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10 Havanese Facts: The Happy-Go-Lucky Pup

Written by: Codee Chessher

Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

cream havanese dog in the forest

10 Havanese Facts: The Happy-Go-Lucky Pup

The Havanese is a bubbly, inquisitive, and playful breed with a flowing wavy coat characterized by a silky texture. Known as the ultimate family dog because of their affectionate and social personality, the Havanese has become well-known in recent years. The Havanese is a flashy sweetheart that wants to be with you at all times. Let’s check out some more fascinating facts about this fluffy breed below. You may want one for yourself if you don’t already have one!

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The 10 Interesting Havanese Facts

1. The Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba

The Havanese dog comes from a long line of Cuban native dogs and European breeds, and today, they are considered the only breed native to Cuba. The light, airy texture of their long coats was well-suited to the tropical climate, but they’ve proved to do well in all climates. As their only native dog, the Havanese was a natural choice for the national dog of Cuba.

2. The Havanese Comes From an Extinct Species

The Havanese comes from a Cuban dog called the Blanquito de la Habana, or “little white dog of Havana.” The Blanquito, in turn, came from the Bichon Tenerife, named for the largest island in the Canary Islands where they came from. At some point, they were bred with other bichon dogs—most likely from Spain or Malta, but there’s little historical consensus on the subject.

close up of a cute little fluffy white havanese dog in a lush green garden
Image Credit: michaelheim, Shutterstock

3. The Breed Was Crossed With the Poodle

The most famous breed related to the Havanese is none other than the whip-smart and also fluffy Poodle. Bichon Frise and Maltese are also thought to be two other bichon breeds related to the Havanese. You can see a lot of those breeds in the Havanese—they’re all sweet, charming, smart, and gregarious dogs that love people. Of course, they have those gorgeous coats, too! One subtle difference to note is that the Havanese is clingier than the confident, self-assured Poodle.

4. They’re One of the Most Social and Friendly Dog Breeds

Havanese have a very low prey drive and don’t have a single mean-spirited bone in their sprightly bodies. In fact, they’re well-known as a Velcro dog that sticks to you closer than your shadow. They bond with all members of the family and also get along well with other dogs with minimal behavioral problems. However, there are some reports that the Havanese can occasionally develop a stubborn streak.

female owner showing hand signal to her havanese dog
Image Credit: michaelheim, Shutterstock

5. Havanese Have Showy and Silky Fur

The Havanese are famous for their wavy, silky double coat that’s profuse without being dense—perfect for the tropical climate they hail from. Sometimes, however, the undercoat is absent altogether. This beautiful coat comes in a multitude of colors: white, black, fawn, brindle, chocolate, silver, gold, sable, and more.

Many Havanese owners opt to keep their coats in a short, neat puppy or teddy bear cut. However, even Havanese with longer coats shed very little compared to other breeds. The Havanese coat still requires upkeep, though, including careful washing and drying to keep it in the best possible condition.

6. They’ve Had a Lot of Different Jobs

Havanese are adaptable, intelligent, and very trainable dogs. They weren’t bred to be working dogs but have been said to have worked in circuses, as mold-sniffing dogs, and occasionally as herding dogs for chickens and ducks. Their gentle nature makes them a great therapy and emotional support animal too. Despite all this, Havanese aren’t suited to spending long hours outdoors and prefer to be inside with you.

a parti-color havanese at the park
Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

7. Celebrities Love the Havanese

Havanese dogs were developed as something of a lapdog, gifted to dignitaries passing through Cuba. Their winning personality has made them a favorite of many notable affluent people throughout the past century or so. Let’s list some of the most famous Havanese and who they were owned by below.

Celebrities and Their Famous Havanese Dogs:
  • Ernest Hemingway fell in love with Cuba after fighting in the Spanish Civil War and kept a Havanese dog with him at his home in Key West.
  • Queen Victoria of England owned and cherished two Havanese, Chico and Goliath.
  • Barbara Walters of TV fame often gushed about her Havanese, Cha-Cha.
  • Charles Dickens owned a Havanese, named Tim, who was beloved by his seven children.
  • Napoleon III and Francis I of France were said to have owned Havanese dogs.

8. The Breed Almost Went Extinct

By the 1970s, only 11 pure Havanese existed because the dogs’ owners were rarely able to bring them when fleeing the Cuban Revolution. It took dedicated breeding program efforts to help restore the breed and make them as popular as they are today.

close up of a cute little fluffy white havanese dog in a lush green garden
Image Credit: michaelheim, Shutterstock

9. The AKC Formally Recognized the Havanese in 1996

Havanese were rare in the United States as pets for much of their history, and they were largely a lapdog for the well-to-do. They weren’t that useful for working purposes, part of why they were almost exclusively popular among the upper crust. It took nearly 20 years and intensive breeding after their near extinction for the AKC to recognize the Havanese as a pure breed. Since then, the Havanese has made a giant comeback and become the 25th most popular dog breed in the US!

10. Havanese Are Often Cat-Friendly

Havanese are one of the best dog breeds for homes with cats. They have almost no prey drive at all and are inclined to be friendly toward nearly anyone they meet. Most of the time they’ll just want to play with the small angry dog, even if the cat isn’t quite so open to their ventures. Havanese are also a fairly safe choice for owners of small prey animals, like bunnies or hamsters, but some care still needs to be taken to keep them safe around any type of dog.

two cute havanese dogs sitting in forest
Image Credit: Peter Mayer 67, Shutterstock

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Havanese have a pleasant, doting personality and light, silky coat that makes them a natural family companion for nearly any home with kids or other pets. Once a pet for the rich, demand for the Havanese went through the roof after people realized what an absolute treat of a dog they are.

Featured Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

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