The Havanese is an old breed of the Bichon family. The earliest
references to the ancestors of the modern Havanese go back
to Plinius (23 to 79 B.C.) in the Mediterranean region, and
the breed may have originated on the island of Malta. Dogs
in both Spain and Italy played an integral part in bringing
the Havanese to the New World. Also known as the Havana Silk
Dog, today's Havanese descended from the dogs that found a
permanent home in Cuba, where they were popular among the
wealthy Cubans. After the Cuban revolution in 1959, many of
these dogs ended up in the United States.
Today the Havanese is a happy, outgoing, sturdy, small dog.
Combining an outgoing temperament with their trainability,
Havanese are excellent candidates for obedience training.
The Havanese is a small sturdy dog of immense charm. He is
slightly longer than tall, and covered with a profuse mantle
of untrimmed long, silky, wavy hair. His plumed tail is carried
loosely curled over his rump. A native of Cuba, he has evolved
over the centuries from the pampered lap-dog of the aristocracy
into what he is today - the quintessential family pet of a
people living on a small tropical island. His duties traditionally
have been those of companion, watchdog, child’s playmate
and herder of the family poultry flock. His presentation in
the show ring should reflect his function - always in excellent
condition but never so elaborately coifed as to preclude an
impromptu romp in the leaves, as his character is essentially
playful rather than decorative.
While historically always a toy dog and therefore never overly
large or coarse, he does not appear so fragile as to make
him unsuitable as a child’s pet. His unique coat reflects
centuries in the tropics, and protects against heat. It is
remarkably soft and light in texture, profuse without being
harsh or woolly. Likewise, the furnishings of the head are
believed to protect the eyes from the harsh tropical sun,
and have traditionally never been gathered in a topknot for
In both structure and gait, the Havanese is not easily mistaken
for any other breed. His characteristic topline, rising slightly
from withers to rump is a result of moderate angulation both
fore and aft combined with a typically short upper arm. The
resulting springy gait is flashy rather than far-reaching
and unique to the breed. The overall impression of the dog
on the move is one of agility rather than excessive ability
to cover ground. These characteristics of temperament, structure
and gait contribute in large part to the character of the
breed, and are essential to type.
Size, Proportion and Substance
The height range is from 8 ½ to 11 ½ inches,
with the ideal being between 9 and 10 ½ inches, measured
at the withers, and is slightly less than the length from
point of shoulder to point of buttocks, creating a rectangular
outline rather than a square one. The Havanese is a sturdy
little dog, and should never appear fragile. A coarse dog
with excessive bone is likewise contrary to type and therefore
equally undesirable. The minimum height ranges set forth in
the description above shall not apply to dogs and bitches
under twelve months of age. Disqualification: Height at withers
under 8 ½ inches or over 11 ½ inches, except
that the minimum height ranges set forth in the description
above shall not apply to dogs or bitches under twelve months
The expression is soft and intelligent, mischievous rather
than cute. The eyes are dark brown, large, almond-shaped,
and set rather widely apart. Dark eyes are preferred irrespective
of coat color, although the chocolate colored dog may have
somewhat lighter eyes. The pigment on the eyerims is complete,
solid black for all colors except for the chocolate dog which
has complete solid, dark chocolate pigment. No other dilution
of pigment is acceptable. Ears are of medium length; the leather,
when extended, reaches halfway to the nose. They are set high
on the skull, slightly above the endpoint of the zygomatic
arch, and are broad at the base, showing a distinct fold.
When the dog is alert, the ears lift at the base, producing
an unbroken shallow arc from the outer edge of each ear across
the backskull. The backskull is broad and slightly rounded.
The stop is moderate. Length of muzzle is slightly less than
length of back skull measured from stop to point of occiput
and the planes are level. The nose is broad and squarish,
fitting a full and rectangular muzzle, with no indication
of snipiness. The pigment on the nose and lips is complete,
solid black for all colors except for the chocolate dog which
has complete solid, dark chocolate brown pigment. No other
dilution of pigment is acceptable. A scissors bite is ideal.
Full complement of incisors preferred. Disqualifications:
Complete absence of black (or chocolate in the chocolate dog)
pigmentation on the eyerims, nose or lips.
Neck, Topline, and Body
The neck is of moderate length, in balance with the height
and length of the dog. It carries a slight arch and blends
smoothly into the shoulders. The topline is straight but not
level, rising slightly from withers to rump. There is no indication
of a roach back. The body, measured from point of shoulder
to point of buttocks, is slightly longer than the height at
the withers. This length comes from the ribcage and not from
the short, well-muscled loin. The chest is deep, rather broad
in front, and reaches the elbow. The ribs are well sprung.
