Breeds, Toy Group


Embark on an enchanting journey into the world of the Havanese, a breed renowned for its expressive eyes and silky hair. This comprehensive guide explores the unique attributes and temperament of the Havanese, providing prospective owners with the knowledge needed to fully appreciate these affectionate companions.

Uncover the playful spirit and adaptability that make the Havanese a favorite among dog lovers. From understanding their social nature to mastering care techniques, this guide equips you with essential advice to foster a thriving environment for your new furry friend. Step by step, learn how to build a lasting bond with your Havanese, ensuring a joyful and fulfilling experience together.

Havanese – Size & Life Expectancy

Havanese Height

9-11 inches

Havanese Weight

7-13 pounds

Havanese Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

14-16 years

About the Havanese

The Havanese, with its roots steeped in history, emerges as a breed of both charm and charisma. Originating from the Mediterranean region, the ancestors of the Havanese were brought to Cuba by Spanish settlers in the early 16th century. In Cuba, this breed evolved, adapting to the tropical climate and eventually earning the name “Havanese,” a nod to Havana, the vibrant heart of Cuba. Initially, these dogs graced the laps of Cuban aristocracy, their silky coats and engaging personalities making them ideal companions. Over the centuries, they became a symbol of wealth and status among the elite.

Rise to Prominence

The political upheaval of the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s threatened the survival of the Havanese breed. However, a handful of these dogs made it to the United States with Cuban refugees, where dedicated breeders took on the challenge of preserving and expanding the breed. This period marked the beginning of the Havanese’s journey to global recognition. By the late 20th century, the breed had not only regained stability but had also begun to capture the hearts of dog lovers worldwide, thanks to their adaptable nature and affectionate demeanor.

Characteristics of the Havanese

The Havanese is distinguished by its long, flowing coat, which comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Typically weighing between 7 to 13 pounds, these small dogs carry themselves with a light, springy gait, reflecting their lively spirit. Known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, Havanese are easy to train, making them excellent candidates for both obedience and agility trials. Their expressive eyes and ever-wagging tails speak volumes about their friendly nature, which is complemented by a remarkable ability to sense the emotions of their owners.

The Havanese Today

Today, the Havanese enjoys widespread popularity, cherished not only for its historical significance but also for its role as a versatile family pet. The breed’s adaptability makes it well-suited to various living situations, from apartments in bustling cities to spacious homes in the countryside. Their social nature makes them excellent companions for children and the elderly alike, thriving in environments where they can engage with people and other pets.

Typical Owners

The typical Havanese owner is someone who values a close, interactive relationship with their pet. This breed demands a considerable amount of attention, thriving on affection and engagement. Owners are often drawn to the Havanese for its hypoallergenic coat, which sheds less than many other breeds, making it a suitable choice for those with allergies. Additionally, the Havanese’s cheerful disposition and manageable size endear it to a wide range of individuals, including first-time pet owners and seasoned dog enthusiasts alike.

In conclusion, the Havanese stands out as a breed rich in history and personality. From its aristocratic beginnings in Cuba to its current status as a beloved companion worldwide, the Havanese continues to enchant and captivate dog lovers everywhere. Whether nestled on a lap or prancing alongside its owner, this breed remains a testament to the enduring bond between humans and their canine companions.

Traits & Characteristics of the Havanese

  • Affectionate and Friendly: Thrives on human interaction and is very sociable with both people and other pets.
  • Adaptable: Comfortable in various living situations, from apartments to larger homes.
  • Intelligent: Quick to learn and eager to please, making training a rewarding experience.
  • Low-shedding Coat: Possesses a beautiful, silky coat that is hypoallergenic and ideal for allergy sufferers.
  • Playful: Exhibits a lively and playful nature, enjoying playful activities and games.
  • Sensitive: Highly attuned to the emotions of their owners, responding to their moods and needs.
  • Sturdy: Despite their small size, they are robust and agile, capable of participating in dog sports and activities.
  • Good with Children and Other Animals: Known for being gentle and patient, making them excellent companions for families.

Owning a Havanese

Embarking on the journey of owning a Havanese promises both joy and companionship. As a breed known for its affectionate nature and striking appearance, the Havanese makes an ideal pet for families and individuals alike. This guide aims to equip potential owners with essential information across various aspects of care.


Havanese are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of 14 to 16 years. However, they are prone to certain genetic conditions like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and heart issues. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to early detection and management of these conditions. Owners should also be aware of eye disorders such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, which are commonly observed in the breed. Preventive care, including routine health screenings and vaccinations, plays a pivotal role in maintaining their health. Ensuring your Havanese has access to clean water, a balanced diet, and regular exercise will further support their overall well-being.


Despite their small size, Havanese possess a lively energy that requires regular exercise. Daily walks and play sessions are essential to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. They excel in agility and obedience training, which not only provides physical activity but also strengthens the bond between dog and owner. Activities like fetch, hide-and-seek, and interactive toys can keep them engaged. Exercise is not just a physical requirement; it also helps mitigate behaviors born from boredom or excess energy. A consistent exercise routine ensures a happy, well-behaved companion.


