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Havanese Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Characteristics, Puppies & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Havanese Dog Breed Info

Height: 8 – 12 inches
Weight: 7 – 13 pounds
Lifespan: 14 – 16 years
Colors: Black, chocolate, cream, fawn, gold, red, silver, tan, white
Suitable for: Families with children, multi-dog homes, apartment dwellers, retirees
Temperament: Intelligent, Outgoing, Affectionate, Needy, Playful

Descended from the Bichon family, the Havanese is named for its island origins in Cuba. When Spanish farmers and noblemen settled on the island in the 1500s, they brought with them a breed of dog known as the Tenerife. Over generations of interbreeding, the outgoing and friendly Havanese was born — and has been a popular family pet since the early 18th century.

If you’ve been thinking about bringing a Havanese dog into your home, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be giving you the low-down on everything you need to know about this affectionate breed to help you decide whether it’s the right companion animal for you.Divider 1

Havanese Puppies

havanese puppy running on grass
Image Credit: Sandra Huber, Shutterstock

Before you decide to include any dog in your life, it’s important to consider the costs associated with dog ownership. For the Havanese, you can expect to invest quite a bit in purchasing and keeping up with their health requirements.

The financial costs of owning a Havanese, however, will not be your biggest investment. More than almost any other dog breed, the Havanese requires large amounts of socialization and does not do well when left alone even for short periods of time.

This large need for socialization is one of the main reasons that Havanese do so well with families. With multiple family members to interact with, they’ll likely never feel bored or lonely — two conditions that can leave them quite anxious and irritable. Plus, their smaller size makes them a good companion to children both young and old.

Havanese are in the American Kennel Club’s “toy dog” category, the smallest group of dogs allowed in professional dog shows. They are not, however, overly delicate. Descended from farming dogs, they possess a sturdy body structure and generally robust health.

In return for your significant investments of time and energy, the Havanese will shower you with love and affection. They’re very easily trained and enjoy learning new tricks to show off for friends and family.

Overall, the Havanese is an excellent companion dog for anyone that can always be around for them to play with. This makes them perfectly suited for families with a stay-at-home parent, or retirees who would appreciate their constant companionship.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Havanese

1. Despite Their Long Coats, Havanese Need to be Kept Out of the Cold

It’s easy to assume that any dog with fur as long and luxurious as the Havanese would do well in colder climates. For this toy dog, however, its coat serves a vastly different purpose: layered like a fan and composed only of soft, light, silky hair, the Havanese’s long fur serves better as shade from the sun. This makes them well-suited to Cuba’s hot, island climate, but puts them at danger of hypothermia in colder parts of the world.

2. American Havanese Dogs are a Result of the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s

A small number of wealthier Cubans were able to flee the political unrest and military turnover of the Cuban Revolution by fleeing to the United States by boat or plane. Of those that did, 11 families brought along their beloved Havanese dogs. These 11 dogs would go on to become the breeding basis for every American Havanese found today.

3. They are Known for Their Unique Walking Style

Havanese dogs are especially light on their feet, displaying an almost “springy” gait that makes them easy to differentiate from other toy breeds. This may be due to their history as a farming dog and watchdog, where they would be “on their toes” at all times, ready to alert their masters at the first sign of danger.

Havanese Dog Breed Info
Image credit: MarlyneArt, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Havanese

Highly intelligent and exceptionally friendly, the Havanese is a model dog for training in just about any area. Renowned for their ability to make friends with anyone and possessing little in the way of hunting instincts, they are a thoroughly adaptable pet with high requirements for socialization.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

The Havanese is a breed that absolutely thrives within families of all sizes. Their needy social nature leaves them happiest when they’re constantly surrounded by friends and family. You’ll often see them content to do little more than follow their owners around from room to room, sitting on their laps whenever the opportunity arises.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Especially fond of other dogs, the Havanese is also easily adaptable to spending time with cats. They don’t possess a strong prey drive, meaning that you can easily train them to respect other house pets like rabbits, rats, or birds, as well.

Havanese Dog Breed Info
Image credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning a Havanese:

In addition to the cost of adopting a Havanese, you should consider the following topics before committing to bringing this dog into your home.

Food & Diet Requirements

Small dogs like the Havanese do not require large volumes of food, making them a less expensive option to provide for than large dog breeds. One to one and a half cups of dry food per day is enough for almost any Havanese, which will usually cost less than $30 per month.

It’s important to not let your Havanese dog free feed — that is, have constant access to a plentiful food source. They’re prone to weight gain and will gladly eat far beyond their daily energy requirements. Prevent obesity in your Havanese by limiting their food portions, and not leaving out extra food or treats between meals.


Active and energetic, yet not as insistently pushy as many other toy dog breeds, the Havanese does well with any sort of exercise you can provide. For apartment dwellers, this can be as simple as daily walks around the block and the occasional game of fetch in the home. If you have a house with a yard, the Havanese will gladly run around on their own to their heart’s content.

Havanese Dog Breed Info
Image credit: office174, Pixabay


The Havanese is well known for being easily trainable in all areas but one —  housebreaking when young. Besides this, they are eager to please their owners and will pick up new tricks quickly.

Crate training is entirely necessary for any Havanese puppy that will be left alone for any amount of time. Prone to nervous anxiety, they can worry themselves into ill health if not left with plenty of toys to occupy their time with. Even when crate trained, it’s best not to leave your Havanese alone if you can help it.

Grooming ✂️

With a coat that is soft, light, and doesn’t shed easily, the Havanese requires a lot of grooming. Plan on brushing them daily and giving baths every week or two. Many owners take their Havanese to professional groomers, as small clippings and trimmings can help them to stay comfortable and healthy.

Health and Conditions

Generally long-lived and healthy, the Havanese is prone to the following problems as a result of its purebred heritage:

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Deafness
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Chondrodysplasia
  • Legg-Perthes disease
  • Heart murmur
  • Mitral valve insufficiency

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Male vs Female

Both male and female Havanese display similar tendencies in their temperaments, with individual personalities being a greater differentiator. Both sexes usually grow to about the same size and weight, with neither being more prone to health issues than the other.

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Final Thoughts

The Havanese is a real gem of a dog breed. Kind and affectionate, they’ll become a constant companion to anyone who puts in the time necessary to build a relationship with them. They’re an ideal dog for families, take easily to training, and can adapt to living in almost any environment — what more could you want from a small dog breed?

Featured image credit: NicoleDenker, Pixabay

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