Canine Breed Spotlight: Havanese

The Havanese!

Dog breed group: Companion Dog

Average life expectancy: 12-15 years


The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba. The breed is descended from the now extinct Blanquito de la Habana (“little white dog of Havana”) The Blanquito de la Habana was cross bred with other Bichon type dogs to create the Havanese of today. Historically, the  Havanese were a popular breed for many aristocratic families in Cuba. European travelers brought these dogs back to Europe, where they became trendy and popular. Later, their popularity waned and the breed almost became extinct, even in Cuba. During the Cuban Revolution, some Havanese dogs came to the US with their owners, where the breed was saved by starting a breeding program with this handful of dogs.



The Havanese is a very friendly breed. They typically are not shy and don’t tend to bark at strangers, but would rather greet them. They love to play and are always looking to please their owners. They are a good family dog as they can adapt to many different living conditions. They make good apartment, house or acreage dogs. They also adapt well to children and other pets or dogs in the household.


Is this breed right for you?

  • They have strong companion requirements and do not do well if left alone for long periods of time during the day.
  • Even though they are a small breed dog, the Havanese is an active dog and does require activity in a back yard or walks daily.
  • They have a stubborn streak and can be hard to house train.
  • Grooming is very important. They require brushing  daily and regular professional grooming to keep their coats silky and looking good.

Health concerns

Both pure-bred and mixed-breed dogs have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors. Here are some health concerns that are more commonly seen in the Havanese.

A Congetnital Portosytemic Liver Shunt occurs when a blood vessel bypasses the liver, resulting in the blood being carried past the liver and therefore not being filtered and cleaned. Shunts are present in all fetal mammals and usually close down shortly before or after birth. However, if the the shunt doesn’t close down or develops in an abnormal place, your pet’s liver won’t get proper blood supply to grow or function properly.

Havanese, like other small dogs can be prone to luxating patelllas (loose knee caps). Patellar luxation is a condition in which the kneecap (patella) slides out of its normal place. If this occurs in your pet, depending on the severity, surgical correction may be needed.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease occurs when there is spontaneous degeneration of the head on the femur bone, leading to the disintegration of the hip joint. While this disease is not limited to the Havanese, it does have a higher occurrence in both toy breeds and terrier breeds of dogs.