Looking for a social dog who’s loving and a perfect fit for almost every household? Meet the Havanese! This dog breed loves to cuddle on the couch and play with you in the backyard. These adorable small dogs have soft fur and love to play, learn agility tricks, and even swim! Havanese dogs are very […]

Looking for a social dog who’s loving and a perfect fit for almost every household? Meet the Havanese! This dog breed loves to cuddle on the couch and play with you in the backyard.

These adorable small dogs have soft fur and love to play, learn agility tricks, and even swim! Havanese dogs are very intelligent and learn quickly, making them super easy to train.

Trying to figure out if this dog breed is for you? Follow along with our extensive Havanese guide to make an informed decision before adopting this breed. We’ll discuss the Havanese’s unique history, exercise needs, and required care.

Havanese Characteristics (Physical)

With their silky coat, sweet small eyes, and cured tails, Havanese dogs have a very distinct look. Although compact in stature, this popular breed boasts remarkable sturdiness and adaptability. Their spirited demeanor is complemented by a buoyant gait, reflecting their playful personality.

Havanese Dog Breed Size

Havanese dogs generally weigh between 7 to 13 pounds. Low to the ground, this breed generally stands 8.5 to 11.5 inches tall. You can anticipate your Havanese to reach their full size around 6 to 8 months.


Havanese dogs are known for their distinct head which is broad and slightly rounded, making it extra good for pets! Their cheeks are flats and they have a short muzzle. The ears of the Havanese are broad at the base and dropped with a distinct fold.

This breed has almond shaped eyes that are large and dark brown. This cheeky dog breed carries a soft and intelligent expression that the American Kennel Club describes as “mischievious”.


Havanese dogs are generally small with a long body. This is due to their shapely ribs, muscular upper arms, and hindquarters. This breed uses its strong back legs to propel them forward, making them quick. This fluffy breed holds its head high on top of a slightly arched neck.


With a high-set tail that arches forward over the back, the tail is one of the many unique physical traits of the Havanese. The tail of this dog breed is long with silky hair. The tail fur cascades down both sides of their tiny body, giving the Havanese a flair of elegance. How chic!

Havanese Personality

Tiny in size but big in personality, the Havanese is at times a goofball, emotional support animal, and an adorable watchdog. Since this breed can adapt well to the different needs of its owner, this lovable dog breed makes a great fit for almost every home.

This breed is certainly a charmer. The Havanese is a friendly dog that gets along with almost anyone and is always trying to find ways to make you smile. Their outgoing personality makes them an entertaining pal who can make you laugh and give you the best cuddles ever.

While it’s important to underline their goofy and clown-like ways, it’s also worth noting that some pet owners seek out the Havanese for their ability to be good watchdogs. This intelligent breed makes it their mission to alert their family if they detect any threat or intruder.

If you’re looking to add a dog to your family, this breed is ideal. The Havanese craves companionship and can even veer on the clingy side.  This dog breed is susceptible to separation anxiety and acting out destructively if they are left alone for long periods. Leaving them alone consistently will create boredom and loneliness for this intelligent and loyal breed if they don’t have someone to hang out with in their home. If you work remotely or stay at home, this breed is perfect.

When it comes to space, this Havanese is very adaptable and can flourish in large homes and inside tiny city apartments. This social pup loves road trips and even makes an ideal RV companion. The most important thing for a Havanese’s happiness is time with loved ones!

Havanese Dog Breed Exercise

Despite their small size and adaptability to small living spaces, this precious dog breed is incredibly active and full of energy!

The AKC advises that Havenese requires moderate exercise. That translates to about an hour of playtime a day. This ‘playtime’ could be a brisk dog walk in the morning or just playing fetch in your living room. What truly matters is that are doing it with you.

This feisty furball is eager to please and may excel at organized dog sports like agility, freestyle, obedience, and flyball. What is flyball you ask? It’s an incredible way to burn off some of their energy and socialize your Havanese. Flyball squads consist of four dogs and their handlers, along with a designated individual responsible for loading the balls into the Boxloader, occasionally assisted by another member to collect the balls.

This dog sport is a relay of sorts. Each pup takes turns, running down a straight path and jumping over four hurdles. At the finish line, the dog leaps onto the Boxloader, snatches a ball, and dashes back along the path to cross the finish line. Engaging in this dog sport can enhance both your dog’s obedience and your communication as a pet owner and dog.

