AKC Dog Breeds: Havanese

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Toy Group
Height: 8-12 inches   Weight: 7-13 pounds  Color: any color, including gold, cream, white, silver, blue and black

The National Dog of Cuba and the country’s only native breed, the Havanese is a small, sturdy dog with a friendly disposition. His wavy, silky coat is profuse, but remains extremely light, insulating and protecting the breed against harsh tropical heat. His coat, which comes in all colors, should remain untrimmed. The Havanese’s popularity in the show ring has grown quickly, and they are also now high in demand as a family pet. An old breed, the Havanese is a descendent of breeds brought to Cuba from Spain and could also be related to the Tenerife, an ancestor of the entire Bichon family. Once known as the Havana Silk Dog and the Spanish Silk Poodle, the Havanese evolved from its role as a pampered lap-dog of the aristocracy into a family companion responsible for being a watchdog, child’s playmate and herder of the family’s poultry flock. The Havanese was registered with the AKC in 1995.

General Appearance
The Havanese is a small, very sweet looking dog, and is compact yet sturdy. The Havanese is a double-coated breed that is low shedding. The hair is soft in texture, very long and in great abundance. The Havanese coat has different types from straight to curly. They come in many colors such as pure white to cream, black, silver, chocolate, or parti-colored. In the adult Havanese the coat reaches a length of 6-8 inches. Eye rims, the nose and lips are solid black on all colors except the true chocolate dog. The gait is unique, lively  & 'springy" which accentuates the happy character of the Havanese. Tail is carried up over the back when gaiting. The breed is of solid physical type and sound constitution. The Havanese gives a rugged impression of a little dog, it is sturdy, and while a small breed, it is neither fragile nor overdone.

The Havanese is a toy dog with a big personality, and has bags of character and an outgoing, friendly disposition. The national dog of Cuba, the Havanese is a dog that loves to play, loves the company of his owners, and is sweet natured and mild mannered. An intelligent and spirited dog, the Havanese is suitable for both experienced and inexperienced dog owners, and can be a very entertaining of somewhat demanding companion. These are not dogs that like to be neglected, and are suited to those with the time and affection to commit to their pet. Known for their agility and obedience, the Havanese makes a great family pet or companion dog. The Havanese gets along well with children although he is a small dog and is best suited to families with older, more considerate children. He will also get along well with other pets and mot will be friendly with strangers too. A happy go lucky little dog, the Havanese is a quick learner and is eager to please. He is keen, enthusiastic, and sweet, although he can be something of an attention seeker. Some Havanese may be difficult to housebreak. These dogs can also be very sensitive, but for the right family they have bags of charm, affection, and love to offer.


The Havanese has a fairly long coat that does not shed. However, it can become easily tangled and must be brushed daily to keep it from matting. If your Havanese is not to be shown, you can keep the coat clipped short to make grooming much easier. However, keep in mind that the Havanese's coat was designed to protect him from the heat, so you should not clip his coat very short if he is to be left outdoors during hot weather, as he will actually be hotter.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Havanese is around 12-15 years, and there are a number of health problems linked to the breed, although this is generally a fairly health and hardy breed. Some of the health issues to look out for include thyroid problems, luxating patella, and cataracts.

Activity Level

The Havanese needs a moderate amount of exercise. They are quite energetic, but are small enough to be able to run off some of their energy in the house. They'll be quite happy with a small yard area where they can run around some each day. They can also get sufficient exercise from accompanying their owner on a daily walk.


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