Many people are won over by the charm of this little aristocratic breed. They are becoming extremely popular dogs and are showing up more and more at conformation events. In general, a show Havanese must be somewhat shorter than he is long, with a rectangular outline, and must be covered in a long, wavy coat that has a silk-like texture; the coat should not be trimmed. These dogs should demonstrate a playful character and should never be elaborately groomed so as to give a diva-esque air. Though today they are excellent companion dogs, in the past they have been used as playmates for children, watchdogs and poultry herders; their character, build and expression should reflect their down-to-earth, working nature.
The breed has a topline that slightly rises towards the rear, with a somewhat short upper arm. They have a characteristically springy gait and are very agile. In terms of height, the Havanese must range from between 8.5 to 11.5 inches and must have a mischievous expression. His large, wide set eyes are shaped like almonds and dark brown; lighter eyes in the chocolate variety are accepted but not preferred. Eye rims must have complete solid black pigment; again, the chocolate dog may have chocolate pigment. A Havanese must have medium length, high set ears that reach about half the distance to the nose when extended; they should have a distinct fold. The dog should have a somewhat rounded, broad skull, with a muzzle that is slightly shorter than the length of the skull. He should have a square, broad nose that is black; exception is again made for the chocolate dog, which can have a chocolate nose. The teeth must meet in a scissors bite.
The Havanese has a medium length neck that is slightly arched. His chest is somewhat broad and deep, reaching down to the elbow. The high set tail is covered with long hair, arching over the back with no tight curl. He has a short upper arm, with enough angulation to place the straight legs under the body; elbows are straight and lie close to the body. The round feet have toes that are arched and straight out. Dewclaws can be left on the front feet, but should be removed from the hind feet. The Havanese has a double coat, which is however different than the double coat of cold-bred breeds; its texture is light and soft and not woolly at all and should be wavy and long. It may be of any color and a corded coat is allowed. Since this breed developed in the tropics, his coat is quite particular, being long but having the function of protecting the dog from the heat and sun. The hair found on the dog's head should never be put in a topknot; traditionally, this was never done, as the hair on the dog's head was thought to protect his eyes from the sun.