If you notice your Havanese panting or struggling to keep up with you or the other dogs in the dog park, it’s best to go home and rest. This breed should not be over-exercised no matter their age or size.

Training a Havanese Dog

It’s important to begin training your Havanese early when they are a young puppy. This dog training should include socialization and obedience commands. An easy way to socialize your puppy is to bring them around a variety of dogs and people. This breed is particularly friendly and will quickly be at ease around different people, pets, and environments.

If you’ve had other dogs before, you’ll quickly recognize how fast a Havenese learns compared to other small dog breeds and even compared to larger breeds. Unlike other breeds, Havanese dogs are not stubborn or headstrong and are far more willing to listen to their owner.

That being said, they differ from other dog breeds in that experts do not recommend you use treats to reinforce their good behavior. This is because the Havanese is a small dog that is more prone to becoming overweight. When your pup completes a command correctly, shower them in love, affection, and attention, not dog treats. It is best to give them treats sparingly.

Though Havanese are intelligent and eager to please, they may require more time to be housebroken. This is a common challenge among smaller dog breeds, often causing frustration for dog owners. Consistency is key during this training process, and you may even consider installing a doggy door to help with their learning.

Havanese Dog Breed History

This adorable dog breed shares ancestry with several ancient lapdog breeds, such as the Bichon Frise and Maltese. According to the American Kennel Club, it was among the small breeds traded globally by seafaring merchants in ancient times.

Unlike many older breeds that were developed to help with herding and hunting, the Havanese were treasured by aristocrats of the time for their sweet and loving personalities. During the 1600s, the Havanese enjoyed a favored status as a lapdog among Cuba’s aristocrats and wealthy planters. It was considered an exotic breed, believed to have been introduced to the island by Italian sea captains.

For the next 300 years, the Havanese became refined with poodles and other popular breeds. During the communist Cuban revolution in 1959, many upper-class Cubans fled the island nation, bringing their Havanese puppies with them to their new homes in America.

American canine enthusiasts were quickly enamored by the Havanese. These dog lovers helped the Cuban refugees preserve their dogs, resulting in the Havanese becoming a popular breed in the US and across the globe. In 2014, the American Kennel Club declared the Havanese as being the 25th most commonly registered dog breed.

Common Havanese Health Problems

Sadly, the Havanese is known to be prone to a few serious health conditions as is common with many purebred puppies. Step one in preventing this is only patronizing an ethical breeder. Trusted breeders will always screen their dogs for hereditary health conditions and remove the affected dog from the breed pool to prevent the spread of any genetic health afflictions. Make sure to ask the dog breeder for health guarantees on their litter. If they resist, do not purchase a puppy from them.

The best way to care for your Havanese is to take them on routine vet visits, even when they seem healthy. This will help you to identify and address potential health conditions and diseases quickly. Vets can also answer any questions you may have about adding health supplements to your dog’s diet like CBD oil.


Frequently seen in the Havanese breed, deafness is a condition that can be present from birth. Deafness results in your dog being unable to hear, either partially or completely. Despite this unfortunate disability, deaf dogs can lead fulfilling lives and flourish like any other pup. However, adjusting your training methods and means of communication will be necessary. Additionally, it’s encouraged to closely monitor deaf dogs, particularly when they’re outdoors.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar Luxation is unfortunately very common for dogs of all breeds. This condition occurs due to loose knee joints in dogs which can lead to discomfort and even arthritis. You’ll notice your dog starting to limp or avoiding the use of the affected limb when they have this health issue.

Hip Dysplasia

Although this condition is much more common in large dogs, Havanese are also prone to this health issue which causes discomfort similar to Patellar Luxation. With this condition, certain parts of the hip joint may grind against each other, leading to considerable discomfort and creating potentially permanent damage. Giving your dog high-quality CBD joint mobility treats can be beneficial.

In addition to hip dysplasia, Havanese are also prone to elbow dysplasia. This health condition often requires surgery as allowing it to go untreated will result in a lot of pain for your dog and the potential inability to use their limbs. It’s important to have your vet check your Havanese for these conditions during regular vet visits.


Havanese have a high rate of hypothyroidism. This is the result of underactive thyroid glands, which may manifest itself with symptoms of lethargy, sluggishness, and discomfort. Unexplained weight gain may also occur if your dog has hypothyroidism. If you suspect your dog is suffering from hypothyroidism, it’s important to seek veterinary care. Your vet can help develop a tailored treatment to keep your dog happy and healthy.


