Breed Group: Toy

Temperament and Behavior

One of the sturdiest, smartest, and easiest to train of the Toy breed group, the Havanese is sweet, gentle, and demonstratively loving with all its family. Although best with older, considerate children, their high energy level when inside and playful nature make them a reasonable playmate for any youngster who knows how to treat a dog. They enjoy the company of almost any other animal be it canine or otherwise. And once they let you know a stranger is approaching, they are just as interested in becoming friends with them too. People-oriented, he is apt to ham it up to make sure they have their new found friend’s attention. Calm and easy to handle outside, their exercise needs are modest; a walk around the block is all they need. Easily kept in an apartment, they are a great choice for anyone who wants a small dog that isn’t fragile or yappy. But like most breeds in the toy group, many individuals are difficult to housebreak.

Physical Characteristics

Although one of the largest breeds in the toy group, a Havanese is still a tiny dog. They stand between 8.5 and 11.5 inches tall and weigh 7 to 13 pounds. Their long coats are either straight, wavy (preferred), or curly and come in a myriad of colors that include white, cream, champagne, gold, silver, blue, chocolate, black, parti-color, as well as a number of others. They need brushing every other day to prevent matting. Some people have them clipped which eliminates this chore. When properly groomed, they shed very little. They do about as well in heat as most dogs, less well as the temperature cools; use a sweater when cold.

Trainer's Notes

Well socialized dogs are curious, cheerful, and love everyone. They make attentive, responsive training partners. Eagerly willing workers, many excel in obedience and agility competition. Havanese are a wonderful choice for a novice owner provided they understand the dog’s grooming requirements unless they have rambunctious children.

Photo © by Pavel Marrero available under the CC BY-AS 3.0



The Havanese is an healthy breed with 1 in 10 dogs affected by Hip Dysplasia and another about 1 in 15 dogs affected by each Elbow Dysplasia and Hypothyroidism A Havanese should live 13 to 15 years.


The Havenese is becoming a better known and more popular breed. With about 3,500 dogs registered annually by the American Kennel Club, they rank 43rd in overall popularity.

Breed History

The Havanese is a member of the Bichon family of dogs that originated the Mediterranean in ancient times. Spanish traders gave them as gifts to Cuban women in an effort to open trade on the island. In Cuba, they became popular as pets of the wealthy and later as performers. But a decline in popularity that started in the first half of the 20th century resulted in the breed almost becoming extinct. But in the middle of the century, three families left Cuba with their Havanese bound for the United States where the breed was resurrected. They were fully recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1999.

Additional Information

The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba. Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens were both Havenese owners. The Parent Breed Club is the Havanese Club of America.

Is A Havanese THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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