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  • Temperament: Intelligent, Outgoing, Funny
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 23 of 192
  • Height: 8.5-11.5 inches
  • Weight: 7-13 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Havanese standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Havanese head and shoulders facing left
Havanese lying sideways facing left, head turned forward
Havanese coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Havanese is a small, sturdy dog of immense charm. The native dog of Cuba, he is beloved as a friendly, intelligent and playful companion. He is slightly longer than tall, with a long, untrimmed, double coat. The Havanese has a short upper arm with moderate shoulder layback and a straight topline that rises slightly from the withers to the croup. The plumed tail is carried arched forward up over the back. The unique springy gait is a result of the breed’s structure and playful, spirited personality. These characteristics of temperament, coat, structure and gait are essential to type.

HEAD

The expression is soft, intelligent and mischievous. Eyes are large, dark brown and almond-shaped. Chocolate dogs may have somewhat lighter brown eyes. Eye rims are solid black for all colors except for chocolate dogs which have solid brown eye rims. Incomplete or total lack of pigmentation of the eye rims is a disqualification. Ears are broad at the base, dropped, and have a distinct fold. They are set high on the skull, slightly above the endpoint of the zygomatic arch. When alert, the ears lift at the base but always remain folded. Ear leather, when extended, reaches halfway to the nose.

BODY

The neck is slightly arched, of moderate length, blends smoothly into the shoulders and is in balance with the height and length of the dog. The prosternum is evident but not prominent. The chest is deep, well developed, and reaches the elbow. The straight topline rises slightly from the withers to the croup. Measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks, the body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. This length comes from the ribcage. Ribs are well sprung. The loin is short and well muscled. There is a moderate tuck-up. The tail is high-set and arches forward up over the back. It is plumed with long, silky hair. The tail plume may fall straight forward or to either side of the body. While standing, a dropped tail is permissible. The tail may not be docked.

FOREQUARTERS

The tops of the shoulder blades lie in at the withers, allowing the neck to blend smoothly into the back. Moderate shoulder layback is sufficient to carry the head and neck high. The upper arm is short. Elbows are tight to the body and forelegs are straight when viewed from any angle. The length from the foot to the elbow is equal to the length from elbow to withers. Pasterns are short, strong and flexible, very slightly sloping. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet have arched toes and point straight ahead. Pads and nails may be any color.

COAT

Silky to the touch, the coat is soft and light in texture in both outer and undercoat, although the outer coat carries slightly more weight. The coat is long, abundant and wavy. It stands off the body slightly, but flows with movement. An ideal coat will permit the natural lines of the dog to be seen. Puppy coat may be shorter and have a softer texture than adult coat. The coat may be corded. Corded coats will naturally separate into wavy sections in young dogs and will in time develop into cords. Adult corded dogs will be completely covered with a full coat of tassel-like cords.

HINDQUARTERS

The hind legs are muscular with moderate angulation. Hocks are well let down; pasterns are parallel from hock to foot. The croup is slightly higher than the withers. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet have arched toes and point straight ahead. Pads and nails may be any color.

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About the Havanese

​Distinctive features of the Havanese include a curled-over tail and a gorgeous silky coat, which comes in a variety of colors. Some owners enjoy cording the coat, in the manner of a Puli, and others clip it short to reduce grooming time. Happily, Havenese are just as cute no matter what hairdo you give them.

