Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Havanese
Average Cost to keep/care for a Havanese

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #98 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Havanese breed is also commonly known by the names Havanese Silk Dog.
14 - 16 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Toy Group
Males 23 - 28 cm
Females 23 - 28 cm at the withers
Males 4.5 - 7 kg
Females 4.5 - 7 kg
Health Tests Available
BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme
Average Price (More Info)
£1,057 for KC Registered
£785 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


The Havanese has become a popular choice with people all over the world thanks to their charming looks and delightful natures. They are lively little dogs known to be intelligent, affectionate and they love nothing more than to be the centre of attention in a family environment.

Once known as the Havanese Silk Dog, these little dogs are quite high maintenance in the grooming department, but they are not heavy shedders so they don't leave much of their long silky hair around the home. The Havanese is a great choice for families with children, but they also make loyal and loving companions too.


In their native Cuba, the Havanese is known as the Habanero and they are the country's National Dog. It is thought the breed originally hails from Spain and that these little dogs were taken over to Cuba by either Italian traders or Spanish colonists. Once in Cuba, these charming little dogs soon became popular with wealthier Cubans. However, when communism took hold in the country, many Cubans took flight and relocated to the USA taking their beloved Habaneros with them.

The Havanese is related to the Bichon because both breeds share the same ancestors, namely the Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog and the Water Spaniel. However, these little dogs are quite unique because over time, they were developed in their native Cuba without any outside influences which resulted in them having very specific traits, one of which is they are extremely heat tolerant all thanks to their rather unique coat which is profuse and very similar to raw silk and it insulates the Havanese efficiently when the temperatures are high.

The Havanese became very popular in England during the mid-eighteenth century with Queen Victoria owning one of these charming little dogs. Charles Dickens was another well-known person to own one. Very soon many of these delightful dogs were exhibited at shows both in the UK and Europe. In their native Cuba too, the Havanese were fast becoming a popular choice with people other than the rich and wealthy, but sadly the numbers of dogs went on the decline after the revolution after the revolution.

The Havanese we see today are all descendants of eleven dogs that were taken out of Cuba to America where the breed was further developed. With this said, not much has changed in the breed with dogs looking very much like the Havanese that were around back in the eighteenth century.


Height at the withers: Males 23 - 28 cm, Females 23 - 28 cm

Average weight: Males 4.5 - 7 kg, Females 4.5 - 7 kg

The Havanese is a small dog, but they are sturdy and boast a profuse coat which adds to their wonderful looks. They have slightly rounded heads with a moderate stop and shortish muzzles. Their noses and their lips are black, but some brown dogs may have a brown pigment in them. These delightful dogs boast lovely large almond-shaped eyes with a gentle expression that's accentuated by their black rims. If their coat is brown or a shade of brown, dogs have lighter coloured eyes and their rims are brown too.

Their ears are quite pointed and they drop down slightly above a dog's eyes. Dogs hold their ears slightly raised. The Havanese boasts a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are moderately long and their shoulders well laid back. Legs are nice and straight with a moderate amount of bone.

The Havanese is a compact little dog that boasts a nice level topline that rises slightly over their loins. Ribs are well sprung and their belly neatly tucked up. Their hindquarters are quite strong with a nice angle to them and they have small feet that resemble those of a hare. Their tail is well feathered with lots of silky hair and is set high. Dogs carry them over their backs adding to their charming looks and appeal.

When it comes to their coat, the Havanese boasts a luxuriously silky, soft coat that can be either slightly curled or wavy with their undercoat being just as soft. These charming little dogs come in lots of colours and colour combinations. These include the following:

  • Black
  • Black & tan
  • Black & white
  • Brown sable & white
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate & white
  • Cream
  • Cream & tan
  • Cream & white
  • Cream sable
  • Gold
  • Gold & cream
  • Gold & white
  • Gold sable
  • Gold sable & white
  • Particolour
  • Red
  • Red & cream
  • Red & white
  • Sable
  • Sable & white
  • Tan & white
  • Tricolour
  • White


The Havanese is a lively, loyal and affectionate little dog which is why they have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people throughout the world. They are confident, outgoing and they are good choice for first time owners. They are intelligent and always eager to please which means they are one of the easier small dogs to train.

However, because they are so intelligent, these little dogs are also quick to pick up any bad habits if they are allowed to or if they are given the wrong sort of training, guidance and direction. Sharing a home with a Havanese is a real pleasure, but their training and education needs to start early for them to be truly well-rounded adult dogs.

They are known to be "show-offs" and enjoy nothing more than being the centre of attention. With this said, these little dogs need to be given a ton of mental stimulation or they might try to find their own way of entertaining and amusing themselves. Playing lots of interacting games with them is the best solution to preventing any boredom setting in which could result in some unwanted behaviours around the home.

These little dogs thrive on human companionship and do not do well or like being left on their own for even shorter periods of time which is why they are a good choice for people or families who spend most of their time out of the house. The Havanese is the ideal family dog for families where at least one of the household usually stays at home when everyone else is out. If left on their own, these little dogs suffer from separation anxiety which can turn into a real problem for both dog and owner.

They also enjoy playing in water and they are known to be strong swimmers, but care needs to be taken when they are around any deep ponds or other watercourses. These little dogs also boast having a natural herding instinct and back in their native Cuba, they were often used to herd flocks of poultry.

Intelligence / Trainability

Because the Havanese is an intelligent dog and one that likes nothing more than to please, they are easy to train. However, they still need to be managed and handled correctly with a firm, yet gentle hand to prevent them from picking up any bad habits as well as the good ones.

Children and Other Pets

The Havanese seems to have an affinity with children and there is nothing they like more than to play interactive games with the kids. However, as with other dogs any interaction between children and their pet needs to be supervised by an adult to make sure things don't get too boisterous and out of hand.

These little dogs rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour when they are around other dogs and if they have grown up with a family cat, they are usually fine around them too. However, care needs to be taken when a Havanese comes into contact with any other smaller animals and pets because their instincts might just get the better of them which could end in a disaster.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

Havanese Health

The average life expectancy of a Havanese is between 14 and 16 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

These little dogs are known to be one of the healthiest and most robust breeds around. They do not suffer or develop any of the major health issues that so frequently plague other pedigree dogs. With this said, there have been reports of some Havanese suffering from eye issues and as such the Kennel Club and vets recommend dogs be tested under a voluntary scheme.

Caring for a Havanese

As with any other breed, the Havanese needs to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


The Havanese boasts a long, soft and silky double coat. Owners can have their dogs clipped or they could opt to keep their coats long, but when showing, their coats have to be long. With this said, they are high maintenance in the grooming department which means daily brushing is a must to prevent their coat matting. It is also a good idea to have their coats professionally groomed several times a year which makes keeping on top of things that much easier between visits to a grooming parlour.

It is also important to keep a close eye on their ears and to make sure they are nice and clean. Catching an ear infection early is important because this type of problem is notoriously hard to clear up.


These little dogs are lively, active characters and there is nothing they enjoy more than having something to do and going out for a walk. With this said, a good 30 minutes exercise a day will keep a Havanese happy, fit and healthy. As such, they are the ideal choice for people who lead more sedentary lives.


If you get a Havanese puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Havanese

If you are looking to buy a Havanese, you would need to pay anything from £1000 to over £1200 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Havanese in northern England would be £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Havanese and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Havanese would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.

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