Dogs are part of the family and should always be taken with you when you move – even it’s the 1500’s and the move is from "civilized" Europe to the wilds of the New World. But dogs braved the harsh sea voyages along with their families and settled down to start a New World with them. In Cuba, which Columbus claimed for Spain in 1492, a distinct spunky toy breed developed known today as the Havanese, named after Cuba’s capital city Havana.
Just as the European colonists eventually grew into a distinctly Cuban identity, so did their toy dogs. Their Bichons, Poodles and possibly the now-extinct Tenerife dog gradually turned into the Havanese that we would recognize today. They grew a double layered silky coat, black eye rims, nose and lips and several colors. They became the "It" dog for the Cuban bourgeoisie. But when the Cuban Revolution hit, the dogs were in as much trouble with the revolutionaries as their owners. They both had to flee for their lives. A Mrs. Goodale of Florida is credited for saving the breed from sure extinction by starting a stud in America with 11 dogs bought from relocated Cuban families.
Not content on conquering the hearts and homes of one nation, the Havanese is now conquering North America. Although only introduced in the 1970’s after the Revolution, the Havanese is making a name for himself in and out of the show ring. The breed has now been recognized by the American Kennel Club and the American Rare Breeds Association. They colonize indoor homes and apartments best. They make great companions for individuals and families.
Descended from Bichons and Toy Poodles, the Havanese became the national dog of Cuba. This is but a part of the story behind the Havanese that today lives mostly in the families of Americans.