Living With Havanese

(A version of this article appeared in the August 2012 edition of SHOWSIGHT.)
Havanese dog playing outside

The first word most people would use to describe living with a Havanese is: Fun. My dogs have also opened new worlds for me.

When we got our first Havanese in 1999, we had no idea how much this little dynamo would change our lives. We were introduced to dog shows, breeding, Delta Therapy dogs, Obedience, Agility, and hilarious antics.

Her name was “Hanna,” CH K.B.’s Star of Havana.

Another thing people say about Havanese is that they are like potato chips; you can’t have just one. Hanna introduced us to the dog fancy and to dog shows. However, we were lonely when she was away at shows. So, our family was joined by our darling “Tigger,” CH Los Perritos Star of Varadero. He was the happiest and gentlest soul. Like Will Rogers, he never met a man he didn’t like. Although a Champion at a young age, he found his niche as a Therapy Dog.

I have tremendous respect for the work so many of these little dogs do as Therapy Dogs. Patients love their soft, silky hair and happy demeanor. They have the most uncanny awareness of the various situations, and seem to know just what to do.

Living with Havanese brought us to our next great experience; breeding. We listened carefully to our breeder and studied every aspect. The result was our GCH Shallowbrook Starlet O’Hanna. She grew up a bit and went into the ring like the superstar she always believed herself to be! She was a Specialty and Best in Show winner.

Havanese are called Velcro dogs. They follow you everywhere; not to demand attention, just to be near you. They don’t like to be left behind. They can open zippers, jump most barriers, and figure out how to work a swinging door. I even had one that could climb a fence. They adapt easily to travelling in carriers, and on a plane they are good under the seat.

Each has special qualities. One of mine did back flips to express joy. One “talked,” and had a very extensive range. Some hide favorite toys, some hide favorite treats. So, look behind the cushions on the sofa! Another thing people notice about living with Havanese is that they sleep in all sorts of positions. Mine often sleep upside down on their backs. They curl up in unusual places too, and like having a pillow under their heads. I think they watch us!

They wear costumes without complaint. One owner said, “What is it about these dogs? They put on a costume and go to a party like it is the most natural thing in the world!”

They love to dance and to jump. You need to be careful when they are young as they can injure themselves. It is a wonder that any of them have intact patellas; they lead their lives like a flying squirrel!

What are the problems? Well, housebreaking must be done consistently. After six months they are good as they are mature enough to “wait.” If puppies are allowed to roam around when they are small, and have accidents, it is more difficult to really fix it later.

They do get bored. When teaching tricks or obedience, they will “get it” pretty fast, especially if it is fun. So, don’t do too many repetitions or yawning will commence.

Paper is a favorite toy. If you have a low roll of paper towels, drop a Kleenex or have toilet paper within reach, you may find that they have made confetti. Fast too!

Havanese are usually healthy. Good breeders try to keep it that way with frequent and extensive health testing.

The Havanese Club of America has conducted a Health Survey to know of any issues.

All in all, this is a happy, fun-loving, affectionate, and gentle breed. They are beautiful and they make us laugh with their antics. They have opened wonderful new worlds for me. What could be better?



Havanese Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the Havanese dog breed with articles and information in our Havanese Breed Magazine.


Havanese Breed Magazine - Showsight


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  • Joan Ambrose was born and raised in NYC. She attended the Brearley School and Columbia University. Joan now resides in Key Biscayne, Florida. She has been the President of the Havanese Club of America, from 2010 through 2014, and a Board Member of the Progressive Dog Club (NYC).

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