Originating in Cuba with European roots, Havanese dogs are all-rounders for dog lovers that enjoying living with straightforward, lively charmers.
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Small and compact
The Havanese reaches around 28cm shoulder height and weighs a maximum of 6kg. Although these compact dogs are classed as Bichons, they are found not just in white but also in brown, grey, beige and with patches. The fur hardly has any undercoat – sometimes none at all – though there is abundant, long, soft top hair that reaches up to 18cm in length.
The customary international name “Bichon havanaise” reveals that these dogs are related to the group of Bichons that are resident in Europe. This also includes, for instance, the Maltese and the Bichon Frisé. The Havanese’s roots are in Europe and it presumably then reached South America with its Spanish colonial masters. This robust breed resulted from crossing with local dogs. As the name suggests, the origin of this targeted breed is Havana, the capital of Cuba. It was a popular companion of the rich in particular for several centuries in Cuba. Following Fidel Castro’s revolution, however, these dogs went out of fashion: many considered them a relic of the ruling class. Thankfully, it already had some fans in the US at this point who took on breeding the Havanese. Nowadays, these friendly little dogs have loyal fans all over the world.
The Havanese ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for a straightforward dog: it is clever, lively, playful, loves children and not least is a real charmer. These small dogs are constantly in a good mood and up for shared adventures with their human companion. Although they are very vigilant, they aren’t aggressive. Havanese dogs don’t yap, but they can draw real attention to themselves by barking if they don’t get sufficient interest shown in them. These self-confident dogs are open towards strangers and other animals, making them appreciated companions everywhere.
Easy to train
Havanese dogs are easy to train thanks to their intelligence and love of learning. Additionally, they are very obedient and like to please their human family. Training a Havanese will not pose too great a challenge even for beginners. The main difficulty is not getting taken in by the charm of these little dogs and turning a blind eye. These smart dogs take note of even tiny exceptions and will later insist upon the “rights” they were once granted – for instance, a spot in your bed. It’s best to clarify with all family members before the dog enters your home what the new arrival is and isn’t allowed to do. Attending a dog school is helpful for puppy training and learning basic commands. Take a look at a few in advance in order to decide which is most suitable.
These little dogs like exercise, although their need is relatively easily satisfied due to their small size. Additionally, they are happy to accompany you on long walks and love long play sessions. Havanese dogs learn tricks easily – so teach it a few! Agility especially for small dogs is a suitable opportunity to stimulate your Havanese in a fun way.
These attractive dogs tend to be fussy when it comes to food – though the exception does prove the rule, so keep an eye on your dog’s weight in order to adapt the quantity of food appropriately. Regardless of whether you choose wet or dry food, make sure it is free of grain and that meat is at the top of the ingredients list. Dried chew products are a practical addition to the menu and can also help with cleaning the teeth. Be economical with treats to prevent fussy tendencies and ensure your dog doesn’t put on too much weight. Should you wish to change the diet, proceed slowly and replace more of the usual food with the new one on a day-by-day basis to prevent an upset stomach. Drinking water should always be freely available to your Havanese.
Havanese dogs require time commitment to grooming to retain a silky coat. The Havanese is prone to felting. Felted fur soon forms felt patches lying close to the skin, which are difficult to remove and carry the risk of skin fungus or inflammation. Regular bathing forms part of its grooming routine. Get your dog used to being bathed when it is a puppy. The principle of “as much as necessary, as little as possible” applies. If necessary, remove the hairs growing in the ear canal with blunt tweezers, because otherwise dirt can gather here. Additionally, keep the eyes free of hairs – either with hair clips or by regularly carefully cutting back the fur. Check the claws on a monthly basis and cut them if necessary. The Havanese is less high-maintenance than some other long-haired dogs thanks to their silky hair texture and the big advantage of hardly losing any fur.
All-round healthcare provision
Havanese dogs are considered relatively robust. Their health depends significantly on their breeding, as well as housing conditions and a species-appropriate diet. Serious breeding involves all-round healthcare provision before pairing by testing parent animals for possible diseases. Like with all small dogs, Havanese dogs may be affected by luxating patella and eye problems in the form of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can lead to blindness. A top tip is to get a hard copy from the breeder of the results of the examinations both parent animals have undergone. In order to minimise the risk of luxation, examinations should be carried out when the parents are 1 and 3 years of age. Ocular examinations should take place every year with dogs used for breeding. Additionally, a skin disease that leads to the fur falling out (sebaceous adenitis), tends to occur more frequently than with most other dog breeds.
Is a Havanese right for me?
These friendly canines are a good fit for many dog lovers and a great option for first-time owners. They can live happily in city apartments, since they don’t need much exercise and don’t tend to yap. The Havanese likes spending time with children, however these little dogs also enjoy living with single owners. Havanese owners shouldn’t underestimate regular grooming, which is compulsory with these dogs. Before your dog enters your home, you should consider who can look after your dog should you fall ill or go on holiday. A top tip is that these straightforward dogs are allowed in many hotels or holiday apartments. Calculate costs in the coming years for a high-quality dog food, dog tax and insurance and regular trips to the vet.
Be alert when buying a puppy!
There’s much more to responsible breeding than simply pairing two Havanese dogs – or even dogs similar to the Havanese. A serious breeder selects animals suitable for breeding based on their objectives. Typicality, character and of course health play an important role. Most responsible breeders invest plenty of time and money in healthcare provision, a healthy diet and optimal training and socialisation. Only buy a puppy from a breeder belonging to an association, because this ensures a minimum standard of serious breeding. When visiting the breeder’s home, take a look at the parent animals and their surroundings. All dogs should appear even-tempered and jolly.
When can I bring my puppy home?
Puppies can move into their new home at the age of eight weeks at the earliest, once they have been dewormed on multiple occasions and microchipped, have a pet passport and their first vaccinations. Stick to the appointments for booster vaccinations! Never buy a puppy from a breeder focused on quantity over quality. If in doubt, inform your region’s official veterinarian.
If you wish to give an older dog a home, take a look around the local animal shelter. Additionally, there are often small hybrids with a similar character waiting for a new home. Otherwise, you’ll most likely strike lucky online – sometimes Havanese or other Bichon owners are looking for a new home for their pets, as they have to give them up due to a change in their circumstances.
Preparations before the move
Since the greatest pleasure lies in anticipation, you can shorten the wait for your new family member by preparing everything for the puppy’s arrival: for instance, look for a dog school that is a good fit for you and get hold of everything your canine companion will need before its arrival. The breeder should give you a few portions of the dog’s usual food – once the puppy has arrived, you should still give it this food for a few days, even if you wish to change the food at a later point. Your adventurous dog needs toys for small-breed puppies, a lead and collar or harness and of course a comfy sleeping set-up. Also sort out a transport safeguard for the car. Grooming accessories like brushes and combs, claw clippers, dog shampoo and conditioner, tick tweezers and flea combs complete your basic equipment.
We wish you plenty of joy with your tousle-haired companion!