Havanese Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Toy group
Friendly, gentle, affectionate, lively, sociable
8.5 to 11.5 inches
7 to 13 pounds
Life Span:
14-16 years
Coat Colors:
Black (solid or with silver or tan), chocolate, cream, fawn, red, gold, silver, white, blue, and several shades of brindle. Markings may be white, tan silver, parti-color, cream, Irish pied, or parti belton.
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Novice dog owners; families with children
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Havaneses
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Havaneses

Havanese Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Havanese

  • Very affectionate

  • Friendly with family, friends, strangers, and animals

  • Excellent for novice dog owners

The sweet-natured Havanese is a social little fellow, taking great delight in the company of people, whether family, friends, or complete strangers. This amiable little dog gets along exceptionally well with both dogs and cats, making it the ideal addition to multi-pet households.

A breed that is exceptionally affectionate, the Havanese eagerly lavishes its love on every person it meets. However, this dog is very loyal and prefers the company of its family to all others. The Havanese is a breed that is well renowned for bonding deeply to its family and is often referred to as a Velcro dog. This dedication to the dog’s family is very endearing; however, it does mean that this dog does not do well when left alone for lengthy periods of time.

The primary role of the Havanese in its native Cuba was a companion for the aristocratic and very wealthy. However, the Havanese is a very intelligent dog with many skills to its credit. The breed loves to learn new things, eagerly participating in training sessions with its owner. The Havanese excels at many different activities but is particularly adept at such tasks as therapy work, dog performance sports, and even unearthing mold and termites in homes.

Though considered to be a toy breed dog, the Havanese has energy to spare. The breed enjoys many different active pursuits including agility, obedience, flyball, freestyle, hiking, climbing, walking, and more.

It is important for owners of this breed to not spoil the dog. It takes very little time for an overindulged Havanese to develop unpleasant habits that can be nearly impossible to break at a later date. The Havanese is well renowned for its ability to get its own way, and thus, requires a savvy owner committed to training the dog instead of the dog training them.

A breed that is an excellent choice for novice dog owners, the Havanese thrives in nearly any living condition from an apartment to a large home and even to life on the farm. The Havanese’s coat requires a firm commitment to regular grooming appointments and daily brushing to remain in good condition.

Daily exercise is required to keep the Havanese healthy and happy. If overfed and underexercised, this breed will easily become overweight. A dog with a moderate amount of prey drive, a fully fenced yard is recommended for this breed.

Havanese Breed History

  • Developed in Cuba

  • Descended from dogs of the Bichon family

  • Possesses a lustrous, silky coat that is featherlight and provides protection from heat


The Havanese originated on the island of Cuba. In 1492 when Columbus conquered Cuba in the name of Spain, Spaniards made their way to Cuba, bringing with them their adorable small dogs. These dogs were closely related to the Bichon family and served one important role in their owners’ lives: that of a cherished family pet.

These early Bichon types were bred to native Cuban dogs and over time developed into the breed that we now recognize as the Havanese. One of the Havanese’s most distinctive features is its voluminous, flowing coat. But the Havanese’s locks serve a useful purpose beyond their striking beauty: they help to keep the Havanese cool under the bright light of the Cuban sun. Though the Havanese’s long, silky coat seems overwhelming in its amount, it is surprisingly not at all heavy.

By the 19th century, the Havanese was the “it” dog for aristocrats, the wealthy, and royalty. The breed caught the eye of European visitors who purchased their own Havanese to take back with them to such countries as France, England, and Spain. In time, the breed gained in popularity, becoming a favorite pooch of such important figures as Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens.

As the years passed, the breed lost its sense of cachet, causing the Havanese to become in danger of extinction. However, a concentrated effort amongst Cuban breeders ensured the breed survived. During the Cuban Revolution of 1959, 11 Havanese left their homeland to become American citizens. These 11 dogs are commonly seen in most of the Havanese pedigrees today.

During the 1970s, a family residing in the United States helped to preserve the breed through careful breeding. Smitten by the Havanese’s sweet nature and innate intelligence, they worked diligently to ensure this dog type did not disappear from the world’s dog landscape.

The Havanese was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995.

Havanese Size & Weight

  • Stand between 8.5” and 11.5”

  • Weight between 7 and 13 pounds

  • Should be kept in a securely fenced yard when outdoors


The Havanese is a sturdily built dog that is a member of the toy group. Both males and females range in height from 8.5 inches to 11.5 inches with males standing towards the upper end of the range and females the lower. Weights for the Havanese are typically between 7 and 13 pounds.

Potential owners of the Havanese should be well prepared for the activity level of this lively, active breed. A dog that is in possession of a moderate prey drive, a fenced yard that is very secure is an important component of keeping this breed from roaming and potentially coming to harm.

Havanese Personality & Temperament

  • Loving and affectionate

  • Can be prone to separation anxiety

  • Loves to learn new skills


The amiable Havanese is a loyal and loving family friend. A dog that does best in the company of its family, the Havanese is happiest when lavishing all of its love on those it most adores. A true Velcro dog, families of this breed will never be lonely with their beloved Havanese by their side for company. Unfortunately, this intense attachment does mean the Havanese is prone to developing separation anxiety if regularly left alone for lengthy periods of time.

