Havanese: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

The specimens of the Havanese breed are the national dogs of Cuba, and the only breed native to this island. It is a dog with a friendly, affectionate and sympathetic characterSmall in size and easy to train, it is a companion dog that has quickly gained popularity in recent years. At Petlifey, we tell you about the behaviour and characteristics of the Havanese.

Character and behaviour of the Havanese

The character of the Havanese is kind, friendly, affectionate and very attached to people. Its behaviour is that of an extraordinarily sociable dog that especially enjoys the company of children, with whom it shares games and adventures.

With a very cheerful temperament, this dog is playful, funny and even a bit comedic. It loves being with the family, although its keen intelligence also allows them to be trained as a guard dog. It is also a very sensitive dog that does not tolerate loneliness well.

In addition to its high sociability, and thanks to its personality, it gets along very well with all people in general and with other dogs or animals of other different species.

  • Energy: Medium / High. It is a vigorous and active animal.
  • Temperament: Kind, sympathetic, affectionate and sensitive, it is a very intelligent animal, easy to train and courageous, making it an excellent alert and attentive guardian.
  • Adaptability: High. It adapts without problems to any environment, be it rural or urban. You only need the permanent company of your family.
  • Sociability: High. It is an extremely sociable animal that gets along very well with everyone.
  • Health: Good. It may have some problems, but they are easy to solve.
  • Longevity: Very high. Live more than 15 years.
  • Utility: Company. Basically for company, it is also a good guardian.

Is it a good family dog?

As a good companion dog, it feels a special attachment to all the members that make up its family unit. It is also tireless when it comes to playing with children. So it is an excellent playmate for the little ones in the house.

Can it be left alone?

It can’t stand at all well being left alone for many hours as usual. If so, this situation can cause you to develop separation anxiety , with the inconveniences that this entails: tendency to bite or break things, anguish, hyper salivation, noisy or dirty behaviours …

Likewise, it cannot bear having to live apart from the family, in a chenille or isolated in a patio or garden.

Can you live in an apartment or in the city?

Its place is within the home, with its people, and if this condition occurs, the Havanese adapts especially well to life in any environment : the country, the city …, what it really needs is to be in permanent contact with its family.

Is it a very active dog?

A fiery, cheerful and very sociable dog, the Havanese needs to go out for a walk every day, an activity in which it is not only allowed to exercise and be in good physical shape, but also helps its education and socialization process.

On the other hand, this breed can develop other activities with a quite remarkable level of performance, for example the miniature versions of agility, obedience competitions or dancing with dogs.

What behaviour problems can you have?

In general, this dog does not usually cause problems in their coexistence or in the relationship with the neighbour. It is quite polite, but there may be some specimens that show a somewhat marked tendency to bark almost continuously.

In these cases, it is very important to do an intense work of education and socialization with the pet. Thus, prevent such behaviour from taking hold, as it can become very annoying.

Even so, as a true “canine clown” that it is, cheerful and dynamic, probably the job in which this dog finds the best accommodation is working as a therapy dog. It feels really happy when it manages to bring a little joy and good company to people in need, such as sick children, autistic people or the elderly.

Physical characteristics of the Havanese

The general appearance of the Havanese is that of a small and short dog, with short legs and an elongated body. Despite its small build, it is very agile and flexible. Her long, wavy hair of different colors is one of her main attractions, along with her sociable and jovial character.

What is the Havanese Bichon physically like?


Small and rather short dog, its trunk is elongated, with a straight back line and only slightly arched at the loin. Despite his petite appearance, it is a vigorous and very elastic dog.

The havanese’s limbs end in smallcompact feet, with a slightly elongated shape. They are well covered with hair.

Its tail is medium, with a long, soft tuft of hair that makes it appear longer. It is normally worn raised, with the tip curved or rolled over the back.

As for movement, the Havanese has a light and agile trot, in harmony with its cheerful and active character. The forelimbs make a free and straight forward movement, while the hind limbs push in a straight line.


The head is well proportioned in relation to the body and covered with abundant long hair. It has a large black or dark brown nose.

The eyes are quite large and dark brown. The eye contour is also dark or, more commonly, black. His expression is lively, kind, and sometimes somewhat melancholic.

Its ears are set relatively high, they end with a barely marked point and fall along the cheeks forming a discreet fold that raises them slightly. They are not too far apart or too close to the cheeks. They present abundant fringes of long hair.


The whole body is covered with a very long, abundant, soft and wavy coat. It has an underdeveloped and woolly undercoat. While the outer coat is very long, with wavy or smooth locks that are between 12 and 18 cm long.

As for the possible colors  the fur can be white, fawn, black, brown, reddish …, or have spots.

