, 1997


Table of Contents

* Frequently Asked Questions
* Description
* Grooming
* Recognized
* History
* Resources
+ Books
+ Breed Rescue Organizations
+ Breeders
+ Havanese Club of America


Frequently Asked Questions

_What kind of dog is that? Where did you get a Bichon that wasn't

Havanese are part of the Bichon canine family, but are a distinct
breed. Havanese come in all colors and combinations of colors.

_I've never heard of that breed. Are they recognized by the AKC?_

They were admitted to the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1995 and
are at present in the miscellaneous class. They will eventually be
admitted to the toy class. You can learn more about the Havanese on
the AKC Internet site.

_Can I get one from the pound or from a pet store?_

No. Pure-bred Havanese can only be purchased from breeders. They
are a rare breed and the total population in the U.S. is only
around 4,000.

_Do they shed?_

Havanese are non-shedding dogs.

_Do they have to be professionally groomed?_

No. Although most people prefer to have their Havanese groomed

_How often do they have to be groomed?_

Usually every two or three months. However, it is essential to
brush their coats two to four times a week. Also, regular eye, ear,
and teeth care is required. Nails need to be trimmed every couple
of weeks.

_Are they good with children?_

Havanese are extremely sociable and seem to like almost every one.
They are exceptionally good with children even when not raised with
children in the house. However, it is a good idea to supervise any
situation where dogs and young or unfamiliar children are together.

_Are they too small or fragile for a home with children?_

No. Actually, Havanese are a very good small breed for families
with children. They are a sturdy dog, similar to a small terrier,
an d lack none of the terrier's hard stamina. In fact, a Havanese
may be a better choice than some of the more fragile small breeds.

_What type of activities can I do with a Havanese?_

Havanese were bred as companion animals. They love to be a part of
the family. As well as conformation showing, several Havanese
owners compete with their dogs in obedience and agility trials.
Havanese are quick to learn tricks and love showing off to friends
and family.

_Are they just another "yappy" small dog?_

No. They'll alert you when someone is at your dog and to strange
noises outside your home. Otherwise, they are quiet. Although, some
Havanese are more "vocal" than others.


Characteristics and Temperament


The Havanese is truly one of the most delightful of the small breeds.
They are exceptionally intelligent and quick-witted. Their love of
attention comes from their adorable little "show-off" natures. They
are curious and busy constantly. They are natural clowns and enjoy
interludes of rowdy, madcap play.

The Havanese's expression tells you that they miss nothing going on
around them; they love to sit somewhere high -- especially on the back
of sofas and chairs. They never let strangers approach unwelcomed. The
thrive on human companionship, and are at their best as a
participating member of the family. They love children and will play
tirelessly with them at any game in which children delight.

If raised near water or exposed to water at an early age, they become
powerful swimmers, diving in and out of the water like tiny seals. The
Havanese also have a natural herding instinct. In Cuba, they were used
to herd the family chickens and geese.


If the Havanese were listed in Daniel F. Tortora's book, "The Right
Dog for You," they would rank as follows:
1. Activity Level:
1. Indoors: very active
2. Outdoors: moderate
2. Behavioral Vigor: gentle
(This dimension relates to the force of behaviors regardless of
how often they are produced.)
3. Variability/Constancy: moderate
(This dimension relates to the "stick-to-it-iveness" of a breed.)
4. Territoriality: low
Havanese are low in territoriality and generally only consider the
owner's home and property as their own.
5. Dominance:
1. Strange dogs: submissive
2. Familiar people: submissive
(Submissive dogs approach most familiar and unfamiliar people and
dogs with submissive displays.)
6. Emotional Stability/Vacillation: stable
(This dimension is defined by how frequently an animal changes
from one emotional state to another.)
7. Learning Rate: fast to very fast
(The ease with which a breed is able to form associations between
two or more events determines its trainability.)
8. Functionality:
1. Obedience: very good
2. Problem solving: very good
Obedience training is achieved with very little effort. Fast to
learn and anxious to please, they are a charming, open-hearted
9. Watch/Guard Dog: alert/unsuited
Havanese are good watch dogs, making sure to alert you when a
visitor arrives, but will take their cue from you and welcome the
guest when all seems well with their owner.
10. Sociability/Solitariness: very sociable
(The number of people a breed can tolerate in one location. A very
sociable dog can tolerate, even enjoy crowds. A very solitary dog
would get irritable, fearful, or aggressive in a crowd.)
11. Social Dimension
1. Owner/family: open-family
(Open-family dogs can discriminate between family members and
non family members. However, they readily accept new members
into the family after one or two playful experiences with
2. With strangers: very friendly
(Very friendly breeds are described with the following terms:
"likes everybody," "very friendly," and "likes people." These
breeds may be very playful and jump on people who enter and
continuously nuzzle, smell, and rub up against visitors. They
are basically indiscriminate in their friendliness. They can
be a pleasure to people who love dogs but an annoyance to
people who do not.)
3. With children: exceptionally good
(Breeds that are exceptionally good with children can usually
withstand the physical taunts of children; be calm in
response to rapid movements; react unemotionally to loud and
sometimes peculiar noises and modulate their physical
strength in relation to the size of the child.)



