Your big choice is deciding if you will cut your Havanese’s coat or let a groomer to do the job. If you decide to groom your Havanese in the comfort of your home, your breeder, or a blog, or a book can provide you with helpful instructions. If you decide to use a groomer, describe the style you want in detail to her.
If possible, bring a picture or sketch of the Havanese haircut that you want. Except for the show coat, there are no consistent names for different trims. Do not assume that the groomer will mean the same thing as you do by the phrase “puppy trim”.
Trimming the Coat
If you want to trim your Havanese’s coat yourself, you will need good scissors and an electric clipper. Use rounded or blunt-tipped scissors for working around the face. Trim the coat around the feet and the hairs extending between the pads for both cleanliness and safety.
Some trimming is done for cleanliness and hygiene. On males, a semicircle of coat in front of the penis should be clipped to the skin, leaving the hair on the sheath. This keeps urine from getting on the belly coat. For female Havanese, trim around the lower half of the vulva for cleanliness. On both, trim around the anus and on the inside of the rear legs for better hygiene.
Dealing With Mats
The Havanese coat will mat and tangle if not brushed often and correctly. Curly coats will mat more often than the desired wavy coat. A puppy coat changing to an adult coat will mat the most. Wet coats will mat if not brushed, combed, and dried – even if just damp from morning dew.
Brushing just the topcoat or not thoroughly grooming the dog’s armpits or behind the ears is asking for mats. If your dog scratches an itch, due to fleas, allergies, or skin infections, mats may result.
Avoiding mats is a huge incentive to groom your Havanese regularly, to dry off coats that get wet, and to correct any problem that causes him to scratch. Sometimes, though, mats still happen.
Tools and products such as mat splitters, combs, or rakes help you break up a mat with minimum coat damage. Liquid tangle removers can be used as a conditioner and to help remove tangles. If you find a mat, hold it up and gently pull the hairs at the edges away from the mat. Repeating this process may be adequate to remove the mat.
If necessary, saturate the mat with the liquid tangle remover. Work it into the mat, and then leave it until nearly dry. You can use the mat splitter or rake to break the mat into smaller pieces. With your fingers, brush, or comb, gently untangle the hairs until you can brush or comb through them.
Show Coat for Havanese
You might choose to keep your Havanese in a show coat. This style involves the least trimming. However, since the coat is long, it requires the most care and regular brushing.
The show hairstyle calls for “a profuse mantle of untrimmed long, silky, wavy hair” with a plumed tail. The coat is not parted down the back. Allowable trimming includes around the feet and pads and around the anal and genital areas for cleanliness. Trimming can also be done on the male’s testicles to avoid any mats in that tender area.
The hair on the head is not trimmed. Hair at the inside corner of the eyes may be trimmed for hygienic reasons, but doing so is not recommended. The hair may be kept out of the eyes with two braids, one about the outside corner of each eye.
If you love the look, you can keep your Havanese in full coat. You may want to keep the hair out of his eyes, though. When not in the show ring, you can gather the coat into a topknot secured with a cotton-covered elastic band or clip. If you are not showing your dog, you can trim the coat on his head to keep it out of his eyes.
Puppy Trim for Havanese
This hairstyle has the coat cut to a more manageable length while still maintaining enough coat to look like a Havanese. The feet, anal area, and genital area are still trimmed for safety and good hygiene. The body coat is trimmed to 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm). The leg coat is trimmed with some coat left on all sides of the legs. The tail coat is left natural or shortened somewhat.
The coat on the head can be left long enough to gather in a topknot or can be cut short above the eyes so that it does not fall over the eyes. Dogs seem to prefer topknots not to be centered on the skull. They fuss with it less when rakishly placed off-center. The earsare trimmed at about the lower jaw level.
Enough coat is left on the muzzle to retain the Havanese expression and trimmed about even with the bottom of the ears. This style is also sometimes called the teddy bear trim.
Alternative Puppy Trim
With this style, the coat is cut to the same length all over. The coat can be fairly short, which is the easiest to care for, or it can be cut to 4 or 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) all over. The longer cut will take more care, but it looks the most like a show Havanese.
Remember that a wavy coat is the easiest type of coat to care for, regardless of its length or style of trim. The correct wavy coat will remain attractive and free of mats even if the dog carrying it is groomed less frequently. You might want to select a style based on coat type.
When it gets long, the curly coat tends to mat frequently. Therefore, if your Havanese is curly coated, you may wish to keep him in a relatively shorter, more-easily managed trim. The curly hair will also curl more when cut short and will come to resemble the coat of a Poodle or a Bichon Frise.