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Havanese: The Ultimate Guide

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Havanese dogs are a small dog breed with a big heart, and they can be the perfect dog for lots of different people. Whether you are looking for a furry companion, a service dog, or a new energy lease, this could be the perfect dog.

However, there are some things that are important for you to know about this breed before you decide to get one. These factors could influence your decision regarding whether or not you want to buy or adopt a Havanese dog.

We will explain everything you need to know about the Havanese dog breed in this article, so you can be prepared for a future living with this dog. We are going to share both the good and the bad, so you can make a well-informed decision.


Havanese Key Facts

To start with, we will look at some of the key facts you should know about the Havanese dog breed. This will help highlight some of the most important things to keep in mind.

Average Lifespan

A UK Kennel Club study took place in 2004 that explored the average lifespan of a Havanese dog. It was found that these dogs live, on average, for 10 years and 3 months. However, the study also found that the oldest Havanese dog to have died was 18 years and 2 months of age.

It is now known that a healthy Havanese is expected to live between 13 and 16 years, and they can also have an average age of 14.5 years old if they are passing due to natural causes.

Natural causes include any fatal illness or malfunction in the body that develops due to aging. It is also worth noting that female Havanese usually live for around a year longer than male Havanese.

Minimum Exercise (Per Day)

Due to the size of the Havanese, they are rather low maintenance when it comes to exercise as they only require up to 30 minutes per day. They prefer to be curled next to their owner on the sofa.

Havanese have a medium energy level, and don’t need as much exercise as other breeds. Use your dog’s size as a rule of thumb: smaller Havanese will do well with several short walks each week, while larger animals might like to add in some longer walks and trips to the dog park.

Coat Length

The Havanese coat is straight or wavy. This dog was often called the “Havana silk dog” because the coat, while double-coated, feels like fine silk. The adult coat reaches a length of six to eight inches.

Minimum Cost (Per Month)

If you are thinking of buying or adopting a Havanese dog, you will need to plan your finances ahead of time. This will help you to ensure that your pet does not become a financial burden to you or your family in the future. You will not only have to budget for the dog itself, but you will also need to consider other ongoing costs like training costs, food, supplies, vet fees, grooming and other miscellaneous expenses.

It is estimated that caring for a Havanese dog could cost you around $180 a month, but this figure could increase due to unexpected costs like medical checks and vaccinations. So, it is important to have a little extra spare just in case.


Now that you know some of the important things there are to know about Havanese dogs, we are going to talk about their size and appearance, so you can know exactly what to expect.


Havanese dogs are classified as small and sturdy dogs. They generally mature at around 1 year of age, but they reach their full size at around 6 to 8 months old.

Average Height

Both male and female Havanese dogs will stand between 8.5 and 11.5 inches tall.

Average Weight 

Both male and female Havanese dogs will weigh between 7 and 13 pounds.


The Havanese breed is known for being both gentle and affectionate, and they thrive on human companionship. You shouldn’t be surprised if they follow you around the house throughout the day, and they can get quite anxious if they are left alone. These intelligent dogs are bound to make you laugh with their goofy personalities.

Havanese dogs have also been known to enjoy sitting on your lap or cuddling up on the sofa. Their temperament can be affected by a number of things, like heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are often curious and playful and willing to be approached by people.

When choosing a puppy, you should go for the one that isn’t shy and hiding. Instead, choose the puppy that has a bit more personality but isn’t too boisterous. You should always ensure that you meet at least one of the parents to ensure they have nice temperaments.

Apartment Living

Generally, these dogs are great for living in apartments as Havanese are small dogs that don’t usually have any problems with adjusting to small spaces. As long as you provide them with enough exercise, they should do well living in an apartment.

Good for Novice Owners

Havanese are also an excellent choice for first-time dog owners as they have many suitable traits that are perfect for those that don’t have any previous experience with dogs. As long as you are willing and have enough time to dedicate to your Havanese, you will do just fine.

Sensitivity Level

Havanese dogs can be quite sensitive, and they will not respond well to scolding due to this. However, they do well with positive reinforcement in their training.

Tolerates Being Alone

These are not dogs that can be left on their own for long as they tend to get anxious when they are not in your company. They much prefer to be with their owners throughout the day, and they can become overly worried if you are gone for too long. This is why Havanese are best suited to those that are home most of the time.

Tolerates Cold Weather

Havanese do not tolerate cold weather well, so you should ensure that their coats are long when the weather gets colder in the winter.

Tolerates Hot Weather

Havanese are quite tolerant of hot weather, and their silky coat will protect them from the heat and sun. This is why you shouldn’t cut their coats in the summer, as they are more comfortable with it.

Affectionate With Family

The havanese breed is known for being affectionate with the family, and they just love to be in the company of humans. 


Havanese are excellent family dogs that are affectionate towards all other members of the family, including children. However, as with any other dog, they should never be left unsupervised with small children. They can also become hurt quite easily as they are small, which is why it is important to teach children how to handle them properly.

Is A Havanese Dog Friendly?

Havanese are generally good with other dogs as they are friendly by nature. However, this can only be said for dogs that have been properly socialized with other dogs from a young age.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Even though Havanese are peaceful and gentle with most humans and other pets, they can sometimes be quite conservative with strangers. Socialization is really important to build a confident and outgoing temperament, as there is often a potential for excessive caution or timidity. 

