Jess has been an online writer for over eight years. Her articles often focus on nature and pet care.
The Havanese Is a Great Family Dog
When my brother needed to go away on business for several weeks, the duty of dog-sitting his Havanese, Rufus, was charged to me. I instantly fell in love with Rufus, as did the rest of my family.
We have a young child in the family who is autistic and does not do very well with loud noises, so there was a concern that having Rufus stay with us might be stressful. Thankfully, as we soon learned, the Havanese breed of dog is a relatively quiet one and does need much coaxing to stop barking. They are also extremely good with kids and are just as happy to sit and observe as much as they are to get in on the playful action.
After a few weeks with us, Rufus went home, and I've been missing him ever since. I had never heard of the Havanese breed before meeting Rufus, but I am looking forward to one day having a little Havanese puppy of my own.
If you are currently trying to decide which breed of dog might be best suited for your family, are looking for a dog that will be a faithful companion, or you're simply interested in learning more about this once rare breed, then you've come to the right place. Here we'll examine some of the history of the Havanese breed and take a look at some of the reasons why this breed of dog might just be the perfect fit for your family.
A Breed Brought Back From Near Extinction
The Havanese dog (pronounced Have-UH-Neeze) is the national dog of Cuba. This breed was developed from an earlier breed known as the Blanquito De La Habana ("Little White Dog of Havana"), which is now an extinct breed.
They were brought to Cuba from Europe during the 17th century and enjoyed immense popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries amongst aristocratic families in Cuba. After the French, Cuban and Russian revolutions, the Havanese breed was teetering on the brink of extinction.
Breeding for this family-friendly dog didn't begin in North America until the 1970s. The Havanese was the preferred dog for many Cuban families. During the 1960s, when people began immigrating to the United States from Cuba, several families brought their Havanese dogs with them.
A U.S breeder posted an ad in a Florida newspaper in hopes of finding Cuban families that had brought their dogs with them from Cuba. From that ad, she found three families and 10 dogs. It is widely accepted that the origins of all Havanese dogs in North America can be traced back to those first ten dogs.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1996, and the Canadian Club followed suit in 2001. They placed this breed of dog in the "Toy" category.
Are Havanese Dogs Hypoallergenic?
It is widely believed that Havanese dogs are considered "hypoallergenic" dogs. This means that they are safe dogs to own for those who have animal-related allergies.
The Havanese is a popular choice for people who have allergies to dogs. Havanese dogs produce lower levels of dander and shed less frequently than other breeds. It is important to note, however, that there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog. All dogs produce some levels of dander. Dog-related allergic reactions can also occur when a person who is allergic comes into contact with a dog's saliva.
Havanese dogs become especially attached to their human families and are very affectionate animals. If you have a severe allergy to dogs, it is best to visit a reputable Havanese breeder and spend some time with this breed to see if an allergic reaction occurs before bringing one home with you.
What Havanese Dogs Look Like
Considered a "toy" breed by the American and Canadian Kennel Association. Though it is a moderately sized dog (average weight 7–13 pounds and height of 8–11 inches), it doesn't have the "small dog" appearance that other breeds in the toy category do.
The tail of the Havanese dog arches up over its back but doesn't quite touch the back. I liked to refer to Rufus's tail as "Happy Tail," as it's almost always wagging side to side in a happy, playful manner.
The Havanese Coat
- The Havanese fur is double-coated. The top coat of their fur is long, wavy and extremely soft. Though their fur appears to be very thick and warm, it is actually the opposite. Because Havanese dogs originate from the warm climates of Cuba their fur is very lightweight, which was meant to help keep them cool. Their undercoat is also very lightweight and sometimes completely non-existent. For this reason, Havanese dogs become cold very easily and need to be protected during winter playtime activities. Though they become cold easily, they are not stuffy dogs who hate the outdoors. I live in Canada, and Rufus loves to run around outside in the snow.
- The fur of Havanese dogs is typically longer. Because of the length and lightweight nature of their fur, Havanese dogs need to be groomed regularly. Brushing your Havanese at least twice a week will help to prevent their fur from becoming too matted.
- Some Havanese owners prefer to keep their dogs fur in a style known as "corded" This gives the dog a look almost like dreadlocks. This look is difficult to achieve and should be done only by a professional groomer with experience cording Havanese fur.
Havanese Colours & Markings
- Dog breeders disagree as to whether original Havanese dogs were all white or multi-coloured breeds. Today Havanese dogs come in a wide array of colours and markings.
