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Havanese Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Height: 8½-11½ in
Weight: 7-13 lbs
Life Span: 14-15 yrs
Coloring: All colors and patterns are accepted
Area of Origin: Cuba
Similar Breeds: Bichon Frise, Maltese, Papillon, Toy Poodle, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu

History and Origin:

The national dog of Cuba, the Havanese is of Bichon origin (related to the Poodle and the Maltese), arriving in the Americas with Spanish explorers during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Once in Cuba, the dog became an installation in the homes of Cuban aristocracy, and the breed developed without much external influence over the next few centuries. The coat of the Havanese is of particular intrigue, as the harsh, hot weather of Cuba caused the fur to become like raw silk – light and soft to protect the skin against the boiling sun. The Havanese became popular back in Europe by the mid seventeenth century, and while it shone in the houses of European nobility, it continued to be a utility companion dog in Cuba, providing friendship for children, being a watchdog of estates, and serving as a herder for poultry. The breed prospered in Cuba until the mid-twentieth century, when the Cuban Revolution forced the wealthy to flee the island; many were brought to the United States by their owners. Today, all Havanese in the world except for those that remained in Cuba are descendants of eleven of these immigrant dogs, sought out by American enthusiasts to keep the breed alive.

Personality and Temperament:

The ultimate companion, the Havanese is a loving, friendly, and devoted little dog. Wonderful with children and strangers alike, the Havanese is a delight to have around. Extremely social, it enjoys meeting new people and other animals, and its willingness to please and keen intelligence makes it an easy dog to train. Its easy-going nature makes it a suitable breed for the nervous or first time dog owner.

Exercise & Training:

While a toy breed, the Havanese nevertheless enjoys a daily walk and ample play time to satisfy its physical and mental needs. Due to its natural loveable nature and teddy bear-like appearance, the Havanese is a popular choice as a therapy dog. Its intelligent nature also makes it suitable to be trained as an assistance dog for the hearing impaired, and has also found a home in trick performing and even in the unusual task of tracking mold and termites. Many Havanese are also extremely successful in the dog sport world, performing in agility, flyball, and competitive obedience classes.


The Havanese’s silky coat is prone to extensive matting; brushing daily will help to remove tangles and keep the coat mat-free. While show dogs possess the long, floor-length coat, many owners keep the coat clipped short. If a shorter coat is desired, a trip to a professional groomer two or three times a year is necessary. Bathe only when necessary as the Havanese has exceptionally sensitive skin.

Similar Breeds:

As a Bichon (toy, long-haired dogs with curled tails) breed, the Havanese is likely related to other toy breeds such as the Bichon Frise, Toy Poodle, and the Maltese. It is similar in nature to other toy breeds such as the Papillon, Lhasa Apso, and Shih Tzu.

Interesting Facts about the Havanese:

1. The modern-day Havanese is descended from the original dog brought to Cuba by the Spanish: the Blanquito de la Habana (“Little White Dog of Havana”), which is now extinct.

2. Due to its natural attachment to its owner, the Havanese is frequently considered to be a “Velcro dog”, following its owner everywhere.

3. The Havanese was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1996, and is the 25th most popular breed in the United States.

Organizations Dedicated to the Havanese:

Havanese Club of America
Havanese Angel League Organization for Rescue
Havanese Rescue Inc.
Havanese Owners and Lovers Association (CAN)

Breed Information Havanese

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