550 – Sturdy, Colorful, Charming Havanese Bring Cuban History to Life


Sturdy, Colorful, Charming Havanese Bring Cuban History to Life

Dr. Adam King, DVM with one of his Havanese in a corded coat.

Dr. Adam King, DVM, of Askin Havanese, joins host Laura Reeves in Love the Breeds Month for an overview of the little dogs of Cuba’s aristocracy that survived the Cuban Revolution.

According to King, the precursor of the Havanese was brought to Cuba from Spain and Italy during colonization in the 1600-1700s. More European immigrants arrived in Cuba in the 1800s with Poodle type dogs, which also became incorporated into the developing breed.

Originally developed as the family pet of the Cuban aristocracy, Havanese are sturdy, colorful, and charming. King noted that wealthy Cubans fled the country during the Revolution in the 1950s.

“Many of them thought it was going to be a short-lived thing, leaving their dogs with the domestic help at the time because they thought they’d be coming back to Cuba very shortly,” King said. “And that’s something that obviously didn’t happen for many of those families.

“We are fortunate that a small number of Havanese were taken by their owners to Costa Rica and the US. That’s where the majority of the breed then developed. Most of the Havanese, both in Europe and in America, came from those people who just happened to take their dogs with them.”

“They are a toy breed, but the nice thing is that they are not a fragile toy breed for the most part. We don’t want them to be clunky, but there should be nothing fragile or breakable about Havanese whatsoever.”

Puppies generally change colors multiple times over the course of their lives.

The variety of colors is part of the breed’s charm. Color is immaterial per the standard, with only dilute blue being unaccepted in the ring. Merle is not a naturally occurring color in the breed.

“So, we definitely get people who come to us as puppy owners who say they want a specific color,” King said. “And it really is sometimes difficult to convince them that ‘that’s nice that you think this is a good color right now, but I just want to make sure that you know it will not be this color probably in six months, it may come back to this color, but it won’t be this color in six months.’

“I wouldn’t say that they are Einsteins at the dog world. People disagree with me, but I’d say that they’re like a C plus student. They’re happy to be here. They’re game to do whatever you want, but it’s not a breed that you have to out-think all the time.

“Havanese do go through at least one coat change, usually sometime between the ages of 7 and 10 months, that can be pretty maddening. We look at them and they mat, like it truly is quite terrible and you think you’re going crazy. But if you can get a coat through that, generally it’s something that’s relatively easy to do.

“They don’t shed like the typical dog and they tend to have pretty low dander and pretty low odor as well. Everyone’s allergies are different and so starting to come around this breed would be a good idea to see is this something that triggers you or if is this a dog that you can really deal with. But because you do have hair versus fur, it is agreed that is a good breed for most people with allergies.

“I can generally place my puppies in homes and know that I’m going to get multiple texts and emails about how much they love their dogs for the rest of the dog’s life.

“They are just like potato chips. They are so charming and so happy that you can’t help but fall in love with them. And when you have one, all you can think about is, well, you know, it might be a good idea to have another one as well because they’re so fun and easy. It really is a breed that does well in the vast majority of homes.”


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