By: Ana Elena Photo: Erick Fausto Leyva
He looks like a teddy bear with long, soft, and wavy hair that sometimes covers his lively eyes. Small and bouncing with energy, he proudly raises his head and wags his tail like a ﬂag when he moves. He is the Bichón Havanese a breed created during colonial times and kept alive by kennel clubs in Cuba and around the world.
This docile and happy little dog is considered the perfect toy dog companion but can be considered a toy breed only for its sizes His “companionship” instincts are so well developed that breeders don‘t have to make the effort of improving them. This loyal and loving defender has a well-eamed position at the centre of Cuban households and usually captures his owners‘ affection by the use of his intelligence and personality.Bichón means bearded and its taller hindquarters give the breed its sprightly gait.
The Bichón´s ancestors can be traced back to ancient Greece and more recently from the now extinct Bichón,Tenerife. It was spread through the Mediterranean by Spanish sailors and traders and exists today in varieties including the Maltese, Bolognese, and, the most well-known, Frisé. Brought to Cuba by Spanish colonizers, it slowly changed due to the climate and local diet. While they may be of many different colours, they can most frequently be found in ivory white and cream.
The Bichón Havanese is the only canine breed of Cuban origin with the genetic base still being on the island. Cuban breeders are determined to maintain pure bloodlines for a breed so closely linked to the early days of the country.