The Ultimate Guide: Havanese

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The Ultimate Guide_ Havanese
By LITTLE PUPPY PAWS | February 25, 2023
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The Havanese is a small dog breed with a big heart. They can be the ideal pet for many individuals. This dog may be the perfect choice if you’re searching for a pet, a service dog, or a new source of energy. But how can you care for them effectively?


Before deciding to purchase one, there are a few things you need to know about this breed. These factors may impact your choice if you choose to buy or adopt a Havanese dog.

What is a Havanese?

Including strangers, kids, other dogs, and even cats, the Havanese shines his affectionate personality on everyone. But if given the option, he will be overwhelmingly loyal to his family and take their side over anyone else. The Havanese could become anxious when left alone, which could be a drawback to all this devotion. This is a house dog, and a Havanese abandoned in the backyard or elsewhere away from his family is not a content dog.


Given that he was created to entertain the affluent families of his native island of Cuba, his gregarious personality is not entirely unexpected. But ever since, the Havanese has shown that he can be used for much more than just warming up. Due to their high level of training, Havanese dogs have served as therapy and assistance dogs, have detected mold and termites, and have performed tricks with clownish antics.


The Havanese will gladly participate in sports like agility, freestyle, obedience, and flyball for the family looking to compete because they also possess an unusual amount of energy for their size.


It’s typical for devoted owners to overindulge in their Havanese, as it is with many small dogs. They’ll probably regret it because bad habits, like eating only food from other people, can develop quickly. You might discover that your Havanese is training you rather than the other way around because this breed is a cunning con artist.


Despite, or perhaps even because of, his eccentricities, the Havanese is a wonderful and adaptable pet.

Where Did the Havanese Come From?

Spanish settlers started to come to Cuba after Columbus claimed it for Spain in 1492. Small companion dogs that would later become members of the Bichon family of dogs traveled with them.


These dogs interbred, became isolated from other canines due to island life, and later developed into the modern-day Havanese breed due to Spanish trade restrictions placed on Cuba. They had a thick, silky coats that served as their trademark and protected the dog from the heat of the tropics. Their coat is like raw silk floss, profuse, but extremely light and soft, and insulates against the tropical rays.


Many aristocratic families in Cuba had Havanese by the early 1800s. The breed was brought to England, Spain, and France by European travelers who fell in love with it. During the middle of the nineteenth century, the breed rose to popularity in Europe, and some well-known early fans included Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria.


This trend fizzled out, as it does with most breeds. Even in Cuba, where he was born, the Havanese nearly went extinct. Nevertheless, a small number of Cuban families continued to breed and keep the dogs, and 11 Havanese were brought to the United States by their owners after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.


Most of today’s Havanese outside Cuba are descended from these canine refugees.


When an American dog-breeding couple discovered a few offspring of the 11 dogs brought from Cuba, the breed’s renaissance officially began in the 1970s. They started searching for other Havanese and making efforts to reestablish the breed after being charmed by their wit and affection.


Breeders are working on expanding the gene pools of the American-bred Havanese because most Havanese outside of Cuba can trace their ancestry to just 11 dogs. In 1995, the American Kennel Club gave the breed official recognition.

How Long Does the Havanese Live?

The average lifespan of a Havanese dog is 10 to 15 years. However, many elements and ailments might significantly impact your dog’s lifespan. A dental condition could reduce your dog’s lifespan by one to three years. Therefore, it’s critical to understand the health risks that your dog may encounter throughout its lifespan.

What Do They Look Like?

Havanese dogs and puppies are typically misunderstood as larger due to their long, fluffy coats. The breed is only 8.5 to 11 inches tall and weighs 7 to 13 pounds at the shoulder, despite that luxurious mane. His tail is high, arches over his back, and his body is longer than tall. The soft, wavy coat, which comes in various colors, is sometimes “corded” or made into dreadlocks.


The large, dark-brown eyes of a Havanese appear to sparkle with a hint of mischief, alerting onlookers to his witty, playful nature. The Havanese has a distinctive walk that is springy; this spring appears when the dog is a puppy and doesn’t go away as the dog ages.


