The Havanese, once referred to as the Havana Silk Dog and the Spanish Silk Poodle, originated in Cuba and is part of the ancient Bichon family. The Bichon family refers to a group of little white dogs that are likely to have the Tenerife, a common ancient ancestor of the Maltese and the Bichon Frise. Havanese were not working dogs, but were valued lapdogs of Cuba’s wealthy planters and aristocrats. They were named for Havana, the capital city of Cuba.
During Fidel Castro’s revolution of the mid-1900s, wealthy Cubans fleeing to America brought their Havanese with them. From there, the Havanese grew in popularity and are now popular around the world. The American Kennel Club recognized the Havanese in 1996 as part of the Toy Group. They may be little, but they are sturdy and sociable dogs with larger-than-life personalities. They have a playful spirit and are happy to be a loved family companion.