They are non-shedding and odorless and their soft coat is easy to keep
with frequent brushing or combing and periodic bathing. The coat
ranges from a slight wave to curly. The color of coats range in shades
of white, cream, champagne, gold, chocolate, silver, blue, and black
or a combination of these colors.

Breed Standard

General Appearance

The Havanese is a sturdy, short-legged small dog with a soft profuse,
untrimmed coat. His plumed tail is carried curled over his back. He is
an affectionate, happy dog with a lively, springy gait.

Size, Proportion, Substance

The height ranges from 8-1/2 to 11-1/2 inches, the ideal being 9 to
10-1/2 inches. The weight ranges from 7 to 13 pounds, the ideal being
8 to 11 pounds. Any dog whose weight deviates greatly from the stated
range is a _major fault._ Any dog measuring under 8-1/2 or over 11-1/2
inches is a _disqualification._ The body from the chest to the
buttocks is longer than the height at the shoulders and should not
appear to be square. Forelegs and hindlegs are relatively short, but
with sufficient length to set the dog up so as not to be too close to
the ground. The Havanese is a sturdy dog, and while a small breed, is
neither fragile nor overdone.


Medium length proportionate to the size of the body. _Eyes_ are large,
almond shaped and very dark with a gentle expression. In the blue and
silver coat shades, eyes may be a slightly lighter color; in chocolate
coat shades, the eyes may be a lighter color. However, the darker eye
is preferred. Eye rims are black for all colors except chocolate
shaded coats, whose eye rims are self-colored. Small or round eyes;
broken or insufficient pigment on the eye rim(s) are _faults._ Wild,
bulging or protruding eyes are a _major fault._ Total absence of
pigment on one or both eye rims is a _disqualification._ _Ears_ are
set nei ther too high nor too low and are dropped, forming a gentle
fold and cove red with long feathering. They are slightly raised,
moderately pointed, neither fly-away nor framing the cheeks. _Skull_
is broad and somewhat rounded with a moderate stop. The cheeks are
flat and the lips clean. The length of the _muzzle_ is equal to the
distance to the stop to the back of the occiput. The muzzle is neither
snipey nor blunt. _Nose_ and _lips_ are solid black on all colors
except the true chocolate dog, whose nose and lips are solid,
self-colored brown. Dudley nose, nose and lips other than black,
except the solid, self-colored brown on the true chocolate dog are
_disqualifications._ Scissors bite preferred; a level bite is
permissible. Full dentition of incisors preferred for both upper and
lower jaws. Crooked or missing teeth are _faults._ Overshot or
undershot bite, wry mouth are _major faults._

Neck, Topline, and Body

_Neck_ of moderate length, neither too long or too short. _Toplin e_
is straight with a very slight rise over the croup. _Flanks_ are well
raised. _Ribs_ are well rounded. _Tail_ is set high, carried curled
over the back and plumed with long silky hair. While standing, a
dropped tail is permissible.


_Forelegs_ are well boned and straight, the length from the elbow to
the withers equal to the distance from the foot to the elbow. Dewclaws
may be removed. _Feet_ are compact, well arched, well padded. Any foot
turning in or out is a _fault._


_Legs_ are relatively short, well boned and muscular with moderate a
ngulation; straight when viewed from the rear. Dewclaws may be
removed. _Feet_ are same as front feet. _Fault_ is same as the front f


The Havanese is a double-coated breed with soft hair, both in outer
and undercoat. The hair is very long and profuse, shown completely
natural. The coat type ranges from straight to curly, the wavy coat
being preferred. The curly coat is allowed to cord. The adult coat
reaches a length of 6 to 8 inches. No preference shall be given to a
dog with an excessively profuse or long coat. Short hair on all but
puppies is a _fault._ It is permissible to braid the hair on each side
of the head above the eyes, but the coat may not be parted down the
middle of the back. No scissoring of the hair on the top of the head
is allowed, nor trimming or neatening of the coat of any kind
permitted except for the feet which may be neatened to avoid the
appearance of "boat" or "slipper" feet. Coat trimmed in any way except
for neatening at the feet is a _disqualification._ All colors, ranging
from pure white to shades of cream, champagne , gold, black, blue,
silver, chocolate, or any combination of these colors including parti
and tri. No preference is given to one color over another.