The coats of Havanese puppies frequently darken, lighten, or completely change color by the time they reach the age of one. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to predict what a puppy will look like when it is an adult.

Does the Havanese Shed?

To keep its coat free of mats and tangles, the Havanese is a high-maintenance dog that needs daily grooming. Despite having little to no shedding, it is not hypoallergenic.


Its hair can get as long as 8 inches when maintained in a full coat. Weekly baths are needed for this, as well as daily brushing. If the animal’s fur is short, it will require clipping every six to eight weeks and bathing every two.

What is the Temperament of a Havanese?

A loving and cheerful dog, the Havanese, is. As an intelligent dog, this one is trainable and eager to please. The fact that it prefers to be with its family means it is a poor kennel dog. Being an energetic dog, it loves to practice new tricks and play entertaining games with its owner.


This dog can be naughty and possibly destructive at home if given insufficient time and playthings to engage in. Because it hates being left alone, you must provide it with plenty of toys to keep it entertained if you must go away for a while.


Children and other animals are favorites of this devoted dog. It is intelligent and enjoys hearing compliments about how great a dog it is. It takes pleasure in making you laugh with its silly antics or just lounging on your lap and taking in the scenery.


This breed needs early socialization to avoid developing a fear of strangers. Remember that a dog’s temperament can be influenced by various things, including heredity, training, and socialization, regardless of the breed.

Are They Easy to Train?

Havanese dogs are intelligent and simple to train. Although house training a dog can be a little difficult, learning the fundamentals of obedience is simple. However, extra patience is required during the process. Compared to other toy breeds, this one is intelligent and can be trained to go outside much more quickly.


Training young dogs is ideal for preventing bad habits from forming, just like with any other dog. This breed can, however, also be trained as it ages. Due to its diminutive size, it can be a poor guard dog but a good watchdog. This dog might bark too much if it isn’t properly trained.


Additionally, it excels in canine professions like therapy and assistance dogs, termite and mold detection, and performing dog roles where it can display its clownish antics.

How to Take Care of a Havanese?

Although Havanese are typically healthy but susceptible to some health issues like all breeds, not all Havanese will contract one or more of these illnesses, and it’s important to be aware of them if you’re thinking about getting one of these dogs.

Havanese Common Health Problems

Hip Dysplasia

A degenerative condition known as hip dysplasia weakens the hip joint due to abnormal growth and development. Many different dog breeds are affected by this disease. Despite being a genetic disorder that breeders test for, it can manifest in a puppy that was born to parents who did not have the condition. Medication, weight loss if the dog is overweight, dietary supplements, and occasionally surgery are all forms of treatment.

Elbow Dysplasia

Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a degenerative condition affecting the elbow joint. According to theory, the joint becomes weak and malformed due to abnormal growth and development. The disease has varying severity; some dogs only experience mild stiffness, while others become lame. Surgery, weight loss, and medication are the available treatments.


Dogs with this genetic condition have unusually short limbs for their breed, which is why it’s frequently misdiagnosed as “dwarfism.” This can be as severe as crippling or almost normal. A dog with this disorder shouldn’t be bred, even in less severe cases where they can live full, healthy lives.

Legg-Perthes Disease

The hip joint ball deforms due to Legg-Perthes. The head of the femur bone first experiences a reduction in blood flow, which progresses until the bone eventually dies, collapses, and develops deformities. The hip joint becomes inflamed or develops arthritis as a result. Although the exact cause of Legg-Perthes is unknown, it may be inherited or a result of trauma. Rest, physical therapy, and surgical removal of the malformed femoral head and neck are all forms of treatment. After surgery, dogs usually recover well, and many only experience minor lameness, significantly when the weather changes.


A cataract is an opacity on the eye’s lens that impairs vision. The affected eye appears to be cloudy. It is an inherited condition that typically strikes people as they age, though it can strike anyone. Cataracts are removed surgically to treat them.


For the owner and the dog, deafness poses numerous difficulties. Deafness can typically not be cured, but some types of hearing loss and deafness can be managed with medication and surgery. Many products on the market, such as vibrating collars, make life easier for you and your deaf dog. Patience and time must be given to a deaf dog.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation also referred to as a “trick knee,” is a common issue in small dogs. The three-part patella made up of the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf), is what causes it to occur. Lameness or an unnatural gait results from this. Surgery is typically used as a treatment for patellar luxation.

