Havanese Dog: Clingly Breed

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Havanese, the only dog breed native to Cuba, are lively miniature dogs with a huge personality. Read on to discover more about this unique breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder
7 to 13 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Did you know that Havanese dog is the only dog breed native to Cuba? Just this fact makes this dog unique. This breed is cheerful, intelligent, outgoing, and funny.

They are real people-pleasers, and they love spending time with their family members.

Quick Facts

Real name: Havanese dog
Other names: Havanese Cuban Bichon, Bichón Havanés, Havaneser, Havanezer, Bichon Habanero
Origin: Cuba
Breed type: Toy Group
Weight: 7–14 lb, (3–6 kg)
Height: 9–9 in (23 cm)
Lifespan: 14-16 years
Litter size: 1 to 8 puppies, but the average litter size is said to be 4 puppies
Color: All colors
Coat: Very soft double coat

Havanese Dog History

The Havanese is a small size dog from the ancient Bichon family of small white dogs. Dog experts believe that this small dog, together with Bichon Frise, Bolognese and Maltese, has a common ancestor.

These small lap dogs were sold around the world by seafaring merchants. However, these small and intelligent dogs did no useful work in their history, but being companions.

The popular Havanese was often seen among the royal members and other aristocrats, apart from lower social classes.

This dog from Cuba was named after the capital city of Havana, where the breed gained the greatest favor.

Some rumors have it that the breed was brought to Cuba by Italian sea captains or even Spaniards who charged with colonizing the New World in the 1600s.

After spending 300 years among Cubas world of luxury, the breed was slightly refined – probably with Poddle crosses, into today’s Havanese.

From that moment on, the breed was known as the Blanquito de la Havana or Havana Silk Dog.

American fanciers, together with refugees, preserved and perpetuated the Havanese. Now the breed is one of the most popular dogs in the world.

Popular people in history were the popular owners of this breed, including Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway.

Havanese Dog Physical Appearance

The Havanese is a small but lively dog with a huge level of charm. This native dog of Cuba is a playful companion, with a high intelligence level and friendly nature.

The Havanese is slightly longer than tall, with a long and double coat. This breed has a short upper arm, with shoulders going slightly back.

The plumed tail is carried arched forward up over the back, making the Havanese appearance more cheerful.

The unique springy walk is a result of the breed’s structure and playful, spirited personality.

In purebred Havanese, these are common traits. Overall, this dog is well-built with an overall compact appearance. Eyes are expressive and large.

Chocolate Havanese might have lighter brown eyes. Eye rims are solid black for all colors, while ears are broad at the base, and have a distinct fold. Ears are set high on the skull and left when alert.

The neck is slightly arched and balanced with the height and the length of the dog. The straight topline rises slightly from the withers to the croup.

Ribs are well sprung, while the tail is high-set and arches forward up over the back.

The tail may not be docked. The feet have arched toes and straight ahead, while dewclaws may be removed. Pads and nails may be any color.

The coat is silky to the touch, soft, and light in texture. Also, the coat is long, wavy, and abundant. The puppy coat is always shorter and usually has a softer texture than an adult coat.

In some cases, the coat may be corded, and in that case, the coat will naturally separate into wavy sections in young dogs.

Adult corded dogs will always be covered with a full coat of tassel-like cords.

The hind legs are muscular, while hocks are well let down. Pads and nails may be any color.

Havanese Colors

The Havanese come in many colors, and each shade is accepted. Famous Havanese dogs come in various colors, from solid, dilute, saddles, brindled, to tri-color, piebald, and even more.

Although their eyes are usually brown, blue-green eyes may be seen.

Some of the coat colors include:

  • Black Havanese
  • White Havanese – this type is not very common
  • Chocolate Havanese
  • Havanese Black and White

Havanese Dog Personality

The Havanese is a true playful spirit. This dod is extremely loyal to its owner, but he will also love to meet new friends and play with them, both humans and dogs.

In general, they will stick to one family member and become their shadow.

They thrive in the crowd, so they really don’t like being alone. If you must be away all day long, make sure that you have a dog sitter.

This is an active and lively dog who loves being outside. Luckily, due to his size, his exercise needs aren’t too high.

