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Do Havanese Like Water? Swimming & Safety Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

havanese dog swimming in the pool

Do Havanese Like Water? Swimming & Safety Tips

An old breed from the Bichon family, the Havanese makes an amazing companion for both outdoor-loving and city-based families. Because of their rarity and size, many Havanese dog parents wonder if Havanese dogs like the water. Most of the time, they do! Havanese dogs can learn to love and enjoy the water, provided they are properly introduced and exposed to water at a young age.

Like most dogs, no two dogs are exactly alike, and each Havanese dog is unique. That said, just because the breed can eventually enjoy the water does not mean that your Havanese will feel the same way.

In this article, we further explore the relationship between the Havanese and water!

divider-dog paw

The History of the Havanese with Water

Bred for companionship, the Havanese is an extremely old dog breed from the ancient Bichon family. Dating back to the 1600s, Havanese were said to be brought to Cuba by the Italians or Spaniards during their colonization through seafaring, which is the likely moment in the breed’s history where they were exposed to water. For approximately 300 years, the Havanese were the preferred lap dogs of Cuban aristocracy, and were even given the name “velcro dog” because of their tendency to stick close to their owner.

Aside from the voyage from Europe to Cuba, these dogs have little to no history of water exposure compared to hunting dogs, such as the Poodle. Being in the Caribbean Sea, the Havanese may have learned to swim in the past, being so close to water. But history suggests the Havanese has no natural inclination to water, as it was primarily bred for companionship. Regardless, the Havanese is a breed known to enjoy the water through exposure.

havanese swimming
Image Credit: Sandra Huber, Shutterstock

Can the Havanese Swim?

If we’ve established that the Havanese can enjoy the water, the next question to ask is whether the Havanese can swim. The answer is yes! The Havanese can learn how to swim and can make excellent swimmers.

The Havanese have physical properties that make them skilled swimmers. The first and most important feature is their pointed snout, which helps them breathe while afloat. Havanese dogs are not brachycephalic, which means their noses are not flat. Brachycephalic dogs are prone to respiratory issues and can also experience difficulty breathing while swimming.

They are also light with relatively long legs for their size, which helps them stay afloat and efficiently perform the doggy paddle. They also have a double coat, which can help keep them warm while in the water. Many Havanese dogs can also have webbed feet, making it much easier for them to paddle!

How to Teach Your Havanese How to Swim

When teaching your Havanese how to swim (or any dog for that matter), it all starts with proper exposure. Havanese puppies are not recommended to start swimming until they are over one year old because of their developing immune system and their potty training. But just because they can’t swim yet doesn’t mean they can’t be exposed to water. You can already introduce your Havanese to water during puppyhood to create an early pleasant experience.

This positive association at a young age will help your Havanese grow up to be more inclined to swim. Dogs with negative experiences with water may not be as enthusiastic about swimming, so be sure to expose them properly early on.

Because of their size, it’s best to stick to smaller and calmer bodies of water. When learning to swim, use controlled bodies of water, such as a pool, and let them paddle on the water while holding them before letting them go on their own. Starting at a shallow depth can help them build confidence. Using a life jacket can also help them be more comfortable floating and paddling in the water.

The Havanese are intelligent dogs and can pick up swimming quickly. With the proper exposure and positive reinforcement, you might find your Havanese paddling away in no time!

havanese looking up
Image By: ralfdeon, Pixabay

Knowing Your Havanese’ Limits

The Havanese may have properties that can help them become skilled swimmers, but they also have a few features that may make swimming challenging for them. Because of their size and weight at 8–12 inches and 7–13 pounds, respectively, rough waters may not be suitable for this breed.

Although the Havanese have double coats, they are fine and silky in texture and can reach long lengths if grown out without any grooming. To prevent any uncomfortable tangles, be sure to clip your Havanese coat into a shorter and more manageable length.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all Havanese may have the same experience when swimming. Some may have had negative experiences with water, which may make them averse to swimming. Other Havanese may enjoy the water but not swimming, while some may just prefer staying dry in general.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to know your Havanese’s limits and not force them to do anything they don’t want to do!

Water Safety

For all dogs, including the Havanese, there are safety precautions that you should take. As responsible dog parents, never let your Havanese swim unsupervised and continuously monitor your dog for signs of fatigue, panic, and distress.

Only let your Havanese swim in clean bodies of water, as they may catch unwanted illnesses in unclean waters. It is also important to clean your Havanese after each swim because of their long and silky hair.

Keep in mind that swimming is a physical activity and that hydration is important. Keep water readily available for your Havanese should they feel thirsty.

Other Dogs That Can Swim

Aside from the Havanese, here are some other dogs that enjoy the water and make great swimmers:



With their tiny legs, adorable body, and long, elegant hair, the Havanese is a pocket-size dog with loads of energy and affection. While they do not naturally like the water, they can learn to enjoy it with the proper exposure and can eventually learn to be excellent swimmers!

If you want your Havanese to learn how to swim, make sure their experience with water is pleasant and positive so that you can enjoy swimming with your little fur babies!

Featured Image: Sandra Huber, Shutterstock

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