Portosystemic Shunt

An abnormal blood flow known as a portosystemic shunt occurs when the blood from the digestive tract bypasses the liver and travels to the systemic venous circulation. When this happens, toxins typically eliminated by the liver are circulated throughout the body, which can cause other illnesses like hepatic encephalopathy. Poor balance, loss of appetite, lethargy, blindness, depression, weakness, seizures, confusion, and coma are among the symptoms of portosystemic shunts, which typically coexist with another illness. The issue can be treated with surgery and a change in diet.

Heart Murmur

The cause of heart murmurs is an obstruction in the blood flow. Heart murmurs can be classified into five different levels based on their audibility. Heart murmurs are a sign of disease; consequently, they require medical attention and may be treated with medication, a special diet, and physical activity limitations.

Mitral Valve Insufficiency

When the mitral valve, located between the left atrium and ventricle, starts to malfunction, it is more common to see older dogs with mitral valve insufficiency. The mitral valve then fails to stop the blood from entering the left atrium. This may result in heart failure. The heart muscle’s strength is declining, fluid in the lungs and hypertension are all symptoms. Medication, diet modification, and exercise restriction are all part of the treatment.

Diet and Nutrition

Give your Havanese two meals daily, half a cup of dry dog food. Food shouldn’t be left out for free feeding; doing so can cause weight gain very quickly. Dog obesity can shorten a dog’s life span and cause other health problems. Determine your dog’s feeding and exercise schedules based on age, weight, and activity level. Talk to your veterinarian about any weight gain.


You shouldn’t feed your Havanese human food. Recognize that they are cunning and have a history of “training” their owners to share food. Be consistent and ensure that everyone in your family knows that the Havanese should only consume dog food.

Grooming A Havanese


Brushing your Havanese is among the most crucial aspects of grooming. Attempt to brush your dog each day. Lightly spray one brush area with a fine mist sprayer to coat the dog. Dry brushing breaks the coat; use water that has been diluted with a small amount of conditioner, about one teaspoon is fine.) Start brushing after you’ve sprayed. To avoid mats, make sure you reach the skin thoroughly. The outer coat should be brushed. The line-brushing method should be used.

Line Brushing

The hair must first be divided. To see the skin, draw a line with the dog’s hair running horizontally from the nose to the tail.


Little by little, beginning at the feet and working up to the middle of the back, brush the hair up, then down. A one-quarter inch at a time, brush down the rows.


Hold the brush flat while using it to brush. The coat will be torn, and your dog’s skin will be scratched if you hold the brush at an angle. Lift the top leg and brush the bottom underside of the leg first before moving on to the lower legs. Turn your dog over after finishing one side and repeat the process on the other.


Your dog must be taught to lie on her side so her coat can be brushed. Start your training with brief sessions and gentle brushing. Avoid pressing too hard with your brush. Talk to your dog and show her lots of appreciation. Make it a peaceful time for you and your dog.


She will eventually grow to enjoy the activity and occasionally fall asleep. For a well-trained dog, line brushing, eye care, tooth brushing, and occasionally trimming the feet should take less than 30 minutes. For a single owner, it takes ten minutes.


Pin brushes are the most widely used brushes for this method. The brush that is most comfortable in your hand is the best. A list of the vendors is included.


Although few Havanese enjoy bathing, it is still a good idea to bathe them once a week. Occasionally, every two weeks is sufficient. Weekly bathing of a dog’s skin and coat does not harm them. Professional handlers give their dogs twice-weekly baths to provide them with a better coat before showing them off at a show. A dog is healthier when its skin and hair are clean. Brushing your dog thoroughly before bathing will ensure he is free of mats. You can use any high-quality shampoo and the same conditioner brand. Dry fur covers Havanese dogs.


