Other names: Havanese Silk Dog


The national dog of Cuba, the Havanese is a small companion dog. Despite being classed as a toy breed, the Havanese is a strong little canine with a well-balanced frame. They're lively, loyal, and very affectionate, common traits in many companion breeds. The Havanese is a highly social animal, meaning they'll need plenty of human or doggy company.  Their most distinctive feature is their long, silky coat. This will require regular grooming if kept at its natural length, although many owners prefer to trim it quite short. A short-haired Havanese bears a striking resemblance to its close relative, the Bolognese Bichon.

Key facts about the Havanese

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Calm

Size :

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Origins and history

The origins of the Havanese began in Tenerife. These small, Bichon like dogs were then transported all over the world on passenger and merchant ships and became especially popular in Cuba. Then when they bred with members of the Bichon family, a crossbreeding which produced the modern Havanese (named after the Cuban capital, Havana.) After the communist revolution, a large number of middle-class Cubans fled to the United States and    many of them took their Havanese dogs with them.  The breed gained a small following among U.S. dog lovers and was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1996. Since then, its popularity has continued to grow; in 2013, the Havanese was named in a list of the 25 most popular breeds in the United States.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 1 : Bichons and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Havanese

  • Havanese

    Adult size

    Female : Between 8 and 11 in

    Male : Between 8 and 11 in


    Female : Between 9 and 13 lb

    Male : Between 9 and 13 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Havanese is a compact dog with a well-proportioned frame. They have large, almond-shaped eyes, giving them a soft and endearing expression that adds to their loving natures. The ears are set quite low and hang down past the muzzle, which is quite short, even for a dog of its size. They have a well-balanced gait with a slight bounce in their step.

    Good to know

    Although we love to praise and spoil our pets, it's important that they learn where they stand in the pecking order. Dogs are hierarchical animals; they need order and stability.  Without it, they're unlikely to see you as the pack leader and will soon become aggressive, domineering, and unruly.  This applies to the small dogs just as much as it does to the big dogs. So don't let them get away with too much. A Havanese with a bad case of ”small dog syndrome” will soon become a very big problem!


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      These little companion dogs are affectionate towards their owners.

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      These fun-loving dogs will play for hours at a time, especially during their puppy years. As with most breeds, this tends to fade as they start to mature, but an adult Havanese still has plenty of enthusiasm for playtime.

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      These high-energy dogs can sometimes get a bit overexcited. Despite their small size, this can be quite intimidating for people who aren't used to being around dogs.

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      While nowhere near as smart as the brainiest canine breeds, the Havanese has a high-level of intelligence when compared to other toy dogs. This makes them easier to train and interesting little pets. However, don't let their cute faces get the better of you. If you don't learn how to say no,  they’ll soon figure out that they can get away with pretty much anything!

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      The Havanese will rarely display any of the behaviours associated with “hunting” breeds. This makes them ideal for families with cats or other domestic pets.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      These social dogs are very friendly towards humans, although they can sometimes be a bit reserved when meeting them for the first time. They tend to keep their distance,  but will rarely bark or become aggressive around strangers.

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      Companion dogs are highly social animals and shouldn't be left alone for long periods of time.

      Behaviour of the Havanese

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        Tolerates solitude

        Extended periods of solitude will have a detrimental impact on this dogs mental health. If you’re thinking about adopting a Havanese, making sure it gers company is one of the first things you need to consider.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        These dogs respond well to training and often perform very well in obedience training competitions. Just make sure you keep training sessions short and fun. Focus on making small, marginal gains over a longer period of time; don't overload with too much information at once.

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        The Havanese is a “quiet” breed. Many toys dogs will start barking at “unexpected” guests, but the Havanese is far more reserved. They will rarely bark at other dogs and their low-prey drive means they remain pretty calm around cats, pigeons, and other small animals.

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        Tendency to run away

        As long as you keep a close eye on them and make sure there are no easy escape routes, then your Havanese is very unlikely to run away.

