It was a beautiful late summer evening at Kirkland’s Marina Park. The sun shimmered on the azure waters of Lake Washington as happy children frolicked and people walked their dogs along the promenade.
“Is that a Havanese?” the woman asked. Yes, it is I answered. People often ask me about my little charge, but relatively few know of the breed, and fewer yet proffer a breed identification.
“So is mine! I see you have the small-breed Havanese; mine is the large-breed Havanese. A king Havanese.”
“A king Havanese? I asked.
“Yes,” she answered, “my breeder told me it’s a new variety.”
The dog at the end of her leash stood about 20 inches high at the shoulder and to my eye looked like an Old English Sheepdog. “He’s 35 pounds and would eat me out of house and home if I let him,” she chuckled.
I don’t know the AKC and CKC Havanese breed standards by heart, but I know that the AKC considers between 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches the acceptable range, and that Canadian breed standard is virtually the same.
I know that weight is not in the breed standard but that most weigh somewhere between eight and 16 pounds, though I know some of my fellow Havanese Forum members have dogs with a bit more heft. Even so, I had not yet heard of one anywhere near 35 pounds, much less a ‘king’ variety. But I said nothing.
She extolled her dog’s wonderful temperament and offered to take my name if I was interested in a puppy as a playmate for Rory. She and her “breeder” were going to partner on some litters.
“I’m good,” I answered as politely as I could.
As I walked home my mind struggled to process what I had seen and heard. I knew that some oversized German Shepherds were marketed as King German Shepherds and that they were the result of outcrossing German Shepherd dogs with Malamutes and Shiloh Shepherds. Is someone out there working to create bigger Havs?
Upon my return home I went to the Havanese Club of America, the Havanese Fanciers of Canada, and the AKC websites to see if this gargantuan strain was newly recognized and I somehow missed the news. It was not.
So buyer beware: people are selling Havanese (maybe?) well outside the breed standard as “large breed”, or “king Havanese”. In reality there is no such thing.