Health And Grooming


Being aware of the Havanese grooming requirements and health is really important before you go ahead and bring one of these dogs into your home. This will help you to prepare for a future of living with and caring for this breed of dog.


Havanese are a very low shedding breed, and they are actually among the lowest shedding breeds. They are similar to other breeds in this respect, like the Toy Poodle, Maltese, Mini Schnauzer, and Basenji.

This is why they are considered a hypoallergenic breed, which is great for those who suffer from allergies. However, they do have a long coat that requires a fair amount of maintenance.


These dogs are known for drooling, but not excessively. If your dog is drooling excessively, it could be indicative of an underlying health issue. 


The Havanese is a dog that does require routine bathing and grooming. They have a long double coat, so they will need to be bathed every other week. The frequency of their baths will depend on their coat and lifestyle. The care and maintenance of the coat will set the foundation for maintaining healthy skin and coat, and regular baths promote coat growth. 

If their coat is dirty, it will mat and tangle much easier than if it were clean, and it can also cause damage to the coat. This is why keeping the coat clean and healthy is so important. The coat should always be free from mats and tangles and be soft and light in texture. You will need to brush your dog at least 2 to 3 times a week.

General Health

Generally, these dogs will be in good health. However, there are certain health conditions that they are predisposed to, and just like any other dog breed, they are at a higher risk for developing certain health conditions. We will explain more on this below.

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health conditions in Havanese dogs are:

  • Dental Disease
  • Liver Problems
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Dental Disease

Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, but Havanese are more likely than other dogs to have problems with their teeth.This usually starts with a buildup of tartar on the teeth, and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth.

When left untreated, your dog can lose their teeth and further damage their kidneys, liver, heart, and joints.This is why it is important to clean your dog’s teeth regularly.

Liver Problems

Your Havanese is also more likely than other dogs to have a liver disorder called portosystemic shunt (PSS). With this condition, your dog’s liver won’t be able to remove toxins from the bloodstream effectively.

Some of the symptoms that could indicate that they have this condition are stunted growth or seizures. Surgery may be needed to treat this condition, but in some cases, it can be treated with a special diet and medication.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Both hips and elbows are at risk for dysplasia, which causes the joints to develop improperly, leading to arthritis. As your dog grows up, stiffness in the elbows and knees can become a problemYou might notice lameness or difficulty getting up. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the easier it is to treat.

Potential For Weight Gain

Obesity can be a significant health problem in Havanese, which can cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain, and heart disease. These dogs are prone to gaining weight more easily than other breeds, which is why you should avoid giving them leftovers or too many treats.


Any dog that you get will need to be trained, but some are easier to train than others. The Havanese are usually quite easy to train due to the fact that they are highly intelligent and they have a cooperative nature.


Havanese are very intelligent, which is why they are so easy to train. 

Potential to bite

Even though Havanese are a mild and gentle breed that make for the perfect family pet, they still need to learn good manners, just like any other dog. This includes learning not to bite.

This is a behavior that most Havanese dogs grow out of during the puppy stage, but it is important to teach them that biting is never an acceptable behavior.

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Havanese dogs aren’t the most vocal of dogs, and you won’t typically find them barking, howling, or making much noise at all.


When Spanish settlers began arriving in Spain, they brought their dogs with them, which were the ancestors of what is now the Bichon family of dogs. These dogs interbred and began to develop into the Havanese that we know and love today. These dogs had thick silky coats protecting them from the tropical sun.

By the early 1800s, Havanese were in the homes of many families in Cuba. European travelers then brought some of these dogs back to England, Spain, and France, and the breed became trendy in Europe by the mid-1800s.

Just like most breed trends, this one started to die out, and the Havanese breed almost became extinct, even in Cuba. However, a few Cuban families still bred and kept the dogs, and with the Cuban Revolution in 1959, 11 Havanese were brought to the U.S. in the arms of their owners.

These canine refugees are the ancestors of most Havanese outside Cuba today. The renaissance of the breed began in the 1970s, which is when an American couple that bred dogs found a few descendents of the 11 dogs that were brought from Cuba.

They fell in love with their intelligence and affectionate nature,and started to track down any other Havanese. After this, they set to work on reestablishing the breed.


Generally, the average purebred Havanese puppy will cost between $1000 and $1500. Although this is higher than most toy breeds, these dogs can even cost upwards of $2500 if they are show quality.

Havanese Fun Facts

  • They are the only breed that is considered to be native to Cuba.
  • Even though they are small, they are very easy to train and are often used as service dogs. In Britain, they have recently been accepted into the Hearing Ear Program to be trained as service dogs for the hearing impaired.
  • Their trainable nature also means that they can be used to sniff out mold and termites, herd ducks, and more.
  • It is normal for their skin to have freckles.
  • They are a part of the Bichon family, and they have previously had names like Havanese Cuban Bichon, Bichon Havanais, Bichon Havanês, Havaneser, and Bichon Habanero.
  • The Havanese breed came very close to extinction in the 50s and 60s, but three families that left Cuba to come to the United States worked to build the breed back up again. It was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1999.
  • Some of Havanese dogs’ most famous pet parents include Barbara Waters, Venus Williams, Joan Rivers, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.