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Are Havanese The Dog World’s Best Kept Secret?

The once-rare Havanese breed is growing in popularity – and is it any surprise? With a personality that’s as sunny as his native island of Cuba, the Havanese is a fun and devoted companion.

Summary

The Havanese dog breed has won many admirers with his long, silky hair, expressive eyes, and cuddly size. Bred as a companion dog to the Cuban aristocracy in the 1800s, he’s earned the nickname “Velcro dog” because he sticks so closely to his owner’s side. But don’t write him off as just a lapdog; the Havanese is trainable and surprisingly energetic, and has excelled in dog sports and canine careers ranging from circus performer to assisting the handicapped.

Overview

The Havanese shines his affectionate personality on everyone, including strangers, children, other dogs, and even cats. But his family will get the lion’s share of his love; given the choice, he’ll stick like glue to his owner’s side. The potential downside to all this devotion is that, when left alone, the Havanese can become anxious. This is definitely a house dog, and a Havanese who’s left in the backyard — or anywhere away from his family — is not a happy dog.

His Velcro personality isn’t so surprising, considering he was bred to keep the wealthy families of his native island of Cuba company. Since then, however, the Havanese has proven that he’s good for much more than warming laps. Havanese dogs are quite trainable, and they’ve worked as therapy and assistance dogs, sniffed out mold and termites, and shown off their clownish antics as performing dogs.

They’ve also got a surprising amount of energy for their size, and for the family looking to compete, the Havanese will happily tackle such sports as agility, freestyle, obedience, and flyball.

As with many small dogs, it’s common for adoring owners to overindulge their Havanese. They’ll probably regret it — bad habits, such as eating only people food, can form very quickly. This breed is a sharp con artist, and you may find that your Havanese is training you, rather than the other way around.

In spite of his quirks, or maybe even because of them, the Havanese is a wonderful and versatile pet.

Highlights

  • The Havanese is a companion dog that thrives on being with his family. He can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone, and does best when someone is home during the day to keep him company.
  • The long, silky coat of the Havanese is beautiful, but requires regular brushing and care. Many owners prefer to clip it short, but if you want to show your dog, you’ll have to let it grow long and invest a good amount of time in grooming, or money in paying a groomer. Another reason to keep it long: If you live in a warm climate, the long coat helps keep your dog cool.
  • The Havanese does well in all types of housing, from apartments to homes with large yards. But he’ll probably bark when he sees someone passing by the house or when he hears a strange noise. The good news is that he doesn’t bark just for the sake of hearing his own voice.
  • The Havanese loves to watch the world from up high, and will find his way onto the backs of sofas and tables to watch the day pass by.
  • Paper is a favorite toy for the Havanese, and this clever little breed will go out of his way to find it, even sniffing through the jackets of your guests. Toilet paper, which can give him hours of shredding pleasure, is a special treat. Toss him a roll, and your house will soon look like it’s been hit by Halloween pranksters.
  • The Havanese needs as much exercise as a larger dog. A long walk or an active game each day should do it.
  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable Havanese breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.

Personality

The Havanese is a gentle and affectionate breed that thrives on human companionship. Your Havanese will often follow you from room to room throughout the day, and he can get very anxious when left alone.

He’s intelligent as well, and will enjoy making you laugh with goofy antics, or simply sitting on your lap watching the world go by.

Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner.

Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

Like every dog, the Havanese needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Havanese puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

Size

Males and females stand 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches tall, and weigh 7 to 13 pounds.

About Gary Fujioka, Sr.

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Gary Fujioka, Sr. is a lifelong dog owner, first time Havanese owner. He is a proud father and grandfather, online presence management consultant, software developer, writer, musician, CEO of The Pathmark Group of Companies, and publisher of Havanese World.

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