Dog Breed Review





There’s very little that legendary fictional bad boy, Tony Montana, or Scarface and the Havanese have in common. In fact, you’ll never read a comparison of this kind. The toy breed like Scarface is from Cuba. And like the madman himself, made an escape to the U.S. for a better life.

Aside from that, of course, both are completely different. Moreover, if you’re looking for a dog that is both trendy and able to relieve stress, the Bichon Havanis is that dog.

Although the breed is new to the AKC, the Havana Silk Dog has been around since the 15th century.

So can this breed bring happiness and joy to your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Havanese.


If you look real deep inside those inquisitive dark, almond eyes, you’ll be able to tell that this breed has a lot of history. Indeed, despite their recent transaction into the United States since the latter end of the 20th century.

Before gaining recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1996, this breed’s historic beginnings start in Cuba.

While nobody is for certain when and how they got to the island, there is a relatively reliable theory. Following Christopher Columbus conquering Cuba in 1492, historians believe European farmers are responsible for the breed’s entry. Moreover, the farmers from the island of Teneriffe, who brought a dog similar to that of the Havanese. Although nobody can confirm for sure, it does make the most sense.

From the early going, it was clear that only the Spanish Aristocrats would have ownership of the breed. In fact, they would breed them specifically to play in the courtyards with their children. Due to the location, not a lot of changes or outside influence would occur. Furthermore, if you look at portraits or  accounts from the 15th or 16th century, the breed still looks much of the same.

Finally, those from England began to travel and take vacations in Cuba during the 18th century. What they found aside from the beautiful weather and rich culture was also that in a breed of dog. Upon return, British vacationers brought back with them their new Havanese or as they would call them, “White Cuban.”

In Europe, during the mid-18th century, the Havanese became a trend. The breed found itself a hit with the elite of England just as they did in Cuba. However, during the 19th century, something did change for the better of the Havanese.

More people in Cuba could own a Havanese, thus making them a popular family dog. Meanwhile, around the world. especially in Europe, the breed was being shown at dog shows.

During the 60’s and 70’s, following the Communist Cuban Crisis, people began fleeing to the United States. However, they didn’t leave their dogs behind. Much like the 18th century in Europe, the Havanese became a sensation in the U.S.

The UKC gave the breed recognition in 1991, which would lead to the American Kennel Club doing so five years later. Immediately, the breed became a favorite in American households. According to DVHC.Homestead.Com, there are 4,000 of the Havanese in the U.S. Moreover, the website speculates that 7,000 of them live worldwide.

With that, the American Kennel Club, for the second straight year, claims the breed to be the 23rd most popular breed in America. Today, the breed is still the life and joy in many homes around the world. In addition, they can also work as therapy dogs and be seen at dog exhibition shows.


True to the tradition of a toy breed, the Havanese belongs in the small breed class. Both male and female should stand between 8.5 to 11.5 inches.

With regards to weight, both male and female can weigh between 7 to 13 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

In reality, and sadly, the Havanese would very lost without its people. This would explain their attachment usually to one person over another. In that, the breed is likely to follow their master room to room. This is the kind of dog that’ll greet you gingerly when you get home from work. Likewise, they’ll also say their sad departures when you leave. The Havana Silk Dog enjoys a close bond with family. There is always plenty of love, affection and attention to be had owning a breed like this.

Attention is something this breed welcomes. Enthusiasts know that the Havanese loves to be the center of attention in any room. Whether that is being a clown or by showing their people adorable tricks.

Intelligent, always looking to learn and eager to please, this breed is a pleasure to teach. 

As a housedog, the Havana Silk Dog has a touch of mouthiness. Although, there must be a reason for it as they typically bark whenever necessary. Their instincts and alertness makes them above average watchdogs. Yet, they are gentle and friendly, and welcome just about anyone into the family.

Playful and active, the Havanese doesn’t require a tremendous amount of exercise. They’ll enjoy playing with the kids and are happiest when you play as well. Sociable, personable, and of course, likeable,  this is a breed for any level of ownership experience. Adaptable, and surprisingly able to muster heat, you can bring this dog to most climates. It won’t matter if you live on a remote island or in a city, the Bichon Havanis only cares if you are there.

All in all, the Havana Silk Dog is a fun and easy going lapdog. Their knack for entertaining and lust for love is what makes them a delight to have at home. Friendly and easy to get along with—this is a breed you can bring along vacations or a dog park. Other dogs will be fine with them, children will adore your Havanese and in return, you’ll get an affectionate, intelligent, fun loving dog.


When you purchase the Havanese from a breeder, do your homework and make sure you are buying from someone reputable. Read the reviews and ask all of the hard questions. Additionally, you should always be able to obtain the proper documents and health clearances. Also, you should schedule regular visits with your veterinarian to ensure your Havana Silk Dog maintains good health.

If you do that, along with sensible preventative care, there’s no reason your Havanese can’t live 14 to 16 years.

