- Breed name: Havana Bichon
- Country of origin: Cuba
- Weight: 3-5.5kg
- Height (height at the withers): 23-29 cm
- Life Expectancy: 13-15 Years
- The breed has the status of rare and exclusive. There is little information about her on Russian-language forums, and there are only a few domestic nurseries engaged in breeding purebred Havanese.
- The rarest Havana Bichon color is white, the most common is tobacco.
- The trademark of the breed is phenomenal contact, therefore the Havanese are recommended for maintenance to people of retirement age, as well as to owners suffering from loneliness and panic attacks.
- Bichons are easy to train, so even owners without experience with decorative dogs will be able to find contact with pets.
- Havana bichons are not cut, but you still have to learn the basics of professional haircare – animals have a mild molt, dead hairs must be combed out.
- Loneliness, even for several hours, is a huge stress for the Havana Bichon. Before you take your dog, think about someone who will brighten up its everyday life while you are at work.
- In the United States, Havanese have a reputation as “signal” dogs, recommended as pets in families with hearing-impaired children.
The Havana Bichon is a funny miniature cutie, capable of drowning anyone who is ready to gently cuddle or scratch him in the sea of love and charm. In Russian apartments, Cuban Havanese are still a rare guest, but this does not mean that the breed is not quoted among breeders. Just due to historical circumstances, animals for a long time could not break through to exhibitions and to the breeding lists of cynological associations. Today “Havanese” is one of the most fashionable and exclusive pets in the world, the acquisition of which will require not only a tidy sum but also months of searching and waiting.
History of the Breed
Havana Bichons are the national dogs of Cuba, who began their triumphal march around the world from the Canary Islands. According to the official version, Cuban settlers brought miniature pets to Europe. However, in fact, the opposite process took place. In the 16th century, Spanish sailors moved to the Island of Freedom, with whom the first Bichon-like dogs sailed there.
Gradually, crossing with aboriginal Cuban breeds, Spanish pets took shape in a unique breed type, which the locals dubbed Blanquito de la Abana – “a small white dog from Havana.” For several centuries, animals were loved by the Cuban nobility. They were lodged in rich chambers, pampered in every possible way, and taken abroad as a living curiosity.
Unfortunately, the original type of Blanquito de la Abana has not survived to this day. In many respects, the extinction of this amazing breed was facilitated by the Cuban Revolution: in the second half of the 20th century, dogs were massacred simply because they were held in high esteem by the local aristocracy. As a result, from the entire clan of Havana dogs, only a few individuals survived the change of the political regime, some of whom were already mestizos.
It is believed that during the military events on the Island of Liberty, eleven banquettes were smuggled out of it to the United States. Anyway, when American breeders began to promote the idea of breed restoration, there were several healthy and relatively purebred breeders in the country. In the 70s, the “Havanese” living in America were infused with the blood of other decorative breeds, as a result of which the first representatives of the Havana Bichon family were born.
If we are talking about the recognition of the breed by cynological associations, then it came to the Havanese only in 1996.
Havanese is a charming, playful hairy, who at first glance sinks into the soul because of his spontaneity and pretty appearance. The growth of the average representative of the breed is 23-27 cm without being tied to sex. If you have a secret passion for “bag” pets, get a Havana Bichon without further thought!
With a wide palette of colors, these shaggy “Cubans” look like they just escaped the red carpet, slipping out of the hands of a Hollywood diva. Actually, half of the breed’s success lies in the glamorous exterior, while the rest rightfully belongs to the sociable, gentle character of the “Havanese”.
Head. The length of Havanese’s head is approximately ⅓ of the length of his body. The skull can have either a slightly rounded shape or a flattened shape. If you look at the dog from the front or from the sides, then the skull gives the impression of a square, while the cheekbones are devoid of volume. The muzzle is neither blunt nor narrowed, the foot is very light.
Teeth, lips, jaws. The jaw is scissor-shaped. A complete dental formula is desirable, but the option when third molars and first premolars are missing is still acceptable. The lips of the Havana Bichons are not fleshy, close to the gums.
Nose. A neat lobe of black or brown color.
The eyes are in the form of large tonsils with a black or brown outline, as well as an iris painted in a dark brown tone. Havana Bichon has a positive outlook.