The gait is unique and "springy" which accentuates the happy character
of the Havanese. The forelegs reach straight and forward freely from
the shoulder with the hindlegs converging toward a straight line. The
tail is carried up over the back when gaiting. Hackney gait, paddling,
moving too close in the rear, and tail not carried over the back when
gaiting are _faults._


Affectionate, happy.


Any dog under 8-1/2 or over 11-1/2 inches.
Total absence of pigment on one or both eye rims.
Dudley nose; nose and lips other than black, except for the solid,
self-colored brown on the true chocolate dog.
Coat trimmed in any way except for neatening at the feet.



The Havanese coat should be long, somewhat flowing, with an abundance
of undercoat. Caring for the show coat requires regular grooming to
keep it in peak condition. The following is a summation of how to care
for a show coat and a pet coat.

Show Grooming

The goal in grooming the show coat is to retain as much of the length
and fullness to the coat as possible. The following tools are
recommended for grooming:
* Small or medium pin brush
* Small slicker brush
* Half fine/half medium comb
* Nail clippers (scissors or guillotine type)
* Scissors
* Coat oil or similar dressing
* Tweezers or hemostat

One of the most important steps in grooming a Havanese is brushing.
For growing and maintaining a coat between shows, it should be brushed
two to four times per week. The coat should be brushed in layers. Each
layer should be sprayed with a coat oil or similar dressing before
brushing to lessen the static electricity which will break off the
hair ends. The correct brush is the small or medium pin brush
depending on the size of the dog. You may also use a slicker brush on
the feet.

Begin by brushing the hair under the chest. Spread the body coat out
to the sides and spray the hair with a light oil or coat dressing.
Using the pin brush, begin at the stomach and work up to the front
legs, brushing the hair in layers from the skin out. After the chest
hair is brushed, comb through the rest of the coat.

After the hair has been brushed, use the half fine/half medium comb;
combing thoroughly through the coat. If you should find a mat, moisten
it with coat oil and rub apart with your fingers. Then brush using the
pin brush and comb out. See to it that the nails are trimmed and the
hair has been removed from the ear hole. Use either your fingers, a
tweezers, or hemostat to remove the hair from the ears; removing only
a few hairs at a time. Finally, put one drop of mineral oil into each
eye to avoid irritation from non-tearless shampoos.

Set the dog into the tub. Wet thoroughly with very warm water,
excluding the head. Pour shampoo onto the wet coat. Gently squeeze the
shampoo through the coat and rinse thoroughly. Then shampoo the head
in the same manner as the body. Next, apply a cream rinse and rinse
again. Squeeze excess water from the coat and remove the dog from the
tub. Blot lightly with a towel. Set the dog onto a grooming table and
dry using an electric dryer. Use the layering method as in brushing
and fluff the coat as it dries. After the drying process is complete
brush the dog lightly.

Scissor the hair from between the pads. Then, place the dog in a
standing position. Comb the hair out on each foot and scissor around
the pads into a round shape. The hair on the head may be either
brushed back and allowed to fall in a natural manner or parted in the
center and combed to either side allowing the eyes to be partially
visible. The hair may also be parted in the center, gathered, and
plaited down either side. At no time is the Havanese to enter the show
ring with hair drawn to the top of the head in one or two pony tails.

Pet Grooming

First, follow the same instructions as the long coat for bathing and
blow drying. Then, use a scissors or an electric clippers to trim the
hair from around the edge of the foot. Follow the entire outline of
the dog's body and legs, shortening the hair to 1-1/2 to 2 inches in
length. Shorten the hair on one-third of the tail, leaving the rest in
a natural plume. Also, leave the hair on the ears natural. Round off
the top of the head and cheeks leaving more hair over the eyes. Do not
trim the hair on the top of the head in the style of a topknot or the
exaggerated manner of the Bichon Frise. The head of the Havanese
should be trimmed to show its natural outline, except for a bit over
the eyes. The whiskers and the beard should be left natural; blending
the outline where the whiskers meet the hair of the cheeks and throat.


