HAVANESE Official Breed Standard – C.K.C.

To purchase our Illustrated Standard please click on this link:  Illustrated Standards Purchase

Note:  April 2014 – The CKC standard has not changed. Although you may see publicity in the popular press saying that changes have been made, this is not so. The National breed club did initiate an amendment proposal to clarify ambiguous areas of the standard however the amendments were not approved by CKC.  Therefore, the Canadian breed standard remains exactly as is, effective since January 2011. There are no additions, deletions or any changes of any kind.  The official standard is below. In addition, at the bottom of the page, you will find assorted questions and answers about standard interpretation. 

Official CKC Standard – Effective January 2011

ORIGIN AND PURPOSE: Originating in the Western Mediterranean region, Havanese are descended from old world Bichon types. Early sea merchants brought these small dogs to Cuba where the breed was further developed and refined; for centuries prized by upper social classes as childrens’ playmates and loving companions. Though numbers were severely decimated by the late 1950’s Cuban revolution, the breed has regrown from surviving descendants. No longer a token of high society; the Havanese today is a companion dog to be enjoyed by all.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Sturdy, well balanced, small drop-eared dog, rectangular in outline, slightly longer than tall, with long abundant, soft and wavy hair in a variety of colours and patterns. Casual and carefree, unaffected in both manner and appearance. Movement lively and elastic, plumed tail carried over the back.


Exceptionally bright and attentive, easily trained in many capacities. Affectionate, happy natured, amiable, a charmer, playful and even a bit of a clown. An eager, lively, devoted family companion, typically good with children.

SIZE: Ideal height at withers 23-27cm (9.0-10.6 inches). Tolerance from 21-29cm (8.3-11.4 inches). Proportion and Substance: Small dog with a sense of refinement yet also sturdy; weight proportionate to height and bone, maintaining a balanced moderate build without exaggeration towards either fragility or coarseness.

COAT and COLOUR: Hair: Well suited to a breed developed in the tropics, the abundant, silken double coat is fine, soft and lightweight throughout, with a subtle airiness, less substantial at the touch than appearance suggests. Undercoat light and may not be very developed. The topcoat, very long (12-18cm in adults) does not hang to the ground, allowing light under the dog when standing on a solid surface; it enhances and reflects the lines of the body. No preference given for extreme length or profuseness. Puppy coats shorter, softer, less full than adult’s. Hair ideally wavy; any degree of wave permissible. Single, perfectly straight or tightly curled coats undesirable; wooly, harsh or wiry textures incorrect. Natural coat separation is acceptable, deliberate parting is not. Head furnishings simply brushed back or allowed to fall naturally. Scissoring and all trimming forbidden. Exceptions: tidying the base of the feet and minimal hygienic trimming unnoticeable on presentation. Thorough hands-on examination helps evaluate faults and qualities concealed by coat.

COLOUR: Wide colour diversity; all colours, markings and patterns equally acceptable

HEAD: Medium length, balanced in proportion to body. Skull: Flat to very slightly rounded, broad, forehead rising; seen from above, rounded at the back and almost straight and square on other three sides. Stop: moderate. Nose: Fully pigmented, colour undiluted. Black; Liver/Brown on chocolate dogs. Muzzle: level; narrowing slightly towards the nose but neither snipey nor truncated. Muzzle length equals skull length from stop to occiput. Lips: fine, lean, tight. Black; Liver/Brown on chocolate dogs. Jaws/Teeth: Scissors bite. Complete dentition desirable, absence of premolars (PM1) and molars (M3) tolerated. Cheeks: flat. Eyes: Bright, gentle, intelligent and expressive. Quite big, wide set, almond shaped. Dark brown; lighter brown on chocolate dogs. Eyerims: Fully pigmented. Dark brown/black; Liver/Brown on chocolate dogs. Ears: Well feathered, set relatively high; falling 

along the cheeks forming a discreet fold which raises them slightly. Ear leathers extend halfway to the nose, ending with a lightly rounded point. Neither propeller ears (sticking sideways) nor stuck to the cheeks.

NECK: Medium length, proportionately balanced, blending smoothly into the shoulders.

FOREQUARTERS: Forelegs straight and parallel, lean; good bone structure; moderate angulations. Distance from ground to elbow equals that from elbow to withers. Elbows close to body. Feet: pointing straight forward; slightly elongated shape; small; tight toes. Dewclaws may be removed.

BODY: Slightly long

er than tall, creating a rectangular outline, never square. Length measured point-of-shoulder to point-of-buttocks; height measured at withers. Topline is straight, slightly arched over the muscular loin, presenting a gentle, gradual rise from withers to rear with smooth transition to natural lines of the rump. Forefront prominent; ribs well sprung; chest reaching the elbow. Belly well tucked up.