The luxurious double coat of the Havanese is both a beauty and a responsibility. This breed does not shed much, but their coat requires regular grooming to prevent tangles and mats. Daily brushing with a suitable brush can maintain the coat’s natural softness and luster. It is advisable to introduce grooming early in life to ensure the Havanese becomes comfortable with the process. Regular baths, nail trims, and ear checks should be part of their grooming routine. Professional grooming every six to eight weeks can help maintain their coat’s condition, especially for those not kept in a shorter, more manageable “puppy cut.”


Proper nutrition is fundamental to the health of a Havanese. A diet rich in high-quality proteins and balanced with fats and carbohydrates supports their energy levels and overall health. It is crucial to avoid foods that are harmful to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, onions, and overly fatty or salty foods. Treats should be given sparingly to prevent obesity. Consulting with a vet to tailor a diet plan can be beneficial, especially to address any specific health concerns like allergies. Fresh, clean water should always be available to support digestion and overall health.


Havanese are intelligent and generally eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. They respond best to positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and treats. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended to help them develop into well-adjusted adults. Consistency in training is key, as is patience and understanding. Training should focus on basic commands, potty training, crate training, and early socialization to expose them to different people, pets, and environments. Regular, short training sessions will help harness their intelligence and curb any stubborn tendencies.

By understanding and meeting the needs outlined in this guide, owners can ensure their Havanese leads a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

The Havanese Standard

The Havanese breed standard outlines the ideal characteristics that these dogs should exhibit, serving as a benchmark for judging at dog shows and for breeders aiming to adhere to the quintessential traits of the breed. This standard is recognized by major canine organizations and emphasizes both physical and temperamental qualities that define the Havanese.


The Havanese is a small yet sturdy dog, recognized for its long, flowing coat that covers the body in abundant softness. The ideal Havanese stands between 8.5 to 11.5 inches at the shoulder and presents a slightly longer length than height, giving them a distinctive, rectangular outline. The tail is carried over the back in a plume, and their gait is lively and elastic, showcasing their agile and graceful movement.

Coat and Color

One of the most notable features of the Havanese is its beautiful coat. The breed standard specifies that the coat should be long, soft, and can range from straight to wavy. The coat is double-layered, with a softer undercoat and a silkier outer coat, providing protection and a unique flowing appearance. While all colors and patterns are acceptable, the coat should be natural and untrimmed, except for slight trimming around the feet and the anal area for cleanliness.

Head and Expression

The expression of a Havanese is key to its charming appeal. The eyes are dark brown, large, almond-shaped, and convey a warm, friendly demeanor. The ears are set high and drop down, framing the face, and covered with long hair. The skull is broad and slightly rounded with a moderate stop, and the muzzle is full and square, which balances the face.


Temperament is as crucial as physical appearance in the breed standard. The Havanese is renowned for its cheerful nature. This breed thrives on human companionship, exhibiting a playful and affectionate demeanor. They are known for their intelligence and willingness to please, which makes them highly trainable. The ideal Havanese is neither timid nor aggressive but maintains a gentle and friendly disposition.

Overall Impression

The overall impression of the ideal Havanese is a dog of beauty, robustness, and quality, with a flowing coat that epitomizes breed standards. The Havanese moves with a jaunty, confident air that reflects its cheerful temperament. It should appear capable of performing the traditional tasks of a companion dog, demonstrating both the physical attributes and the personality traits that make it a beloved member of the toy group.

Adhering to this breed standard helps ensure that the Havanese not only looks the part of a show dog but also preserves the health and temperament that make them such delightful companions. Judges at dog shows and breeders aim to match these standards to maintain the integrity and future health of the breed.

Havanese – FAQ

Welcome to our Havanese FAQ section! Here, you’ll find answers to the most commonly asked questions about this lovable breed, covering everything from care tips to personality traits. Whether you’re a current owner or considering adding a Havanese to your family, this resource is designed to help.

Alternatives to a Havanese

When exploring dog breeds akin to the Havanese in terms of size, traits, and characteristics, several breeds immediately come to mind. The Bichon Frise is a delightful alternative, sharing a similarly cheerful demeanor and a fluffy, hypoallergenic coat. This breed, much like the Havanese, thrives on companionship and fits seamlessly into family life.

Furthermore, the Maltese stands out as another comparable breed. Known for its luxurious, silky white fur and gentle temperament, the Maltese requires, and indeed enjoys, frequent grooming and affection, paralleling the Havanese’s need for close human interaction.

Transitioning to another breed, the Coton de Tulear, one finds a striking resemblance in its cotton-like coat and sociable nature. Originating from Madagascar, this breed shares the Havanese’s adaptability and is equally at ease in various living environments, from apartments to larger homes.

Additionally, the Lhasa Apso offers a similar allure with its long, flowing coat and keen sense of loyalty. While slightly more independent in spirit compared to the Havanese, the Lhasa Apso is equally devoted and makes a vigilant watchdog.

Lastly, the Shih Tzu, with its aristocratic bearing and affectionate personality, encapsulates the essence of a companion dog. Its friendly nature and tolerance for other pets make it a superb choice for families seeking a pet with characteristics similar to those of the Havanese.

Each of these breeds shares key attributes with the Havanese—small stature, engaging personalities, and a propensity for forming strong bonds with their owners. They serve as excellent companions, weaving joy and affection into the fabric of everyday life.