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Breed of the Month: Havanese

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Country of Origin: Cuba
Height: 8.5–11.5 inches
Weight: 7–14 pounds
Coat: Double coat with long, soft, abundant, flat, wavy, or curly outercoat and woolly, not well-developed undercoat
Colors: All colors
Registries (with Group): AKC (Toy); UKC (Companion)


The Havanese is certainly a descendant of the Old World Bichon-type dog, but which type specifically is still a matter of speculation. Cubans believe that the dog originally came to their island with Italian sea captains, which would point to Malta or Bologna as the source. Others claim they came with the Spanish as they colonized the West Indies, which would indicate Tenerife or the Bichon Frise as the original ancestors. What is known is that the little white dogs were brought to Cuba from Europe in the 17th century. They adapted to the climate and customs of the island and produced a smaller dog with a silkier coat, called the Blanquito de la Habana, or Havanese Silk Dog. This dog was a favorite of the Cuban aristocracy during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Havanese Silk Dogs were eventually crossed with French and German Poodles, which had become increasingly popular, and named Bichon Havanese, as they are sometimes still called.


The Havanese is a delightful companion—responsive, alert, mindful, and fond of everyone. He gets along with people of all ages, as well as all kinds of other pets. Outgoing yet intelligent, he is a good watchdog, as he will alert to unusual activity, yet he is not prone to excessive barking or nervousness. His long association as a cherished companion continues to this day.


  • Exercise: The Havanese is a curious and delightful dog who enjoys getting out and about to exercise and socialize. He will gladly accompany his family wherever they go, whether it’s around the house, around the block, or around the world.
  • Grooming: Pet owners typically keep their Havanese in a short, clipped coat, as the long hair needs a great deal of attention. Because the dead hair rarely sheds, it needs to be removed by brushing, which should be done several times a week.
  • Life Span: 13 to 15 years.
  • Training: A dog who thrives on the attention of his family, the Havanese is an eager and quick learner. A natural clown, the breed has been trained for the circus. He learns all kinds of tricks and requests with pleasure, as long as he is taught with positive, reward-based methods.

Excerpted from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Used by Permission.

World Atlas of Dog Breeds

3 Responses to Breed of the Month: Havanese

  1. Sheila August 18, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    I have two Havanese and they are the best dogs. Their disposition is beyond compare. They get along so well wth each other, they are like one dog. There is never a dull moment with them and they are always entertaining.

  2. Marlene Powell August 18, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    When I saw the picture of the Havanese dog, I instantly fell in love with it. I have never seen or heard of this breed before. Is this dog popular in America ? If so, would you know who I could contact to try and buy one ? Also, do you know what the asking price of a puppy is ? Thank you and have a nice day.

  3. Joann T September 7, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

    I have two and they are wonderful If i had the room i would get two more. they really love their master and are everything their profile says they are.
    Please do not purchase from puppy mills. Marlene i don’t know where you live bit i am on the east coast in Ct I know some people who ;breed them When i purchased mine they were about 2000.00 each. There is also the Havanese Rescue where you can adopt one and find reputable breeders You really need to know who you are buying from

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