Havanese Ultimate Guide: Pictures, Characteristics, & Facts

Hailing from Havana, Cuba, the Havanese Dog is the only native breed of the said country. It is an affectionate toy breed with a happy and fun-loving disposition. It is originally bred for companionship, and an ideal companion for a person who prefers a small, active dog who can be content with frequent walks and fun, active games.

The Havanese dog was easily loved by people because of its long, silky hair, and cuddly size. With its affectionate personality, this dog earned the nickname “Velcro Dog” because it sticks closely to the owner’s side.


The Havanese is an old breed from the bichon family. The progenitors of the breed are believed to have come from Tenerife.

Some Cubans who fled to the United States during the revolution in the early 1500s brought their Havanese dogs with them, which became the foundation stock for the breed today.

By the early 1800s, the breed was gracing the laps of many aristocratic families in Havana, Cuba. European travelers who were smitten with Havanese brought the dogs back to England, Spain, and France. The breed became a hit in Europe in the mid-1800s. As a matter of fact, Queen Victoria, and two famous writers namely Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway were among this dog’s well-known fans at the time.

In 1995, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Havanese Dog.

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The Havanese coat, while double-coated, is light, soft, silky, and does not shed easily. It is long and may be straight or wavy. Its fur looks fluffy but also flows easily with its movement.

The Havanese comes in an assortment of colors, such as black, blue, cream, champagne, chocolate, fawn, gold, Havana brown, mahogany, silver, tobacco, and white. It may also be tri-color and parti-color.


Havanese is a toy dog weighing between 7 to 13 pounds. Its height ranges from 8.5 to 11.5 inches at the shoulder. Its body is longer than tall. It has drop ears and a tail that curls over the back.

Generally, this breed matures at one year of age, although it reaches its full size around 6 to 8 months.

Life Span

The Havanese Dog typically lives from 10 to 15 years. However, several factors and conditions may greatly affect your dog’s lifespan. In fact, a dental disease may cut short your dog’s life expectancy by 1 to 3 years. So, it is important to be familiar about the health risks that your dog may obtain over its life.


The Havanese is a high-maintenance dog which requires daily grooming to keep its coat tangle- and mat-free. It does not shed much, but is not hypoallergenic.

When kept in full coat, its hair can grow up to 8 inches in length. This requires daily brushing and weekly baths. If its fur is cut short, it will need to be clipped every 6 to 8 weeks and will need a bath every two weeks.


The Havanese is an affectionate and a very happy dog. Being intelligent, this dog is trainable and eager to please. It does not make a good kennel dog, though since it prefers being with its family. It is an active dog and enjoys learning tricks and playing fun games with its owner.

If not given enough time and toys to play with, this dog can be mischievous and may be destructive at home. It does not want to be alone, therefore if you need to leave for a while, you must provide plenty of toys to occupy its time.

This loving dog likes children and other animals. It learns easily and loves to be told praises for being a good dog. It enjoys seeing you laugh with its goofy antics, or simply sitting on your lap watching the world go by.

To prevent becoming timid towards strangers, early socialization is essential for this breed. Remember, regardless of the dog breed, it’s temperament will still be affected by several factors, including heredity, training, and socialization.


The Havanese is considered “average intelligent” for both obedience and working intelligence. While it may not be the quickest learner, it excels in other areas, such as adaptive intelligence.


This breed is trainable, and surprisingly with its size, is highly energetic. Havanese will happily compete in dog sports such as agility, freestyle, obedience, and flyball.


To keep it healthy and happy, the Havanese needs moderate daily exercise. A 20- to 40-minute walk, or an outdoor family time would be sufficient to expel its high energy. Being a very energetic dog, it needs as much exercise as a larger dog.


The Havanese is smart and easy to train. Basic obedience can easily be learned, although house training can be a bit challenging, so extra patience during the process is needed. This breed is smart and can be house trained much faster compared to other toy dogs.

Just like every other dog, training at a young age is best to avoid developing bad habits. However, training this breed when it is older is also possible. It can be a good watch dog, but a poor guard dog because of its small size. If not properly trained, this dog may bark excessively.

It also excels in canine careers such as therapy and assistance dogs, sniffing out molds and termites, and showing off its clownish antics as a performing dog.

Good With Family

The Havanese shows its affection to everyone, including children of all ages, strangers, other dogs, and even cats. But most of all, it will shower love and affection to its family and will stick like glue to its owner.

But because this breed is a toy dog, it is prone to being accidentally hurt, so it is essential to teach kids on how to treat a dog.

Although the Havanese is not aggressive, its keen eye makes this dog a good watch dog.
It needs a large amount of interaction with people, and its affectionate personality will make a wonderful addition to your home.

Apartment Living

The Havanese adapts well in almost all types of homes, from apartments to large homes with yards. Being an indoor dog, this breed is not suited to stay in the backyard, and is happiest around its human family.

Although it is not overly yappy, it does bark when it sees someone passing by the house, or when it hears a strange noise. That being said, it may not be the best breed for you if your home has noise restrictions.

Separation Anxiety

The Havanese is a companion dog that thrives on being with its family, therefore it doesn’t do well alone for long periods of time. When left alone for too long, it can become anxious and can suffer from separation anxiety.

The best way to avoid this problem is to have someone during the day to keep it company. A plenty of toys to keep him occupied is also a great option.

Health Issues

Generally, the Havanese is a healthy breed. But like every other dog breeds, it may be prone to some conditions, such as vision and hearing disorders, heart murmurs, and hip and knee problems.

It may also become overweight or obese. A balanced diet combined with daily exercise is important to maintain its ideal body condition.


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