Their small but sturdy bodies, adaptable nature, and social skills make Havanese an ideal city dog, but they are content to be anywhere that they can command the attention of admirers young and old alike. Havanese, smart and trainable extroverts with the comic instincts of a born clown, are natural trick dogs. Havanese are also excellent watchdogs and take the job seriously, but will usually keep the barking to a minimum.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Havanese

Find a Puppy: Havanese

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Care

NUTRITION

The Havanese should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to his age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some Havanese can be prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. If you choose to give your dog treats, do so in moderation. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The long, soft, and silky coat of the Havanese needs to be groomed daily to be kept free of mats and tangles. This can be done by gently running a comb or soft brush over the dog while he is on your lap. Pet owners often choose to have their dog’s coat clipped to a short trim to reduce grooming time. The Havanese should also be bathed occasionally as needed. The corners of the eyes should be gently cleaned daily to prevent tear-stain of the lighter-colored hair in the area. Check the ears often to remove excess wax or accumulated debris, and wipe out the inside of the ear-flap with a slightly moistened gauze or paper towel.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

The Havanese has moderate exercise needs. They will benefit from a brisk daily walk or a fun playtime with their owner in the backyard, as they are happiest when someone is with them. Romping inside the home can also provide enough activity. Never over-exercise a Havanese of any age. If they are panting and struggling to keep up, it is time to go home. Havanese do well in both houses and apartments, but they are not happy left alone for hours at a time.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Havanese are highly intelligent and eager to please, and they are easily trained so long as you use only positive methods. This can be a sensitive breed, so care must be taken to not scold them harshly. Socialization from an early age is very important. Expose them calmly to a wide variety of new places and new people, always ensuring that the experiences are positive and not intimidating. Gentle, patient training will result in a wonderful companion dog. They are affectionate with people and get along with other nonaggressive pets.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Easy Training

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Outgoing

HEALTH

Havanese are generally healthy and fairly long-lived. There are several conditions that the breed can be prone to, including eye disorders, chondrodysplasia, deafness, heart murmurs, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (which affects the hip joint), and patellar luxation. A responsible breederdoes health clearances on all breeding stock. The Havanese Club of Americapresents awards for members’ dogs passing and registering Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) results for at least four specific health tests for the breed: an annual eye exam (CAER), a hearing test (BAER), a hip x-ray, and patella (knee) certification.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • BAER Testing
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Havanese
Havanese
Havanese
Havanese
Havanese

History

The Havanese (singular or plural, the name’s the same) is from the ancient Bichon family of little white dogs and claims such breeds as the Bichon Frise and Maltese as probable common ancestors. Since the earliest days of human civilization, lively lapdogs of this type were bartered around the world by seafaring merchants. In all times and places, small, clever dogs that did no useful work were among the possessions that set royals and aristocrats apart from lower social classes.

The native lapdog of Cuba’s aristocrats and wealthy planters was the Havanese, named for the capital city of Havana, where the breed gained greatest favor. Depending on the source, the breed’s forerunners were said to be brought to the island nation by Italian sea captains or by the Spaniards charged with colonizing the New World in the 1600s.

During its approximately 300 years in the lap of Cuban luxury, the breed was refined, perhaps with Poodle crosses, into today’s Havanese, once called the Blanquito de la Habana (Havana Silk Dog). The pivotal event in the breed’s history came in 1959, with the Communist takeover of Cuba. Many well-heeled Cubans fleeing Fidel Castro’s revolution brought their little dogs with them to America. With the help of American fanciers, the refugees preserved and perpetuated the Havanese. The breed is now a popular choice for discerning pet owners around the world.

Among celebrity Havanese owners were two of the world’s most celebrated writers. Ernest Hemingway fell under the Havanese spell during his 20 years in Cuba. About a hundred years earlier, Charles Dickens owned a tiny Havanese named Tim.

Did You Know?

The Havanese is AKC's 142nd breed.
The Havanese was once called the Havana Silk Dog or the Spanish Silk Poodle.
The Havanese descends from the same ancestor as the entire Bichon family, the Tenerife.
The Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba and the country's only native breed (Havana = Havanese).
The coat of the Havanese is deceptively warm-looking; in reality, it is an insulation and barrier from the sun and overheating.
Despite its being a new breed to the AKC, the Havanese is an old breed, descending from breeds brought over from Spain to Cuba.
By the mid-eighteenth century, the Havanese was so popular that it was owned by such celebrities as Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. It became known as the dog of the aristocratic class of sugar barons of Cuba.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Havanese is a small, sturdy dog of immense charm. The native dog of Cuba, he is beloved as a friendly, intelligent and playful companion. He is slightly longer than tall, with a long, untrimmed, double coat. The Havanese has a short upper arm with moderate shoulder layback and a straight topline that rises slightly from the withers to the croup. The plumed tail is carried arched forward up over the back. The unique springy gait is a result of the breed’s structure and playful, spirited personality. These characteristics of temperament, coat, structure and gait are essential to type.

HEAD

The expression is soft, intelligent and mischievous. Eyes are large, dark brown and almond-shaped. Chocolate dogs may have somewhat lighter brown eyes. Eye rims are solid black for all colors except for chocolate dogs which have solid brown eye rims. Incomplete or total lack of pigmentation of the eye rims is a disqualification. Ears are broad at the base, dropped, and have a distinct fold. They are set high on the skull, slightly above the endpoint of the zygomatic arch. When alert, the ears lift at the base but always remain folded. Ear leather, when extended, reaches halfway to the nose.

BODY

The neck is slightly arched, of moderate length, blends smoothly into the shoulders and is in balance with the height and length of the dog. The prosternum is evident but not prominent. The chest is deep, well developed, and reaches the elbow. The straight topline rises slightly from the withers to the croup. Measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks, the body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. This length comes from the ribcage. Ribs are well sprung. The loin is short and well muscled. There is a moderate tuck-up. The tail is high-set and arches forward up over the back. It is plumed with long, silky hair. The tail plume may fall straight forward or to either side of the body. While standing, a dropped tail is permissible. The tail may not be docked.

FOREQUARTERS

The tops of the shoulder blades lie in at the withers, allowing the neck to blend smoothly into the back. Moderate shoulder layback is sufficient to carry the head and neck high. The upper arm is short. Elbows are tight to the body and forelegs are straight when viewed from any angle. The length from the foot to the elbow is equal to the length from elbow to withers. Pasterns are short, strong and flexible, very slightly sloping. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet have arched toes and point straight ahead. Pads and nails may be any color.

COAT

Silky to the touch, the coat is soft and light in texture in both outer and undercoat, although the outer coat carries slightly more weight. The coat is long, abundant and wavy. It stands off the body slightly, but flows with movement. An ideal coat will permit the natural lines of the dog to be seen. Puppy coat may be shorter and have a softer texture than adult coat. The coat may be corded. Corded coats will naturally separate into wavy sections in young dogs and will in time develop into cords. Adult corded dogs will be completely covered with a full coat of tassel-like cords.

HINDQUARTERS

The hind legs are muscular with moderate angulation. Hocks are well let down; pasterns are parallel from hock to foot. The croup is slightly higher than the withers. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet have arched toes and point straight ahead. Pads and nails may be any color.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & SILVER Check Mark For Standard Color 016
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
BLACK BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 279
CHOCOLATE Check Mark For Standard Color 071
CREAM Check Mark For Standard Color 076
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
GOLD Check Mark For Standard Color 091
GOLD BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 485
GOLD SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 486
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
RED BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 148
RED SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 155
SILVER Check Mark For Standard Color 176
SILVER BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 303
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199
BLACK & SILVER BRINDLE 488
BLACK & TAN BRINDLE 487
BLUE 037
BLUE BRINDLE 056
CHOCOLATE BRINDLE 342
CHOCOLATE SABLE 350
FAWN BRINDLE 088
FAWN SABLE 338
SILVER SABLE 286

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
CREAM MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 044
IRISH PIED Check Mark For Standard Mark 075
PARTI BELTON Check Mark For Standard Mark 136
PARTI-COLOR Check Mark For Standard Mark 038
SILVER MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 034
SILVER POINTS Check Mark For Standard Mark 135
TAN POINTS Check Mark For Standard Mark 029
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014