The Havanese is the National dog of Cuba. It was once called the Havana Silk Dog or the Spanish Silk Poodle mainly because of the coat being like raw silk floss, profuse but extremely light and soft. In its native country of Cuba the coat was never clipped and the hair never tied into a topknot. The Cubans believed the hair falling over the eyes of the Havanese protected them from harsh sun.
The Havanese was brought to Europe in the 18th century where it found favor in the courts of Spain, France and England. By the mid-eighteenth century Queen Victoria owned two Havanese and Charles Dickens had one. In Cuba during this same time period the Havanese became the family dog, playmate of children, a watchdog, and herder of the family poultry flock. Only a handful of Havanese found their way to the United States after the Cuban revolution. All the Havanese in the world today, except those from the iron curtain countries and those remaining in Cuba come from 11 Havanese immigrants. The Havanese type has remained almost unchanged from the dogs painted in the 18th century.
The Havanese is a sturdy little dog, low on his legs, with long abundant hair, soft and preferably wavy. His movement is lively and elastic. Exceptionally bright he is easy to train as alarm dog. Affectionate, of a happy nature, he is amiable, a charmer, playful and even a bit of a clown. He loves children and plays endlessly with them. According to his happy nature, the Havanese has a strikingly light-footed and elastic , Rarely completely pure white, fawn in its different shades (slight blackened overlay admitted), black, havana-brown, tobacco colour, reddish-brown. More than most other breeds, Havanese need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you. Standoffish by nature, Havanese need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution could become shyness or fearfulness, which are difficult to live with.
Cataracts in Havanese can develop early or late. They can cause blindness or be slow in growth and not progress to blindness. To date, all the early onset, blinding cataracts have been found in Havanese with chondrodysplasia. Luxating patellas is also a concern in the Havanese breed. It is one of the defects that is considered genetic. Legg-Calve-Perthes results when the blood supply to the femoral head is interrupted resulting in avascular necrosis or death of the bone cells. This also is considered genetic.
There appears to be a significant number of heart murmurs showing up in the Havanese breed. Treatment of cardiac problems may include drugs, diet and/or surgery.