The Havanese is recognized by at least the following organizations:
* Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
* United Kennel Club (UKC) -- only those Havanese registered with
the Original Havanese Club (OHC).
* American Kennel Club -- for which the Havanese Club of America is
the parent club
* American Rare Breed Association



The Havanese is part of the Bichon canine family of small breeds which
probably originated in the Mediterranean area in pre-Christian times.
All Bichons are descended from the same bloodlines that produced the
Barbet, or water spaniel; the Poodle; the Portuguese Water Dog; and
others. The Barbet or "Barbichon" -- later shortened to Bichon canine
family -- consists of several distinct breeds, including the Havanese.
In order of popularity in the U.S., these breeds are: 1) Maltese, 2)
Bichon Frise, 3) Havanese, 4) Lowchen, 5) Coton de Tulear, and 6)

During the days of the Spanish empire, Bichons travelled to Cuba with
sea captains who used them as presents for the women of Cuban
households. By gaining entry into wealthy Hispanic homes, which were
otherwise closed to outsiders, the captains were able to establish
lucrative trading relationships with rich Cuban families.

Once in Cuba, the Havanese (Habeneros in Spanish) lived exclusively in
the mansions of the highest social class of people. Havanese were
never raised commercially or sold but were sometimes given as precious
gifts to a friend or someone who had performed a valuable service.
Like the Victorian-age wealthy Hispanic women who owned them, the dogs
were not seen in the streets or public areas. They lived in the rooms
and interior courtyards of their tropical homes and occasionally rode
in carriages with their owners.

The Havanese found its way to Europe where it became very popular and
was recognized by the European Kennel Club. It was known in England as
the "White Cuban." Queen Anne is said to have admired a troupe of
performing dogs that danced to music in almost human fashion.

As happened to many other dog breeds, the Havanese' popularity waned
over the course of time. For awhile they were used in circuses as
trick dogs throughout Europe, but eventually they became almost
extinct -- even in their native Cuba.

Only three families are known to have left Cuba with their Havanese
during the political turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s. It is assumed
that by that time there might not have been very many of these dogs
kept by anyone. These three exiled families worked alone in Florida
and in Costa Rica for over a decade to preserve the breed.

After raising Irish Wolfhounds and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers for
many years, Dorothy and Bert Goodale of Colorado began looking for a
small breed to raise which would have the calm temperament and
intelligence they cherished in the larger breeds. After a few years of
investigation, elusive references to the Havanese had their attention,
but no one knew where the Goodales might obtain them.

In the mid 1970s, they chanced upon an advertisement which resulted in
the purchase of six pedigreed Havanese: a mother, four daughters, and
an unrelated young male. Completely enchanted with the outgoing,
intelligent, and affectionate nature of the breed, they endeavored to
locate more of the little exiles.

Mrs. Goodale placed advertisements in Latin papers in Miami offering
to purchase Havanese. After several months, she had received only one
response. A Florida man wrote to say that a friend of his had five
Havanese that he wished to sell. Mr. Eziekiel Barba had fled Cuba and
settled in Costa Rica. Because of failing health, he had decided to
move to Texas to live with his daughter and could no longer care for
his "brood" of Havanese.

The Goodales arranged to purchase Mr. Barba's five dogs. This second
group had the same look and gentle temperament as the first. All these
dogs, as adults, averaged around 10 pounds and stood about 9 to 10
inches tall at the shoulder. Using the 1963 FCI breed standard (the
only standard available), Mrs. Goodale began a breeding program to
prevent the extinction of this breed.

Currently, there are approximately 4,000 registered Havanese in the
United States.

The Havanese is also making a comeback in its native Cuba. The Bichon
Habanero Club is working from a foundation stock of approximately 15
dogs and is closely supervising the breeding program.

In fact, this year (1997) the first Havanese was exported from Cuba to
the Netherlands.

Special Medical Problems

The Havanese is a healthy, long-lived breed. However, like all dog
breeds, they are susceptible to some medical problems. Regular
veterinary care is essential.

The Havanese Club of America's (HCA) Health Committee recently
completed a health survey among its members. A computer database will
be established to house the information relating to health issues. In
time, this information may help in making better breeding decisions.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is characterized by degeneration of the cells of the retina,
leading eventually to loss of sight. The latest HCA health survey
indicated that some Havanese do suffer from PRA. In order to control
the disease in Havanese bloodlines, breeders are now required to
include The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) registration on
pedigrees. Any affected Havanese should no longer be used for breeding

Junior Cataracts

A cataract may be defined as a loss of the normal transparency of the
len s of the eye. Any spot on the lens that is opaque, regardless of
its siz e, is technically a cataract. Some cataracts are clearly
visible to the naked eye, appearing as white flecks within the eye, or
giving a milky-gr ay or bluish-white cast to the lens behind the
pupil. Cataracts are rela tively common in older dogs (over 8 years).
Junior cataracts develop in much younger dogs.

