Objective Dog Ratings: Havanese

The Havanese

Like other bichon-type dogs, the Havanese is distinguished by their curling tails, floppy “drop” ears, large dark eyes, short snouts, and tendency to not shed. They are descended from the extinct Blanquito de la Habanao, plus some amount of poodle. On some Havanese, the fur is “corded” rather than brushed out, as seen in the middle picture on the left.

They have been described as curious but, no matter what their owners may say, they are not unusually intelligent. Like other companion dogs, they are loyal and easily attached, and prone to separation anxiety. This probably shouldn’t count against them, however, because, for all that most Havanese may not receive the attention which they require, that has more to do with their owners. If you work from home, then your Havanese should be quite happy in this regard.

They are reputed to be physically sturdier than many other tiny dogs, which is a point in their favor, and they aren’t terribly unhealthy dogs for their size, but there’s still cause for concern. Toy dogs, as a rule, have dental health concerns and may be prone to repeatedly-dislocating kneecaps (luxating patella), and a bone disorder with a very long name. Additionally, nearly half of Havanese have foreleg problems, and they are the most likely of any breed to have liver problems (liver “shunts”) and the second-most likely to have cataracts.

There is an ongoing attempt to breed “Havana silk dogs,” which are supposed to hearken back to the older stock and produce a healthier strain.

Overall, I find myself a little conflicted over their placement. They certainly display the hallmarks of domestication, and their health problems aren’t as severe as e.g. a pug’s, but there’s still room for improvement there (as the Havana Silk Dog breeders will attest). It’s also hard to imagine that any wolf of the prehistoric past would be pleased to learn that this is what some of their great-great-grandpups grew up to be. If they were at least smart, then the Havanese might squeak into a higher ranking, but the best we can say in this regard is that they aren’t stupid.

Rating: ★★☆ (Fine)

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