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Following the French, Cuban and Russian revolutions, the Havanese were almost extinct. Now rare in Cuba, the breed has been facing a crisis through the 1900s, but is presently on the rise in popularity, having some dedicated believers in the breed who are actively campaigning for its preservation in the USA. This dog belongs to the family of dogs called Bichons. The French word Bichon Frise means “fleecy dog” or “curly lap dog.” “Bichon” refers to the bearded appearance of the breed, as the word “barbichon” means little beard, while the word “Frise” means curly.
The Bichon Havanese originated in Cuba from an earlier breed known as Blanquito de la Habana (also called Havanese Silk Dog—a now extinct breed). The Bichon Havanese adorned and enlivened the homes of aristocratic Cubans during the 18th and 19th centuries. Bichon lapdogs were being brought to Cuba in 17th-century from Europe; they adapted to climate and customs of Cuba. Eventually, these conditions gave birth to a different dog, smaller than its predecessors, with a completely white coat of a silkier texture. This dog was the Blanquito de la Habana. In the 19th century, the Cubans took to liking the French and German Poodles, which were crossed with the existing Blanquito to create today’s Bichon Havanese. In the development of the Havanese, the Blanquito was much more dominant than the Poodle.
The Bichon Havanese originated in the 19th century. It was continually bred in Cuba all through the 20th century (1900-1999) and was the preferred pet for Cuban families. Breeding the Havanese in the USA only started in the 1970s. In the 1960s many Cubans migrated to the USA. Most Cuban refugees settled in Florida and some brought their pets (Havanese).