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Breed Priorities – The Havanese

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274 – September, 2018


The Havanese breed originated in Cuba. It is a member of the Bichon family of dogs which also includes the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Coton de Tulear, Lowchen, and Bolognese. These small, friendly dogs have drop ears and tails over their backs. It is thought that some such dogs reached Cuba from the Mediterranean on merchant ships centuries ago where they were valued by the aristocracy. It is the only purebred dog that originated in Cuba.

The first thing I learned about Havanese was their exceptional temperament. Happy and friendly, they typically get along with everyone. This surely contributes to the breed’s popularity, ranking 23rd among breeds registered with AKC. The next thing I learned about was their distinct topline which rises to the rear. And then their coat – it is more to shield them from the sun than the cold. I was curious to see if the current experts would agree with those who taught me years ago.

We found thirty-seven Havanese experts to invite to take our survey on their breed’s priorities and were able to reach most of them (assuming they read email). Twenty-nine agreed to participate. The eighteen who returned completed surveys have been in the breed for nearly nineteen years on average. Five who were judges have been judging the breed for more than eight years on average, and several have judged their national specialty.


The experts were asked to prioritize a list of breed characteristics taken from the Havanese standard in order from most to least important. Below are the virtues as ranked by the experts’ average priorities, with 1 being the most important.

1. Straight topline that rises slightly from withers to croup
2. Springy gait
2. (tie) Slightly longer than tall
4. Plumed tail high-set and arches forward up over the back
5. Short upper arm with moderate shoulder layback
6. Eyes large, dark brown, almond-shaped
7. Friendly, playful, alert, intelligent with sweet disposition
8. Coat silky to the touch, soft and light in texture
9. Muzzle full, rectangular, slightly less than length of skull
10. Chest deep, well-developed, reaches elbow
11. Shown naturally, no other trimming (than specified) or sculpting of coat
12. Coat stands off body slightly, flows with movement
13. Moderate bone
14. Ears broad at base, dropped, with distinct fold
15. Neck slightly arched, moderate length
16. Scissors bite

Click here to read the complete article
274 – September, 2018

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