Havanese Information


Known for being the “National Dog of Cuba” and the only dog breed native to the island country, the Havanese is a small dog breed known for its silky coat that protects it against the harsh heat of the tropics. As a trainable and intelligent dog that possesses a naturally friendly and affectionate disposition, the Havanese is currently ranked as the 28th most popular dog breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club. If you are wondering whether the Havanese is the perfect match for you, the following is a complete description on this energetic toy breed.

Basic Info
Other Name Havanese Cuban Bichon, Bichon Havanais, Bichon Havanês, Havaneser, Havanezer, Bichon Habanero
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Toy Dog Breeds
Life Span13 - 15 years
TemperamentIntelligent, Playful, Affectionate, Gentle, Companionable, Responsive,
Height8.5 - 11.5 inches
Weight7 - 13 pounds
ColorsFawn, Tobacco, Havana Brown, Mahogany, Black, White
Puppy PriceAverage $700 - $1100 USD


Physical description

Body Type

As a sturdy small breed that is anything but fragile, the Havanese has a unique springy gait that further accentuates its lively and happy temperament. With a body that is slightly longer than its height, the dogs have a full muzzle that tapers slightly to the nose and a rather flat skull. The dark brown eyes are surrounded by black eye rims and almond-shaped lids for a slanted appearance. While the ears hang down on the sides of the head without touching the face, the tail is arched to curve over the back with a long plume of feathering. One of the distinctive features of this breed is the topline, which rises slightly from the shoulders to croup for a straight yet not level back. The Havanese is typically between 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder height with a weight that can range from 7 to 13 pounds.


The abundant coat of the Havanese is acceptable in all coat colors, with white, fawn, red, cream brown, beige, orange, black, blue, chocolate, and silver being quite common. While the coat may be one solid color, others will have markings that create sable, brindle, black and tan, Irish piebald, part-colored, piebald, beige black, and more color patterns.


Sometimes referred to as “Havana Silk Dogs,” the Havanese is a double-coated breed with soft, wavy, and silky lightweight hair on both the outer coat and undercoat. Reaching six to eight inches in length if never clipped or altered, the profuse coat is extremely light and insulating with a sheen appearance.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  Yes


Since the breed’s hair grows very rapidly and is prone to becoming tangled when not well-maintained, the grooming requirements for the Havanese may be rather time-consuming to keep the coat in good condition. If the coat is kept naturally long, it will need to be thoroughly brushed and combed at least three times a week with a lotion to prevent split ends. With little to no shedding in the “hypo-allergenic” breed, the Havanese must be brushed frequently to remove dead hairs. Many owners decide to have their dog professionally groomed every four to six weeks to keep the coat clipped short and more low-maintenance. It is also essential that owners clip excess hair from between the paw pads to give a more comfortable and rounded appearance.


As a member of the bichon family of small toy breeds that originated in the Mediterranean region during ancient Roman times, the Havanese was brought by Spanish traders to the island of Cuba as gifts for the women in order to establish strong trading ties. Known as Habeneros, the little dogs were instantly welcomed and pampered as special members of the noble families. Not only serving as companions, the dogs also became popular for performing tricks in the circus. As the breed declined in numbers in both Europe and its native Cuba to near extinction, three families brought their Havanese to the United States in the 1950s. The breed quickly evolved from its role among the aristocracy in order to become a prized watchdog, herder of poultry flock, and playmate for children across America. Gradually grabbing attention from dog enthusiasts, the first Havenese made its debut in show competition in 1996 and the breed was officially recognized as a member of the Toy Group by the American Kennel Club in 1999.


Highly adaptable to nearly any environment with a strong desire for human companionship, the Havanese is often described as being gentle, responsive, loyal, affectionate, intelligent, playful, sociable, friendly, and obedient. Usually excellent with children, unfamiliar friends, canines, and non-canine pets, the breed becomes very attached to their human families. Due to their high level of intellect, the curious dogs love to observe what is going on around them and can be easily trained. Although few bark a lot, the Havanese is a good watchdog that will alert their family when a visitor has arrived. In order to avoid any behavioral issues with Small Dog Syndrome, it is important for owners to display natural authority and ensure the playful pooch is taken on a daily walk. With plenty of exercise, the Havanese is a suitable match for apartment living and will do fine without a yard because the breed is fairly active indoors.

Interesting Havanese Facts

  • While unacceptable within the show ring, some Havanese can carry a short-haired recessive gene that can cause puppies to be born with short, smooth coats. Often referred fittingly as the Shavense, these smooth-coated dogs are perfectly healthy despite not being showable.


  • Due to their cheerful temperament and readily trained nature, the Havanese is used for a variety of jobs involving the public, such as therapy dogs, assistance/guide dogs, performing dogs, tracking, mold or termite detection, obedience training, and musical canine freestyle.
  • After nearly facing extinction after the Cuban Revolution with just eleven dogs in the United States in the 1970s, the Havanese has made a huge comeback with dedicated breeding and is considered one of the fastest growing dog breeds in the world.