- Fur colours for Havanese dogs include: white, sable, brown, black, red and beige. They can either have a solid coat in one colour, or a mixture of several colours. See below for photos of the variety of colours and markings of Havanese dogs.
Havanese dogs have dark brown, almost almond shaped eyes that are lined with either black or brown pigment. This almost gives them the appearance that they're wearing eyeliner.
Quick Facts About Havanese Dogs
Average height: 8–11 inches
Life expectancy: average 14–15 years
Gentle and responsive; very good with children
Average weight: 7–13 pounds
Common issues: liver and kidney problems
Easy to obedience train but won't respond to harsh discipline
Typical litter size: 1–9 puppies (average of 4)
Needs regular grooming; ears need to be checked regularly—prone to ear infections if not kept clean
Not in their nature to bark a lot
Havanese Dogs Are Very Sociable
Havanese dogs get along very well with children and other animals. While dog sitting my brother's Havanese, Rufus, we took him to meet some new friends. The above video is Rufus (the bigger white dog) playing with my sister-in-law's dog, Jasper.
How Havanese Dogs Behave
Havanese dogs are extremely smart and naturally curious. This breed has a long history of being a circus dog due to their high level of intelligence and the ease with which they get along with people and other animals.
Facts About Havanese Dog Behavior
- Havanese dogs make great family pets. They become very attached to their human families and have an eagerness to please.
- They don't naturally have the "Small Dog Syndrome" of other breeds in the toy group, which usually makes for a jealous or moody animal. Havanese dogs are very sociable and get along well with people, as well as other animals.
- Havanese dogs are very easy to obedience train. However, they are very sensitive to the tone of voice in which they are spoken to. They will not respond well to harsh discipline. They can also tend to be a bit stubborn if they sense that they are stronger minded than their owners. When training a Havanese, you will have the most success if you start their training when they are puppies and use a calm, authoritative voice.
The Best Homes for Havanese Dogs
Because Havanese dogs become very attached to their families, it is not ideal to bring a Havanese into your family if they will be left alone for extended periods of time. These dogs have a very high need for social activity.
What Do Havanese Dogs Need
- Havanese dogs will require daily walks. Two walks a day, in the morning and in the evening is plenty physical exercise for a Havanese dog. The Havanese was originally bred as a "lap dog" so their requirement for physical exercise isn't as a demanding as that of other dog breeds.
- Though their need for physical exercise is lower compared to some other breeds, their need for social activity is higher. A Havanese dog will require more play time than some other breeds. This means Havanese dogs are ideal if you have active children or other pets in the home.
- Havanese dogs are ideal for apartment dwelling. They are naturally a quieter dog and tend not to bark a lot. The Havanese dog is one of the easiest dogs to train not to bark.
- Though they do well in smaller homes, Havanese dogs can be equally happy in a larger or country home. This breed of dog is very adaptable. When playing outside, if your Havanese will be allowed off leash, they do love to run. They tend to dart around a lot and be very playful. Because of their smaller size, it's important to ensure your Havanese stays within your sights, so as not to be preyed upon by larger predators.
- Havanese dogs were originally bred for warmer climates. They can do very well in colder climates as well, with the proper care. They should never be left outdoors for extended periods of time, as their fur is very thin. If you live in a colder climate, it would be ideal to consider investing in a jacket or booties to help shelter your Havanese from the cold.
The Perfect Companion
The Havanese dog will prove to be a faithful and loving companion to you and your family. If you would like to find more information about the Havanese breed, check out the Havanese Fanciers of Canada website. If you have any further questions, comments or stories about your Havanese to share, please post in the comments section below!
© 2014 Jess Brazeau
Pat Bradley on September 02, 2020:
I have been looking into buying a havanese puppy for my wife. Is there a somewhat cheep breeder i can buy from? We live in Twin Falls Idaho so absolutely going to buy a jacket and booties. Due to the pandemic my wife has been homebound for 7 months. I wanted to surprise her with the puppy to lift her spirits and get her active again.
Billy napier on August 29, 2020:
Since owning my havanese dog, I cannot get away from people wanting to know all about her. She is the cutest wee dog in the town, and her nature is absolutely fantastic. We would like to breed her, but don’t know what to do for the best, as she was the only pup alive, as the other one didn’t survive. Any advice on this would be much appreciated folks. The only hiccup, that I have with her, is that she absolutely hates being left alone in our house, hence the reason we put a dog carrier on our motorbike, and that was that sorted. Also, she doesn’t like travelling in our camper, and car, as she tends to cry a lot. But she ticks the boxes, with everything else. We adore our wee dog, and my advice to anyone wanting a small dog, is to get a havanese, as you will not regret it.
