Havanese Breed Profile


KC Group Toy

Size Small

Weight 3-6kg

Height 23-28cm

Average lifespan 14 years

Good with children? Yes

Good guard dogs? Would bark

Moulting level Low

Grooming Heavy

Exercise requirement Little

Jogging partner Short runs

Temperament Affectionate, lively and intelligent 

Havanese Breed Profile

We give you the lowdown on the Havanese - a sturdy toy breed with a joyful character. This little dog would make an ideal companion with their gentle and affectionate nature. The Havanese is extremely intelligent, once considered the lap dog of the aristocracy they are now much loved pets to many.

Havanese Popularity 

As breed trends in Britain have changed in recent times, many toy breeds have profited. While some, such as the French Bulldog and Pug, have enjoyed meteoric rises, the Havanese has enjoyed a steady growth. The number of registrations for the Havanese has increased by over 350 per cent in the past 10 years, from 92 in 2005 to 344 in 2014. Last year registrations increased by 119. Secretary of the Havanese breed club Diane Mottram believes the character of Havanese is a large part of the breed's appeal.

"They are happy, outgoing, and very family orientated," said Diane. "For a toy dog they are also quite robust and are good with children and other pets. They're ideal companions." While many breeds in the toy group have soared in popularity, in part due to increased media exposure, Diane thinks that the Havanese's suitability as a pet is why the breed is thriving. "I think they have become more popular because they are being seen more," explained Diane. "Not on TV or with celebrities but just out and about as pets. I think a lot of people are downsizing when it comes to dogs and the Havanese is a good size for that. They are cheaper compared to larger dogs. They also don't shed that much. Other toy breeds are often restricted to certain colours but the Havanese comes in dark and light colours, and has the shaggy little dog that look that lots of people love." Unfortunately, the increase in popularity means the breed is the target of unscrupulous breeders who try to cash in, so it is vital you do your homework before getting one of these little dogs.

"Havanese are shipped in from Eastern Europe and are often not raised to the standards of the genuine breeders in the UK," said Diane. "Some are not even Havanese. People can be duped, particularly if they buy online".

Havanese Character

These little dogs are extremely affectionate, gentle dogs with a lively streak! They are extremely playful and are happiest in the company of others. Havanese thrive on companionship and enjoy a strong bond with their families. Although they can be left for a few hours, they are not suitable for those who are out for most of the day. They are robust toy dogs and are good with children, particularly older children who may enjoy being involved with training the dogs.

Havanese Activity Levels

They are not couch potatoes and need at least 30 minutes exercise a day, consisting of regular walks and fun in the garden. They will enjoy dog activities such as agility, flyball, and obedience. Havanese is a bright breed and enjoy being trained but a firm hand is needed, as they can be stubborn. They are quick learners and will work for fuss and praise.

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Havanese Health

The Havanese is a healthy breed with a good longevity. However, there are a few conditions that potential owners need to be aware of:

Eye problems

Havanese can suffer from retinal dysplasia and cataracts. Retinal dysplasia is where the retina does not form properly and can affect the eyesight and even cause blindness. Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye which can also cause blindness. Although there are no mandatory health tests for KC assured breeders, the Havanese Club of Great Britain recommends that potential owners only buy from breeders who have health tested for eye problems. Conscientious breeders use the BVA/KC/ISDS eye scheme to reduce eye problems in the breed and help produce healthy and happy puppies.

Patellar luxation

This is where the dog's kneecap slides out of place. The leg will often lock and the dog will hold it off the ground. The condition is more common in toy breeds. Some dogs are affected more severely and the worst cases often require surgery.

Havanese Special Care

Teaching a Havanese to accept and enjoy grooming is important from the first day he comes home. He has a double coat which needs brushing every couple of days to keep it looking its best. Using a conditioner will help keep the coat silky. Particular attention must be paid to the eyes to spot any developing eye problems.

Did you Know?

  • Some Havanese can suffer from travel sickness when younger but usually settle down as they mature.
  • These dogs are very agile and walk in a jaunty fashion with a spring in their step.
  • The Havanese enjoys being at the centre of the family but does not expect to be in charge.
  • The breed was once known as the Havana Silk Dog.
  • The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba.