Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Havanese Standard

What should a Havanese look like? It is probably best to start with easily definable elements.

Size Height at the withers from is from 23-27cm with tolerances from 21-29cm.

In inches that works out to 9.055 inches or think of it as just over 9 inches at the minimum up to 10.6299 inches or a bit over 10 and half inches. The tolerance part pertains to the show ring and allows breeders to keep dogs who are not within the ideal as part of their breeding program. Since dogs outside the tolerance range are disqualified and should be removed from a breeding program, narrowing the size range too much could result in drastically reducing the size of the gene pool. Keeping the Havanese within that 9 to 10.5 size range is one of the challenges of breeding the Havanese. While some people would like to see weight restrictions placed on the Havanese, I think it would result in some less than desirable consequences. First of all a dog at the top of the size range who is physically fit and well muscled will weight a great deal more than a less athletic dog of the same size. There are some show people who might restrict their dogs’ food in order to keep their prize champion within the desired weight range. Yes, sadly it does happen.

Coat & Colour Hair: undercoat woolly and not very developed; it is often totally absent. The topcoat is very long (12-18cm in adult dog), soft, flat or wavy and may form curly strands.

A Havanese can be any colour and any pattern. The only pattern that is not presently part of the Havanese genetic makeup is the merle (think Shelties and Australian Shepherds). This is fortunate since there are severe health risks associated with the merle gene when present in pairs.

In real life the Havanese has everything from long silky, fairly straight hair with very little undercoat to short cottony hair, that refuses to grow, to pretty curly hair that has so much undercoat that it becomes next to impossible to maintain to any length because of its tendency to knot up. Breeders are working at trying to come up with the desired silky coat but the genetics of coat type is not well understood and is very complex. Any one litter may have several coat types even when the sire and dam have the desired silky coat. I classify the coat types in the following way:

1. Silky with very little undercoat - fairly straight
2. Silky with a lot of undercoat - fairly straight
3. Silky with very little undercoat - fairly wavy
4. Silky with a lot of undercoat - fairly wavy
5. Silky but each individual hair is thin
6. Silky but each individual hair is thick
7. The cotton coat

The easiest coat to maintain is the thick individual hair that is fairly straight with little to no undercoat. Since both the US and Canadian standards are being revised right now I'm not sure just what the new "best coat" is going to be according to the standard.

There will be more later but if you have any questions please don't hesitate to email me at: