havanese lying on grass


A Complete Breed Guide for Havanese Dogs

Last Updated NOVEMBER 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Maree Monaghan BVSc (HONS)

If you live in the city and would love a lively, cheerful canine friend, look no further than the Havanese. These vivacious, intelligent little dogs are perfect companions for adults and children of all ages and will keep everyone entertained with their extroverted nature and ability to learn tricks.


1. Havanese Facts

2. History

3. Personality

4. Best Toys for Havanese

5. Best food for Havanese

6. Havanese Health Concerns

7. Related Breeds

Further reading

Havanese Facts

Photos by @havaneserenuffe on Instagram.

Breed size: Place of origin: Intelligence
Small Cuba High
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Toy High Male: 4-6 kgs. Female: 3-5 kgs
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height to shoulder:
12-15 years Moderate 25cm
Drool factor: Ease of training: Coat type:
Low Easy Long silky double coat
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Colours:
Low High Many colours including gold, black, blue, silver, cream, champagne, chocolate and any combination of these colours.

How big do Havanese get?

Havanese are small dogs weighing between 3 and 6 kg and standing 25cm at the shoulder. The best way to estimate your dog's expected adult weight is to have a look at their mother and father.

How much does a Havanese cost?

Havanese pups in Australia may cost anywhere from $4,000 to $5,500. The pandemic significantly increased demand for Havanese puppies and the price of a purebred pup can occasionally even exceed this.

Do Havanese shed hair?

Despite their long silky coats, Havanese are considered to be low shedders as most of the dead hair stays within the strands of the new coat. This means that Havanese coats are prone to matting so regular daily grooming is required. A dog comb or a soft curry brush is best for the Havanese's silky coat.

Are Havanese good pets?

Havanese are wonderful companions and are content to live in any type of situation as long as they are not left alone for long. They are good with children of all ages and are just as happy cuddling up in your lap as they are going for a long walk or jog.

How much exercise do Havanese need?

Havanese are an active dog, however, they will be just as satisfied with playing with dog toys in an apartment, running around your backyard or a long walk as long as they have the company of a human.

How long do Havanese live?

Havanese are a generally healthy breed and can live for up to 15 years. As with any breed, Havanese are much more likely to reach a grand old age if you don't let them become overweight, and keep their teeth in top condition!

How do I choose a Havanese breeder?

When looking for a Havanese, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and select for healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Do Havanese bark a lot?

Havanese are excellent watchdogs but do not tend to bark much. They do have a tendency to develop separation anxiety which can lead to a plethora of behavioural problems including excessive barking. As with any dog, they can be trained not to bark incessantly with positive reinforcement training.

Havanese History

From left: Portrait of Elizabeth Brydges by Hieronimo Custodis, 1589; Dog of the Havana Breed by Jean Jacques Bachelier, (1724-1806); Portrait of a Young Woman by Vincente Escobar (1757-1854).

The Havanese originates from the same Bichon family of small companion dogs as Bichon Frise, Maltese and Coton de Tulear. These breeds were developed specifically to be companion dogs and are very friendly and loyal, bonding very closely with humans.

When Spain colonised Cuba in 1492, the colonists took their companion dogs with them and developed the Havanese into the national dog of Cuba that we know today.

By the 18th Century, the Havanese had become a firm favourite with European visitors to Cuba who took them back to England, France and Spain. Queen Victoria had two Havanese and Charles Dickens was also a fan.

The Cuban Revolution of the 1950's saw many upper class Cubans flee to the United States and some of them took their Havanese with them. American dog breeders became interested in the Havanese in the 1970's and managed to find 11 purebred dogs in the USA and most Havanese today are descended from these lucky refugees.

Havanese Personality

The Havanese are often known as "velcro dogs" and this is a testament to their loyalty and attachment to their owners. Havanese are not a breed that can be left home alone for long periods as they are very prone to developing separation anxiety. Havanese are intelligent and love to be the centre of attention so they can easily be taught to do tricks. The outgoing and people orientated Havanese is a perfect companion for families with children and excellent therapy or emotional support dogs. Although the Havanese is a lively and active dog, their exercise needs can be met by playing either indoors or outdoors.

The Best Toys and Accessories for Havanese

Havanese love to play games with their humans, so balls and other fetch toys are top of the list. Havanese need to keep their clever brains occupied so interactive toys are also recommended.

Chuckit Fetch Medley

Your Havanese will love choosing which ball to play with - the one that erratically bounces, the one that squeaks or the one made from super durable rubber.

Nina Ottosson Brick Puzzle

This puzzle feed has various levels of difficulty so it is sure to keep your Havanese engaged and active when they are home alone.

Zippypaws Burrow Bunny n Carrot

This interactive hide-and-seek toy comes with 1 carrot and 3 small squeaky bunnies for hours of Havanese fun.

Paws for Life Dental Minifresh Stick with Rope

Your Havanese won't even know they are cleaning their teeth while chewing on this toy! Add in a rope for a game of tug of war and your Havanese will be in heaven!

Havanese Diet and Nutrition

Photos by @sammy_havaneser_22 on Instagram

Havanese Puppies

Some points to note about Havanese puppy ownership include:

What To Feed A Havanese Puppy

A Havanese should eat a premium pet food designed for 'small' breeds that is nutritionally formulated to meet AAFCO Guidelines - until they are 10 months of age. You may consider a Rotation Diet to provide exposure to different proteins and reduce the risk of food sensitivities.

