Havanese Dog

Cute, petite, and rather sweet! Read on to find out information on this breed’s health, personality, intelligence, and more!

havanese dog sitting down

Height: Around 9-11 inches
Weight: Approximately 3-6 kilos
Havanese Lifespan: 14-16 years
Pedigree (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is Kennel Club registered

Positives and Negatives

These are the pros and cons commonly seen with the Havanese dog breed.

Pros

  • Little to no shedding
  • Intelligent and easy to train
  • Energetic and playful making them great family dogs
  • Sturdier than other breeds their size

Cons

  • Can become anxious, so they don’t like being left alone
  • Might bark at strangers
  • Can be stubborn and harder to housebreak
  • May feel timid or shy if not socialized properly

havanese dog doing an agility trial

Overview

The Havanese dog is the national dog of Cuba, the only native breed to the island. They are an adorable breed and a loving companion, a perfect choice for both families or single owners. Their small size means they can happily live in an apartment and adapt well to a city lifestyle.

This dog has soft and silky smooth fur which comes in a variety of different colors. They don’t shed often, yet they aren’t hypoallergenic, but this still could be a positive for pet allergy sufferers, as your home won’t be covered in fur!

Havanese dogs are great for a family environment as they love being around people. If you are thinking of becoming a single owner you won’t be able to leave them alone consistently for hours. This could cause separation anxiety, something more common in this breed type as they do tend to feel anxious when away from their owners.

This breed is one of the most popular dogs in the UK. Their sturdy yet small size makes them a better choice for families across the country. They are also used in the UK as service dogs and were accepted into the Hearing Ear Programme, allowing them to help those with impaired hearing.

Havanese dogs tend to act like watchdogs and will alert you when they sense something isn’t right or if your doorbell rings, even though they haven’t been bred for this purpose.

havanese dog on the grass

History

Originating from Cuba, the countries national pooch, the Havanese dog (or Havana Silk Dog) is a descendent from the now extinct Blanquito de la Habana. As you can see this breed has been named after Cuba’s capital Havana and is the only breed native to the island.

This dog is a member of the Bichon family, other dogs included in this category are Bichon Frishe, Shih Tzu, and the Maltese. It is believed the Bichon breeds were brought to the island by either Italian or Spanish settlers in the 1600s. It is thought that the Bichon Tenerife and the Blanquito de la Habana (both extinct) created the Havanese dog.

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This breed was commonly seen amongst the aristocracy in Cuba in the 1800s and bred only as a companion. The Havanese dogs were also popular amongst the rich in the UK, with Queen Victoria owning two Havanese dogs herself. Famous writer Charles Dickens was also a proud owner of a Havanese dog named Tim.

The Cuban Revolution in 1959 saw many refugees fleeing to the United States along with their four-legged friends. They almost became extinct but thanks to three families in particular this allowed the bloodline of the Havanese dog to continue.

This undoubtedly increased their popularity within the USA, with the breed eventually being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1999.

havanese puppy dog

Personality

Havanese Temperament: Small, cute, and eager to please the Havanese dog will quickly become your best friend and closest companion. They are happy and cheerful dogs that love to play games, so you should always keep a ball nearby!

Adaptable to a variety of different environments you can easily have this pooch in an apartment or a home with a small garden. They are people-orientated dogs and love to sit on your lap for a snuggle.

Are Havanese Dogs Good With Strangers?

Yes, as a people-orientated breed, this dog takes to strangers much quicker than others. They are friendly and affectionate and won’t show aggression.

If they haven’t been socialized well, they could become timid and reserved. When the door goes you can be certain this pooch will fill your house with the sound of barking, if they haven’t been trained otherwise.

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Are Havanese Dogs Good With Children?

Yes, Havanese dogs make great playmates for older children however their small size could put them in harm’s way if handled roughly by younger children. They are high in energy, love to play ball games, and are very playful. This makes them a perfect match for the family.

Havanese dogs love attention and affection, the more people that can make this dog feel loved and adored, the better!

Are Havanese Dogs Ok With Other Dogs?

This breed does well around other dogs as they love to play and are very friendly. They can also be around household pets if trained correctly. This breed is not an aggressive type and they are not known to nip.

havanese dog running on the grass

Exercise

A Havanese dog doesn’t need a lot of exercise. Around 30 minutes a day would be fine. They would much rather be snuggled up to their owner instead!

A long ball game or a decent walk around a park is all they need. Small enclosed spaces are often best, yet this breed isn’t the type to run away from their owner, so if your dogs recall is ok and you can prevent them from approaching leashed dogs, you can walk with them off the lead.

You must be careful to not over exercise your dog, sometimes their bodies just can’t handle it. This can lead to health problems later down the line.

Recommended: Does the Bernedoodle make a good pet? Find out in our guide.

Health

Checking any breed-related health conditions is always a must before purchasing or rehoming any dog. The following are health issues related to the Havanese dog.

  • Luxating Patellas- This is where the knee caps temporarily slip out of place.
  • Portosystemic Shunt This condition affects the liver function, abnormal veins push blood through the liver as opposed to around it.
  • Distichiasis- Small eyelashes on the inner surface of the eye can scratch the outer layer of the eye causing irritation.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- An inherited disease that could lead to blindness.

Intelligence & Trainability

They are intelligent but not one of the smartest, so they are somewhat obedient depending on if they’re feeling stubborn that day.  They do well with positive feedback, affection, and food treats.

This dog is easily trainable and picks up on commands well. This is why you will often see them performing at dog shows, where they excel in obedience and agility competitions. They are considered a service dog in the UK, helping those with hearing impairment.

Remember this dog is eager to please, which is why the breed has seen its popularity spread worldwide. They were bred as lap dogs and really do live up to this name! Havanese dogs are positive and they pick up on your emotions. So, as long as you are happy and calm your dog will be too, during training.

Reward-based training is always a good way to grasp your dog’s attention, but you mustn’t solely focus on handing out food. This may confuse your pet from listening to your commands to just wanting the food. It could also make them put on too much weight depending on how frequently you give out treats.

Grooming

Havanese dogs kept within family homes generally have their fur trimmed short as it is much easier to maintain. If you would like to enter this breed in dog shows, the fur must be kept long.

The Havanese dog has both an over and undercoat, the difference with this breed is that the hair doesn’t shed, so when it falls out it can become matted within the fur. You should always remove any knots or tangles before bath time as this could make it much worse. You may even see freckles on their skin!

You will have to brush your pooch at least 3-4 times a week, sometimes even daily! When choosing a brush avoid a sharp end and go for a more rounded tip. Rake type brushes should not be used on this breed.

When using products for your pooches fur try to get a frizz tamer, a product that can enhance your dog’s fur back to a silky smooth state. Be sure to completely wash out any products as this could be harmful to your pooch.

Always keep the areas around the eyes and ears trimmed. The hairs around the ear canal need to be cleared or this could cause a build-up in debris, eventually causing an infection. You should also be brushing your dog’s teeth around 1-2 times per week. A Havanese dog will need their nails trimmed around twice a month.

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