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Havanese basic information

The Havanese is a member of the Bichon family of dogs, which also includes the Bichon Frise, the Bichon Bolognese, Maltese, Coton De Tulear, Tsvetnaya Bolonka, Franzuskaya Bolonka and possibly the L÷wchen breeds. These dogs were developed from the now extinct Mediterranean Bichon Tenerife, which was introduced to the Canary Islands by the Spanish and later to other islands and colonies of Spain by sailors.

The Havanese, while a toy dog and always a companion, is also a hearty and sturdy dog for such a size, and should never give the appearance of fragility or of being overly delicate. The height range is from 8Ż to 11Ż inches (216 to 292 mm), with the ideal being between 9 and 10Ż inches (229 and 267 mm), measured at the withers, and is slightly less than the length from point of shoulder to point of buttocks, which should give the dog the appearance of being slightly more long than tall. A unique aspect of the breed is the topline, which rises slightly from withers to rump, and the gait, which is flashy but not too reaching, and gives the Havanese a spritely, agile appearance on the move.

The expression of the face, with its almond eyes, is one of mischievousness rather than being cute, like the Bolognese, and the ears, which are medium in length and well feathered, always hang down. The tail should curve over the back at rest, and like the rest of the dog, is covered in long fur.

The key word for the Havanese is 'natural', and the breed standards note that except for slight clipping around the feet to allow for a circular foot appearance, they are to be shown unclipped; any further trimming, back-combing, or other fussing is against type and will cause a dog to be disqualified. That includes undocked tails, uncropped ears, and even a standard that forbids the use of topknots and bows in presentation. The AKC standard notes "his character is essentially playful rather than decorative" and the Havanese, when shown, should reflect that, generally looking like a toy in size only, but more at home with playing with children or doing silly tricks than being pampered and groomed on a silk pillow.

Colour
Though there is some argument on whether the original Havanese were all white or of different colours, modern Havanese are acceptable in all coat colours and patterns, with allowances made in every breed standard for their unique colourful nature. The only restrictions is that every Havanese must have a black nose and eyerims, except in chocolate coloured dogs, where brown colouration is allowed. Popular colours include fawn, white, and black, and parti-coloured Havanese are as well regarded as solids.

Coat
Havanese, like other Bichons and related dogs like Poodles, have a coat that doesn't readily shed. Rather, it catches hair and dander internally, and needs to be regularly brushed out. Many people consider the Havanese to be nonallergenic or hypoallergenic, but they do still release dander, which can aggravate allergies. It's best to be exposed to the Havanese before deciding to choose one as a dog for a house with allergies.

Havanese have three coat types, the smooth, which is similar to the Maltese, the curly, which is not unlike a Bichon Frise coat, and the wavy, which is the preferred coat type and the type most uniquely Havanese. The hair is long, soft, and abundant, and should have no coarseness. A short coat mutation shows up occasionally in otherwise normal litters, but these are not showable Havanese and go so far against standard that even novelty breeding of them is discouraged.

Because of the tropical nature of the Havanese, the thick coat is light and designed to act as a sunshade and cooling agent for the little dog on hot days. This means, though, that the fluffy Havanese needs protection against cold winter days, in spite of the warm wooly look of their fur.

The coat can be shown naturally brushed out, or corded, a technique which turns the long coat into 'cords' of fur, and which is hard to start but easy to care for when completed.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Havanese".
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