Havanese Breed Information and Buying advice


Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Havanese?

Quick Havanese Facts

Average Size of Adult
Small (2/5)
Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy
Grooming Requirement
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Average Life Span
14-16 years (6/8)
Exercise Requirements
Low (1/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Child friendly
Yes (1/2)
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Breed Group
Toy (5/8)
Yes (1/2)

Havanese (Rigno, Bichon Habanero, Havanese Cuban Bichon, Bichon Havanais, Bichón Havanés, Havaneser, Havanezer)


Affectionate, playful, and ever so cute, the teeny-tiny Havanese is a wonderful companion breed for owners of all ages. As a spirited and curious little bichon breed, Havanese dogs thrive on companionship and simply love showing affection for their beloved owners and their families.

Physical Appearance 

Although Havanese dogs are a toy breed with a cute and cuddly appearance, they are quite sturdy and not as delicate as they may appear to be. Their characteristically small size contrasts nicely with their long, silky soft hair in a wide variety of colours.

Coat colours include all-white (quite rare), various shades of fawn, black, Havana brown, tobacco, or reddish-brown. Sometimes, tan markings can complement the main coat colour.

With big, brown to dark-coloured eyes in an almond shape and cute folded high-set ears, the Havanese looks cheerful and curious. Their tails are usually carried high in a crozier shape or folded over the back and is adorned with thick, long, and wavy hair much like elsewhere on the body.

Breeds similar to the Havanese include the Maltese, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, and Bolognese, all bichon type breeds.

How big do Havanese dogs get?

  • Height: 20-28 cm

  • Weight: 3-6 kg

Character Traits

The temperament of the Havanese can be summarised as companionable, gentle, playful, and intelligent. This is a double-edged sword. Since they are an intelligent breed, they can quickly develop bad habits if improperly trained or socialised, which makes them not the best choice for first-time pet owners.

Moreover, they tend to love being the centre of attention. If they aren’t getting the attention they feel they deserve, they may become bored and bark excessively, chew, nip, or perhaps even bite.

Furthermore, Havanese puppies thrive on companionship and require constant attention, only tolerating brief periods of isolation. This makes them ideal for owners that spend a lot of time at home, such as elderly and retired owners.

Are Havanese dogs intelligent? Somewhat.

Are Havanese dogs affectionate? Yes, very.

Do Havanese dogs have high or low energy levels? About average energy levels.

Are Havanese dogs loyal? Yes, very.

Are Havanese dogs playful? Yes, very.

Are Havanese dogs aggressive? No, but they tend to be territorial.

Are Havanese dogs easy to train? Yes, very.

Are Havanese dogs good guard dogs? No, they are too friendly to be watchdogs or guard dogs.

Ability to Socialise

On account of their gentle and pleasant temperament, Havanese dogs have a high predisposition to socialisation with their owners, families, other pets, and even strangers. They tend to be friendly and playful with just about anyone in the home, which makes them lovely companion pets.

Around other pets, Havenese puppies tend to get along well with other dogs and cats, but their attention-seeking temperament can also lead to some competition for their owner’s affection at times. When properly socialised, they will get along just fine with other pets and the problems should remain minimal.

Although they get along well with children, younger children should always be supervised when playing with a Havanese puppy as their playful side may become a little boisterous.

Space permitting, allow your Havanese to roam and play off-lead on your property, preferably with a fence to keep them contained.

Do Havanese dogs get along with other pets? Yes, very.

Do Havanese dogs get along with other dogs? Yes, very.

Are Havanese dogs good with kids? Yes, very.

Are Havanese dogs good with strangers? Yes, they are sociable around strangers.

Lifestyle Suitability

One of the greatest advantages of the Havanese is that the breed is superbly adaptable to various lifestyles. Although many other breeds require large, open estates or are completely unsuitable for small homes or apartments, Havenese puppies are perfectly happy living in a small urban dwelling such as an apartment.

As a toy breed, Havanese dogs make wonderful companions for owners that do not necessarily lead an active lifestyle, such as elderly or handicapped owners with reduced mobility. They do have fairly high energy and need some exercise, but they’ll be just fine cuddling on the sofa and letting out their zoomies in the home to let out their pent up energy.

Although most bichon breeds are suitable for first-time owners, Havanese dogs do require careful training and socialisation to get around their stubborn streak. Therefore, owners looking for a suitable breed as their first choice may wish to consider other bichon toy breeds instead.

Are Havanese dogs good for first-time owners? No, they can be quite stubborn.

Are Havanese dogs hypoallergenic? Yes.

Are Havanese dogs prone to drooling? No, they don’t drool at all.

Are Havanese dogs a good breed for apartment living? Yes, they are perfect for apartments.

Do  Havanese dogs shed a lot? A low amount of shedding.

Do  Havanese dogs bark a lot? Yes, they can be quite yappy.

Can Havanese dogs be left alone at home? Yes, but only for brief periods of time.

Can Havanese dogs handle the heat? Yes.

Can Havanese dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes.

Are Havanese dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes.

General Health & Health Issues

In terms of health, Havanese dogs have superb health rankings and are amongst the healthiest breeds, living up to 16 years of age. Although they are extremely healthy, they are nevertheless prone to some health problems that can be exacerbated with poor diet or insufficient exercise.

