Havanese Dog Temperament: Joyous and life-affirming companion dog
Are you looking for a dog without negative small-dog characteristics? Then you are right in seeking more information about the little fluffy Havanese.
Before deciding whether the Havanese is your perfect fit, learning as much as possible about their temperament, lifestyle, history, and health issues is crucial.
With its roots in Cuba, the Havanese is an energetic dog breed closely related to the Bichon family. So it might be the right dog for you if you're looking for an affectionate, spirited, intelligent dog. Plus, its small size means you can take it anywhere.
Just ask any owner of this cheerful breed why their walks take so long - chances are they've been stopped to answer the question, "What kind of breed is this?"
So what are you waiting for? Read on to find out more about this classic, life-loving companion dog.
Havanese History: Where do Havanese come from?
The ancestor of the Havanese is the Blanquito de la Habana, which means as much as the little white dog of Havana. This now-extinct small dog breed was a direct relative of Bichon-type dogs, making the Havanese a distinct cousin. The precise development, however, is shrouded in mystery.
Four Bichon-type dogs originated in the Mediterranean area. Their ancestors are believed to be the Melita or Caniche, a spitz-type dog referenced in history as early as the first century BC.
Bichon types have then been separated based on their distinctive region. It is believed they developed from Poodle-type dogs.
The Bichon Maltese has its roots in Malta, the Bichon Bolognaise in the lap of Italian aristocrats, the Bichon Frise from Tenerife and the Bichon Havanese, the only native dog from Cuba.
The Coton de Tulear and Lowchen are also considered Bichon-type dogs; however, their origin is more disputed.
How did the little white dog leap from the Old World to the New World? The theory suggests that sailors and traders brought the little dogs with them on their adventures to explore the New World after Columbus discovered the American Continent. All the Bichon types had a few characteristics in common. They were companionable and cheerful, easy to carry around and mainly white to cream in colour.
Whilst we can't be hundred per cent sure about their geographical spread, it is believed that the first Blanquitos arrived in Cuba around the 15th century and were imported by Spaniards. Those dogs were kept separated from the general dog population and instead inbred.
They were later joined by colourful poodle-type dogs brought in by European migrants, which is why the Havanese from today can come in many different colours and wavy or straight coat types.
So if you're looking at a Havanese and thinking they look like Poodles or Bichon Frise, you wouldn't be wrong!
In the early 1800s, even the local wealthy population fell in love with these little dogs. As a result, the Havanese is today the only native dog of Cuba. Havanese were never sold but always gifted to esteemed friends, and people outside the elite could not obtain one of these priceless possessions.
But this breed had to also go through hardship. With Cuban Revolution in 1959, all first-class privileges ended, which meant many Havanese ended up on the streets. Their fate was similar to the fate of Basset-type breeds during the French Revolution. The breed only survived because of the dedication of exiled families taking the breed with them.
Not much is known about the Havanese stock that remained in Cuba then.
In the US, Dorothy Goodale is known for establishing a breeding program in the US, using the stock from exiled Cuban families. European lines were mainly created from Cuban imports and the US breeding lines.
Bichon-type dogs were not meant to be working dogs. Their job was to be loyal companion dogs to royals and aristocrats alike. Today, they're companion dogs to anybody who wants to be the proud owner of one.
The AKC recognised the breed formerly in 1995, and the United Kingdom Kennel Club recognised the Havanese in 1997. The first Havanese was imported into the UK by Barbara Benersen in 1992, and she also established the first British Havanese Kennel.
Although not a breed that has been established for a long time in the UK, many people adore the breed, as the numbers below show. The average litter size is around 4 to 6 puppies.
In 2022, 471 Havanese puppies were registered with the UK Kennel Club, which is less than last year at the same time. The below table shows the registrations since 2021. The dip in registration is minor, however, and the love for the breed persists.