A relative newcomer to the show scene, the Havanese is an engaging breed causing much delight amongst exhibitors as more and more enter the conformation rings. I have often been drawn to the sight of this little Cuban export who has made the U.S. and now the rest of the world his domain.
As with all newbies, the traditions of grooming are not set in concrete as yet and I receive many enquiries seeking advice and enlightenment as to the best way to go about presentation and how to make this dog look his very best and uphold the standard. Your standard does go quite a way to explanation on where and how this coat should be attended to which is interesting in itself, yet, the many questions I receive indicate there are still unexplained and grey areas to be clarified or defined.
Like so many things in our dog world, there is always another point of view and this one will undoubtedly be the subject of many a discussion for a long time. I am happy to enter the fray and put forward the essence of all I have gleaned and learned from the insights I have been given.
Your Havanese coat is expected to be soft and light in texture and I have heard a good definition that states it should look and feel like raw silk. It should not feel like a Maltese coat which is more like refined silk. Of course the Maltese is a single coat and yours is a double coat. The Maltese also ought to hang straight and smooth which is a fault with the Havanese.
Your standard requires a slightly wavy coat but not a really curly coat, nor a coarse wiry coat. Got the picture? He is also not allowed to be trimmed except for inside corner of the eye, feet and the nether regions of the anal and genital areas. Ah, a naturally outlined breed! He does have an interesting outline too, with his upward tilt to the rear and the flashy short upper arm action. This characteristic spring lends enjoyment and energy to the presentation of this breed.
So, what to do? The dangers are to go too straight and flat or too full and too much wave. A happy balance is the order. The hard yard starts with the at home bathing. Don’t be afraid to use a couple of different shampoos on the one dog to achieve the exact result you want. If you have good texture and want shine, then use the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo diluted 5 parts water to one part shampoo. Should the texture be too coarse, then use the Plush Puppy Conditioning Shampoo and if the coat is sparse, then use Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo all at the same dilution. For instance, if you have dog lacking undercoat, then use the Body Building Shampoo on those areas and then maybe the All Purpose on the head, topline and tail where you don’t perhaps want the extra lift. For white areas, you may prefer the Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo at anything from 3:1 to 5:1 depending on the tonal effects required for a pearly white finish. It is a matter of tweaking sometimes the various areas of the dog for the perfect outline rather than a blanket all over approach.
Next, use 2 tbspns of Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner to a quart/1 litre of water and saturate well working through withyour fingers and rinse. Then add 1 tbspn of Plush Puppy Swishy Coat to a quart/1 a litre of water and saturate the coat thoroughly and leave in - don’t rinse. If you have a wildly, profuse coat then you may find it beneficial to add a dspn of Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream in with the Swishy Coat mix. The Swishy will keep the coat from jumping all over the place and keep some semblance of order to the drape, and the Blow Dry Cream has the action of softening and flattening though this proportion is only enough to keep excessive billowing from the coat and not enough to overdo the action.
The drying process is relatively straight forward - the Plush Puppy Pin Brush gives air to hair and a bristle flattens, so the choice is clear - when the coat is between the sparse to ideal, then only the Pin is required as you don’t want to overdo the flattening or the straightening process. 99% of the time the Pin is all that is required. It will give you just the right look. Only use the Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush which is approx 50% bristle and 50% nylon on the tail or around the head. The tail is required to plume with long silky hair and fall either straight forward or lie to one side of the body and the head needs some definition. The Porcupine brush will assist in lightly smoothing and shaping these areas for enhancement.
I have not covered the cording so for this coat you don’t want a lot of froth and bubbles as you can’t rinse cords for ever - use the Plush Puppy AZ IZ Wash 20:1. That’s easy isn’t it? No fuss, no bother and easy to rinse. Most importantly do not use conditioner on cords. Conditioner not only causes fluffy bits and unravels cords but also rots the cords, being almost impossible to rinse out. Your corded Havanese’s best friend is the Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil which is a plant oil and is water soluble, formulated from Evening Primrose Oil, Calendula Oil and other such niceties. Use at 1 dspn to 1 quart/litre of water and leave in, don’t rinse. This will help keep the cords hydrated. Don’t be afraid to use this same mix for your uncorded Havanese for in between shows around the pee feathers especially, and indeed, tail, skirt and just about everywhere! No amount of work is too much for a show dog after all.
Now back to the uncorded Havanese again - a discreet amount of Plush Puppy Puffy Dog can be used on the head piece and ears for added lift where required after bathing and blow dried. A tiny amount of Plush Puppy Sit N Stay warmed through the fingers till the product changes from wet sticky to dry sticky and then applied at the root area only, to keep the coat in place away from the eyes and for refined definition. I do mean a tiny amount. This dog does need to attain a natural appearance.
For your grooming spray, mix 1 golfball amount of Plush Puppy Revivacoat to one cup/250 mls water and use liberally prior to brushing or for detangling. You would use Plush Puppy Coat Balm on show day to keep static at bay and to add a touch of weight to the hem of the coat - just smear a light spray onto your hands and wipe down the coat lengths and add extra to the hem. You can use this several times a day without any adverse effects to the coat and keeping the natural feel and appearance to the coat. It just helps the coat to behave - it does not however take the place of the use of the Swishy Coat during the drying. It is the two step action that gives the best result.
Maybe a light dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust on show day too for added interest - if you can see this when you are applying it, you have used too much. I keep reiterating that the Havanese is to be presented naturally. You may wish to also keep on hand the new Plush Puppy Powder Puff Regular which is a wonderful alternative to cleansing your dog when a wet Self Rinse is not an option - you don’t want to go wetting a coat that has been carefully dried after all. The Powder Puff is a dry powder cleanser and deodoriser and very handy for long show circuits, wet and muddy days and dogs who have poor toilet manners.
Your Havanese is ready to go. This springy gaited little person with his characteristic upheld high head and flashy gait is an emerging force in the show scene. He doesn’t always get to chase the chickens but hopefully now he will get to chase all those coveted ribbons. I have high hopes for this breed from all the energy I feel from the devoted owners and breeders I speak to.
The standard is your Bible for this breed and those who follow the path after you will thank you for the hard work you have invested in this wonderfully exciting breed in the ring.
- Cheryl Le Court