Amongst the Havanese’s health problems, most can be tested for during routine visits to the veterinarian. Even if your Havanese appears to be perfectly healthy, early diagnosis of possible health problems can greatly reduce the onset of more serious problems through proper treatment.

Some common problems include:

  • Luxating patella: just above the knee on the femur, the patella (knee) of a Havanese can be luxating, which means dislocated or out of place. It is best to obtain a diagnosis sooner rather than later;

  • Cataracts: cloudy, film-like coatings over the eyes (cataracts) are somewhat common as Havanese dogs age. Surgery can remove cataracts;

  • Retinal dysplasia: usually an inherited condition, retinal dysplasia is a deformation of the retina that can lead to impaired vision. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition;

  • Elbow dysplasia: the slender skeletal structure of Havanese dogs unfortunately means they may develop elbow dysplasia, which can lead to discomfort or even lameness.

How long do Havanese dogs live? - 14-16 years

Exercise & Play Time

Another wonderful benefit of Havanese dogs is that they’re quite easy in terms of exercise requirements. Only requiring about half an hour of (preferably) outdoor playtime every day, Havenese dogs only need a good morning or evening walk and they’ll be happy and healthy for years to come.

Given their small stature, especially as puppies, avoid overexerting them and be ready to pick them up to take them home once they’re all pooped out.

Around water, Havanese puppies should be introduced gradually so as not to traumatise them. They may end up loving the water and learning how to swim, but their relatively long and silky coats will need to be thoroughly dried afterwards. Always maintain supervision if they go for a swim.

How much exercise does a Havanese dog need? - Around 30 minutes per day

Do Havanese dogs like water play? Yes, they tend to love playing in the water.

Nutrition & Feeding

As a small toy breed, Havanese puppies don’t exactly have demanding diets. That being said, try to ensure that their diet is healthy and full of all essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required to promote healthy development.

This breed is not known to be too picky about their diet, but bloat and overeating is always possible in adulthood. It is therefore essential that their relatively small meals are broken into a few feeding sessions every day.

If you would like to feed your Havanese a raw food or cold-pressed dog food diet, please consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you are maintaining a healthy feeding regimen in accordance with their health and development.

Are Havanese dogs prone to weight gain? Yes, especially as they age.

How much should I feed a Havanese puppy? About 70-190g per day, in 2-3 sessions.

How much should I feed an adult Havanese dog? About 70-120g per day, in total.

Care & Maintenance

Small in size but boasting long, flowing coats, Havanese dogs are very demanding in terms of grooming and maintenance. They require frequent care to ensure their long hair remains smooth and silky rather than a tangled mess, perhaps rife with soil and bacteria that can lead to irritation or infection. Moreover, they must be professionally groomed a few times every year to keep their coats healthy and silky.

Likewise, the emotional needs of a Havanese are also demanding. They do require near-constant attention and should not be neglected or left on their own for anything longer than a short period, never to become habitual.

- Grooming: every day, brush your Havanese puppy or dog’s hair and remove any tangles and matting present. Have your Havanese professionally groomed at least 2-3 times per year.

- Emotional care: this breed doesn’t tolerate isolation well and suffers from separation anxiety quite easily. Avoid leaving your Havanese alone for anything longer than a couple of hours at most and always ensure someone is home to accompany them, if possible.

History of the Havanese

One could assume that the Havanese is Cuban in origin, but this would not tell the whole history. The Havanese most likely originated in Tenerife, from whence many Tenerife dogs were imported to Cuba centuries ago. The Tenerife dog itself is possibly the progenitor of all bichon dogs, but others claim that they can be traced back to Malta as far back as in antiquity.

Whatever the case may be, the Havanese grew to widespread appeal in Cuba until the mid-20th century, when political turmoil and repression from the communist Castro government led to many Cubans fleeing, mostly to Florida. These refugees were permitted to bring their Havanese dogs with them, while in their native Cuba their numbers dwindled.

The American Kennel Club recognised the Havanese as a breed in 1996.

Interesting Facts About Havanese Dogs

  • The Havanese is the national dog breed of Cuba;

  • Spanish colonial nobles in Cuba prized the adorable Havanese highly;

  • This breed is incredibly popular in the USA and has grown in popularity here in Britain as well.

Getting a Havanese Puppy

Acquiring a Havanese puppy in the UK, whether through purchase or adoption, may seem like a challenge despite their growing appeal and popularity. As with many popular breeds, unscrupulous and unethical breeders often take advantage of unsuspecting buyers with scams, so we advise you to read through our buying guide first. When it comes time to purchase a Havanese, rest assured that we only work with reputable and reliable breeders here in the UK.

How much does a Havanese cost to buy? - Around £1,000-£1,200.

How much does a Havanese cost to feed? - An adult Havanese costs about £1.00-£1.20 per day to feed.

How much does insurance for a Havanese cost? - About £20-£45 per month.

Sensible alternatives to purchasing a new Havanese puppy include rescue and adoption.

Additional resources can be found via Havanese registries and associations such as: