Castro and the Havanese

News of Fidel Castro’s passing was welcomed news to the people whose lives he upended, and certainly to the Cubans who loved their country’s national dog breed, the Havanese. Castro hated dogs. He did nothing to preserve the Havanese registry also impacted by the upheaval he started when he overthrew the government in 1959. Wealthy Havanese owners who fled the turmoil to the United States thought they’d be gone for only a short time and left their dogs behind with servants. Instead, they never returned, and many Havanese were left homeless. As a result, the breed nearly vanished, and had some Cubans not taken their dogs with them when fleeing Cuba, things would have been dire for the breed.

Among the first Cuban Havanese breeders in the US were the Perez and Fantasio families. They had settled in Texas, but it was in the waiting room of a Colorado dentist that Dorothy Goodale saw pictures of their dogs in a Spanish language magazine. An Irish Wolfhound person, Gooddale been looking to downsize and though she neither read nor spoke Spanish, she tracked down the owners of the dogs in the pictures and acquired fourteen Havanese. Gooddale knew she would need more than fourteen dogs to preserve the breed, and for more than a year, she placed classified ads in Spanish-language newspapers in Miami seeking more Havanese. The advertisements worked. Gooddale was able to acquire eight more dogs, and in 1979, she founded the Havanese Club of America. By the early ’90s, they had registered 1,060 Havanese. At one time, every Havanese in the world outside of Cuba could be traced back to the original fourteen dogs.

 Prints of “Her Royal Court” originally in pastel by Tracy L Teeter are available here

32 thoughts on “Castro and the Havanese”

  1. In typical fashion, people leave their dogs behind to suffer whatever befalls them. What do people think would happen to children if they left them behind, or the elderly? That’s what happens to their dogs. Stop Leaving Your Dogs Behind!

  2. What a great article! I have a purebred Havanese here in Edmonton Alberta Canada. 6 year old Rocket-Man. Love him to pieces. Such a good boy and so easy to have around. Super low maintenance, quiet, smart, easy to train – adapted well to apartment living. Best little guy ever.

  3. My very sweet babies. Love the breed. So glad the Perez & Fantazio family brought the dogs to Texas & of course the Gooddales who kept the breed going. I had 8 Havanese & now have 7 wonderful fun loving babies

  4. Eleven years ago, we decided to get our first dog and wanted a small one. After four (yes, FOUR) years of research, we decided on a Havanese. When Lulu (white) turned three, we decided she needed a brother. Charlie is now four. They share the same mother. They are the absolute light of my life! I cannot imagine not having them. Thank you, Cuba, for this wonderful little breed.

    • Such a lovely endorsement of a breed, Marilyn, thank you for this, and the wonderful picture.

  5. After meeting several Havanese at the park and seeing their amazing happy & outgoing personalities-we rescued Peyton, what a blessing to our family.

  6. Our sweet Alonzo. We adopted him on July1st 2016 from Underdog Rescue MN.
    He spent more than 9 years in a terrible puppy mill in Missouri. He is a sweet loving funny little buddy who is slowly becoming a dog. How horrible that these mills exist, adopt don’t shop.

    • While we commend you for finding the right dog for you, Mindy, we don’t support the “adopt-don’t-shop” mantra. Many breeds are at risk, several outnumbered by Panda Bears. Were it not for the heritage breeders preserving these breeds with the next generation of sound, well adjusted dogs, these breeds would become extinct. No one is more infuriated by a substandard breeder than a responsible, legacy breeder, but mandating that people buy only shelter dogs is a disservice to people who need predictability in their family pet, and to the dogs whose owners didn’t do their homework or failed to get what they really wanted in the first place. The rescue world has become vast, and sadly, an industry that money has corrupted. We support the right of individuals to get the dog that is the best fit for them, and if that is a shelter or rescue dog – wonderful. If it’s a purpose bred dog bought from a heritage breeder, also wonderful. Thanks for writing.

  7. This is my boy Hutch. What a soulful smart pup he is. I love this breed so much I had to get my second Havanese, Tessa. They are both a joy to be with.

  8. There is no better dog on the planet than a Havanese! They are adorable, charming, entertaining, athletic, LOVE kids, super smart, full of personality, very healthy breed, always happy, come in every color and color combination, don’t shed, and their goal in life is to please their family.

    • Sure can’t disagree, wowhavanese. Every one we’ve known has been a love.

    • I second that wholeheartedly. Nutkin will be 3 in March. She is the sunshine of our life and has personality plus. She is loving, gentle, extremely intelligent, playful, loves people. Non yappy and a wonderful loyal companion. Thank you for saving the breed.

    • Second this wholeheartedly. Nutkin will be 3 in March. Best thing that’s ever happened to us. She is the sunshine of our life and has personality plus. She is loving, gentle, extremely intelligent, playful, friendly, non yappy and so much more. So pleased that the breed was saved.

  9. This is a great article…The Havanese are wonderful… Can’t explain the wonderfullness of this breed…you have to experience it for yourself!!…

  10. The Majority of my line at Canyon Hills Havanese came from the Fantasio family. It took me about two years to obtain 4 dogs. At that time I was paying about 3000.00 each and you did not get a color choice. The first dogs were hard to get and you had to wait in line. Back then no one had the chocolates. only to make us old show breeders think that they mixed something in to get more color. I spoke with one of the first breeders and she said she would go to her grave with the secrets and that she did.

    • Fascinating stuff, Kathy. How did you come to learn of the Fantasio family?

      • It has been so many years. It was my pleasure to already be showing and breeding. So I knew many people.. I saw one and fell in love I thought a colored Maltese with a happier temperament. So I guess it was I had a friend that knew a friend type of contact for me.

  11. Saw and fell instantly and totally in love with “Higgins”, a Havanese that was thrown out in the drive of Bradley’s Art & Frame in Houston,Texas. He was loved, cared for, and catered. He is the smartest most gorgeous dog I have ever known. I’m a dog lover and the Havanese have my heart. P.S. Serena, tennis champion, has one that is 10 yrs old.

    • Grrrrrr, Mary, who “throws out” a dog? We’re so happy you took him in, and that Higgins had someone who adored him. Thank you for writing!

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