Havanese Breed Characteristics


The Havanese is the only National Dog of Cuba and is a member of the Bichon family. It is a pure-bred dog, not a “designer dog mix”. Although it is a toy dog, it is not delicate or fragile. The Havanese is intelligent and learns quite rapidly. They are playful and do well with children as well as other pets, canine and non-canine alike. They are affectionate, energetic and possesses great charm and can have success as Therapy dogs or in Agility, Obedience or Rally trials.

The characteristic Havanese will have a profuse, long and silky coat that can be either straight, wavy or curly. The tail is carried as a plume draped over the back. The dog is double-coated which protects it from extreme temperatures. Both the under coat and outer coat are soft and remarkably light in texture. The breed is non-shedding and hypoallergenic. The coat is never woolly. According to the breed standard, the Havanese may come in any color and no preference is given to a particular color pattern. Though originally bred for being a lap dog of the aristocracy, Havanese have evolved into the quintessential family pet. They have strong legs and a springy gait. The body is slightly longer than it is tall and the topline rises slightly from withers to rump. A pure bred Havanese is not likely to be mistaken for another breed.

Height ranges from 8.5 to 11.5 inches (ideal from 9 to 10.5 inches) at the withers (shoulder). Weight ranges from 7 to 15 pounds. Life span is approximately 15 years.

Havanese are meant to live in the house with their families. They are not considered to be outdoor or backyard dogs. They are not to be used as watchdogs although they will sometimes bark at strangers or when the doorbell rings. These small dogs do not need a lot of space. They have average exercise needs. Havanese dogs can be fairly active indoors – and most enjoy a walk outside with their beloved family member(s). They are often called “Velcro” dogs and will follow their favorite person everywhere throughout the house – including the shower or bathroom!

Grooming requirements vary and depend on coat length. Regular grooming is a must however, and can be done by a professional groomer or by the owner depending on time constraints, interest and ability.

Havanese possess a unique ability to transform their coat colors as they age.  For more info about this see Suzanne McKay’s wonderful website for more pictures and explanations of the Rainbow Colors of this magical breed. http://www.havanesecolors.com/rainbow.html