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The Havanese, new to the AKC, is an old breed with title to a colorful history. The Havanese is the National dog of Cuba and its only native breed. The dog's journey to Cuba most likely was aboard the trade ships sailing from the island of Tenerife chronicled in ship's logs of the early sixteenth century. Cuban trade was highly restricted by the Spanish, for many years allowing Tenerife to be one of the only open ports, and it would appear these little dogs who had found their way into homes of Cuban aristocracy developed without much outside influence.
The tropical environs of their homeland appears to have influenced the Havanese development, specifically their unique coat texture. Once called the Havana Silk Dog, or the Spanish Silk Poodle, the coat is like raw silk floss, profuse, but extremely light and soft, insulating and protective of harsh tropical rays.
As Colonial Cuba developed and prospered the popularity of the Havanese grew. By the mid-eighteenth century they were trendy in Europe, often exhibited in European dog shows and type was well established. As Cuban culture shifted the little dog of Havana, adaptable as always, became a family dog extraordinare, playmate of children, watchdog, and herder of the family poultry flock.
With the advent of the Cuban revolution, the class of Cubans who owned Havanese was the first to leave. A handful of them found their way to the United States, and by the end of the 70s a gene pool was being rebuilt. All the Havanese in the world today, save those from the "iron curtain" countries and those remaining in Cuba, stem from 11 little immigrants. Remarkably, through all their travels, Havanese type and purpose has remained virtually unchanged for the past hundred and fifty years. American Kennel Club.
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