If your dog is constantly itching, scratching, or chewing on themselves, it may be a sign that they have allergies. Havanese are susceptible to skin allergies from fleas, pollen, and grass. Their long hair may delay the onset of symptoms but check your dog’s skin for signs of redness, cuts, or irritation.

Dental Problems

Did you know smaller dogs are more prone to dental issues? This is because their small mouth fosters more bacteria, resulting in more tartar formation. Tartar buildup can result in gum recession and the eventual loss of teeth. If not taken care of properly, many elderly small dogs will lose half of their teeth or more.

How to Care for a Havanese

Experts recommend that you keep your Havanese strictly indoors due to its size, demeanor, and coat. Outdoor activity should always be supervised. To reduce accidents and destructive behaviors, give your dog a designated area or crate to relax in while you are away.

While the Havanese is content spending most of its time indoors, this intelligent breed isn’t fulfilled by lounging around all day. Regular exercise is essential, whether it’s through an hour-long play session or a brisk morning walk. Also, be sure to offer plenty of cuddles and toys to keep your Havanese engaged and stimulated throughout the day.

Having a variety of dog toys is important for your dog. Dog toys are a great way to keep your pup mentally stimulated and entertained. Consider purchasing chew toys, ropes, and plushies for them to play with. Since Havanese are prone to tartar buildup, consider buying dental chews that help with canine dental health.

Just like cats, Havanese love playing with paper! These fluffy dogs will often seek out paper in the form of toilet paper rolls or used napkins and tissues. If you’re interested in allowing your pup to playtime with paper, be sure to supervise them or you may end up with toilet paper all over your house!

Other Care Suggestions

Even though your Havanese will ultimately prefer to cuddle with you on the couch or sleep in your bed, you must buy them their own comfy dog bed. You may also want to consider getting a cover for your sofa because this little breed loves to climb on furniture and watch you go about your day.

If you do end up installing a doggy door for your four-legged friend, be sure you have a very secure backyard. It must be fenced in so your dog will be safe and protected. In California, this is essential due to roaming coyotes which prey on small dogs. A secured backyard will also prevent your dog from running away.

Like many dogs, Havanese are not used to the rain or water and do not like being wet. They may refuse to go potty outside during rainy days, so, to prevent accidents inside, you may want to invest in a puppy raincoat and booties. A dog raincoat may also be handy to have if you and your pooch frequently hike or enjoy the great outdoors.

Nutrition and Feeding for a Havanese

When it comes to feeding your Havanese, give them about one-half cup of dry dog food a day. Many dog owners find that splitting up this portion into two meals, one at night and one in the morning, is best. This breed is prone to easy weight gain so it is not recommended to do free-feeding.

If weight is a concern for your dog, it’s best to consult a veterinarian and implement portion control to meet your dog’s unique requirements. Additionally, the vet may suggest specific dog foods that will fulfill their nutritional necessities without the high calories.

A great tip when looking at commercial dog food brands is to make sure it names a protein source as the first ingredient (not a “meal”). Ideally, it should have healthy carbs with no starch or corn. High-quality dog food will also include essential minerals and vitamins to keep your dog healthy.

Even though they are adorable and clever, don’t reward your Havanese with human food or table scraps. You must train them not to beg for human food to protect their health. Make sure you and your household are consistent about not letting them eat human food.

Most dogs, including the Havanese, are allergic to many foods meant for human consumption. Many of the ingredients in our food are bad for canine health. Furthermore, Havanese dogs can gain weight from human food very easily.

Coat Color and Grooming

During puppyhood, the Havanese frequently undergo color changes. These alterations can persist until the dog reaches one year of age, resulting in variations that may include becoming darker or lighter. As a result, it’s challenging to predict the final appearance of your Havanese puppy, making their final coat a fun little surprise for dog owners!

Unlike many other breeds, all fur colors, skin colors, and markings are allowed for this breed. Meaning, you can find a purebred Havanese in any shade- from pure white to brown with black markings.

When it comes to the Havenese’s coat, it’s soft and silky to the touch. Light in texture, their outer coat is only slightly heavier than their undercoat. When it comes to grooming, it is best to give them a full brush out two to three times a week. It is advised not to brush their fur dry. Before each brushing session, lightly mist your pup with a hydrating spray to prevent damage and discomfort. Additionally, it’s recommended to bathe your Havanese weekly or at the very least once every three weeks to maintain their coat’s health and cleanliness.

