Havanese Resource


The Havanese or Bichon Habanero, is a member of the bichon family of small companion-dog breeds, which are neither spaniels nor terriers. Native to Cuba, the Havanese likely arrived via trading ships. It is believed that captains raised these dogs aboard commercial sailing ships and offered them as presents to gain entry to wealthy homes. A companion to Cuban aristocrats, they lived solely in the Havana mansions and country estates of the premiere social class. The dogs were pampered pets and were quite a status symbol. The Havanese arrived in the United States after the 1959 Revolution.

A snuggler and a natural performer (don’t expect Shakespeare), the Havanese requires only moderate exercise. His springy gait is a trademark, and he’s happy with indoor games or brief walks, as long as he has company. The breed is sturdy enough for agility or flyball, agreeable for therapy work, but equally content relaxing with family.

Havanese simply cannot thrive in situations where they are excluded from affection and moderate physical nearness so if you are looking to a dog that will keep to himself, consider a different breed.

The Havanese is typically good with well-behaved children and other animals. Havanese owners rave about their cherished dogs with the easygoing attitude. Not a hyper breed, they’re known for their “mad-dash” antics, whereby they race around like crazy making excited sounds, and then stop as quickly as they started.

A Havanese enjoys learning new tricks, and is relatively easy to train. An ok watchdog with a wariness around strangers, your Havanese will bark when seeing newcomers, but might be a bit small for guard-duty. .

The Havanese

Springy gait
Vivacious lapdog

Should I Get a Havanese?

Terrific for a person who:

Wants a sturdier than average lapdog.
Appreciates dog cleverness—for tricks, games, or home antics.
Can live in an apartment and prefers short walks and lots of indoor play.

Think twice if you’re a person who:

Plans on spending little to no money on dog grooming.
Expects a reserved dog, dignified to the point of snooty.
Works long hours and believes a small dog will entertain himself.

Havanese Grooming

The breed requires frequent grooming and brushing; shorter coats can minimize grooming times.

Possible Havanese Health Concerns

The Havanese is prone to juvenile cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.

The Havanese Standard Look

The Havanese is a small, but sturdy dog. Slightly longer than tall, they stand 8.5 to 11.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh 7 to 14 pounds. Their double coat can come in any color and should be long and silky with a slight wave.

Havanese Photos

HavaneseHavanese photo

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Havanese Video


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The Happy Havanese

Sarah Christie


HavanesePull the handle off a mop, add two black shoe buttons for eyes, and you have a rough idea of how the Havanese dog breed will look in your home — before a trip to the groomer. Bred from theMalteseBolognese or Coton de Tulear, depending on which speculative theory you choose, the Havanese was intended for one purpose: companionship.

Havanese posses a superb family-dog temperament. Their stocky musculature and dense bones enable them to stand up to the rigors of human toddlerhood better than other dog breeds of similar small size. When groomed, this dog breed’s long, thick double coat resembles a cheerleader’s pompom, and they come in almost as many colors. The Havanese’ delightful natures allow them to get along equally well with children, seniors, cats or other dogs, as long as they feel loved and appreciated by a special person.

“Havanese dogs have no drawbacks. It’s a low-shedding, cute, odorless dog breed. Basically a calm, very sweet dog that loves to be with people,” says Joy Rich, a Havanese breeder from  Gervais, Ore.

Brought to Havana by Italian sea captains, the Havanese entered the American Kennel Club in 1996. Dogs are registered in the Toy group.

Happy, affectionate, gregarious and very dependent on human companionship, the Havanese can be quite vocal, especially in groups. This dog breed loves the sound of its own voice. Long coats require regular grooming to prevent mats.

The Havanese is prone to juvenile cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. Breeding stock should have their eyes certified healthy annually. Like all small dog breeds, patella luxation, a stifle (or knee) joint disorder, is a threat.

Havanese are a good match for active households with children  or other pets; aspiring professional dog groomers who desires lot of practice; stay-at-home screenwriters who specializes in TV sitcoms with dogs.

As a symbol of Cuban wealth and aristocracy, the Havanese almost disappeared when Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government and imposed a communist dictatorship in 1959. Political refugees smuggled some dogs to the United States, and from these the Havanese population was rescued from the brink of extinction.

-More About the Havanese-

Watch over 175 dog breeds compete at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship 2012 >>

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Breed Details

Country of Origin:
Small Dog Breed
Any color or combination including parti-color and tricolor.

Double coat, long, heavy silk. Can be wavy, curly or straight.


Brush daily. Scissor and shape coat once a month.

Life Expectancy:
14 to 16 years
AKC Group:
Toy Group
UKC Group:
8.5 to 11.5 inches at the withers
7 to 14 pounds
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