Still, proper exercise is still necessary for this breed to be healthy and happy. If you have a yard, it can help.

If you are happy as an owner, then you Havanese, will be happy as well. They can feel your energy, so if you are sad, they will reflect your behavior.

For a small dog, they can be vocal, although they are usually great with strangers. Some of them are shyer than others.

In general, they can vary from strangers, and they are not afraid to make some noise when someone approaches. The Havanese is known for its lively personality and temperament and for his passion for playing.

Make sure that you have enough toys around, and learn tips on how to keep your dog entertained indoors.

They also have a strong need for affection, and they aren’t shy about showing affection.

The Havanese will manage well with people of all ages and can thrive in any size home.

If you are looking for an apartment and you have a Havanese already, you shouldn’t have any problems with finding your new home.

Havanese Dog Training

Havanese are eager to please. They are intelligent and always ready to play and spend some time outdoors.

They are easily trained as long as they use only positive training methods. This is a sensitive breed, so make sure that no one treats them harshly.

Early socialization is important if you want a well-behaved dog. Expose your Havanese puppy to new people, new places, and new smells as soon as possible.

By exploring, your puppy will know the world. Make sure that you expose them easily to various places and people. Always provide only a positive experience.

When trained right, your Havanese will result in a wonderful companion dog.

They are great and affectionate with people, and they will get along perfectly with non-aggressive pets. Plus, the Havanese is considered to be one of the breeds that don’t smell.

Havanese Dog Exercise

As you know already, in order to have a healthy dog, you must provide enough exercise.

Your Havanese dog will have exercise needs, although he is a small-size dog.

This breed will benefit from a brisk daily walk or a faun playtime in the backyard, or in a dog’s park.

Playing indoor can also provide enough activity, next to regular walks.

Never over-exercise a Havanese of any age. If they are having a hard time breathing, it’s time to go home. Havanese will do well in both apartments and houses.

Again: they aren’t happy if left alone for hours at a time.

Havanese Dog Grooming

As you may expect, your Havanese will demand some serious time investment in grooming. The long and soft coat of the Havanese needs to be groomed daily to keep mats and tangles away.

Otherwise, you can expect regular hair troubles.

You can groom your Havanese by choosing the right grooming tools, such as a soft brush or a comb. Your Havanese will let your groom him while sitting on your lap.

Pet owners rather choose to take Havense to a professional groomer to reduce grooming time. They can be bathed when needed. If you want a different shampoo, you can try homemade shampoo.

Always check eyes and ears. Make sure that you know your dog’s gums’ condition at any time.

Check the ears for extra wax or accumulated debris, and wipe out the inside of the ear.

Havanese Dog Health

Overall, the adorable Havanese is considered to be a healthy breed. They are also fairly long-lived. Still, like any other dog breed, your Havanese might be prone to certain diseases, including:

  • Eye disorders
  • Deafness
  • Heart murmurs
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Patellar luxation

Responsible breeders will always scan puppies for various medical conditions.

If you are getting a puppy, and you aren’t presented with medical papers of the dog, be sure that you are dealing with a non-responsible breeder.

Recommended health tests for your Havanese:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • BAER Testing
  • Patella Evaluation

Once you get a puppy or an adult dog, you are directly responsible for a dog’s further health being. That being said, you are directly responsible for the dog’s weight.

Obesity is a rising problem in pets, especially dogs. Some Havanese can be prone to getting overweight, so you should watch the dog’s calorie consumption and weight level.

If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation. Treats are important when tik comes to good training, but giving too much can cause obesity.

In dogs, just like humans, weight loss is possible, but you will have to work hard and on a plan provided by your veterinarian.

Also, learn which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Always check with your dog if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

The Bottom Line

If you want a dog who is small but has a big personality, you should think about welcoming Havanese to your home. This dog doesn’t t need much outdoor exercise, but is playful and entertaining.

The popular Havanese is a good watchdog, with not even one percent of aggressiveness, although he may vary toward strangers.

So, if you want a dog with these traits, who is also good with other pets, and doesn’t shed much, a Havanese may be right for you.

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