Havanese Breed Highlights

A Havanese dog sitting in a white patio chair outside in the yard surrounded by purple flowers

  • The Havanese is the only dog native to Cuba!

  • Havanese are believed to be descendants of the dogs of Tenerife, an island off North Africa and also the birthplace of the Bichon breed. These dogs were brought to the new world by Spaniards and other traveling merchants.

  • While the breed has been around for quite a while, it was only recognized by the AKC in 1996. It was extremely rare in the last half of the 20th century, almost going extinct after the Cuban revolution in 1959.

  • Charles Dickens owned a Havanese.

Unique Personality

Trupanion dog breed guide - Havanese 

The Havanese is quite the comical Cuban, with a big personality and sweet disposition. They’re a playful, curious, sturdy toy breed that loves to be with their people. Most often they are quite outgoing unless they missed out on early socialization as a puppy, which can make them more cautious around new people.

Preferred Lifestyle

Energy Level

dog energy level - medium (mall walker)

With Kids

Icon - outline of a little boy and girl

Havanese are sturdy little pups who do well in households with children.

With Other Pets

Icon - cat and dog outline

They’re happy to have other pets around, with proper socialization.

Environment

Icon - outline of a house

Their small size makes them an ideal apartment dog as long as they can romp and play. They also don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods of time.

Average Lifespan
(Range)

14 to 16 years

Average Size
(Range)

7 - 13 pounds

Breed Group

Toy

Similar Breeds

History of the Havanese

A Havanese dog standing outside near the flower bushes

The Havanese breed was developed in Cuba and is the only native dog breed to the island. In the 1500s, small companion dogs were favorites of aristocrats all around the world, and merchants routinely brought these lapdogs to the new world. The Havanese’s predecessor is believed to have made its way from the Mediterranean through Tenerife, an island full of dogs (and also believed to be the birthplace of the related Bichon Frise breed). Originally called the ‘Blanquito de la Habana’, or Havana Silk Dog, they quickly became popular with the wealthy families of Havana. And the breed was slowly refined into what we know today as the Havanese.

U.S. History of the Havanese Over Time

When the Communist government took over Cuba in 1959, the breed was brought to the United States with fleeing refugees. The Havanese almost went extinct after the revolution, with only 11 purebred Havanese left at the time. Luckily, their popularity grew in both the United States and Europe. They were officially recognized by the AKC in 1996 and currently rank as the 24th most popular breed based on registrations.

Havanese Behavior and Training

Trupanion dog breed guide - Havanese

Bred as companion dogs, the Havanese is quite the character and love to spend time with their people. Always willing to tag along or learn new things, this breed is lots of fun to train and provides endless comic relief.

Plays Well with Others?

  • Havanese are outgoing and gentle. Proper proactive exposure to new sights, sounds, people, dogs, and other animals as a young puppy is essential for their socialization and sets them up for a lifetime of fun adventures.

TRAINER TIP

Pair meeting new people or animals with high-value training treats or a favorite toy, and keep introductions short and sweet so it doesn’t get overwhelming.

  • Havanese are known to do well with children due to their gentle nature. Even though they’re a smaller breed, they are quite sturdy. Make sure they have been properly introduced and socialized with children as puppies to help them acclimate. Young children and dogs should always be supervised, and it’s helpful for a dog to have their own “safe space” where they can go when they need some quiet time.

  • Havanese can enjoy the companionship of other animals in the home as long as they have been properly socialized and introduced.
Graphic - bouncing red ball image

Exercise Requirements

They may be small, but don’t be fooled, the Havanese has a good amount of energy. Luckily, their daily exercise requirements are easily met with regular walks and short bouts of play.

Mental Enrichment Needs

Havanese are quite intelligent. They enjoy having puzzles to solve and exploring the world through smell during their walks. Daily training for obedience and tricks is a great way to provide enrichment and keep a Havanese’s brain sharp while building the human-canine bond. Mental enrichment also provides an outlet for all that Havanese puppy energy.