Havanese breed standard

  • Origin: Western Mediterranean Region / Evolution Cuba / FCI Patronage.
  • Other names: Havanese / Bichon havanais / Havaneser.
  • Size: Small.
  • Weight: between 4 and 6 kg.
  • Height at the withers: between 21 and 29 cm.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 250. Group 9 – Companion Dogs. Section 1 – Bichons and similar breeds.
  • Use: Companion dog.
  • General appearance: This is a small and petite dog. It is an animal with a rectangular structure, with an elongated body and short legs.
  • Head: It is of medium size. The relationship of the skull with the muzzle is proportionate, since it is equal to the distance from the stop to the back of the skull.
  • Skull: It is flat, broad and slightly convex in shape. The forehead is slightly raised and, seen from above, it is round at the back and almost straight and square on the other three sides.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): Moderately marked.
  • Muzzle: It is straight and gradually tapers towards the tip, although without becoming pointed.
  • Nose: It is black or brown in color.
  • Jaws: They have a scissor-shaped bite, with complete teeth. The lips are thin, clean and tight.
  • Eyes: They are quite large, almond-shaped and dark brown in color. The eye contour is dark brown or black.
  • Ears: Set high, fall along the cheeks forming a fold that slightly elevates them. They are medium, although the long hair that covers them makes them look older.
  • Neck: It is of medium length.
  • Body: Small and elongated, its length is greater than the height at the withers.
  • Back: It is completely horizontal at the top and only arches a little at the height of the loin. The croup is well sloped.
  • Chest: Elongated with well sprung ribs.
  • Tail: Provided with a good lock of long and silky hair, with a tendency to tangle. It is medium in size, and is usually worn raised, forming a curve over the back.
  • Forelimbs: They are straight, parallel and thin, with strong bones. The distance between the ground and the elbow does not exceed the distance between the elbow and the withers.
  • Hindquarters: They present moderate angulations and, like the forelimbs, have strong and firm bones.
  • Feet: They are small, slightly elongated and compact.
  • Movement: The Havanese has a light and agile trot.
  • Coat: The hair has a very underdeveloped woolly undercoat. The outer layer is very long and can reach between 12 and 18 cm in an adult specimen. It is soft, and can be straight or wavy or form curly locks.
  • Color: Sometimes it is completely white, although it is not the most frequent. It usually presents a wide variety of tones: tan brown, fawn, ocher, black, chocolate, reddish or grey.

Education and training of the Havanese

Training the Havanese is a fairly easy task. It is an animal with a highly developed intelligence that learns easily and can be taught a large number of commands, directions and even tricks.

This makes it one of the most used dogs in the circus, among other shows. Now, this race needs to have a charismatic leader who knows how to exercise his condition with ease, security, tranquility and justice, without fuss, harshness or abuse of superiority.

Insightful and highly sensitive, it can react negatively to jobs that are forced on them by his owners. But, on the other hand, if it is treated firmly and safely, the dog is even able to distinguish the commands that are given simply by the different tone of voice that is used, which makes it, for example, an excellent competitor in obedience tests.

Other tasks that can be entrusted to this dog are those of guarding the house, since, attentive and lively, it is always aware of everything that happens around it, and effectively warns of any strange presence or if detects that something unusual is happening.

Due to this great capacity for learning and understanding with its master, the Havanese can be a very good choice for the most inexperienced owners.

Although it is always advisable to go to a professional or a working club of the breed because that way you can share experiences with other owners and resolve all possible doubts that the new owner may have about the care or training of your pet.

For example, it is interesting to know that a too “humanized”, condescending and delicate treatment with the dog, as if it were an eternal puppy, can end up taking its toll, since the Havanese is susceptible to suffering from the small dog syndrome and thinking that it occupies a position within the family that does not really correspond to them.

Likewise, the puppy must be well socialized so that there are no cases of adults who are too shy or with aggressive reactions, which, despite their extraordinary sociability and empathy with people, sometimes occur.

Health and diseases of the Havanese

The Havanese is a very long-lived breed that maintains a cheerful, active and playful attitude until well adult, as there are specimens that exceed the age of 15 years and that continue to be full of life and eager to do things.

In addition, the breed is characterized by being quite healthy. However, there are some diseases that appear in this dog with relative frequency, chicken that should pay some attention to detect them immediately and, above all, do everything possible to prevent them from developing.

Many of these diseases are directly related to the size of this dog, and in fact they occur in many other breeds of small dogs, such as:

  • Knee dislocation.
  • Certain eye diseases, in particular the progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts heredita-tions .
  • Skin allergies .
  • Hip dysplasia , although this is much less than in other larger dogs.
  • Some sporadic cases of deafness have also been documented .

