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15 Interesting Havanese Facts You Want to Know

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

havanese dog lying on the grass

If you haven’t met a Havanese yet, you have a treat in store. These pups are some of the sweetest and cutest dogs you’ll ever encounter. That comes from being raised as a companion animal. They fit the term “lapdog” to a tee. They have quickly climbed the popularity ladder with the American Kennel Club (AKC), coming in as the 25th most popular breed out of the 197 recognized dogs.1

The Havanese is an ideal choice for apartment dwellers. It’s a small dog, getting less than 13 pounds and 12 inches tall. Keep reading to learn more interesting facts about this amazing breed.

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The 15 Havanese Facts

1. An Ancestor of the Havanese Is the Tenerife Dog

Many breeds are related, with selective breeding responsible for the divergence into separate lines. The Havanese is no exception as part of the Bichon family called the Tenerife Dog. It is related to the dog of the family name, along with the Maltese. The Spanish brought the Blanquito de la Habana, or “little white dog of Havana” to Cuba in the 1500s.

2. The Dog Was Named After Cuba’s Capital City

The name of the Havanese may sound familiar. That’s because it’s named after the capital city of Cuba. It’s also the only breed native to the country.

Despite its long coat, it’s well-adapted to island life. You may also hear this pup called the Spanish Silk Poodle or the Havanese Silk Dog.

a row of buildings in Havana, Cuba
Image Credit: Wolf Schram, Unsplash

3. The Havanese Is a Relatively Long-Lived Breed

Small breeds often live longer than their larger counterparts. That’s also true with the Havanese. The 2018–2019 Rainbow Bridge Survey Report lists their life expectancy as over 15 years.2 It’s worth noting that spayed pups lived 60% longer on average, according to the organization’s statistics.

4. They Don’t Shed a Lot

The Havanese’s coat is more like silky hair than fur. Fortunately, it doesn’t shed a lot, which adds to its popularity. Grooming is easy, with daily combing to prevent mats. Some people keep their coats short with a puppy cut. However, the breed is not hypoallergenic—that’s a marketing term that has no scientific basis.3

Image Credit: alfredhofer, Shutterstock

5. The Havanese Is an Intelligent Breed

The Havanese is easy to train, especially if you start when the pup is young. The breed isn’t particularly sensitive. However, positive reinforcement is best with a dog that is eager to please, like this one.

You should keep your dog occupied with play and toys so that it doesn’t get bored. The Havanese has a tendency to bark, which you must curb before it becomes a problem.

6. The Havanese Is the National Dog of Cuba

A breed named after a country’s capital city is naturally going to be its national dog! The Havanese has been part of everyday life in Cuba for hundreds of years. The nation’s upper class became enamored of the breed, which probably played a significant role in its honorary title. European tourists eventually brought the pup overseas, where it found a loving home on the continent.

Cuba signage and flag on top of a rock
Image Credit: STOUTfilmsHavana, Pexels

7. They Don’t Like the Cold

The long coat of the Havanese belies the fact that this pup doesn’t like the cold. It doesn’t keep the dog warm. Instead, it protects it against the intense, hot sun of the country’s tropical climate. Its geographical location in the Caribbean ensures it stays warm year-round. Consequently, the Havanese is quite tolerant of warmer weather than many other breeds.

8. History Almost Lost the Havanese Breed

The Communist takeover of Cuba had catastrophic consequences for the country and its citizens, including the beloved Havanese. Many fled the nation to escape the ravages of violence. Not many dogs made it to the United States, threatening the breed’s existence.

Fortunately, devoted enthusiasts formed the Havanese Club of America in 1979 to ensure the pup would survive and gain a following.

havanese puppy
Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay

9. The American Kennel Club (AKC) Recognized the Havanese as a Breed in 1996

The AKC has a program called the Foundation Stock Service (FSS) to facilitate the process of being recognized as an official breed. The tumultuous recent history of the Havanese meant it took some time for it to gain this status. The AKC finally bestowed this honor on the breed in 1996. It quickly cemented its popularity to its present-day rank.

10. The Havanese Loves to Play

One of the most endearing traits of the Havanese is its playfulness. It’s not overly energetic, nor is it too intense. That makes this breed an excellent choice in households with children. This pup will keep up with the kids. It does have a moderate tendency to be nippy, which you’ll have to control if the play gets too rough.

havanese dog playing with training ball on the grass
Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

11. This Breed Is Susceptible to Weight Gain and Obesity

You can blame it on its cute face and moderate exercise needs. Nevertheless, the Havanese is susceptible to weight gain. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s diet. We suggest reserving them as training treats for these food-motivated pups. An adult Havanese should only get about 300 calories daily from its food and snacks.

12. The Havanese Joined the Circus

Pet owners quickly released how intelligent the Havanese is. Europeans found the pup could be quite entertaining. They taught them tricks, and some dogs joined the circus as performing animals.

Its playful nature made it a natural segue. Eventually, the Havanese regained its favorite role as a beloved companion and lapdog.

Image Credit: Jumpstory

13. The Havanese Demands Attention

It’s not surprising that a dog bred to be a companion animal would have problems being alone and not at the center of attention. That assessment describes the Havanese to a tee. It loves its owner so much that it can’t bear to be apart from them. Unsurprisingly, separation anxiety is a common behavioral issue with this breed.

14. Many Famous People Have Fallen in Love With the Havanese

Many famous people have fallen for the charms of the Havanese. Who can blame them? Celebrities who have owned or own these pups include Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Joan Rivers, Barbara Walters, Donald Trump Jr., and Ernest Hemingway. All we can say is that these pet owners all have great taste in choosing such an adorable dog.

15. The Havanese Gets Along With Everyone

Another welcome quality in Havanese is its friendliness. This pup gets along with everyone it meets. That includes strangers, kids, and other dogs. It may even make an attempt at friendship with the family cat.

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The Havanese has had a long and rich history as a companion animal. It’s also well-traveled for such a little dog. We can easily understand why anyone would want this dog in their home. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more affectionate and playful pet than the Havanese. It makes us even more grateful to the enthusiasts who saved this breed from extinction.

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Featured Image Credit: Dennis Bautista, Pexels

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