The Havanese is an adorable small dog with expressive eyes, long, silky hair and an extraordinary personality. These traits and more have made the Havanese one of the most popular small dog breeds and rated one of the 25 most popular dog breeds of 2020 by the American Kennel Club.


The Havanese originated from Cuba way back in the 1500s. The only native small dog breed developed in this Spanish state, the Havanese, is considered the national dog of Cuba.

This pup is a crossbreed from the Tenerife dogs and other native dog breeds from the Bichon dog family. Havanese were bred to provide companionship for the wealthy families in Cuba.

The breed came to the United States back in 1959 when a few Cubans fled their country because of the Cuban revolution. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Havanese in 1995.  Before the Havanese dogs came to the United States, there were only eleven dogs left in Cuba.

Physical Characteristics

Havanese are considered to be a small dog breed but not fragile. 

This small dog breed usually reaches maturity at the age of one year but can get to full size at about six to eight months. Their bodies are long with short legs. One cannot help but love the round face, drop ears and beautifully expressive eyes. The Havanese tail tends to curl over the back.

Havanese have either wavy or straight long-haired coats with soft silky fur. Even though they are double-coated, the dog’s thick hair feels fine to the touch and can grow up to twenty centimeters. 

Coat colors come in various blue, cream, gold, silver, black, chocolate and champagne. They also come in color combinations like:

  • Parti color (a white base fur coat with patches of a different color throughout the body)
  • Parti Belton (a white fur coat with patches of a different color throughout the body)


A mature Havanese can weigh between 7 and 13 pounds (3 and 6kg), and their height ranges from 8.5 to 11.5 inches (20 to 30cm).

Character & abilities

Havanese dogs are known to be excellent companions and are affectionate, gentle, playful, and cuddly. They enjoy playing with children and other dog breeds. However, they can be shy and quickly get attached to their owners.

When left alone or with strangers for long periods, the Havanese can suffer from separation anxiety, characterized by destructive behavior and frequent barking. Dog behaviorists recommend introducing the Havanese to strangers to avoid these incidents.

Havanese dogs have earned the nickname Velcro dogs because of their tendency to always stay close to their owner’s side.

Trainability & Intelligence

Havanese are surprisingly energetic and easily trainable, making them ideal for activities like dog sports and roles like being a service dog assisting people with disabilities.

Havanese dogs are easy to train. They are active and love learning new tricks, a fun activity for the whole family. This small fuzzy breed is not overly yappy and will only bark at a passerby or a strange noise.

Housebreaking this dog can be slow because they have a small stomach and bladder and may not “hold it” as long as other breeds. Crate training and patience is required during this process. Installing a doggy door nearby will allow the Havanese to go out to relieve themselves whenever the need arises.

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

Despite their small size, Havanese dogs still need to exercise to burn all their energy and prevent dog zoomies. They generally need between 30 to 60 minutes of exercise in a long walk or an active game. 

Havanese dogs should be fed high-quality dry food when it comes to nutrition, divided into two meals a day. Havanese puppies need food with more calories and easily digestible proteins to make up for all the energy they lose while being active.

Experts recommend feeding your Havanese puppy up to 3 times a day. Adult Havanese dogs, on the other hand, can be fed up to 2 times a day.

Free feeding is not recommended for this small dog breed as they can quickly become obese, leading to many health conditions. Additionally, owners should avoid giving table scraps and overindulging the Havanese. 


Havanese dogs don’t shed quickly but need regular grooming. Their thick fur coats need to be brushed two to three times a week to prevent mats from forming. Brushing also improves blood circulation and stimulates the production of natural oils in their fur coats, keeping the coats silky and shiny.

Spraying the fur coat with water while brushing prevents it from getting dry and shedding more than usual. Brushing also gives a chance to inspect the fur coat for ticks, fleas, or any injuries that may not be seen easily.

Depending on their coat amount, color, and lifestyle, Havanese dogs need frequent baths once or twice a week. Be sure to check out dog shampoos and conditioners that are suitable for the pup’s specific coat.

Living Conditions & Adaptability

Havanese dogs prefer staying close to their human owners and are comfortable in small living spaces like apartments.

They do not need a large backyard as they love sitting and lying around. However, they have a strong prey drive and tend to chase after small furry animals like squirrels.


Havanese dogs are usually healthy but are prone to a couple of health conditions like all other dog breeds. These health conditions include:

  • Legg-Perthes disease
  • Eye cataracts
  • Deafness
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Chondrodysplasia

When adopting a Havanese, it is prudent to check if the dog breeder has health clearances that indicate whether the pup has been tested for these and any other health conditions. It is also essential to maintain regular visits to the veterinarian.

A healthy Havanese has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


This tiny pooch has many admirers for his beautiful form and pleasant temperament. Though initially bred to be a loyal lapdog, the affectionate Havanese is a lovely addition to any family. Proven to be trainable, this breed makes an excellent therapy and assistance dog.

We at All The Small Dog Breeds enjoy providing small dog breed descriptions to make the adoption process much more manageable. We recommend visiting your local shelter or purchasing your Havanese from a licensed breeder.


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