But, fortunately, these conditions can be prevented with good genetic selection. Almost all of them know what their transmission mechanism is, so if you always go to a serious, responsible and committed breeder with the development of the breed, it is very possible that they will not develop in the acquired pet. In addition, little by little they will be eradicated from the breeding lines of the breed.

On the other hand, in addition to making sure that the puppy comes from a good breeder, when the animal arrives home it is necessary to establish, and try to comply as strictly as possible, a serious preventive health plan in which the figure of the veterinarian is basic. They should become the go-to person for advice or help, whenever necessary.

In ordinary office visits, the vet can be given to the the pertinen-tes vaccines, must conveniently deworming and must give the pet a tracking their growth and overall.

The weight should be checked to avoid joint problems in the future, and the eyes, ears , mouth, skin and hair should be checked , the main indicators of the general state of the dog’s health.

In relation to deworming, it is interesting to note that the area where the Havanese bichon originally comes from is endemic to filaría , or the so-called “heartworm”, and that if the animal is infested with this parasite it falls seriously ill and may even To die.

However, fortunately, nowadays this disease is very easy to control and the habanero responds in an excellent way to preventive medication .

One of the weak points of this breed is its teeth, as, in fact, it happens to almost all specimens of small breeds, which show a tendency to the early loss of teeth.

In this sense, it is important to follow proper oral hygiene by subjecting the animal to periodic cleanings that prevent the accumulation of tartar, as this can significantly delay the loss of teeth, which affects the way the dog feeds.

Food and diet of the Havanese breed

The Havanese is one of the most gluttonous canine breeds, to the point that if its diet is not controlled, it can become obese.

This is a serious problem that in this breed in particular is very serious, since it has a heavy structure, despite its size, and it undergoes a very rapid growth process, so that it can end up suffering from joint problems.

Thus, your diet must provide you with the energy and proteins necessary to maintain your high level of activity. And, quality fats that protect your skin, eyes and hair, but do not cause a high increase in weight.

In addition, many dogs considered purely companion, like this one, sometimes see their owners neglect their exercise levels and keep them almost permanently at home, with no other object than to spend the day eating and sleeping. Which can be a time bomb for your health.

Care and maintenance of the Havanese

The Havanese has an abundant, long coat with a silky texture that requires constant work and maintenance if it is to be in perfect condition.

However, with no specific arrangement, such maintenance is fairly easy once the necessary routines are acquired.

How to care for the hair of the Havanese?


Due to its characteristics, the coat of the Havanese needs to be brushed daily so that it does not get tangled and does not lose its shine and its typical texture.

First of all, to carry out a good brushing, it is essential to get hold of the appropriate material, which in this case consists of a good brush with long metal bristles or a quality brush.

With it, the mantle is worked deeply and in its entirety, using the free hand to open it and thus be able to reach the root. Also, this is the right time to undo it by hand if a significant knot or tangle is found.

It is very important to brush the coat all over the body, but above all making a special impact on the belly area, on the inside of the thighs, on the hindquarters and on all those parts of the anatomy that are most in contact with the moisture, dirt, soil, etc. This is necessary because it is possible that patches of hair, tangles or even some small object or twig may be embedded in them.

Once the entire coat has been brushed and detangled, you must use a good comb that has the bristles placed far apart so as not to break the hair. And, proceed to the hairstyle of the animal, which will give the dog a perfectly loose and fluffy coat.

You start by combing the head, in which you have to stretch the hair well so that it remains open and fluffy, and gradually adopts the characteristic shape of the breed.

Next, the area of ​​the tail is approached, in which we proceed in the same way, working the hair well with the barbed comb.

In fact, the hair in this area shows a great tendency to tangle, which is why, to compose the typical image of the breed, with the tail well frayed, it is essential to comb it thoroughly.

It is recommended, when carrying out this procedure, to hold the tail tightly to avoid jerks, which can be very unpleasant for the dog, if not painful.

Finally, and always using a similar technique, continue working with the comb on the entire body’s fur. His coat is characterized by having a sufficient texture so that, once combed, it is open, loose and flowing, but without being too soft.


The task of the bathroom should be reserved only for those cases in which the Havanese is really dirty. For this you should always use products specifically intended for this breed, so that they do not alter the pH of your skin or the natural texture of your hair.

One of the moments in which it is necessary to proceed with more care is when rinsing the dog, since it must be ensured that no soap remains, since this could end up causing flaking and dryness in the sensitive skin of the bichon habanero.


Finally, once washed and well rinsed, it is advisable to continue drying the dog. In this case, it is recommended to use a good dryer that allows you to reach the root of the hair.

Likewise, it is essential to use a brush or a good comb to open and comb the hair while the dryer is being applied to avoid the formation of tangles and knots.

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