The breed is highly prized for its intelligence and is also a natural comedian, bringing a ready smile to the faces of all those the dog meets. The Havanese’s original role was that of a cherished family companion and lap dog, a job at which this breed still excels today.

Friendly and very sociable, the Havanese loves people of all ages. The breed also enjoys the company of dogs and cats, making it a great choice for families with multiple pets. To help set families up for success when adding a Havanese to their home, all introductions should be done in a neutral setting.

The Havanese loves to learn new skills. Training is lots of fun with this breed. This dog type responds best to training techniques based on treats and praise. Highly intelligent, the Havanese picks up new skills with ease.

A dog that does very well with children, the Havanese is both gentle and patient with kids. However, to ensure the safety of the dog and any children involved, all interactions between the two should be carefully supervised.

The Havanese is a dog that does have moderate amounts of prey drive. Because of this, a fully fenced containment area is recommended to keep this dog safe when outdoors.

A breed that can adapt to any living situation from an apartment to a house to a farm, the Havanese is a dog that is both versatile and adaptable. With its easygoing nature and sweet disposition, the Havanese is an excellent choice for novice owners and families with children.

The Havanese’s silky, flowing tresses provide protection against the heat of the sun. However, this breed does best outdoors in moderate weather conditions only. The Havanese should be housed indoors with its family.

Havanese Health & Grooming

  • High grooming requirements

  • Sheds moderately

  • Not much of a drooler


The Havanese typically enjoys excellent health. However, as with all dog breeds, there are a few genetic conditions that can befall this friendly dog. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, chondrodysplasia, Legg-Perthes disease, cataracts, deafness, patellar luxation, portosystemic shunt, heart murmur, and mitral valve insufficiency.

The Havanese has a coat that is soft and silky to the touch and quite lengthy. Though it requires a sincere dedication to grooming to keep this coat in good condition, the Havanese sheds only moderately.

The Havanese’s coat may be straight or curly, but an inbetween coat type known as wavy is the most desirable for dogs that will be shown in conformation events. For owners that prefer not to deal with daily brushing and frequent trips to a professional groomer for coat maintenance, the Havanese’s coat can be clipped. Daily brushing and weekly baths are required to keep the Havanese’s flowing locks in good condition.

The Havanese can suffer from tear staining and watery eyes. To keep this to a minimum, owners should strive to keep the hair around the eyes neatly trimmed. Cleaning the area daily can also help reduce the staining.

Regular maintenance for the Havanese includes tooth brushing several times weekly and nail trims on an as needed basis.

The Havanese can easily become overweight if allowed to free feed or not properly exercised. The breed is not known to drool much.

Havanese Training

  • Easy to train

  • Very intelligent

  • Positive reinforcement techniques are most effective


The Havanese is a very intelligent dog. A dog that takes great pleasure in making its owner happy, the breed enjoys every opportunity to learn new skills with those it loves the most. With regular practice, the Havanese can easily learn its basic obedience commands in as little time as several months.

Many breeders note that the Havanese can be a difficult breed to house train. Crate training and pee pads are two effective methods that can help with this.

Though the Havanese is a member of the toy group, this dog is manipulative by nature and will attempt to bend its owners will to its own. For this reason, the breed should never be indulged. Firm boundaries are key to helping this dog learn what is appropriate. This breed learns best with positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise.

The Havanese is not a particularly mouthy breed; however, it is still important to teach this dog how to appropriately use its mouth. To do this, simply redirect to the dog to a more appropriate item to use its mouth on such as a toy or bone. In time, the dog will learn biting and nipping is not acceptable.

A dog with a moderate prey drive, a fenced yard is recommended for this dog. The breed will roam if given opportunity to do so.

The Havanese is not particularly known for being a big barker. However, if left alone for long periods of time, nuisance barking can become a problem.

Havanese Exercise Requirements

  • Easy to train

  • Very intelligent

  • Positive reinforcement techniques are most effective


The Havanese is a dog with lots of energy, requiring regular daily exercise to remain physically and mentally content. This dog does best when allowed to go for a long walk each day. Playful by nature, the Havanese also enjoys playtime with its family whether it includes a rousing game of fetch or tug or a more active pursuit like a walk on the beach or a hike through the woods.

Havanese Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should eat puppy food

  • Adults should eat adult food

  • Adjust amounts to reflect the activity level of the dog


To ensure the Havanese’s nutritional needs are adequately met, it is an excellent idea to consult the advice of a veterinarian. Most Havanese do very well on a diet that is comprised of high-quality ingredients, and that is properly balanced to meet the needs according to the dog’s age, activity level, and health condition.

Puppies should be fed an appropriate puppy food to support their growth and development. Adults should eat adult food that has been designed with their unique needs in mind.

Determining the amount of food to feed a Havanese is not difficult. The bag of food will offer suggested serving sizes. Use these as a rough guideline, adjusting as needed to reflect the activity level of the dog. The dog’s weight and appetite will help with ascertaining the correct portion of food and the frequency with which meals should occur.

You may also be interested in:

Havanese Rescue Groups

For more information about Havanese for adoption near you, we recommend the following comprehensive resources:

The Havanese Club of America, Inc


Havanese Rescue, Inc