The Havanese: Everything You Need to Know

The Havanese is a cheerful and vivacious little dog native to Cuba. The breed is described as having an intelligent, funny, and outgoing personality.  

In this article, we will describe everything you need to know about the Havanese – from history and appearance to personality and health considerations. 

History of the Havanese Dog Breed

Before you consider adopting a Havanese, it’s important to understand the breed’s history. Knowing the origins of your pet can help you provide better care and make you appreciate your pet even more.

Ancient Ancestors of the Breed

The Havanese breed belongs to the ancient Bichon family and shares common ancestors with similar breeds such as the Bichon Frise and Maltese Poodles. All Bischon family members are small with white and luxurious coats. 

They were all used as lapdogs and were popular among royalty and nobility. In fact, possessing such dogs differentiates aristocrats from lower classes. The breeds were eventually dispersed worldwide thanks to seafaring merchants. 

Origins of the Havanese

The Havanese, named after Cuba’s capital Havana, were brought to the island by Italian captains or Spaniards colonizing the New World sometime in the 1600s. 

The Havanese, also known as Blanquito de la Habana (Havana Silk Dog), quickly became a favorite lapdog among Cuban aristocrats and enjoyed its royal-like treatment for 300 years until the Communist takeover of Cuba.

During Fidel Castro’s revolution, many Havanese dogs were killed and the breed was on the brink of extinction. Cubans fleeing the revolution brought specimens to the United States, where the breed was revived. 

The Havanese in the United States

In the 1950s, the Havanese breed almost faced extinction in Cuba. Fortunately, Cuban exiles brought some of the dogs to the United States, which helped to preserve the breed.

The Havanese quickly gained popularity in the United States and became recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1996. Today, the breed ranks 25th on the club’s scale of popularity. 

Physical Characteristics of the Havanese

The Havanese is a small, sturdy, and robust dog breed with a charming personality. Havanese dogs have several physical characteristics that make them stand out from other breeds.

Size and Weight

Havanese is a small dog breed that weighs between 7 and 13 pounds when fully grown. They stand between 8.5 and 11.5 inches tall at the shoulders.

Despite being small, Havanese have a muscular and athletic build. The breed’s small size makes them perfect for apartment living or homes with small yards.

Coat and Colors

The Havanese has a long and flowing coat that can come in several colors, including white, black, black brindle, chocolate, cream, fawn, gold, gold brindle, gold sable, red, red sable, red brindle, silver, silver brindle, black & tan, and black & silver. 

The Havanese’s coat is also hypoallergenic and the breed is an excellent choice for pet owners with allergies. However, the coat requires regular grooming to maintain its beauty and prevent matting. 

Distinctive Features

The Havanese has that big, soulful eyes give a mischievous appearance and long, wispy ears that are droopy and adorable. The breed has a plumed tail that curls over the back, adding to the overall charming appearance. 

Havanese Temperament and Personality

Affectionate and Friendly

The Havanese is a breed that craves human companionship and is known for their affectionate and friendly nature. They are the perfect pet for families and seniors, and they can quickly become the center of attention in any household.

Their loving personality makes them great with children and other pets, and they are always eager to make new friends. If you’re looking for a loyal and devoted companion, the Havanese is the perfect breed for you.

Intelligent and Trainable

The Havanese is an intelligent breed that is easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement training, and they are always eager to please their owners.

They enjoy learning new commands and tricks, and they excel in agility training. The Havanese also loves to learn and is always up for a new challenge. Breed members are quick learners and have excellent memory.

Adaptable to Different Environments

The Havanese is adaptable to different environments. They are just as happy living in an apartment as they are in a suburban home as long as they have plenty of attention and love.

They are not a high-energy breed and do not require a lot of exercise, but they do enjoy daily walks and playtime. The Havanese is a breed that can adapt to different lifestyles and is always up for an adventure.

Health and Lifespan of the Havanese

Common Health Issues

The Havanese are prone to a few health problems, including: 

  • Orthopedic Issues: Common orthopedic problems in the breed are hip dysplasia, luxating patella, and Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease
  • Eye Problems: The breed is at risk of serious eye and eyelid conditions like cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and cherry eye 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

To help maintain your Havanese’s health, make sure to provide them with ongoing preventative care. This means regular checkups with your veterinarian, scheduled vaccinations, parasite control, and proper grooming. A healthy diet and exercise regimen will also help keep your Havanese in top condition.

Expected Lifespan

The Havanese has an expected lifespan of 14 to 16 years, which is relatively long. With good care and regular vet appointments, your Havanese can live a long and happy life by your side.


Overall, the Havanese is an adorable and loving breed that can be a wonderful addition to any family. Their friendly nature, intelligence, adaptability, and relatively good health make them a popular choice for many.

If you’re considering adding a Havanese to your family, make sure to take good care of them and give them plenty of love and attention, and you’ll have a loyal and happy companion for many years to come.

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