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Havashu (Havanese & Shih Tzu Mix): Info, Pictures, Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Havashu (Havanese & Shih Tzu Mix)

Height: 8–12 inches
Weight: 7–15 pounds
Lifespan: 13–17 years
Colors: White, brown, gray, black
Suitable for: Families with kids, those looking for an easy-to-train dog
Temperament: Playful, intelligent, easy to train, gets along with other pets

The Havashu is a crossbreed between the Havanese and the Shih Tzu breeds. The exact time the first Havashu dogs were bred is unknown, but they date back about 30–40 years. The Havashu is a designer dog, bred to cancel out health issues that the parents face and to curate a desirable character.

The Havanese dates back to the 1400s when Spanish conquistadors and settlers moved to Cuba. They brought small dogs (thought to be of a breed called Bichon), which with time, crossbred with other dogs on the island. The resulting cross was the Havanese we’ve come to know and love. The Havanese was beloved by the European elite. However, over time, its popularity waned, and the dogs almost became extinct around the 1800s. The breed’s numbers have since increased, and the Havanese is now recognized by various dog associations around the world.

The exact origins of the Shih Tzu are unknown, but most likely ancient China and Tibet. Shih Tzu dogs were bred as lap dogs and companions and were often gifted to noblemen. In addition to being rather feisty, the mane-like hair around their heads earned them the nickname “little lion dog.”

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Havashu Puppies


The Havashu will often need a few daily walks to dispense their extra energy. Despite being intelligent, Havashus can get stubborn. The stubborn streak means you’ll need to get patient during training. This gives them a good (not excellent) trainability score.

Designer dog breeds tend to be healthier than purebreds, and the Havashu is no exception to this rule. The breed’s lifespan is also longer than the average lifespan of most dog breeds.

Further, their energy, love, and social nature do not wane throughout their lives. This allows them to score highly in health, lifespan, and sociability.

The parent breeds of the Havashu
Image Credit: Left – Martuts, Pixabay | Right – NicoleDenker, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Havashu 🧠

As with all crossbred dogs, you should expect any combination of traits. The Havanese was bred as a lap dog and is intelligent. It also has a low tolerance for solitude. Expect separation anxiety if you go away for long.

The Shih Tzu, as mentioned above, was bred for companionship and is a good lap dog. They seek attention but tend to be stubborn at times. It is difficult to predict what mix of traits a pup will exhibit, but often, Havashu puppies will be intelligent, attention-seeking, and eager to please. Most inherit the Shih Tzu’s stubborn streak too, so keep an eye out for situations where your dog will refuse to follow commands.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Havashu dogs are good with children. They aren’t that big, so you do not have to worry about your child being knocked over by an enthusiastic dog. Shih Tzu dogs are hypoallergenic, and some Havashus inherit this trait.

However, there is no guarantee that your Havashu puppy will be hypoallergenic, so make sure you check with your breeder before purchasing. It is especially important to confirm that the puppy is hypoallergenic if you are prone to animal-related allergies.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Havashus have no herding or pack instincts and will not cause trouble for most cats. They will also generally not see your guinea pigs as prey, and overall, they get along well with other pets.

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Things to Know When Owning a Havashu

While every dog will require regular exercise, grooming, and a proper diet, different breeds have unique needs. The following are things you should know about the Havashu.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Havashu is a small dog, and their food requirements are proportional to their size. One cup of food daily will almost certainly be enough. Be careful not to let your dog get obese; Havashus have been known to develop joint issues as they age. If you notice them growing overweight, reduce the food and if possible, increase exercise.

With a small dog such as this one, it’s easy to overlook a small increase in weight. An increase of 1 pound could cause problems, though, so regularly keep tabs on your Havashu’s weight.

Exercise 🐕

The Havashu should be moderately exercised daily. Two walks—brisk, as opposed to leisurely—should be enough. If your Havashu has inherited the Shih Tzu’s flat face, then they are predisposed to brachycephalic airway syndrome. This syndrome causes breathing difficulties and difficulty controlling core temperature. Therefore, whenever you see your Havashu puppy struggling, do not continue exercising them. Give them some time to rest.

Training 🦮

Havashu puppies are known to be eager to please, so training them should not be too difficult. Their stubborn streak may sometimes require you to be patient. Avoid being harsh; Havashu puppies are sensitive. Gentle, patient training will, over time, yield good results. These animals can even be trained by new, inexperienced dog owners.

Grooming ✂️

Both Havanese and Shih Tzus have a double coat, and the silky, luscious fur will need brushing a few times a week. Havashus require to be bathed more regularly than other dogs, at least once every month.

Owing to their floppy ears, they tend to accumulate dirt and grime and should be cleaned regularly to avoid serious complications. Also, make sure to brush your Havashu’s teeth regularly, since small dogs are more predisposed to dental complications. Three times a week should be enough.

Health and Conditions ❤️

As mentioned above, Havashu dogs are not prone to many health conditions. However, they are not immune to all diseases. They are known to suffer from chondrodysplasia and bladder stones, although these aren’t common. If you fail to keep the inside of their ears clean, they may also get ear infections and/or inflammation.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear issues
Serious Conditions
  • Chondrodysplasia
  • Bladder stones

Male vs Female

Male and female Havashus have only a slight difference in size. Female Havashus are slightly smaller, and there are no documented differences in character. The choice is up to you. Whichever gender Havashu you choose, you’ll get an energetic, loving, and gentle pet.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Havashu

1. The Havanese, one of the Havashu’s parent breeds, is the national dog of Cuba.

2. The Dalai Lama once owned a Shih-Tzu, the other parent breed of the Havashu.

3. The 1949 revolution in China almost rendered the Shih Tzu breed extinct.

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Final Thoughts

The Havashu is a breed that’s well suited to apartment life. Take the dog for a walk regularly, but be careful not to over-exercise them, as their flat face makes them susceptible to breathing problems. Havashu dogs will not exhibit any negative behavior, but you should not leave them alone for extended periods because they have been known to develop separation anxiety.

They require more grooming than most dogs, but not so much that it becomes a chore. The Havashu is an excellent choice for those looking for a nice, small, easy-to-train, playful, and loving dog.

Featured Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

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