The ears, covered with showy feathers, hang along the cheekbones and have a crease that slightly lifts the ear canal. Moderately high set, rounded tips. Non-cheekbone or semi-erect ears are undesirable.
Havanese’s neck is of moderate length and the skin is well taut.
Housing. The body is strong, with a flat and slightly convex back in the lower back. The croup is strongly tilted, the belly is tucked up, and the ribs are well bent.
Extremities. The legs of the Havana Bichon are distinguished by strong bones, parallel set-up to each other, and general dryness of the outlines. An important nuance: the length of the forelimbs to the elbow should not exceed half the height of the dog at the withers. The feet are elongated, but compact, with tightly knit toes. The dog’s movements are straightforward, springy, and energetic.
Tail. In the thoroughbred Havanese, the tail is thrown over the back or bent and carried high. The main decoration of this part of the body is a luxurious suspension of long satin hair.
Wool. The undercoat of the Havana Bichon is either absent as such or poorly developed. The topcoat has a straight or slightly wavy structure and in mature individuals, it can reach a length of 12-18 cm. It is prohibited to shorten the dog’s hair in any way. Exceptions are allowed for hair on the legs and head, which can hinder movement and obscure the view.
Color. The traditional Havanese colors are white, white-biscuit, black, brown Havana, pale yellow of any saturation, sable, tobacco, red-brown. White spots and slight tan are acceptable in all color types.
At heart, Havanese is a typical Cuban with his positive-relaxed attitude to life and manic love for communication in any form. The sunny climate of the Island of Freedom and centuries of being in the status of an ornamental breed have formed a number of qualities in the Havana Bichons that distinguish them from other miniature tribesmen. For example, for their extraordinary craving for constant contact with the owner of the “Havanese” they are often called Velcro. Walking on the heels, poking a curious nose into all the secrets of the family, occasionally begging for affection and tasty rewards – all these are the classic habits of the Havana Bichon, without which he immediately ceases to be a true Cuban.
One of the highlights of the breed is the ability to mirror the behavior and mood of the owner. A dog of a cheerful and active owner is unlikely to be melancholic, and a pet of an emotionally restrained owner will quickly adopt his attitude towards life. As for the character traits of the breed in general, we can say that the Havana Bichon is a real tsunami of friendliness and tenderness. A furry companion is able to get along with any creature, arranging races with a crazed cat or taking part in funny adventures invented by the guys.
By the way, despite the external fluffiness and childish playfulness, the Havanese does not consider himself the last on the hierarchical ladder. This character trait is especially pronounced in everyday communication. When in contact with the adored owner, the dog always tries to climb somewhere – on a chair, someone’s knees, or at least on an ottoman in the corner. All these manipulations are done with one single purpose – to be on the same level as a person. However, such attempts to gain prestige should not be confused with attempts to dominate. Competition for leadership is something that the Havana Bichons have never heard of and that they would never want to do.
The loud, amusing barking of the “Havanese” can be an excellent substitute for a home alarm. By its nature, the breed is not too “chatty”, but it prefers to meet on the doorstep those who are not a member of the family with a voice. The only caveat is that the Havanese will bark at your friends and intruders with the same good-natured stubbornness, so it will not be possible to understand by intonation who exactly violated the territorial boundaries.
The breed’s secret passion is paper. So far it has not been possible to find out what exactly fuels this interest in animals, but leaving the Havanese alone with a pile of documents or a roll of toilet paper, prepare for local chaos and the subsequent collection of cellulose scraps in all corners of the apartment.
Education and Training
It is better to take the training of the breed seriously, given that the Havanese are smart pets who can handle complex educational tasks. The preparation of a puppy for education and training is its socialization. Everything is simple here: the baby must get used to new living conditions, get to know family members, and learn to consider them the leaders of the pack. Remember that despite the lack of dominant habits, the “Havanese” are rather cunning creatures who perceive any one-time concession as a pattern that must certainly be repeated.
Discipline the Havanese from the very minutes you step outside the nursery with him. In the first month after the move, the Havana Bichon must get used to his bed, learn to perceive his own nickname, and eat according to the regime established by the owner. It is better not to put off the question of “toilet matters” for later, therefore, of course, stock up on disposable diapers for the first time, but put the puppy on the tray more often.
