The Havana bichon is a sociable companion dog from the group of lapdogs with smooth long hair.
The Havana Bichon is a funny miniature cutie, capable of drowning anyone 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 by breeders. Just due to historical circumstances, animals for a long time could not break through to exhibitions and the pedigree 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.
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 Liberty, with whom the first Bichon-like dogs sailed there.
Gradually, interbreeding with native 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 settled 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 ways, the disappearance of the 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. In Russia, the first puppies appeared even later – it was only in the early 2000s that the first Cuban fluffies began to be imported into the country. To this day, the number of domestic Bichons is extremely small, which makes it difficult to choose a healthy and effective puppy in show or breed type.
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 “purse” 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”.
The length of the Havanese’s head is approximately ⅓ of the length of its body. The skull can have either a slightly rounded shape or a flattened shape. If you look at the dog from the front or 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.
The jaw is scissor-shaped. A complete dental formula is desirable, but the option of missing third molars and first premolars is still acceptable. The lips of the Havana Bichons are not fleshy, close to the gums.
Neat black or brown nose.
Eyes in the form of large tonsils with a black or brown outline, as well as a dark brown colored iris. The Havana Bichon has a positive outlook.
The ears, covered with spectacular feathers, hang along the cheekbones and have a fold that slightly lifts the ear canal. Moderately high set, rounded tips. Non-cheekbone or semi-erect ears are undesirable.
The Havanese’s neck is of moderate length and the skin is well taut.
The body is strong, with a flat and slightly convex back in the lower back. The group is characterized by a strong slope, the belly is tucked up, and the ribs are well curved.
The legs of the Havana Bichon are distinguished by strong bones, a parallel setback to each other, and general dry outlines. An important nuance: the length of the forelegs 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.
In a 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.
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.
The traditional have colors are white, white-biscuit, black, brown Havana, pale yellow of any degree of saturation, sable, tobacco, red-brown. White spots and slight tan are acceptable in all color types.
- The growth that does not fit into the boundaries specified by the standard (deviations within 2 cm are permissible).
- Over or undershot mouth.
- Nose with pronounced depigmentation.
- Entropy or ectropy. Depigmented eyelids.
- Any behavioral anomalies, including unreasonable aggression and timidity.
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 several qualities in the Havana Bichons that distinguish them from other miniature tribesmen. For example, the extraordinary craving for constant contact with the owner of the “Havanese” is 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 take over 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 can 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. 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 would never want to do.
The loud, amusing barking of “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 tenacity, 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, get ready for local chaos and the subsequent collection of cellulose scraps in all corners of the apartment.
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 the 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, “Havanese” are rather cunning creatures who perceive any one-time concession as a pattern that must certainly be repeated.
Discipline your Havanese from the very minutes you walk out of the nursery with him. In the first month after the move, the Havanese 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 litter more often.
It is better to educate and train Havanese at home, in the garden, or the yard. It is pointless to drive small representatives of decorative breeds to the training ground. Playing on 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 success, and close your eyes to misses.
If you want the Havanese to respond to the call of all household members, enter the names of family members into its vocabulary. 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 then reinforce the new skill. Then start learning from the very 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.
The 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 net 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 can 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, shedding in its representatives is poorly expressed, so there is no need 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 the descendants of Blanquito only in case of urgent need, 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 “clattering” 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 clarifying talc and powder for wool.
It is better to examine the ears of the “Cuban” 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, you can use a piece of clean cloth and hygiene 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 toothpaste that is applied to the teeth without a brush. Or, as an option, treat your dog more often with solid meat treats that serve as a gentle abrasive.
US breeders rely on high-quality dry food, motivating their choice by the fact that bichons who eat “drying” do not need to additionally select vitamins and dietary supplements. There are no strict rules for feeding the breed, but the average adult Havanese consumes from half to a whole cup of feed per day. If we make more accurate calculations, then an adult weighing 4.5 kg must receive at least 400 kcal per day with food. For playful puppies under the age of six months with a bodyweight of up to 3 kg, the daily calorie intake is 467 kcal.
At the same time, it is important to control the weight of the furry, since the breed tends to build up the sides. An unexpressed waist (when looking at the dog from above) and non-palpable ribs are considered a signal that it is time for Havanese to go on a diet. The frequency of feeding for healthy adults is twice a day. Puppies at the age of 6 months and older eat three times, but by the year they need to be transferred to two meals a day.
In Russia, Havana Bichons are often fed with natural food. The list of dog preferences usually includes all those foods that are recommended for consumption of any breed. Namely: lean meat, offal, and offal, boneless fillet of codfish, low-calorie cottage cheese and kefir, chicken yolk, vegetables (except legumes, cabbage, and potatoes), fruits (grapes and exotic fruits are prohibited).
Serving the bichon with cereals to increase the nutritional value of the serving is optional. This breed eats little and spends not so much energy. Havanese meat is cut into small pieces, served raw, or lightly scalded. At the same time, it is important to understand that with this approach to nutrition, the purchase of ready-made vitamin and mineral complexes is an inevitable procedure. No matter how varied the natural menu may be, it will not be possible to fill the body’s need for minerals and trace elements with its help.
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.
How to choose a puppy?
- The number of Havanese in Russia is still small, so pay great attention to the choice of a nursery. Alternatively, take a ride in the Baltic countries, where the breed began to be bred a little earlier.
- Try to interact with the parent of the puppies and the rest of the litter. Pay attention to how the Bichon you like behaves with his fellow tribesmen – leads or obeys.
- Test your puppies for friendliness. Lift the little furry off the floor and see what it does. If the baby squeals and tries to bite you, this is a sign of an unstable psyche. Remember, Havanese is not a “service book”, and it is unusual for him to show aggression.
- Demand from the seller not only the pedigrees of the producers but also the results of their examination for hereditary diseases. In particular, dysplasia of the elbow and hip joint.
- Always give importance to the appearance of the offspring. Puppies should be well-fed, with a clean, smooth coat, without signs of umbilical hernia and traces of diarrhea under the tail. Litter uniformity is encouraged and one puppy will always be larger than the rest.