Havanese Dog Breed Info

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The Havanese! The small, hairy, round-faced toy breed dogs that have danced their way into the hearts of many pet lovers all over the world.

These cheerful little canines have a friendly and charming personality which makes them a favorable breed in many homes today.

Keep reading this comprehensive guide to learn more about the Havanese dog breed info from their rich history in the country of Cuba, to their grooming needs and much more.

A Brief History of The Havanese

Cute Havanese
Image Credit: Ralf Bitzer from Pixabay

The Havanese is a toy-sized breed that comes from the Bichon family – a group of dogs who share similar characteristics including curled tail, long hair, short muzzle, and dropped ears.

These delightful canines are named after the Cuban city of Havana, and they have been around since the 1500s.

Havanese are descendants of the now-extinct dogs known as Blanquito de la Habana, who were brought to Cuba by the Spanish farmers and colonists.

These little dogs rose to fame throughout Cuba and became a luxury companion among the middle class who would often give them out as gifts to visiting notables.

Social and political upheavals during the Cuban revolution led to a dramatic decline of the Havanese dogs.

Luckily enough, the Cuban upper class carried some Havanese dogs with them when they fled their country for safety in the US and Europe.

The Havanese were officially inducted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) registry in 1996 as purebred dogs, a move that solidified the breed as a convenient household pet.

5 Interesting Facts About Havanese

1.    Havanese Are the National Dog of Cuba

Being the only purebred dog to ever come out of Cuba, the Havanese have earned themselves the national honor in their country of origin.

2.    Havanese are known by many names

These pint-sized dogs have a wide variety of names including Little white dog of Havana (Blanquito de la Habana), Havanese Cuban Bichon, Rigno, Youcef Sorry, Bichon Havanese, Havana Spaniel, Havanezer, and Bichon Habanero.

3.    They are highly social

Havanese thrive on human companionship and interaction, often forming deep bonds with their caregivers. These little dogs love to be the center of attention as long as the family is all together.

4.    They are prone to separation anxiety

Due to the likelihood of forming strong attachments to their owners, the Havanese are prone to separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods.

5.    Havanese are sensitive to cold climate

Despite having a thick outer coat, the pint-sized body of Havanese can be extremely sensitive to colder climates.

These dogs are native to the tropical climates of Cuba and Tenerife regions; therefore, their long hair was developed as a sunscreen for providing a cooling effect for hot weather.

Havanese Puppies

Your journey to owning a healthy Havanese should start by choosing the right puppy for you and your family.

Keep in mind that Havanese are one of the most inquisitive and active toy breed dogs in the world.

It’s therefore prudent to puppy-proof your home and provide enough amenities before bringing one home.

Havanese Dog Breed Info
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We strongly recommend removing your preferred Havanese puppy from their mother when they are between 10 – 16 weeks old, and never earlier than eight weeks.

Detaching a puppy from the mother and other littermates too soon could mean that they will fail to benefit from valuable skills, and may not mingle well with others.

Havanese Physical Characteristics

A fully grown male Havanese dog has a weight range of about 7 to 13 pounds while their female counterparts can have notable weight differences.

In terms of height, the male Havanese tower over the females with a range of 8.5 to 11.5 inches while the latter have a height range of 8 to 11 inches.

The two saucer-like eyes and the long flowing hair (not fur!) are the two top physical highlights of the Havanese dogs.

Just like other members of the Bichon family, the peepers are like two dark pools that are always ready to follow everywhere you go.

The Havanese silky coat comes in many different colorings and markings, making it challenging to identify them by the exterior shade alone.

Havanese Dog Breed Info
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While there are 25 distinct color variations in Havanese, the main ones are tan, black, cream, silver, white, red, golden, sable, and their diverse forms of combinations.

Just like other members of the Bichon family, the hind legs of Havanese are stronger and a tad bit longer than their forelimbs.

This unique condition makes them have a particular springy gait and bouncy walk.

Havanese Temperament and Personality

Besides being people-friendly and highly sociable to those they love; these tiny furry bundles are not fond of strangers.

Your Havanese is therefore likely to sound an alert when they meet someone for the first time, but this is not a general rule for all.

Just like most small-sized dogs, the Havanese love to relax, or cuddle with their owner when at home instead of being too bossy.

These little dogs can make good friends with children and other animals, a characteristic which makes them an admirable candidate for many families.

Havanese Intelligence

Havanese are quite intelligent, especially for a toy breed dog, most likely because they like pleasing those they love.

According to the ranking done by canine psychologist Dr. Stanley Corren, Havanese came out as the 79th smartest breed.

This ranking placed them as averagely smart for obedience and working intelligence but they excel well in other unquantified aspects.

Havanese Average lifespan

The average lifespan of Havanese dogs is between 14 to 16 years, but it is not uncommon for some of them to live well past 16 years.

A male Havanese named ‘Dusty’ holds the record as the oldest known Havanese to have ever existed, dying at the age of 20 years and 2 months.

Havanese Common Health Issues and Genetic Disorders

Havanese are typically healthy and sturdy little champs, but they can be susceptible to a few common health issues due to poor breeding or inadequate nutrition.

The following are some of the health conditions you should be aware of when planning to adopt a Havanese dog breed:

1.    Hip & Elbow dysplasia

This is a degenerative condition in dogs that is caused by the continuous weakening of the hip and elbow joints due to abnormal growth.

Screening of the parents can lower the risks of hip dysplasia in the upcoming litter, but it doesn’t guarantee that the dog will not suffer from this condition.

2.    Patella Luxation

Accidental falls or jumping from elevated platforms may cause your Havanese kneecap to slip, a condition common in small-breed dogs.