There is a moderate tuck-up. The tail is high-set and plumed
with long, silky hair. It arcs forward over the back, but
neither lies flat on the back nor is tightly curled. On the
move the tail is carried loosely curled over the rump. The
long plume of the hair may fall straight forward or to either
side of the body. The tail may not be docked.
Shoulder layback is moderate, lying not more than 40 degrees
off vertical. Extreme shoulder layback will negatively affect
proper gait, and should be faulted. The tops of the shoulder
blades lie in at the withers, allowing the neck to merge smoothly
into the back. The upper arm is relatively short, but there
is sufficient angle between the shoulder and upper arm to
set the legs well under the body with a pronounced forechest.
The elbows turn neither in nor out, and are tight to the body.
Forelegs are well-boned and straight when viewed from any
angle. The distance from the foot to the elbow is equal to
the distance from elbow to withers. The pasterns are short,
strong and flexible, very slightly sloping. Dewclaws may be
removed. The feet are round, with well arched toes, and turn
neither in nor out. Pads and nails may be black, white, pink,
or a combination of these colors. Chocolate dogs may also
have brown pads and nails.
The hind legs are well-boned and muscular through the thigh,
with moderate angulation. The hocks are short and turn neither
in nor out. In normal stance, the hind legs are parallel to
each other from hock to heel and all the joints are in line
when viewed from the rear. The rear assembly, in which the
rump is slightly higher than the withers, contributes to the
breed’s unique, springy gait. Dewclaws should be removed.
The hind feet fall slightly behind a perpendicular line from
point of buttock when viewed from the side. Hind feet have
well arched toes and turn neither in nor out. Pads and nails
may be black, white, pink or a combination of these colors.
Chocolate dogs may also have brown pads and nails.
The coat is double, but without the harsh standoff guard hair
and woolly undercoat usually associated with double coats.
Rather, it is soft and light in texture throughout, though
the outer coat carries slightly more weight. The long hair
is abundant and, ideally, wavy. An ideal coat will not be
so profuse nor overly long as to obscure the natural lines
of the dog. Puppies may have a shorter coat. A single, flat
coat or an excessively curly coat are equally contrary to
type and should be faulted. Disqualifications: A coarse, wiry
coat. An atypical short coat on an adult dog (atypical would
be smooth, flat coat with, or without furnishings.)
All colors are acceptable, singly or in any combination. No
preference is given to one color over another. The skin may
be freckled or parti-colored.
The Havanese gait is lively, elegant, resilient, and unique,
contributing greatly to the breed’s overall essential
typiness. The characteristic "spring" is caused
by the strong rear drive combined with a "flashy"
front action effected by the short upper arm. While a truly
typey dog is incapable of exaggerated reach and drive, the
action does not appear stilted or hackneyed. The slightly
higher rear may cause a correctly built specimen to show a
flash of pad coming and going. The front legs reach forwardfreely.
There is good extension in the rear and no tendency toward
sickle hocks. The topline holds under movement, neither flattening
nor roaching. Head carriage is typically high, even on the
Playful and alert. The Havanese is both trainable and intelligent
with a sweet, non-quarrelsome disposition.
The dog should be shown as naturally as is consistent with
good grooming. He may be shown either brushed or corded. His
coat should be clean and well conditioned. In mature specimens,
the length of the coat may cause it to fall to either side
down the back but it should not appear to be artificially
parted. The long, untrimmed head furnishings may fall forward
over the eyes, naturally and gracefully to either side of
the skull, or be held in two small braids beginning above
the outer corner of the eyes, secured with plain elastic bands.
(No ribbons or bows are permitted.) Corded coats will naturally
separate into wavy sections in young dogs and will in time
develop into cords. Adult corded dogs will be completely covered
with a full coat of tassle-like cords. In either coat, minimal
trimming of the hair at the inside corner of the eye is allowed
for hygienic purposes only, not an attempt to resculpt the
planes of the head. Minimal trimming around the anal and genital
areas, for hygienic purposes only, is permissible but should
not be noticeable on presentation. The hair on the feet and
between the pads should be neatly trimmed for the express
purpose of a tidy presentation. Any other trimming or sculpting
of the coat is to be severely penalized as to preclude placement.
Because correct gait is essential to breed type, the Havanese
is presented at natural speed on a loose lead.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Havanese. Any
deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to
the extent of the deviation keeping in mind the importance
of the contribution of the various features toward the "original
purpose of the breed."
Height at withers under 8½ or over 11½ inches
except that the minimum height range shall not apply to dogs
or bitches under twelve months of age.
Complete absence of black ( or chocolate in the chocolate
dog) pigmentation on the eyerims, nose or lips.
Coarse, wiry coat.
An atypical short coat on an adult. (Atypical refers to a
smooth, flat coat with, or without furnishings.)