Although the Havanese is newly recognized toy breed of the AKC since only 1996, the history of the breed is a long one.
The Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba, and that country's only native breed.
The Havanese, get's it's name from it's port of origin, Havana, Cuba. Throughout history, however, the Havanese has been know as: Blanquito Cubano, Bichon Habanero, Bichon Havanais, White Cuban, Blanquito de la Habana, Bichon of Cuba, Havana Silk Dog, and the Spanish Silk Poodle. Still, it is a distinct breed originally developed in Cuba to become the favored pampered pet of the aristocratic sugar barons.
Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba in November 1492, and claimed her for Spain. Throughout the next decade, colonization began with the first settlers, the farmers arriving most likely from Tenerife, followed by the segundos or seco
nd sons of the Spanish aristocracy.
Due to severe restrictions imposed on Cuba by the Spanish, one of the few ports open to them for trade was Tenerife. Ship's logs of the early sixteenth century reveal that dogs were brought along on these early colonists' voyages. Most likely, these were the dog of Tenerife, the common ancestor to the entire Bichon family of dogs. It appears these little dogs became the pampered pets of the residing Spanish aristocracy, and developed with little outside influence.
In spite of the trade restrictions, Cuba developed and prospered.By the 18th Century, Cuba became the cultural center of the New World, with an elegance that surpassed anything theBritish colonies had done. The aristocracy of Europe found the city of Havana to be a great vacation spot, with its operas, theatres and palacios. On their return to Europe, they brought back the little white dog of Havana, known as the Blanquito or White Cuban.
By the 18th Century, these dogs were quite the rage in Europe. Charles Dicken's owned one, named Tim, as a playmate for his seven children. Queen Victorial owned two.
With the advent of the Cuban revolution, the class of Cubans who owned Havanese were the first to leave. A handful of the dogs them found their way to the USA.
In the early 1970's, Dorothy Goodale's goal was to buy what purebreds she could find and rebuild the breed. She was able to acquire 6 pedigreed dogs from the two unrelated bloodlines of the Perez and Fantasio families. She continued advertising in Latin American newspapers, with a single response from Senior Barber in Costa Rica to purchase his five Havanese. So the Goodale's began their Havanese breeding program, with eleven dogs from three unrelated lines. In 1979 Dorothy was instrumental in the formation of the Havanese Club of America, establishing an official registry for the Havanese.
In 1984 the first Havanese were imported in the Netherlands. In Belgium the first Havanese were imported in 1985: Jubilo Pillowtalks and Annettchen
Von Waldeck und Pyrmont. The first litter in Belgium was born in 1987. The parents were Annettchen Von Waldeck und Pyrmont and Pillowtalk’s Hot Toddy.
The Havanese became in a short period of time relatively popular and some breeder were occupied to develop the breed. You can notice some differences in size and coat structure. The coat is wavy and can have every colour. The black colour, that wasn't accepted in the beginning, was allowed in 1996, because otherwise the number of dogs to breed with would become too restricted and colours like grey and havanabrown would disappear. Since 2006 the chocolate colour is also accepted.
Cuban CH “Puppy” (1988-2002) the first Bichon Havanese Champion of Cuba and beloved lifelong friend of Alfredo Sanz Peraza, Havana, Cuba. Puppy was born of a litter of six in December of 1988, and featured here in 1992 on a Cuban postage stamp celebrating the nation’s only purebred dog, the Havanese.