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Are Havanese Smarter Than the Average Dog? The Surprising Answer!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

tricolor havanese dog in a bed

The Cuban Havanese breed is friendly, and loving, and is known for being a good family pet. It can be trained quite well, excels at canine sports including agility, and tends to be easy to potty train and socialize. Some dogs of this breed can lack the attention required to really get to grips with training, which means that it takes persistence and routine to really get the most from the Havanese, but it is worth the effort in the long run.

Havanese are not thought of as being one of the most intelligent breeds. But they are especially empathetic and seem to be able to read human emotions, which is why they have become popular as support dogs and therapy dogs.

Divider 7About The Havanese Dog Breed

The Havanese breed originates from and is the national dog of Cuba. When Cubans moved to the U.S. during the revolution, some brought their Havanese with them. It is primarily a companion dog and not used as a working dog, although it can do well in agility and other canine sports. It is friendly, gets on with other family pets, and does enjoy time outdoors. However, the coat requires regular attention and as is typical with companion dogs of this type, the Havanese may suffer separation anxiety if left alone for too long.

Black Havanese sitting on chair
Image Credit: Jolanda Aalbers, Shutterstock


The breed is not thought of as being one of the most intelligent breeds. It can take a lot of repetition and persistence to teach the Havanese, but it does have an instinctive understanding of human emotions, which means that it can appear intelligent and will go out of its way to make its human family happy.

Because the Havanese is such a friendly dog, it can be difficult for one to apply itself to training if there are distractions around. Even a well-trained Havanese can easily lose attention when out walking, for example, if it sees another dog or a person that it wants to befriend. Early socialization means that the Hava will become accustomed to seeing other animals and people and will be less likely to lose attention. Socialization is very important for all dogs but is especially beneficial for the Havanese.

divider 9The Top 5 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

The Havanese is a sweet, loving, and friendly dog, that can take well to training because it likes to please its humans. However, it doesn’t rank as one of the most intelligent breeds. Below are five breeds that are known and widely accepted as being among the most intelligent dogs. It’s no coincidence that these are the breeds most often used as working dogs, service dogs, and in other roles.

1. Border Collie

border collie
Image Credit: Lucia Horvath Photography, Shutterstock

Border Collies are the epitome of sheepdogs. Not only do they have the stamina to be able to work all day long, but they are hyper-intelligent. The medium breed also tends to be very friendly with humans and despite being a sheepdog, doesn’t really have any hunting instinct, although Collies may try and herd up family members and can get upset if a member of the herd walks away. The Collie performs very well in agility and most other canine sports, and it can do very well as a family pet but does require a ton of exercise. Owners also need to offer a lot of mental stimulation.

2. Golden Retriever

golden retriever with a dog toy on grassy park
Image Credit: Ben Pitasky, Unsplash

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the world, and it is an intelligent breed, but it is the Golden Retriever that is especially intelligent. Bred as a gun dog, the Golden Retriever is more commonly used as a guide dog, assistance dog, therapy dog, and in other service dog roles. It is also a very popular family pet that is loving and friendly, helpful, and generally likes to please its owner by fulfilling requests and following commands. They do generally have long coats that require good maintenance, however, and although not as physically demanding as the Border Collie, the Golden Retriever does require plenty of exercise.

3. Poodle

a happy red standard poodle on grass
Image Credit: Diana Kellior, Shutterstock

Poodles are described as being hypoallergenic. While no dog is truly hypoallergenic because all breeds produce the can f1 and can f2 proteins that cause allergic reactions in humans, Poodles shed less than most other breeds, so people are exposed to less of the protein in their local environment. Poodles come in three sizes, with the Toy Poodle being the smallest and the Standard the largest. All sizes are intelligent, and the Poodle is employed as a police dog and used in a variety of other service roles.

4. German Shepherd

German Shepherd dog
Image Credit: Ralph, Pixabay

The German Shepherd is a large breed that is used as a guard dog and also used by the police and armed forces around the world. It is a steadfast dog that concentrates stoically on the task at hand. While this means that a well-trained German Shepherd is excellent at completing tasks, it does mean that a poorly trained German Shepherd will give itself tasks and it can be difficult to persuade them otherwise. The breed makes a good family pet but requires early training and socialization to ensure it fits in well.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher on the background of autumn trees
Image Credit: OlgaOvcharenko, Shutterstock

The Doberman Pinscher has something of a reputation for being aggressive, but this is unwarranted and likely because it has been used as a guard dog in countries around the world for centuries. It was first bred as a guard dog, by a German tax collector named Louis Dobermann. It is very intelligent and makes a loving and friendly family pet. It needs good socialization to ensure that its fierce loyalty doesn’t become a problem and the breed is not usually considered a good choice for first-time or novice owners.

Divider 7Conclusion

The Havanese breed makes a great family pet because it is loving, lively, and can make a good companion for walks and outdoor activities. While it isn’t considered one of the most intelligent breeds, it certainly isn’t stupid and it does have a good understanding of human emotions, which means that it is keen to please its humans. Ensure the Havanese gets good early socialization and that you embark on training while your pet is still a puppy.

Featured Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

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