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BaxterBoo Blog
August 30, 2012

Meet the Breed: Havanese

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  • Height: 8.5" - 11.5"
  • Weight: 7-13 pounds
  • Historical function: Companions to Spanish colonists in Cuba
  • Modern function: Companions
  • AKC classification: Toy

Physical Characteristics:

The Havanese is a double-coated, small-yet-sturdy dog available in a wide variety of colors. The coat can be wavy, curly, or even corded. Even though the coat appears profuse, remember that this was a coat developed to be a light, airy sunshade in humid climates, so protection is still a must in colder climates. They are broad chested with an even topline. The tail curves over the back. Eye rims, nose, and lips are black on all colors except for the chocolate versions which have dark brown features. They are famous for their dancing gait. They dont walk as much as they prance. This feature is exclusive to this breed. 

History of the Breed:

This breed originated in Cuba, descended from a now-extinct breed called Blanquito de la Habana, which was an all-white silky dog that had adapted to Cubas hot, humid temperature. This dog was interbred with poodles and bichon frise dogs in the 17th century to produce the Havanese. With political upheaval, many aristocratic cubans came to the United States, but not many were allowed to bring their dogs. Many of these Cubans settled in South Florida where a Ms. Goodale developed a breeding program in the 1970s after running an ad in the paper to find Cuban immigrants who had brought their pedigreed dogs with them. She acquired more dogs from Costa Rica to form a breeding foundation of 11 dogs. Her diligence paid off as this is now one of the fastest growing breeds in popularity with relatively few health problems.


Havanese are delightful companions that are gentle, have a high level of intelligence, and are eager to please. Their springy gait seems to suit their playful personalities. Even though they have the toy designation, they are sturdy dogs suitable for agility training and families with children. They are not prone to barking, even at strangers, though they will let owners know when they approach. They get along with other pets, love to perform, but are content with toys as well. They will follow their owners everywhere, if possible.

  • Best suited for: Families with children, apartment dwellers, people with allergies, and the elderly
  • Preferred living conditions: Natural adaptations for hot, humid climates. Care must be taken in colder climates. Developed as a companion dog, the Havanese prefers to be around people. Benefits from intellectually stimulating toys and training to develop their natural intelligence.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: A puppy cut is often preferred by non-showing owners to keep this breed neat and easy to care for, but even a full coat only requires trimming around the feet and paw pads, and combing a few times a week. After baths, the coat should be blown dry and combed to prevent mats from developing. Weekly tooth brushing.
  • Exercise needs: Light to moderate exercise needs. Playing around a yard or light daily walks are usually sufficient.
  • Life expectancy: 14-15 years.
  • Health Concerns: Havanese are generally healthy dogs with few concerns other than luxating patella (knee dislocation), cataracts, liver and heart disease. Minor health concerns include possible tear staining noticeable in light-colored dogs. As with all drop-eared dogs, the ears need to be checked and cleaned to prevent ear infections.

A Havanese puppy.

Breed Club Links:

BaxterBoo Perfect Pairings: Coats and boots for cold weather. Double-sided pin comb by Pet Head.

White Havanese photos courtesy of Brad Saunders.

Have any great Havanese stories to share? Well, I do! I thought you'd enjoy seeing My Favorite Pup Jasmine in action to get an idea of how smart and fun these dogs can be with training. She and CJ Jackson were simply delightful to meet! Do visit her Facebook page and become a fan.

Angie on August 30 at 12:05 PM said:

Will you please consider doing a meet the breed about Chihuahuas? Thanks.
Mary on August 30 at 12:41 PM said:

Of course! We hope to have a nice collection of the top 50 breeds eventually. Thanks for the suggestions!
Connie O. on August 30 at 12:56 PM said:

We have a Havaton - Havanese/Coton de Tulear mix and she is delightful, We love her 'havanese hop' across the lawn, and her coton dancing on her hind legs. She is SO intelligent, so she needs to be kept engaged in puzzles, etc or she finds her own 'engaging activity' not always to my liking! We live in the mid Atlantic region and she loved playing and rolling in the snow, even without her coat on for short periods of time. We picked her because of her hypoallergenic quality, and got So Much More!.
Havanese Breeders on November 19 at 1:32 AM said:

Its an amazing blog look to see.I made reservations to go to Meet the Breed for gathering more than 200 breeds! Really i appreciated wit your blog.

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