A cataract is important only when it causes impaired vision. Blindness
c an be corrected by removing the lens (cataract extraction). While
this r estores vision, there is some loss of visual acuity because the
lens is n ot present to focus light on the retina. The operation is
recommended fo r the dog who has so much visual impairment that he has
difficulty gettin g around.

Luxating Patellas

Slipping or dislocating kneecaps can be inherited, or acquired by
trauma. In order to register a Havanese puppy with HCA, the knees must
be checked before the age of six months. If there is evidence of
luxating patellas, owners are issued a restricted registration, and
the dog may not be used for breeding purposes.

Ear Infections

Like all floppy-eared breeds, Havanese are susceptible to ear
infections. Regular cleaning of the ear will eliminate recurring ear

Poodle Eye

Brown stains in the corner of the eye -- or Poodle eye -- is peculiar
to some light colored toy breeds. Its exact cause is unknown in many
cases. One theory is that the pooling space at the corner of the eye
is too small to collect a lake of tears. Another theory is that a low
grade infection of the throat works its way up into the lacrimal duct
and causes scarring.

To help reduce tear stain, scissor the hair from the inside corner of
the eyes and treat with a tear stain remover or a dilute solution of
hydrogen peroxide (one part to ten parts of water). CAUTION: Peroxide
must not be allowed to enter the eye. Mineral oil should be instilled
first to protect against accidental contact.

When no underlying disease is found, symptomatic improvement often
results after giving the dog a course of broad spectrum antibiotics
(Tetracycline). Tetracycline, which is secreted in the tears after
oral administration, also binds that portion of the tears which cause
them to stain the face. When the improvement is due just to the
binding action of the drug, the face remains wet but not discolored.

Surgery may be considered as an alternative. The operation removes the
gland of the third eyelid (nictating membrane). This makes a better
lake at the inner corner of the eye. It also reduce the volume of
tears by removing the tear gland in the third eyelid.

Dry Skin

The HCA health survey indicated that some Havanese suffer from dry
skin problems, which apparently affects dogs with black or dark
champagne coats.



Because the Havanese is a rare breed, it is difficult to find
references to the breed in books related to the dog fancy. However,
the following books include some references to the Havanese:

American Kennel Club (ed.). _The Complete Dog Book; Howell Book
House_, New York, New York; 17th Edition, 1985.

Brearley, Joan M., and Nicholas, Anna Katherine. _This is the Bichon
Frise_; T.F.H. Publications, New York, New York.

Wilcox, Bonnie, and Walkowicz, Chris. _The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the
World_; T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey; 3rd Edition,

The Havanese Club of America (HCA) and the Original Havanese Club
(OHC) also have pamphlets about the Havanese that they will send to
anyone requesting information on the breed.

The HCA publishes "The Havanese Yearbook," which can be purchased for
$15. The most recent edition was printed in 1988. The HCA also
publishes a quarterly newsletter entitled Havanese Hotline which is
sent to all HCA members.

Breed Rescue Organizations

In late 1993, the HCA board of directors voted to establish a breed
rescu e committee. This chairperson is:

Natalie Armitage
28 Piping Rock Drive
Waterbury, CT 06706
(203) 756-1753


The HCA Corresponding Secretary maintains a breeders list of Havanese
breeders who are members of the HCA and follow the club's code of
ethics. The Corresponding Secretary is:

Ms. Karen Tamburro
4 Crestwood Drive
Suffren, NY 10901-7608
(914) 368-2480

Havanese Club of America

The Havanese Club of America (HCA) was established in 1979 for the
purpose of forming a national breed club for the Havanese with the
following goals in mind:
* To serve as a registry to record and preserve the present
bloodlines of the Havanese breed.
* To bring together all Havanese owners with the mutual interest of
eventual AKC recognition for this breed.
* To serve as a research center for the history of the Havanese
breed and to print educational information to be sent out to all
interested people.
* To sponsor rare breed matches and shows in order to place the
Havanese before public attention.
* To aid the members, whenever possible, in placing their Havanese
in approved homes.
* To present the membership with a regular newsletter that will keep
all informed on the latest animal medical information, show
bulletins, and current information that will assist and unite the
membership in a close camaraderie; that will be of encouragement
to achieve our outlined goals.

The HCA is divided into 6 geographic regions. The regional director
for your area is the best person to contact for additional information
on the Havanese breed. The HCA Corresponding Secretary can direct you
to the person currently handling your region.

Havanese FAQ
Schalene Dagutis,

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