Test out various shampoo and conditioner brands until you find one you like, and give the dog the desired appearance and feel. Don’t spray his face with the sink sprayer if you have one. A plastic pitcher or bottle works well for dipping and rinsing. Make sure to rinse the soap thoroughly. If soap is left on the skin, itching may result. Some people use distilled water with a small amount (about one teaspoon) of conditioner added as the last rinse in areas with a lot of minerals. They dry as usual while leaving this mixture in the coat. To ensure a warm rinse, warm up some water before using this.


It is beneficial to have a professional stand dryer. A table model works equally well. Towels folded in half should be placed on the floor for the dog to lie on, while the table model is placed on top of your washer, dryer, or counter. In this manner, you can work on a nice surface that is a good height. Your hands are free to hold and care for your dog while using one of these dryers. A hand dryer tucked into the waistband and manually carried to the desired location can be helpful for some people.


For your hand dryer, some stands are available. If using a human dryer in a fixed stand, proceed cautiously. As high temperatures can damage hair and burn a dog’s delicate skin, always use the dryer on low or medium heat. Allowing the dog to air out a little in its crate may be helpful to some people. Make sure your dog is completely dry before you decide how to dry him. Mats are more likely with a level 4 dampness. After drying, you can add a little finishing lotion to moisten the coat and help control fly-away ends.


Tear staining products are widely available. Some people apply whitening toothpaste to their mouth and eye stains the night before they take a bath. The following day, they wash it out after leaving it overnight. Avoid getting toothpaste in your dog’s eyes at all costs. Some people clean their dogs under the eyes with a cotton ball wetted with eyewash. Some people carefully clean under their eyes daily using an old toothbrush (one for each dog) that has only been dipped in water. Every day, it’s crucial to clean the area around and under the eyes. Please consult your veterinarian if there is excessive tear staining, as this could indicate a blocked tear duct or another issue.


Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is a good idea. This job is simpler because the dogs enjoy toothpaste with a poultry flavor. You can use your old toothbrush for this, but you can also find a variety of toothbrushes designed especially for dogs. Some have longer handles, while others are designed to fit on the tip of your finger, giving you more control. This is another crucial aspect of your grooming because Havanese dogs frequently experience tooth loss and other dental issues that can result in dangerous infections. If you take good care of your child’s teeth, there is no reason why your older dog can’t have white, clean teeth.


Before beginning your dog’s bath, put some ear cleanser liquid in each ear to make ear cleaning easier. With the wax loosened, using a cotton ball or a Q-tip to clean it out will be simpler. You can do this while your dog is lying on his side getting dried off or groomed if you are concerned that he won’t remain still. Any hair in your dog’s ears will grow out with the rest of his coat, if there is any. You can use your fingers to remove it if it becomes too much. Incredible as it may seem, the dog is unaffected. You can leave the hair alone if it is thick enough. Discuss it with your veterinarian if you are worried about hair in your dog’s ears.


For a novice, this is the most challenging aspect of grooming and sometimes for non-five beginners. There are many nail-clipping tools available, but the one resembling a wire cutter is the simplest for a beginner. The quick is more noticeable on nails that are light in color. The quick is the part that will bleed. You have to guess as to where the quick is on black nails. You can tell when you reach the quick if you only remove a tiny portion of the nail at a time. Even if you hit the quick and it starts to bleed, it won’t stop bleeding until long after you stop feeling bad about it. It’s helpful to keep styptic powder on hand. Because it is a natural coagulant, cinnamon may also be used. A simple pressure on the nail will suffice in an emergency. You can clip more quickly and confidently as you get more practice.


A rotary sanding tool can grind the nails instead of cutting them. You must be very careful to pull back all the hair from the nail area because if the whirring sander touches the hair, it will pull it out. You can wrap the dog in a beach towel, using it as a straightjacket, and pull one foot out at a time to grind the nails. You can also use an old-fashioned dishcloth to hold the hair back. Only the nails will poke through the holes in the cloth.


Trim the hair around the foot and between the pads with scissors. To make it more orderly and to lessen the number of things brought into the house on the move. It is incredibly easy. Trim the dog while it is upright on a flat surface, between the feet. Extend one leg to trim the feet when your dog is lying down. And smooth out the hair all over the foot. Keep the hair in place. Trim or place anything extending past the foot’s bottom.