The Havanese breed is uniquely tied to Cuba. The name of the breed is actually derived from the famed seaport Havana was the modern variation of the breed originates. The Havanese is greatly loved in their home country and as you will see from this piece they have long been an integral part many upper class homes in that country. The Havanese is still recognized as the national dog of Cuba.
The Havanese made their way to Cuba from the Spanish island of Tenerife. When Spain conquered the island of Cuba they brought with them the sea faring dogs which were the ancestors of the dog now known as the Havanese. When the dogs first arrived in Cuba they were known as the Havanese Silk Dog or Blanquito de la Hablana.
Because of the good natured spirit of the Havanese combined with the luxurious coat and a very nicely defined face they soon become popular with the wealthy upper classes on the island. The Havanese was popular not only for their lovely appearance but also for their intelligence. The Havanese is a very smart dog that is capable of following commands and performing tricks for its owners. In fact the Bichon breed has been employed as circus performers for hundreds of years. Thanks to this knack for performing tricks the Havanese could do dances for their owners to entertain them.
The Havanese proved so popular that they were considered a natural accessory to any well established family home. However in the 1900’s the breed starting to become less popular with the wealthy of Cuba.
The reason for the decline of the breed in Cuba was due to the rise of the influence of America in Cuba. Up until 1900 Cuba was mostly under the influence of Spain. Wealthy Cubans on the island did most of their business with Spain and look towards Spain for its fashion influences. The Spanish were lovers of the Bichon lapdogs and this is what proved popular with the Cubans as well.
After 1900 however The United States start to grow in influence over the island. Trade and investment between the two nations grew and more and more wealthy Cubans took their cues from America. At this point the Havanese was not yet popular in the North America and so the Cubans also started to lose interest in their previously beloved dog.
While the Havanese may have lost its status amongst the elite it found a home amongst more common households. Out of favor with the wealthy the intelligent and affectionate Havanese were adopted by commoners. The breed is still popular in Cuba today and saw a massive resurgence during the 1990’s.
The Havanese has close ties to this day to the country from which it both takes its name and originates from. Cubans have a deep reservoir for this most favored of breeds. The fortunes of the Havanese have mirrored that of the island itself. First rising to pre eminence amongst the islands elite, then falling out of favor, only to see their star rise once again.