Wanda Boyd on June 27, 2020:
I just got z Havanese; he is 6 years old and spent his whole life kn a puppy mill. I know I will have to have extra patience eith him as he is completely traumatized. He has no social skills and literally hasnt been taught. Can you guve me some extra tips on getting through this with him; his name is Jessie Blue...Thank you, Wanda
ShanaD on June 27, 2016:
Absolutely love my havanese "Trippy" :)
Paula on March 03, 2016:
Jess....Congrats on your HOTD! What precious babies. This is a new breed to me. I SWEAR over & over when my Cocker Spaniel goes to Doggy Heaven, NO MORE DOGS! Then I see pictures like this and read about what a wonderful dog they are and......oh well, you know!
Really interesting and definitely tempting ! Peace. Paula
RTalloni on March 03, 2016:
Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this post highlighting such a cute little creature! They definitely are smile-makers. Thanks for an interesting read with details about this toy dog.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 03, 2016:
Jess, Rufus is an adorable dog. Congrats on HOTD. Thanks for sharing this information on Havanese dogs. It's quite interesting and informational to know.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on March 03, 2016:
Rufus is adorable! I wasn't familiar with the Havanese breed, so this was eye-opening to me and a very interesting read. Thanks for the education, and congratulations on today's Hub of the Day honors!
Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 13, 2014:
He seem like such a cute little thing. I've never heard of that breed before and most people I know that have small dogs get terriers or poodles.
So it is nice to find out there are other adorable breeds of dogs out there.
Ashutosh Tiwari from Lucknow, India on March 20, 2014:
@JessBraz Hey! Jess , I saw you in the list of winners in the Hub Pot challenge.
If it does not add to your discomfort, can you tell me how the winners are selected and what is the relevant criteria ?
Thanks in Advance..
Jess Brazeau (author) from Canada on March 01, 2014:
@FaithReaper- Thank you so much for stopping by the read my hub! Your support is much appreciated! :D
@DrMark- Tica sounds like a lovely dog! I love pitbulls as well. I know at one point the breeding of pittbulls was illegal here in Ontario. I'm not sure if it's still illegal to own one.. Which is so sad. I think pitbulls get a really bad rap. I'm a firm believe that if a dog is mistreated or trained to be aggressive than it will be. From what I have read about pitbulls, they're actually very kind animals. :)
Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 01, 2014:
Her name is Tica (pronounced Chi-ca) which is the Portuguese spelling for the Cuban Spanish word for a cute girl. I know what you mean about the leaves!!!!
My older Pitbull does not like other dogs much but she puts up with Tica and even gets jealous of other dogs around her. Tica is able to make friends with every dog she meets when we are out walking on the beach, so if your dog is anything like her Baby will be charmed.
The only animal Tica does not seem to like are sparrows, but I am not sure about that since she has never caught one. She chases them every chance she gets though.
Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 01, 2014:
Aw, what a great hub! Congrats on the top ten choice for this hub on day three! Great photos too.
Up and more and sharing
Have a great day,
Jess Brazeau (author) from Canada on February 28, 2014:
Thanks for reading DrMark!
I'm hoping Rufus will come back and stay with me again in the future. :) He's such a lovely, friendly dog! I took him camping with me this past summer and I swear every leaf in the forest came back with us in his fur. :)
What is your dog's name? I'm hoping to get a Havanese of my own in the future. I have a dog of my own (a Peke-Hound), Baby. She's on the older side, so I'm reluctant to bring in a new puppy. She tends to be a bit moody. Thankfully she didn't seem to mind Rufus too much. Havanese dogs thankfully get along rather well with other animals, so that helped a great deal. :)
Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 28, 2014:
Great photos of Rufus!
I live in a warm climate, so of course my Havanese loves it, and every evening she brings home several kilos of sand from the beach and leaves it scattered over my bedroom floor.
She is a very special dog. Nice article.
Jess Brazeau (author) from Canada on February 26, 2014:
Thanks Everyday Miracles! I appreciate you stopping by and posting a comment. :) Glad you enjoyed it. :)
Becki Rizzuti from Indiana, USA on February 26, 2014:
Such cute pictures! I love hubs about dog breeds. Great job!