A Quick Look at the Havanese…

The small and friendly Havenese dog is the National Dog of Cuba and is a sturdy canine that is incredibly playful and loves the attention of people. He is an excellent companion for single owners and families with older and more considerate children. He is a gentle, cheerful and incredibly sociable pet that is highly devoted to his pack.

Havanese are a non-shedding breed, and their light, silky wavy coat does require considerable grooming. They like to keep a watchful eye on what is going on outside and inside, and will often choose to lie high up on furniture, so they can be aware of their environment around them. Intelligent and alert, this pooch is both a popular show dog and a beautiful pet.

Here are some fast facts about the Havanese:

Dog Group:
Bichon/Toy Group
Recognized By:
Dogs – 7-13 lbs. (3-6 kg)
Bitches – 7-13 lbs. (3-6 kg)
Dogs – 8 ½ -11 ½ in. (21.5-29 cm)
Bitches – 8 ½ -11 ½ in. (21.5-29 cm)
Average litter size:
Life expectancy:
14 – 15  years (average of 13 years)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Exercise needs:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Barking frequency:

Brief History

Havanese, once known as the Spanish Silk Poodle and the Havana Silk Dog, are believed to be part of the Bichon family, as they could be related to the Tenerife. Though their country of origin is Cuba, and they are the only breed native to the country and Cuba’s National Dog, it is thought that their roots were initially found in the Western Mediterranean region and blossomed along the coasts of Italy and Spain. The ancestors of the Havanese were later brought to Cuba via trade ships from the island of Tenerife.

The breed became very popular in Europe, was well liked among the aristocracy, and treated like a pampered lapdogs. The Havanese made their way to the United States when many Cubans fled from the Cuban revolution to America and brought their dogs with them. It is quite possible that all of the Havanese that exist in the U.S. today are related to the 11 original immigrant canines. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1996.

Havanese Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance – Havanese are lovely, yet somewhat rugged looking dogs that are very small in stature but have a strong build despite their size, and do not appear delicate or fragile. They have a relatively short, rectangular muzzle that ends with a broad and squarish black nose (or chocolate brown in chocolate colored dogs). Their drop ears are medium in length and reach about halfway to their nose when extended. The dark brown, almond shaped eyes of the Havanese are set high up on their heads and give the dog a very bright and alert expression.

This breed has muscular and well boned legs, round feet and a plumed long haired tail that is set high, arches forward and naturally rests above and a little bit over the back. Their silky, wavy or curly, double coat is light and soft and is designed to protect them from hot climates. The coat comes in just about any color including cream, white, gold, black, chocolate, silver, blue, as well as parti and tricolors.

Typical Temperament – Havanese dogs are remarkably intelligent and have a sharp wit. They are a small pooch with a big personality, and thrive on and require plenty of attention from their owners. They have an inquisitive nature, love to romp around and play, and are happiest when in the company of their family. They enjoy the companionship of children, especially children that are older and know how to properly treat and respect the dog. The Havanese is also very sociable with humans not part of their pack, as well as with dogs, cats and other household pets.

This is a breed that excels at obedience training, should be taught basic commands and be provided with mental stimulation for their happiness, wellbeing and proper development. While they are not naturally born barkers, they are an excellent watchdog and will look after their home happily perched on the highest piece of furniture, typically the back of a couch or chair. Havanese are active, fun-loving four-pawed stars.

Basic Havanese Care Requirements

Grooming – The Havanese coat needs to be carefully groomed with a comb and brush at least every other day to keep the silky hair free of mats. There are lotions you can purchase to help prevent the dog’s hair from splitting, which is important to keep it healthy, as it does not shed. If you find the long coat too difficult to manage you can keep it clipped short in the puppy style cut. Excess hair should be clipped from in between the pads of their feet. They should be bathed every few months, depending on their environment, to keep them clean.

The eyes and ears of the Havanese should be checked on a regular basis to prevent tear staining and the risk of infection. Nails should be clipped on a monthly basis and teeth brushed every few days to maintain good oral hygiene.

Exercise – This breed is energetic and requires a daily walk and playtime. Though he will enjoy the freedom to run around in a yard it isn’t necessary. A 10-15 minute daily walk should suffice as long as he is engaged in other activities throughout the day.

Approximate Food Cost – Typically, Havanese eat 1 to 1¼ cups of dry food per day at an estimated cost of $10.

General Health Information

Havanese are a generally healthy and long-lived breed. That said, they are susceptible to certain illnesses, such as hip dysplasia, luxating patellas (knee dislocation), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), Juvenile heritable cataracts, Legg-Calve Perthes Diease, Chronodyplasia and dry skin.

Common Illnesses include: PRA, juvenile cataracts, luxating patellas, ear infections and dry skin.

Are You the Right Havanese Owner?

Living conditions – Havanese can live comfortably in an apartment and will do fine without a yard, as they are quite active indoors. Nevertheless, regardless of the home they live in, it is imperative that they are provided with daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Note: There coat is designed for tropical temperatures, so they are sensitive to cold weather.

Training – Havanese are bright canines that excel at obedience and agility. This pooch is ready and eager to learn from the moment he steps foot in his new home. He is very active and curious and needs proper training and socialization to develop a healthy personality. Like any dog, this breed requires a confident, consistent and reliable leader that provides firm yet gentle lessons in obedience. If he is not provided with leadership he can understand and respect, he will attempt to step above his owner and take the role of alpha. If this occurs, he can exhibit negative and destructive behaviors that result in small dog syndrome. Thus, though he is small and cute, he must be trained and always treated like a dog.

Common Problems – Havanese are slow to housetrain, so owners will need to apply plenty of patience and persistence in regards to this training. This breed loves attention, becomes incredibly attached to his pack members, and wants to be in the company of his family all of the time. As a result, he is prone to separation anxiety when he is left on his own for any length of time. Owners need to teach their pet at an early age that separation is a normal and not permanent part of their lifestyle.

The bottom line…

A very trainable, smart and joyful breed, the Havenese has a sweet temperament and is a wonderful family pet. He’s a busy canine that is watchful, alert, inquisitive and playful. He likes to be socially involved and is rather energetic for his size. His devotion and attachment to his people runs deep and he yearns for their company all the time. He must be included in his owner’s daily activities as much as possible and his silky, non-shedding coat requires daily care.

The Havanese is a marvelous, big personality, one-of-a-kind dog.

Filed Under: Havanese Training


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