Affected dogs are likely to be afraid of jumping even on smaller heights and they can also be seen skipping on the road while walking.

3.    Cataracts

This condition causes the eye lens to become cloudy and opaque, blocking light from reaching the retina, and therefore leading to partial blindness or complete loss of vision.

Cataracts can be caused by genetic inheritance, nutritional imbalance, injury, metabolic disturbance, or chronic uveitis.

4.    Legg-Calves-Perthes

This disease is common in small breed dogs and might even occur when the dog is at the tender age of 2 months.

It is caused by the interruption of blood supply to the hip joint’s femoral ball, causing the bone to collapse or become deformed.

Affected dogs can be treated through surgical procedures to remove the deformed bone, followed by consistent physical therapy for recovery.

5.    Heart Diseases

Havanese dogs can also suffer from cardiovascular diseases including Heart Murmur, Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), and Heart Failure.

Preventative Measures for Good Health

Knowing the health condition of your Havanese puppy’s parents and receiving clearance for the diseases that are known to cause a problem will help you monitor your dog.

Before purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder, ask them to talk about the genetic history of the puppy’s parents and if there has been any persistent health problem across the dog’s family.

A reputable breeder should satisfactorily provide all the answers and give out the required documentation where necessary.

If the breeder appears vague and tries to avoid your questions on health, it is best to avoid them because you might be getting a puppy with a family history of health problems.

The other preventive measure for good health is ensuring your dog eats high-quality food with a balanced mix of all nutrients and minerals.

Havanese playing outdoors
Image Credit: Alexas Fotos from Pexels

You should also prevent your dog from becoming overweight or obese by providing sufficient physical exercise every day.

Havanese And Allergies

Havanese are a good choice for people with allergies because they shed very little hair throughout the year, despite their flowing silky coat.

Even when they shed hair, the outer coat traps the loose hair, preventing it from sticking out on your furniture and bed.

Havanese Grooming Needs

Despite being low shedders, Havanese need regular grooming to stay in top condition and free from debris or loose hair.

Daily brushing is an absolute must for Havanese especially for people who intend to keep their abundant hair long.

Create a 15-minute schedule each day to glide through your little dog’s coat using a slicker brush to keep them clean and gorgeous.

While at it, remember to check their ears for any infections and clean the outer canal using a cotton wool ball dipped in a vet-approved cleanser.

Plan monthly nail trims and brush your dog’s teeth at least once every two days using canine toothpaste and a soft toothbrush to keep their whites in good condition.

Havanese Exercise and Activity Levels

Daily Activity Needs

The dogs we all love are natural athletes, and that’s why you should plan regular physical workouts to keep them strong and healthy.

Despite their super active and lively nature, Havanese only need about 30 minutes to 1 hour of moderate exercise every day to get tired.

Suitable activities and games for Havanese

Your Havanese will definitely love being walked around the neighborhood with a leash without straining or trying to guide the way.

These little bundles of joy were never bred to work, so they’ll certainly be contented with moderate indoor games instead of the tiresome hikes.

Havanese are reserved with strangers, so indoor games are more comfortable for them than outdoor games.

Importance of mental stimulation

Considering how smart they are, Havanese will appreciate a game of puzzles and an interactive gaming session which can help strengthen their problem-solving skills.

Mental stimulation activities can also work wonders in building the bond between you and your lovely Havanese.

Havanese Training and Socialization

Being intelligent, fun-loving, and alert, your lovely Havanese will gladly enjoy spending time with you to learn new tricks and commands.

The best time to begin training your Havanese is when they set foot in your home for the first time, failure to which they might become bossy.

For a happy and well-balanced family, make sure to set rules and boundaries for your dog by being the leader of the pack.

Whatever you decide to teach your furry student, always proceed with kindness and patience while giving room for mistakes.

At no particular point should you yell, hit, or punish your Havanese for doing that which you never expected. Harsh training methods can frighten your dog and do more harm than good.

Havanese sitting on grass
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All training sessions should be accompanied by tasty food for rewards and positive reinforcement. Doing this will entice your little canine buddy to be attentive and always look forward to future classes.

The average Havanese is a happy, naturally friendly, and social dog who loves spending quality time with human companions and other pets.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should not socialize with them. Exposing your Havanese to different people, pets, settings, and sounds will build their confidence and social skills.

Havanese Living Conditions

Both a fully grown Havanese and a puppy will definitely look forward to playing in a huge yard but they can be equally contended with an apartment life.

If you stay in close quarters, just make sure to take your Havanese out for evening brisk walks to ensure they get a balanced life.

Curious about other breeds that can live in apartments? Explore our article on the 20 best small dog breeds for apartments to discover more.

Havanese Diet & Nutrition

Like any other dog breed, the Havanese should receive a consistent supply of high-quality dog food to stay strong and healthy.

Preparing your dog’s food at home is the best way to provide high-quality nourishment without worrying about toxic ingredients.

A proper balanced meal for your dog should be made of approximately 50% meat protein, and 25% complex carbohydrates, and the other 25% should be from dog-friendly fruits and veggies.

Havanese Pregnancy & Litter size

A healthy Havanese female can have an average gestation period of 63 days, but anywhere between 58 to 68 days is still considered normal.

You can expect an average of 4 puppies from one Havanese female, but the number can fluctuate depending on the mother’s conditions.


Havanese have a stable temperament and a gentle demeanor that makes them favorable to keep in households, whether with a big family or for a solo adventurer.

If there’s a summary to take home from our Havanese dog breed info guide is that these little friends are fun-loving, low shedders, smart, active, and passionately devoted to their owners.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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