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Havana, a dog from Cuba

Havana, a dog from Cuba

Each country seems to have its own history when it comes to dogs and which dogs become the particular dog that thrived in that country. Cuba is no exception because it is the native country of the Havana people. Although the Havanese most likely originated with the Spanish settlers of Cuba many centuries ago as descendants of the Bichon Barbichon of southern Spain, after many years of development it became clear that the dog was destined to become a unique breed. Since at first there seemed to be many of these small toy dogs that sported a distinctive coat color of deep brown, similar to the color of a cigar, it is theorized that the name “Havana” came from the name “Havana Brown” which was the first famous name of the dog. This name was eventually popularized into the name “Havanese” and it is under this name that the dog is now recognized as an AKC breed.

This little dog is similar in many ways to the Bichon Frize. However, the coat color can be of any mixture or combination, while the Bichon is always white. The coat of the Havanese is long and shaggy and show ring standards require that the coat not be clipped, altered or tampered with in any way. The coat is double. However, because this is a breed that has lived for years in the tropics, the double coat is not “hard” or woolly, but has a soft and silky appearance and texture, more like that of a single coat. The guard hairs on the top coat are long and rather wavy. The AKC also allows adult Maltese to be shown in a “rope” coat. A rope coat will occur naturally if, as the dog matures, the coat is allowed to separate into separate tufts of hair which will gradually wrap around themselves over time (usually with human intervention) and develop into ropes. This type of coat is rarely seen on a pet Havanese as it takes a lot of patience to “train” the coat this way. The head is furnished with a beard and hair which is long above the eyes. This long hair is believed to protect the dog’s eyes from the hot Cuban sun, and because of this it has become a tradition for this breed to let the hair fall freely over the eyes rather than being pulled back into a top knot. The Havanese is not a large dog, the height at the withers should not exceed 11 and a half inches, with a minimum of 8 inches.

This little dog should be cheerful and happy in appearance and, of course, should have a temperament to match. This is a dog that has been used over the centuries as a family pet and also as a shepherd and protector of the family flock of chickens, a task it can perform quite well. This is an active breed and not one to stay quiet for long like some small lap dogs do. This little dog is quite intelligent and good at tricks, and also excels in such ring sports as obedience and agility and flyball.

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