General Description:  The Havanese is a member of the Bichon family.  For centuries these small lap-dogs were bred for the sole purpose of companionship, amusement and pleasure.  There are several theories of the evolution of the Havanese breed, but most historians agree that pirates brought these small maltese-like dogs to Cuba in exchange for entry into wealthy homes for illicit cargo supplied on the island.  They were then known as “Havana Silk Dogs.”

Females:  Preferred height at the withers is 8 ½ to 11 1/2 inches, and roughly 8-12 pounds. 
Males:  Preferred height at the withers is 8 ½ to 11 1/2 inches, and roughly 10-15 pounds.

All colors are acceptable, singly or in any combination.  No preference is given to one color over another.   The skin may be freckled or parti-colored. The Havanese coat is double with a soft, light texture throughout.  The outer coat is slightly longer than the lower coat and ideally, it is wavy.

Life expectancy:
15 to 18 years

The Havanese is typically excellent with children of all ages.  It may be intolerant of very young children who are not trained to be cautious about handling it sensitively.

Other animals:
Havanese are friendly dogs, who enjoy the companionship of other dogs.  They are very social dogs who enjoy boisterous play  and busy activity.  Most are friendly with cats and may see them as a “different looking” dog.

The Havanese are a perfect breed for several types of family activities.  They enjoy agility, rally, and obedience training, and are very quick learners.  As companion dogs, most Havanese are very eager to please.
Many Havanese are suited to becoming Certified Therapy Dogs and are comfortable in schools reading with children or in nursing homes bringing comfort to the elderly.

The Havanese is considered a low-shedding breed with a coat of “hair” rather than “fur.”  Many people with dog allergies find that they can live more comfortably with a Havanese than most other breeds.  Because they shed only slightly, however, does NOT mean they are low-maintenance.  Most Havanese who are kept in long coat need grooming at least twice weekly as their soft, fine coat can mat easily.  Many families with pet quality Havanese keep them in “puppy” cuts for convenience.
Although the Havanese is considered to be a generally healthy, long-living breed, there are some inherent genetic issues that are being watched and studied by breeders.  Some current concerns are heritable cataracts, Legg Perthes disease, Patella luxation and liver shunts.  As the breed is still quite young in its rebuilding, owners are advised to continue to research on their own any health issues discovered in their Havanese. 

Best with:
A family where someone is home during the day and/or there are other pets for companionship.

Not for:
Families that are too busy to spend time with their dogs.  This dog needs to be a “family member.”

Vibrant, happy personality.  Smart and easy to train.  Eager to please.

May be more difficult to house-train than some larger breeds.  Does not do well without its “people.”

Further Information:
Havanese ABC’s:
Havanese Rescue Inc.:
Havanese Club of America:
Breed Identification: