The Adorable Havanese
Bichon Havanais

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Bichon Havanais
Weight: 7 — 13 lbs
Height: 8”— 12”
AKC Rank 2008 #36
Life Span: 12—15 yrs
Group Toy
Origin Cuba

Dog Breed Info - The Havanese

Havanese In A Hat
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Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient Times. Original function, lap dog, circus performer. Today, Companion dog. This is a real (small) family dog. Colors: All combination's of colors, including white.

The Bichon Havanais is part of the extended Bichon family, a breed of small dogs dating back to the Mediterranean in Ancient Times. Spanish traders brought some of these cute little dogs with them as gifts for Cuban women. A few of these dogs remained in Cuba. Some such families brought their dogs with them to the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Present day dogs are decedents of those brought over back then. This has gradually aroused attention from dog owners. The breed was registered by the AKC in early 1999.


Easy to train, eager to please. Use clicker training for exceptional training sessions. Along with positive reinforcement, this dog can learn about anything you teach. They love the water and swimming.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Bichon Havanais? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Good looking Havanese face closeup
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Potty Training

The Havanese puppy is generally easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breedIf you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The Havanese is most happy when she is the center of attention. She likes to play and clown around and is very affectionate. She gets along well with kids, other dogs, pets and strangers.— essentially everything. The dog is eager to learn but tends to be bark a lot.

Small dogs like the Havanese have a natural problem in that they often want to dominate the house and everyone in it. Small dogs must be heavily socialized starting very young and continued on. They need an owner and family that understands dogs and how to exert a firm but kind "pack leader" (alpha dog) dominance role over them. It is very important not to let the dog think he's "boss!"

This dog should not be left by itself for long periods. If you happen to get a Havanese or puppy with a separation anxiety the problem can be dealt with after a little time and effort.

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Very good. Like just about everything including other dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes, good here too.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Loves people. Bring on the relatives and neighbors. Your Havanese will welcome them. This dog has even been used for therapy work.


Extremely playful. This is a tiny show off and can act very silly.


Very affectionate and begs to be with it’s human family. The Havanese needs lots of attention and gives back plenty. This is one of my favorites of the small dogs.

Good with Children

Yes, older kids. The dog is small and the children need to be taught how to behave and not injure or aggravate the dog, but the dog is kid tolerant.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Havanese is a perfect dog for seniors. Easy to manage, easy to exercise. Fun loving, affectionate, loyal little dog that needs a lot of the owners time, perfect for a senior!

Living environment

Apartment, condo, farm, big city, all OK. The Havanese dog does not need a big yard but would like some space to explore and sniff around in if possible. She has a natural curiosity and might even want to dig a hole.

Energy level

Fairly high. I’d say 8 bars out of 10.

Havanese resting in the garden
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Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. A walk or two a day or some play in the yard or house will do it.


Fairly good. They do like to bark.

Guard dog

No. Too small and they love everyone.


No, books clearly state this dog does not shed.


Yes, use a stiff bristle brush and a comb on the Havanese dog 3 to 4 times a week. The long coat easily produces mats and gets tangled.

Trim the hair in the ears to prevent ear infections which this breed is prone to. (See below under Otitis))


Suggested Reading For The Havanese

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008, includes a DVD.


Havanese Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Havanese puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Havanese Breeders with puppies for sale. Check your local newspapers for any other Havanese breeders.

Havanese Dog Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Havanese Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Havanese Rescue - (Nationwide)At the time of this writing, Petfinder is only showing 65 available dogs NATIONWIDE. You may need to do some serious web surfing and hunting in your local kennels and checking for Havanese Rescue groups.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site, but this is a very popular breed and may be hard to find.

Dog Health Issues For The Havanese
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Bichon Havanais by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog health and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your Havanese has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Chonodrodysplasiia—A hereditary, genetic growth deficiency with shortening, bowing of the legs, a myriad of eye problems, skin problems, abnormal skulls and trachea, hearing loss, patellar luxation, and even abnormalities with the heart, liver and kidneys in some cases. Some dogs have one or two of these problems, others have many. Some corrective orthopedic surgery may be performed by the time the dog is 1 year old. This affects the Corgis, Havanese, Dachshunds, and Basset Hounds mostly.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA)Serious eye problem. An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Legg-Perthes—A disease of the hip joint. It's a deforming of the femur head where it fits into the pelvic socket and is generally noticed at around 6 to 8 months age. The disease affects small and toy breeds mostly and can range from mildly debilitating to totally debilitating. It’s very painful and the dog will have a lame leg at the affected hip. Pain can become severe in some dogs and the Havanese will go from occasional limping to continuous carrying of the leg. Severe muscle atrophy can set in with the appearance of a shortening of the affected leg. Restricted joint movement is also a common sign of Legg-Perthes. Surgery will usually restore a dog to a fairly normal life but prevention at the breeding stage is the best solution.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will eventually cause total blindness.

  • Portacaval shunt—Hereditary in origin, neurological and other serious problems are caused by a tiny embryonic blood vessel that exists within the liver before birth to disintegrate after birth allowing fluids to flow where they shouldn’t. Symptoms include central nervous system disorders and undersized, underweight puppies are also suspect. Medical and surgical remedies are in place. If a puppy survives surgery, there is a chance for it to live a good life.

  • Otitis externa—Ear infections—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection for the Havanese. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

  • Mitral stenosis (Mitral valve insufficiency)—Hereditary heart problem. A weak mitral valve allows blood to flow backwards and to simplify this, the net result is an enlarged heart and when the heart can no longer compensate, look for a loss of desire for exercise, trouble breathing, coughing at night and liquid in the lungs. As this progresses, the dog may collapse. There is no cure... but if you act quickly, the vet may be able to make the dog more comfortable with medication and diet.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

Other problems could occur with your Havanese. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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