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        This depends. As long as their needs are being met, these soft natured animals will rarely become destructive. However, if they're bored or lonely, they’ll soon start expressing their frustration through destructive behaviour.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        Like most toy dogs, the Havanese has a modest appetite and is unlikely to pile on any unwanted pounds. Still, it's important to feed them within the recommended guidelines and always keep doggy treats to a minimum.

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        Guard dog

        Havanese dogs are alert, energetic and loyal, meaning they'll quickly alert you to any would-be intruders or suspicious characters. They can also make plenty of noise when they want too, which is usually enough to deter any potential  intruders or snoopers.

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        First dog

        Havanese dogs are ideal pets for people less experienced with canines. They're easy to train, have moderate exercise needs, and their loyal and obedient natures are unlikely to overwhelm the first-time dog owner.

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          Havanese in a flat

          Toy breeds like the Havanese can live very happily in a flat. Although they still  need a decent daily walk and plenty of fresh air, they're also happy to spend much of the day lazing around the flat.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          You'll need to walk these toys for around 20-30 minutes each day. A short walk in the morning followed by a slightly longer walk in the late afternoon is the ideal exercise routine. They're also quite happy with gentle strolls in urban environments. You don't need to take them for long, time-consuming walks in a park or the countryside.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          Any major trips with a dog need to be prepared in advance. This includes crate training and familiarisation techniques. However, these Toy dogs are much easier to travel with when compared to larger, more athletic breeds.


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            Havanese and cats

            The Havanese is a very cat-friendly dog. They'll make friends with any cats they grow up with and will rarely, if ever, go chasing after your neighbours kitty.

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            Havanese and dogs

            Havaneses are neither aggressive or particularly territorial. Given that these are the main sources of conflict between dogs, the Havanese is not known for displaying aggressive or confrontational behaviours. This makes them a  really good addition to families who already have a dog.

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            Havanese and children

            Like most toy dogs, the Havanese loves children of all ages. Their playful, spirited nature makes them an ideal companion for kids, although smaller children should always be supervised when playing with dogs. Children should also be taught how to handle these delicate dogs.

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            Havanese and the elderly

            These dogs are intelligent but not stubborn, energetic but not hyperactive, and playful but not overbearing. They will happily spend much of their time relaxing, and their modest exercise requirements are manageable for people entering their senior years.



            The average cost of a purebred Havanese puppy is somewhere between  £815-£1170.

            You'll also need to budget around £30-40 a month for feeding costs, and the average cost of a basic insurance policy is around £20,00 per month, although this varies from dog to dog. Grooming costs will vary. A long haired Havanese will require lots of attention, including regular trip to the doggy salon.


            Despite having naturally long coats, the Havanese is low-shedding breed. However, if you decide to keep their coats long, you’ll need to spend a  lot of time keeping it in good condition. This will involve a daily brush, regular baths, and plenty of trips to the dog groomer. Alternatively, you could learn to do this yourself. This would be cheaper in the long term but expensive and time-consuming in the beginning.


            Havanese dogs are not prone to hair loss and shed very little.

            Nutrition of the Havanese

            The Havanese has a relatively small appetite. They need two/three smallish cups of high-quality dog food every day and access to fresh drinking water.

            Health of the Havanese

            Life expectancy

            The average lifespan for a Havanese is between 13-15 years.

            Strong / robust

            These dogs are pretty tough for a toy breed. Their study, strong frames means they're tougher than they look, although, like any small dogs, they should always be handled with care. Walks in the local park are ok but stay away from more rugged terrain.  It's likely to be too physically demanding for these companion dogs.

            Withstand heat

            Havanese dogs have no real problem maintaining a healthy body temperature and are not prone to overheating. Still, avoid exercising them during the hottest part of the day.

            Withstand cold

            His undercoat is not very thick, this little dog is doesn't like the cold weather.

            Tendency to put on weight

            These energetic dogs aren’t prone to obesity or weight gain. Still, their small frames are not designed to carry large amounts of weight. Feeding them the right amounts of food is a vital part of maintaining their short and long-term health.

            Common illnesses

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