HINDQUARTERS: Good bone structure; straight and parallel; moderate angulations in balance with forequarters. Rear and buttocks well developed. Feet: same as front.

TAIL: Plumed tail, moderately high set, furnished with long silky feathering falling over the back or to either side. Loosely curled over the back while gaiting, may drop at rest.

GAIT: The Havanese has a strikingly light-footed and elastic gait which contributes greatly to breed type. Movement is lively and springy, forelegs free striding and pointing straight forward; hindlegs giving the impulsion and moving in a straight line. Topline steady in motion; head naturally carried high. Movement best evaluated at the trot with dog moving freely on loose lead. Show of pads permissible.

FAULTS: Any departure from foregoing points to be considered a fault and penalized in proportion to degree of deviation.
· General appearance lacking in type
· Excessive shyness or aggression
· Fragility or coarseness
· Muzzle truncated or snipey, shorter/longer than skull length
· Bird of Prey eyes, eyes too deep set or prominent
· Nose or eyerim(s) p

artially depigmented

· Body too long/short; roached back; exaggerated rise
· Straight or tightly curled tail; incorrect tail carriage
· French front; leg(s) bowed/curved; deformed feet
· Coat harsh, not abundant; hair short except on puppies, trimmed or sculpted coat
· Overgroomed or neglected coat

· Depigmented nose
· Overshot or undershot
· Ectropion, Entropion; one or both eyerims totally depigmented
· Height: under 21cm or over 29cm (minimum not applicable to puppies under 12 months)
· N.B.: Males must have two apparently normal testicles fully descended


 Common Questions and Answers about the Breed Standard

Q – What is light feeling in regards to coat?

A – The Havanese has an abundance of coat but it is light (rather than dense) as you would expect from a breed developed in the tropics. The Havanese coat feels less substantial than it appears, as opposed to the coat of the Lhasa Apso which is

generally heavy and dense as befits a breed originating in the rugged mountains of Tibet.

Q – Does the coat continue to grow? If you can’t cut it, is the coat considered too long if it does touch the ground?

A – The coat appears to have a maximum length as dictated by genetics as well as nutrition and health. Even in older Havanese that have never had the coat cut or trimmed, the majority have coats that do not reach the ground. Although wisps of coat may brush the ground, there should still be light visible through it.  A floor sweeping coat like a Maltese or ShihTzu is considered too much coat for a Havanese and is not the average or the norm for the breed.  Extreme length merits no special reward.  It is not better; it is in excess.

Q – Braids: Are they allowed or not?

A – While they are not identified specifically as allowed or not in the standard, in regards to head furnishings the standard does say that the hair should be simply brushed back or allowed to fall naturally; both of those would exclude braids or any other type of fastening.

Q – Cords: Are they allowed or not?

A – Corded coats are not identified or described in the CKC standard. All standards that allow corded or other alternate presentations outline those specifically in their standard (such as the Puli and Poodle). The CKC Havanese standard has no such description or alternate presentation identified.

In the opinion of the National breed club, the words “natural coat separation is acceptable; deliberate parting is not”  refers exclusively to a part down the middle of the back and has nothing to do with any other type of coat separation. For us, the coat text describes a brushed out coat only. As such, cords should be faulted as incorrect presentation.

Q – Which coat colour or

coat pattern is the most correct or most desirable?

A – The Havanese comes in a wide variety of colours. There is no preferred coat colour, marking or pattern. All are equal. No preference should be given to one over the other.

Q – What about Blue and dilute Havanese, where do they fit in?

A – Dilute colour dogs have dilute pigment. A blue dog has grey pigment similar to a Wiemaraner while other dilute colours may be accompanied by rose or beige pigment. At this time, any dilution of pigment is considered a fault in the CKC standard. The only identified pigment is Liver/Brown for Chocolate dogs and black for all other coat colours.

Q – Faults: If something is not listed as a fault, does that mean it is allowed?

A – A breed standard cannot possibly provide a complete itemized list of absolutely everything that is not allowed or incorrect. A standard outlines the ideal. The faults section very clearly says that  “Any departure from foregoing points to be considered a fault and penalized in proportion to degree of deviation”.  The term Foregoing means points which have come before this section. What this means is that the standard text prior to the faults section describes the ideal and anything which falls outside of the described ideal is to be penalized. A small penalty for a minor deviation and a stiffer penalty for a more major deviation. The points listed are only some of the faults that may be encountered, it is not a complete listing.