It is better to engage in the upbringing and training of Havanese at home, in the garden, or in the yard. It makes no sense to drive small representatives of decorative breeds to the training ground. Playing with contrasts is also discouraged. According to dog handlers, the whip method in the case of miniature dogs not only does not work, but also exposes their sensitive psyche to serious stress, so praise and treat your pet for successes, and close your eyes on misses.
If you want the Havanese to respond to the call of all household members, enter the names of family members into its lexicon. The standard technique is to put any small object in the bichon’s teeth, issuing the command “Take it to Sasha!” (called the name of the person to whom the toy in the mouth is addressed). If the ward understands you and fulfills the requirement, be sure to praise him, and subsequently consolidate the new skill. Then start learning from the beginning, but with the participation of another family member. Do not be surprised, the Havanese Bichon easily remembers human names, just as a stimulating recharge he needs praise, goodies, and a moderately demanding teacher.
Havanese is not a service breed, monotonous occupations are a burden to him. The time limit for Bichon training lessons is 5 minutes. The Havanese is simply not capable of a longer concentration of attention on one action. The same applies to commands. It is strongly discouraged to say one requires more than three times in a row. Remember, the more often you ask your dog, the less he wants to listen to you.
Maintenance and Care
Havana Bichon spends most of his life in an apartment, so try to provide him with a comfortable and safe living environment. Think about how to prevent your pet from entering the balcony – perhaps it will be a special mesh or a high fence in front of the door. The same rule applies to household chemicals and a trash can in which the puppy can dig. Also, eliminate the habit of leaving detergents on the floor for your pet to taste.
Havanese is the perfect homebody dog. To dump the “energy load”, he has enough jogging on the territory of the personal plot or two half-hour walks a day. It is not recommended to “torture” the breed with exercises – the average Havanese Bichon is able to cover the need for physical activity by simply jogging in the company of the owner. By the way, in winter it is better to walk the dog dressed in insulated overalls. In frosty weather, Bichons get cold quickly and can catch a cold. At the same time, dogs do not need UV protection in summer – their long soft, and well-ventilated “fur coats” are reliable protection against overheating.
The Havana Bichon is a living anti stress toy that you need to hug, squeeze, and, of course, comb out more often. Since the breed is devoid of undercoat, the shedding of its representatives is poorly expressed, so you don’t have to worry about the neatness of carpets and upholstery. This, however, does not mean that you can afford to be lazy with Havanese. If you do not comb your dog’s hair at least once a week, very soon you will have to arm yourself with a razor and remove woolen dreadlocks from the ward’s body.
It is recommended to bathe only when absolutely necessary, for example, when the animal looks untidy. Complex grooming is not required for the breed, but if you notice that the hair on the forehead has begun to obscure the dog’s view, it is better to collect it in a ponytail or slightly shorten it with scissors. Once a month, give the ward a “pedicure” by shortening the claws by a couple of millimeters. Since the Havanese do not suffer from excessive activity, their claw plate does not grind off upon contact with the ground. The first signal that it is time for a pet to cut its claws is a characteristic “clatter” gait.
Excessive lacrimation is a problem for the entire Havana Bichon clan, so more often you walk over the area of the animal’s eyelids with a clean cloth dipped in strong chamomile or tea infusion. In white Hawaneses, the hair under the eyes often changes color from tears. Accordingly, if you are the owner of a blonde show pet, buy lightening talc and powder for wool.
It is best to check the ears once a week. Do not be too lazy to pluck the long hairs inside the dog’s ear funnel, otherwise, the passage will be completely overgrown with hair, which will lead to deafness. To remove sulfur lumps from your ears, use a piece of clean cloth and hygienic lotion from the pet store.
Havanese have brushed their teeth 2-3 times a week. It is important to teach your pet about this unpleasant process from puppyhood. If the silicone brush head is extremely stressful for your dog, you can use pastes that are applied to the teeth without a brush. Or as an option – more often to treat the dog with solid meat treats that serve as a gentle abrasive.
Health and Disease
Havana Bichons are long-lived dogs, often celebrating their 14th and 16th birthday. Experts monitoring the development of the breed continue to work to eradicate genetic diseases from its representatives, but so far hereditary ailments have not been completely overcome. For example, the most common problem in today’s Havanese is a dislocated patella. Diseases such as retinal dysplasia, cataracts, heart and liver pathologies, Perthes disease, deafness, chondrodysplasia are also inherited.