Generally held as a healthy dog, the Havanese has a few issues to be mindful about. Issues like Hip Dysplasia, which finds itself common upon other breed, can be a problem for the small breed. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or OFA, ranks them 114th out of 187 breeds. Hip Dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint, which will cause discomfort, lameness, and pain. The breed carries a 9.8 dysplastic rating from over 4,600 evaluations by the OFA. This puts them in the company of the Bracco Italiano, but far from the worst — Bulldog and Pug

Abnormal growth in the elbow, which leads to a slew of problems like lameness, pain, discomfort and possibly arthritis issues is Elbow Dysplasia. The OFA ranks the breed 52nd worst among 126 breeds. At the top of the list are breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog and Chow Chow. Out of 2,500 evaluations, the breed has a 6.1 dysplastic rating ranking closely to the Kuvasz.

When the kneecap slips out of place, causing wobbling, limping and pain — then the Havanese suffers from Patella Luxation. The OFA ranks them 56th worst for this disorder. That ranking puts them in the company of the Poodle and Labrador Retriever. Out of 6,400 evaluations, the Bichon Havanis has a 2.9 dysplastic rating.

Legg Calves Perthes is a disorder of the breed’s hind leg. In fact, Legg Calves is a result of degeneration of the femoral head in location of the dog’s hind leg. This problem causes the dog limp and will limit their motion, as well as pain. Surgery may be necessary to correct.

Portosystemic Shunt is a serious problem for the breed. This is the result of an inability of the liver to filter out toxins from the bloodstream. When that occurs, it will cause lethargy, weakness and poor appetite. A special diet or surgery can correct this issue if you suspect your dog suffers from this condition.

Dwarfism or Chondrodysplasia is not part of this breed’s standard like some other breeds like the Basset Hound and Dachshund. This malfunction causes abnormal size and shape of the dog’s bones. This is because of a malfunction or lack of development in the skeletal system by result of poor metabolic growth.

Cloudiness of the eye or Cataracts, which results in a lack of transparency in the dog’s lens of the eye can lead to blindness. The breed, according to the Club of America representing the Havanese, has a high incidental rate for this disorder.

Other issues such as deafness and heart murmurs can be found in the Havanese.


Even though the Havanese is a delight, there are some things you’ll have to obtain that status. Experts say that Havanese puppies like eating their own stools. Interestingly enough, experts say the breed is more than capable of using a litter box. This just means you can break bad habits if you get to them at a young age. Early socialization and training is a must for all breed. Introduce this breed to new things, dogs and people. 

While the breed has a medium amount. of energy, they will require exercise. One walk per day should suffice or a simple opening the door for a backyard romp should do the trick.

This isn’t a dog that should be left alone for long periods of time. They will demand your time, effort and attention. That or you should provide a fellow companion for the breed. 

A Havanese may exude a touch of prey drive, although they haven’t been found to overtly aggressive with smaller animals. The AKC suggests watching this breed around other dogs and children.

Positive reinforcement for this breed during training. Yes, they are eager to please and willing to learn but thrive under positive techniques. The Havanese can be sensitive to harsh treatment and will reacts unfavorably if so.

Simple maintenance like wiping tears from their eye so it doesn’t stain their light coat surrounding it, checking their ears for bacterial buildup, trimming their nails to prevent cracks, splits and overgrowth and an occasional bath is necessary.


This breed has been prone to becoming overweight. You should carefully watch their portions during feeding. Keep in mind how much your Havanese eats will be different than how much a dog similar in size will eat. Things like age, energy requirements, activity and metabolism can all play contributing factors in how much a dog eats.

That said, your Havanese should be fed a high quality formula, meat as the first ingredient, with a balance of fruits, vegetables, minerals, and appropriate vitamins. 

As always, you should provide your Havanese with fresh drinking water.


If working on a dog’s coat bothers you then avoid the Havanese at all cost. There will be some daily upkeep for this breed to avoid mats, tangling and etc. However, if you stay up with the breed’s needs by the daily maintenance, you’ll save time, hassle, and money in the long run. This is a breed that is best for people with allergies to pet dander. They shed infrequently.

The coat of this breed is profuse. It does stand off the body but flows methodically nonetheless. The breed has a double coat. The coat should silky or soft to the touch. It is light, long and wavy.

The American Kennel Club states 16 acceptable coat color options, those are: White, silver, silver brindle, red sable, red brindle, red, gold sable, gold brindle, gold, fawn, cream, chocolate, black brindle, black and tan, black and silver and black.

There are 8 acceptable markings: White, tan points, silver points, silver markings, cream, Irish pied, parti-color, parti-belton.

Fun Havanese Facts

  • The FCI gave the breed in recognition in 1963. 
  • This breed was the 142nd to gain recognition from the American Kennel Club.
  • According to Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs” the breed ranks 79th most intelligent. This means they’ll obey a first command 50 percent or better the first time.
  • Many believe their ancestry derives from the extinct Blanquito and the Bichon Teneriffe. There is suspicion that the Poodle may be part of the breed’s foundation.
  • According to a 2017 DailyMail article, the Havanese is the best breed for a person dealing with stress.
  • This breed is the national dog of Cuba.
  • Comedian Daniel Tosh, and Serena Williams both own this breed. Also, it is said that legends like Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway did as well.

Closing Words

The Havanese hit the American dog kingdom much later than most breeds of their age. Yet, that made no difference. It was almost as if they had been in the states since its conception. 

Thanks to their doggish sense of humor, their willingness to entertain and unique appearance, it is no wonder people fell head over heels here in the state for this breed. Add their loyalty, love and adaptability, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Havanese continues to gain more in popularity worldwide.






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