The Havanese’s Origins and History Source: Wikipedia. Country/Region of Origin: Cuba Original purpose: toy dog Name: from "Havana;" also known as the Bichon Havaise, Havaneser, and Havana Silk Dog. Historical notes: the Havanese breed was developed from the now-extinct Mediterranean Bichon Tenerife. After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, many wealthy Cubans who fled the country abandoned their dogs and the breed nearly died out. In the US, the breed today is descended from only 11 dogs which were carefully bred in the 1970s along with a few others acquired over the years. As the breed of dog kept by Barbara Walters, the breed became enormously popular.