Supermodel Iman and husband David Bowie just recently got a Havanese/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who they named Max.
The Havanese is thought to be a hypoallergenic dog because it does not shed. This is not entirely true, as the dog sheds, but the hair and dander it releases are trapped in its coat. If you suffer from allergies, you should spend some time around a Havanese to see your reaction before you actually bring one home.
The Havanese adapted well to the Cuban environment. His long, silky double coat actually protects him from the heat and the harmful rays of the sun; though it is long, it is very light and soft. His topknot also shields his eyes from the sun.
There is a short-haired variety of the Havanese, called the Shavanese. These dogs are not acceptable in the show ring. Some dishonest breeders are trying to sell Shavanese as a "rare" new dog breed and charge exorbitant prices for them.
In Cuba, the Havanese were rarely seen on the streets. They belonged solely to the upper class, whether the aristocracy or the bourgeoisie, and spent their entire lives in luxurious tropical mansions.
In Cuba, the Havanese was never bred for personal or commercial intentions. They were only given as gifts, and as very important ones at that. The gift of a Havanese signified the presence of or the willingness for a serious social, and often business, relationship.
The Havanese was brought back to Europe and enjoyed favor in the major courts of European royalty. They were often used to entertain guests with tricks and their playful humor. Many Havanese were given Poodle-style cuts.
All Havanese today outside of Cuba are the descendants of 11 dogs that fled the country with their owners during the rebellions of the 1950s and 1960s. One woman, Mrs. Goodale of Florida, was able to resurrect the breed from these 11 dogs; she put out ads in the newspaper to track down Cuban families that had brought their Havanese with them, with papers. Her first line of dogs materialized in 1974.
The Havanese belongs to the same family as the Bichon Frise, the Maltese and the Bolognese.
Though they are small dogs and are included in the AKC's Toy Group, the Havanese do not have the air of a pampered diva. Instead, they are sturdy dogs that enjoy healthy romping sessions. One of their original jobs was to herd chickens. They were never really considered lap dogs.
Other dishonest breeders are trying to sell a breed called the "Havana Silk Dog", again touting it as a "rare, new breed". These are no different than standard Havanese dogs.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Queen Victoria of England owned two Havanese and Charles Dickens had one, named Tim.