The Havanese is a breed of Bichon type and is the national dog of Cuba, developed from the now extinct Blanquito de la Habana ("the little white dog of Havana"). The Blanquito descended from the also now extinct Bichon Tenerife. It is believed that the Blanquito was eventually cross-bred with other Bichon types, including the Poodle, to create what is now known as the Havanese. Sometimes referred to as "Havana Silk Dogs", this was originally another name for the Blanquito de la Habana.
The Havanese is small in size and sturdy in structure with a tail carried arched forward up over its back and ears that drop and fold. The coat is abundant, long, and silky and comes in all colours. The Havanese has a spirited personality and a curious disposition, and is notable for its springy gait, a characteristic that distinguishes the breed from all others. It is considered an ideal family pet and a true companion dog. They are highly adaptable to almost any environment, and their only desire is to be with their human companions. Because of their strong social needs, they will not thrive in an environment where they are isolated for several hours each day.
As part of the Cuban Revolution, upper-class Cubans fled to the United States, but few were able to bring their dogs with them. When American breeders became interested in this rare and charming dog in the 1970s, the US gene pool was only 11 dogs. With dedicated breeding and the acquisition of some new dogs internationally, the Havanese has made a huge comeback and is one of the fastest growing breed of dogs in the American Kennel Club.