A Havanese is a breed of dog that originated in Cuba and was originally bred as playful companions for children of the Cuban aristocracy. The breed was also used for herding chicken and geese on family farms. It is part of the Bichon, or bearded, group of dogs. These dogs were once popular circus dogs in Havana and the breed used to be known as the Havana Silk Dog.
This type of dog is a toy breed with sturdy, short legs, a long tail and long hair. The hair is long even on the tail and is a silky texture. The desirable weight for the average Havanese about 9 to 10.5 inches (22.86 to 26.67 cm) tall is 8 to 11 pounds (3.6 to 4.9 kg).
A Havanese's coat may have just a slight wave to it, or it may be very curly. The breed has an undercoat and it doesn’t shed. The coat color ranges from cream to black as well as many varieties of mixed colors. All colors of this breed are recognized in North America, but chocolate and black are popular shades with breeders. Grooming-wise, these dogs are high maintenance because the coat requires a lot of combing and brushing. However, the coat may be clipped to a shorter cut for easier care.
The disposition of these dogs in general is said to be gentle and sociable. It’s thought to be one of the best breeds for households with children. They also usually get along well with other dogs as well as cats. This breed is thought to be very intelligent and it's said to be common for Havanese to sit in a high place to observe situations out of sheer curiosity.
The Havanese is generally a healthy breed, but is genetically prone to eye problems as well as dry skin and ear infections. Laxating patellas, or slipping knees, are also associated with the breed. Junior cataracts, which are cataracts that occur in younger dogs rather than dogs over eight years of age, may also be a problem.
These dogs are indoor dogs and are very loyal companions. They seldom bark and are known to be good apartment dogs. They need daily walks and love to play. Some especially enjoy swimming if they're used to the sport as a puppy.