Common Behavioral Issues

Since they love being with their humans so much, a Havanese might develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. If taught from puppyhood that some alone time is okay, separation anxiety can be avoided. 

Havanese puppies sometimes have trouble with housebreaking and might take longer than other breeds to fully learn how to “hold it.” But with consistency and patience, they can get there.

TRAINER TIP

Any time you leave your Havanese alone, pull out a frozen stuffed Kong or other yummy treat toys. When you return (even after thirty seconds), put it away until next time. This will help your Havanese learn that when you’re gone, awesome stuff happens, and they’ll make a positive association with your absence.

Activities the Havanese Enjoys

Trupanion dog breed guide - Havanese 

Havanese enjoy activities that keep them close to their human and put their problem-solving skills to the test:

  • Rally Obedience

  • Trick Training

  • Conformation

  • Small Dog Agility

  • Tracking

Havanese Coat Type

Havanese have a double coat that naturally grows long and wavy. The undercoat is soft, while the outer coat is a bit heavier, often described as an unrefined silky texture. Their coats may look nice and warm, but remember, they were developed for the hot environment of Cuba. Their long and lightweight coats actually help to keep them cool and protected them from sunburn.

You’ll find Havanese in a range of different colors, from black to gray, silver, cream, red, and white, or a combination of these colors.

Shedding Level

dog shedding level - 2 of 5 piles of fur

2 out of 5 piles of fur

Grooming Requirements

  • Daily Maintenance
  • Professional Grooming Required

The Havanese coat requires daily brushing to keep it free from tangles, especially if left to grow long. Many owners either have the coat trimmed short to make maintenance easier or allow the coat to be corded (twisted into dreadlocks) as it grows out. Bathing is needed on occasion when their coat gets dirty. But care should be taken to not over wash their delicate fur. Practicing basic grooming with your Havanese puppy will help them learn that it is a positive and relaxing experience.

Best brush for a Havanese: Pin comb, Slicker Brush, Pin brush

Famous Owners of the Havanese

  • Venus Williams (Tennis Star)

  • Barbara Walters (Journalist)

  • Al Roker (Weatherman)

  • Glenn Close (Actress)

  • Charles Dickens (Author)

  • Joan Rivers (Comedian)

  • Ernest Hemingway (Author)

  • Queen Victoria (Royalty)

  • Daniel Tosh (Comedian)

  • Marlee Matlin (Actress)

Famous Havanese

Pip Close, Glenn Close’s pup, who famously went as her date to the 2019 Spirit Awards and came up to the podium with her to accept her award.

Non-Endorsement Statement: The social media posts displayed here do not imply any endorsement of these people or products, nor does it imply they endorse Trupanion or our product.

Common Health Conditions for the Havanese Breed

Use the chart of Trupanion claims data below to find out what health conditions happen most frequently for the Havanese breed. Every Havanese is unique, but understanding what health conditions are likelier to occur can help you be a more prepared pet owner.

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Trupanion member Kelly

Kelly

Groton, CT

Condition: Sarcoma

The Trupanion policy paid: $18,522.39

"My golden Kelly was young when I found a softball-sized lump on Kelly’s left hind leg. Four weeks straight of radiation, six rounds of chemo and checkups every three months, including x-rays and full blood panel were needed. Because of Trupanion, I didn’t have to address the biggest deciding factor that most people face—can I afford this? I can honestly say Kelly is alive today because of the financial support Trupanion provided."

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Trupanion member Axl

Axl

Ontario, Canada

Condition: Pneumonia, Hip Dysplasia, Lameness

The Trupanion policy paid: $2,084.01

"At two, our German shepherd Axl was diagnosed with pneumonia. Trupanion took care of all our financial concerns. At four, his hip issues led to pain medications, rehabilitation and rest, which all resulted in improved pain-free movement. I’m so grateful that we chose a plan that not only covers the cost of his treatment but also any physical therapy or rehabilitation he may need."

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Bella

Ellijay, GA

Condition: Cushing’s disease, tumor, cruciate rupture

The Trupanion policy paid: $15,283.83

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- Jason P.

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