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Havanese: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It's no exaggeration to say these pups probably have better hair than you do. Explore the affectionate and sweet world of Cuba's national dog, the Havanese.



The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba, with roots tracing back to the Spanish colonizers who brought their small companion dogs to the island. Their ancestry consists of breeds like the Bichon Tenerife and Blanquito de la Habana, which evolved into what's known today as the friendly and intelligent Havanese.

Havanese Breed Guide


The Havanese personality shines through their expressive eyes and soft, silky double coat that ranges in colors from cream to black. These dogs are small but sturdy, and their tails are carried over their backs in a plume, giving them a graceful look.

Similar breeds

Similar breeds to the Havanese include other members of the Bichon family such as the Bichon Frise, Maltese, and Coton de Tulear. These breeds share physical characteristics and often display similar playful and affectionate temperaments.


The Havanese temperament is often described as friendly, intelligent, and responsive. They’re like a fluffy cotton candy cloud, with a sweet disposition to match. They make fantastic companions for families and individuals alike. They are known to be good with children and other pets, displaying a playful and affectionate nature.

Are Havanese hypoallergenic?

The Havanese breed is considered hypoallergenic. Their unique coat doesn't shed like many other breeds, which can be a major plus for pet parents with allergies. Regular grooming, however, is essential to keep their coat healthy and mat-free.

Looking for other allergy-friendly dogs? Take a look at our guide to hypoallergenic breeds.

Health concerns

Health issues common to the Havanese breed include hip dysplasia, cataracts, allergies, and liver shunts. Regular check-ups and a healthy diet can help maintain their overall well-being.

How big do Havanese get?

The Havanese is a small breed, typically weighing between 7-13 pounds, and standing 8.5-11.5 inches tall at the shoulder.

A dog’s age, whether they’re male or female, and their activity levels can affect their size in adulthood. If they’re a mixed breed, this estimate can be a bit more complex.

Life expectancy

Havanese dogs have a lifespan of around 14-16 years, provided they receive proper care and attention throughout their lives.

Expected lifetime cost

The estimated lifetime cost of owning a Havanese ranges from $12,000 to $15,000, including food, grooming, veterinary care, and other essential expenses.

Estimated cost to insure

Insuring a Havanese can range from $30 to $50 per month depending on the coverage level, age, and overall health of the dog.

The good, the bad, the ugly

While the Havanese personality and temperament are widely loved, there are a few less glamorous traits to be aware of:

  1. Hair Care: The Havanese has a beautiful, silky coat that requires consistent grooming. Think of it as a part-time job. If you're not up for regular brushings and possibly professional grooming, be prepared for mats and tangles.

  2. Separation Anxiety: This breed tends to become closely attached to their pet parents, which is sweet but can lead to separation anxiety. If you're often away, your Havanese might struggle. Anxiety-busting strategies or a consistent presence may be needed.

  3. Training Patience Required: While intelligent, Havanese can be a bit stubborn during training. They need positive reinforcement and a lot of patience. If you're up for some playful challenge and persistence, you'll likely succeed.

  4. Don't Underestimate the Bark: For a small breed, the Havanese can be surprisingly vocal. They often bark to alert, express themselves, or just because they're bored. This might be something to consider if you live in an apartment or just value a quieter environment.

  5. Allergy Alert: Although often considered good for people with allergies, their coat requires maintenance to prevent dander and other allergens. Regular cleaning, grooming, and even a specific diet might be needed to manage this aspect.

So you want a Havanese...

The Havanese personality is full of charm, affection, and intelligence, but they come with real responsibilities too. Understanding these less glamorous traits is essential in figuring out if this breed vibes with your lifestyle. If you're all in on the grooming, are cool with their vocal tendencies, and are ready to be their constant companion, then the Havanese might be the right match for your life. If not, no judgment; it's all about what works for you.

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