Havanese Dog Temperament, Characteristics and Care

Updated June 22, 2022
Havanese Dog

The Havanese is a small dog with a huge personality and a gentle disposition. They are often described as being "Velcro dogs" because they love their owners so much and want to be near them at all times. They are loyal, loving, and affectionate dogs who make great companions for children and other pets.

Origin of the Even-tempered Havanese

The Havanese dog is a descendant of the Bichon family and is believed to have originated in Cuba. The breed was first developed by the Spanish colonists in Cuba, who used dogs to hunt rabbits. Theories suggest they were derived from breeding the Bichon and Maltese together.

The breed was originally called the "Havana Silk Dog" or "Havana Hairless Dog," but when it was exported to Europe and the United States in the 1920s, it was renamed "Havanese." In 1999, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Breed Characteristics

Havanese Dog Characteristics

The Havanese is a small toy dog that makes a wonderful companion for an active family. These dogs have been bred to be affectionate and loyal, but also independent and autonomous, making them great for families who are busy or live in apartments.

General Appearance

The Havanese coat has a double-layer of hair that is both silky and long. The outer layer of the coat, called the guard coat, is straight and stands off from the body in an even layer. The undercoat consists of soft, dense fur that keeps your dog warm and helps them retain body heat when it's cold.

The Havanese has a unique coat pattern that resembles fur blankets or shawls worn by nobility during the medieval era in Europe. Because Havanese were bred to be companions for members of the Cuban upper classes in the 19th century, it's no surprise they still have such majestic coats.

One factor to keep in mind about this hypoallergenic dog breed: They do shed, although not as much as other dog breeds. Their grooming needs are manageable, but you'll want to brush their silky topcoat regularly with a slicker brush or pin brush so you don't end up with tangles or mats.

The coat comes in almost every color, with the most common being black, black and silver, chocolate, brindle, cream, part, red, sable, or white.


The Havanese' gentle temperament makes these dogs a great choice for families. They are tender, affectionate, and playful dogs who love to be around people. Havanese also get along well with children and other pets. They make excellent companions and they will loyally follow you wherever you go.

The Havanese can adapt to any environment because of their happy-go-lucky attitude. These sweet-natured dogs love everyone they meet, whether it's another person or another animal.

The breed does require early socialization, as some members of the breed are shy and might become overly attached to their owners, causing separation anxiety. If their anxiety becomes too much for them, they may begin barking, displaying destructive behavior, and developing housetraining issues. Although training and providing mental and physical outlets might help with this barking trait, the Havanese tends to be a quite noisy breed in general.


Training a Havanese dog is a fun, rewarding experience due to their easy-to-train demeanor. If you want to get the most out of your relationship with your pet, you'll need to establish yourself as the leader in the home and set boundaries that are clear for both of you.

The first step is to make sure you have all the supplies you need ready to go: treats, toys, leashes, and collars. It's also important to ensure that your Havanese pup has had all of their necessary vaccinations before beginning training, so you aren't restricted to training at home.


havanese dog

Havanese dogs are quite fluffy and have a lot of fur. As a result, they need regular grooming to keep their fur looking healthy and clean. Your Havanese will likely shed a lot, so brushing is essential to keep the fur from clumping together and making your pooch uncomfortable.

Brush your dog's coat in different directions every day to avoid matting. If you use a brush with rubber or plastic bristles, be sure to thoroughly wash it after each use to prevent any bacteria buildup on the brush that could transfer to your dog's coat and cause skin irritations.

Brushing your dog's teeth every day is an important part of keeping them healthy, as well as helping to prevent bad breath and gum disease. You must use toothpaste designed specifically for dogs. Make sure that you do not use human toothpaste on your dog because some ingredients may be toxic.

Havanese Health Concerns

Havanese do have some common health problems that potential owners should be aware of. These include:

  • Cataracts: This condition is characterized by a cloudiness of the lens of the eye, which can lead to vision loss and blindness. Surgery may be required to remove them.
  • Chondrodysplasia: This condition, which is also referred to as "canine dwarfism," causes a dog to have shorter legs.
  • Deafness: Hearing loss can occur in one or both ears of a dog at birth.
  • Heart murmurs: This is a common condition in Havanese, which may not require any medical or surgical intervention, though it can be severe, depending on the dog.
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia: This is a painful condition of the skeletal system that can lead to lameness and may require surgical correction.
  • Legg-Perthes disease: is a hip-and-joint disorder that can be painful and may require corrective surgery.
  • Patellar luxation: Also known as "trick knee," this is a disorder where the kneecap is "out of joint." It may require surgery to correct.
  • Sebaceous adenitis: This is a disease affecting the dog's skin and hair. It can lead to inflamed, irritated skin and hair loss. There is no cure for the condition, but your veterinarian can help you manage it to keep your dog comfortable.
  • Thyroid disorders: These include hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Thyroid problems can lead to hair and skin conditions, weight loss or gain, lethargy, and other associated symptoms.


The average life expectancy for a Havanese is about 14 to 16 years, though this can vary depending on the dog's health and lifestyle.

Fun Facts About the Havanese

If you're a fan of the Havanese dog breed, you may already know quite a bit about them. However, did you know these interesting tidbits?

Purchasing or Adopting a Havanese

Havanese puppy running

A purebred Havanese puppy will cost between $800 to $1,200, though you can expect to pay more for a dog from champion show lines. The best place to start looking for a Havanese breeder is through the Havanese Club of America. The club maintains a breeder directory as well as a thorough breakdown of which health tests you should ask about when interviewing a breeder.

Rescue Organizations

If you are searching for a rescue dog, check with Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet to find dogs in shelters and rescues near you. Contacting breeders may also help as some breeders may know of current owners who have a dog they need to rehome. You can also search the following breed-specific rescues:

  • Havanese Rescue Inc.: An organization that rescues and rehomes Havanese dogs throughout the United States.
  • Havanese Angel League: A nonprofit organization primarily rescuing and rehoming Havanese from puppy mills.
  • Havaheart Rescue: A foster parent-based rescue organization located in Missouri, adopting throughout the United States.

Is the Havanese the Right Dog For You?

If you are thinking of bringing a Havanese into your home, it is important to consider what kind of lifestyle you have. Are you an active person who loves to go on long walks and runs? If so, this breed may not be the right choice for you. They do not have the energy level required for such activities. However, if you enjoy spending time at home curled up on the couch or outside taking leisurely strolls around the neighborhood with your pup by your side, then this is definitely a good choice for both of you.

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Havanese Dog Temperament, Characteristics and Care