Raw diets for Havanese? Raw diets are not suitable or safe for Havanese puppies due to the risk of bacterial contamination, which can lead to food poisoning and upset their sensitive tummies. Plus, an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Read more about Raw Diets: The Risks and Benefits.

When should you transition a Havanese from puppy to adult food? As a general guide, Havanese can usually be transitioned from a 'puppy' food to an 'adult' food at around 10 months of age. This does, however, vary depending on your pup's body condition score - if your pup is underweight, they may require puppy food for a little longer. Likewise, if they're starting to show a bit of 'pudge', it may be time for a lower-in-calories 'Adult' diet.

Best Food for Havanese Puppies

Our top recommendations for Havanese puppy food include:

Royal Canin Mini Puppy

This premium puppy dry food contains nutrients to bind salivary calcium to help reduce dental tartar build up and support your Havanese puppy's dental health.

Advance Puppy Singles

Australian made premium puppy wet food with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and linoleic acid to keep your Havanese puppy's coat healthy and luxurious.

Savourlife Grain Free Small Breed Puppy

Holistic, natural, gluten free, Australian-made formulation, bursting at the seams with natural superfoods, single-source Australian meats as well as vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and amino acids.

Black Hawk Puppy Small Breed

Made with Australian chicken, rich in essential amino acids for strong bone and muscle development, with rice and oats for sustained energy.

Best Food for Adult Havanese

Havanese adults are prone to joint and dental disease and so the following diets have been recommended to help support healthy joints and teeth.

Advance Dental Small Adult

Perfect for small breed dogs, this super premium, Australian made food contains extra dental care ingredients to support your Havanese's dental health.

Hills Healthy Mobility Small Bites

This specially formulated dry food contains glucosamine and chondroitin, the building blocks of healthy joints and cartilage to slow down wear and tear in your Havanese's joints.

K9 Natural Lamb & Salmon Freeze Dried

An all meat, grain free, raw, freeze-dried diet Omega fatty acids to maintain your Havanese's joint function and skin and coat health.

Royal Canin Mini Adult Dental

This premium quality food has a scientifically designed kibble shape, size and texture which helps to reduce the formation of dental tartar by polishing the surface of your Havanese's teeth with each chew.

Havanese Health Problems

Havanese are a generally healthy breed and are quite robust compared to other small breed dogs, although they can suffer from some inherited diseases.

1. Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation refers to a condition where the dog's kneecap slips out of its normal position. It is often associated with skeletal deformities that are present at birth. Frequent dislocation of the kneecap can cause locking of the leg and pain in the joint. Dog owners will often notice their dog skip or run around on three legs, holding up the leg with the problematic patella. Luxation occurs when there is a structural abnormality or when a traumatic injury has affected the joint. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight and avoiding rough exercise can help ease the pressure on the joint and reduce symptoms.

2. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia refers to a condition where the conformation (physical structure) of the hip joint is abnormal. A healthy hip joint operates as a smooth 'ball and socket' type joint, whereas hips affected by dysplasia typically have a flattening of the 'socket' component of the joint, resulting in a shallow joint where the 'ball' or head of the femur is not held securely. This leads to instability of the joint which may cause pain in the young dog (juvenile hip dysplasia) and ultimately causes development of osteoarthritis.

3. Chondrodysplasia (CDPA) Chondrodystrophy, (CDDY and IVDD)

These are two inherited diseases that cause abnormalities of bones and cartilage. Chondrodysplasia usually causes abnormally short limbs accompanied by a regular sized body. Chondrodystrophy also causes short legs and also early degeneration of the discs in the spinal column. The genes responsible for both these diseases have been identified so responsible breeders can test parents before breeding with them.

4. Dental Disease

Like most small breed dogs, Havanese are prone to dental disease. The number one way to prevent dental disease is by regular teeth brushing with a dog suitable toothbrush and paste. Start a brushing regime when your Havanese is a puppy so they learn to tolerate it. Special dog dental food as well as dog and puppy dental chews can be a helpful adjunct to brushing. Your vet can assess your Havanese's oral health during check ups and schedule a dental cleaning in the clinic when required.

Best joint supplements for Havanese

Preventative joint care is a must for Havanese given their susceptibility to joint diseases. Joint care for Havanese can include joint care supplements, a joint care dog food, or even simple things like ensuring your dog maintains a healthy weight.

4cyte Joint Support

A premium quality, vet recommended joint supplement containing green lipped mussel and epitalis to help support joint health and ease the symptoms of arthritis.

Sasha's Blend

These chews contain glucosamine and chondroitin which are naturally found in joint fluid and cartilage.


Available as powder or tasty chews, Glyde contains glucosamine, chondroitin and green lipped mussel to support joint health and mobility.

Homeopet Joint Stress

TA safe, natural treatment that may help to alleviate the signs of arthritis and improve healthy mobility and can also be used in young animals following injury or surgery.

Related Breeds

The Havanese originates from the same Bichon family of small companion dogs as Bichon Frise, Maltese and Coton de Tulear. These breeds were developed specifically to be companion dogs and are very friendly and loyal, bonding very closely with humans.

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a good-natured small breed dog great for families and kids. Bichons are known for their fluffy white coats that do not shed.

Coton de Tulear

Another lively, people orientated breed, the Coton de Tulear originates from the seaport town of Tulear, where they were once the preferred lapdog of the nobles of Madagascar. The Coton has a luxurious white coat that is as soft as cotton wool.


One of the oldest and most popular dog breeds worldwide, the Maltese's role has always been that of a companion - they are designed simply to love and be loved.