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 :

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

    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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