Everything You Need to Know About The Havanese Dog Breed

by Amanda Flores

Characteristics of The Havanese Dog Breed & How to Care For Them

Havanese are known for their quirky personalities and their affectionate temperament. These loveable pint-sized pups are silly little entertainers and quickly become one of the family. Learn all about the Havanese dog breed below.


The Havanese breed dates back to 1500s Cuba. They are the country’s national dog and are affectionately called “Blanquito de la Habana” or “little white dog of Havana,” hence “Havanese”. According to the Havanese Club of America, all Havanese dogs can likely trace their lineage back to 11 pups who came to the states with their owners in the 1950s during the Cuban Revolution.

This highly intelligent breed is loved for their spunky personality and their eagerness to learn tricks. They are hypoallergenic,and are often mixed with breeds like poodles and cavaliers. 

Havanese Dog Breed


Physical Traits 

The first thing you’ll notice about the Havanese dog breed is their bouncy walk. The puppy-like spring in their step stays through adulthood, adding to their goofy nature. 

The Havanese dog breed has a rounded face and floppy ears with a recognizable tail that is high and arches up and over their back. Their frame is even tinier than it appears as it's often hidden under a long fur coat. They stand up to 11 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 7 and 13 pounds. 

Though they are known as the “little white dog of Havana,” their coats can be many different colors. Just don’t get too attached to your Havanese puppy’s color, as they can become lighter or darker up through their first birthday.  

Personality Traits

What characters! These little extroverts love to play and will entertain you all day long with their bubbly personalities. Not only are they intelligent and silly, but they’re highly affectionate and will quickly become your best friend. Havanese make great therapy and emotional support dogs, too. 

If you’re looking for a dog breed to add to your young family, the Havanese dog breed is for you. They are great with children and other pets, including cats.

Havanese are right at home with their family, so much so that they don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. They can develop separation anxiety which can turn into destructive tendencies when they’re lonely or bored. It’s best to consider your lifestyle before you invite a Havanese pup into your home. 


Overall, Havanese are a healthy breed and have a long lifespan of up to 15 years, but there are a few things to keep in mind when caring for them. Their tiny stature means they can get overweight easily so be sure not to overfeed them, and go easy on treats. 

Havanese are prone to a loose knee joint ailment called Luxating Patella, which can lead to arthritis or even lameness. Elbow and hip dysplasia are also common among the Havanese dog breed. This malformation can cause their tiny bodies to be in a lot of pain and sometimes results in the inability to walk properly. Deafness, eye disorders, and heart disease are issues to be on the lookout for as well. 

Because Havanese mouths are small, their teeth are closer together and prone to plaque and tartar, which can cause dental disease. Be sure to get a cleaning at the vet’s office and brush their teeth regularly at home.  

Hypothyroidism is another prevalent health concern in havanese. They tend to have a higher chance of underactive thyroid glands, which requires treatment to keep their weight regulated. 


Grooming Recommendations

Despite their abundance of fur, the Havanese dog breed does not shed as much as you’d expect. Their silky coat is made up of fine hair and requires routine grooming. Give their coat a good brush a few times a week to avoid mats and tangles. 

You can opt to keep your Havanese dog’s coat long and have it corded, or get their hair trimmed down. Whether long or short, your Havanese dog’s coat requires occasional baths and their eyes should be wiped regularly to avoid tear stains.

Exercise Recommendations 

Havanese don’t require much exercise, making them great for living in smaller spaces. The energy they use playing and goofing around at home and a daily 30 minute walk is usually all they need. 

The Havanese dog breed isn’t the best fit for people or families who are looking for a dog to accompany them on long hikes or runs. 

Training Recommendations 

The Havanese dog breed is extremely intelligent and their eager-to-please nature means they take to training very quickly. They can easily learn tricks and performances for dog sports and competitions. Start with basic puppy training early on and then increase tricks over time. They are sometimes known to reverse train; They make up their own games and teach their pet parents how to play. 

On the flipside, housebreaking may take a bit longer and will require consistency.


Havanese should typically be fed two meals a day, with a total of about one half to one cup of food. Take a look at our Sundays’ feeding guide for more specific instructions. And try to keep the food strictly at mealtime and don’t let them free feed as their small stature can become overweight quite quickly. Canine obesity is a very serious condition that can shorten your dog’s lifespan and be a precursor to other serious health conditions. Your vet can help you keep track of a healthy weight for your havanese dog, including how much to feed and a healthy exercise regimen.

Giving your Havanese pup a balanced diet with nutrient-rich food is easy with Sundays. Our gently air-dried, human-grade food is ready to eat with no fridge, prep, or clean-up required, and is delivered straight to your door right when you need it. Sundays all-natural food supports joint health as it’s high in natural sources of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

Interested in looking at other small dog breeds? Take a look at the Chihuahua's characteristics to see if the breed could make a good match for your pack. 
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