You can casually brush and groom your dog each day to make sure your dog’s coat is free of tangles and mats. Use either a comb or a soft brush to groom your Havanese.

Many Havanese owners opt to have their dogs’ coats trimmed regularly by professional groomers for a shorter look. However, even Havanese with shorter coats require thorough brushing sessions at least once a week to maintain their coat health and minimize any shedding.

Other Grooming Suggestions

Tear stains can be a common concern with Havanese dogs. Make sure you clean the corner of their eyes daily to prevent undesirable staining. Additionally, check your dog’s ears for wax and dirt buildup. Gently wipe the inside of their ear flap with a moistened paper towel. Regularly trimming your dog’s nails is important for their comfort and mobility. Additionally, brushing your Havanese’s teeth every week helps prevent potential dental issues.

Children and Other Pets

The breed is known for its friendly and gentle temperament, making it an excellent companion for all family members, including other pets and young children. Through proper socialization, Havanese dogs thrive in the company of new people and other dogs, enjoying each interaction.

Even though the Havanese is a happy-go-lucky breed bursting with energy, they are still a petite dog breed. So, make sure to supervise your Havanese when they interact with larger dogs and younger children. Engaging in well-intentioned roughhousing could accidentally harm your small Havanese, potentially resulting in injury. It is worth noting that this sensitive dog breed may become distressed if a child pulls at their fur or causes them any discomfort.

Havanese Dog Rescue Groups

The Havanese is an amazing family dog that can do well in the country or in the city. That being said, many people have to give up their dogs for a multitude of reasons. Thankfully, there are many rescue groups that specialize in finding forever homes for this loveable breed.

Created in 2004, the Havanese Rescue Inc is an organization that makes it their mission to rescue Havanese dogs. This breed-specific organization is an independent charity that relies on volunteers to rescue and rehome Havanese dogs, offering them necessary medical treatment and care.

The Havanese Angel League Organization is dedicated to the noble mission of rescuing “one Havanese at a time.” Since its creation in 2002, the organization has successfully rescued over 1,300 Havanese dogs! This small dog breed often falls victim to irresponsible breeding practices, with many rescued from puppy mills and backyard breeders who prioritize profit over the welfare of the dogs, and disregard ethical breeding procedures and safety protocols.

Both of these incredible canine organizations utilize a network of loving foster parents who take in vulnerable Havanese dogs and prepare them for their future family homes!

Havanese Dog Breed Organizations

Dog breed organizations play a vital role in celebrating specific dog breeds, advocating for responsible breeding practices, and providing opportunities for pet owners to connect through specialized events. The Havanese Club of America is dedicated to educating individuals about the Havanese breed, offering valuable insights and resources to enthusiasts.

The Havanese Club of America provides comprehensive resources on reputable breeders across the United States. Included in the club’s offering is a breeder directory alongside informative sections detailing the adoption process from trustworthy breeders.

More About The Havanese

This breed is a native of Cuba and although we mentioned previously that it is believed that sea captains brought this small breed over to Cuba, some credit Christopher Columbus with bringing the Havanese to Cuba in 1492. Some believe that the Havanese were then further developed in Cuba over the years that followed.

Right now, Havanese dogs are having a moment and are quickly becoming one of the most popular small dogs in the United States and around the world. This snuggly breed has had its legendary fans over the years. Writer Ernest Hemingway became a fan of the Havanese during his twenty-year stay in Cuba. Another acclaimed novelist, Charles Dickens, also loved the breed and adopted one of his own, named Tim. But that’s not all! Barbara Walters, Jane Fonda, and Venus Williams are all celebrity Havanese owners!

This tiny pup isn’t just a fancy lapdog. They can also execute many important tasks like mold sniffing, termite sniffing, and even chicken and duck-herding!

Whether you’re a city slicker with a tiny studio apartment or a farmer living off the land, the Havanese is a great dog to consider adding to your family. These pups also love a road trip and thrive as camping companions and RV dogs!

Although the Havanese are adaptable and well-behaved, it’s essential to recognize their need for attention and companionship. This breed thrives on social interaction and requires plenty of time spent with its owners to maintain their happiness. If you have the time to dedicate to this adorable little furball, the Havanese may be the perfect addition to your family!