(AKC Toy Group)

The playful little Havanese is a sturdy dog that is covered with long, untrimmed, silky, wavy hair (an overly curly coat is undesirable). The coat can be of many colors and patterns, including cream, gold, red, champagne gray, black, blue, silver, chocolate, white, brown, or any combination of these colors, plus brindle or sable patterns. The coat may look hot, but because it is soft and light, it actually reflects heat and is an adaptation to several centuries of living in the tropics. Likewise, the heavy facial hair protects the dog’s eyes from harsh tropical light. (That's why you never see Havanese dogs in the show ring with their hair up in a little topknot, although some appear with two little braids over the eyes.) The coat may also be corded into long tassels. The dark, almond-shaped eyes add to the soft, intelligent, and slightly mischievous expression. The nose should be broad and squarish. A scissors bite is ideal; the pigment on lips and nose should be uniformly black for all dogs except the chocolates, which should have dark brown pigmentation.

The topline rises slightly from withers to rump due to the short upper arm of the dog, and the high-set, plumed tail curls loosely over the back. The unique Havanese gait is springy and lively, and these dogs should flash the pads of their front feet when gaiting. The Havanese is exceedingly cute, but should never appear pampered or fragile. Their general look should be one of sturdiness, agility, and a willingness to play.


The charming little Havanese is a member of the long-haired Bichon family of dogs, which includes the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Bolognese, and Coton de Tulear. Originally bred in pre-Christian Europe as lap dogs for the aristocracy, long-haired Bichons were brought to Cuba by Spanish sea captains as presents for wealthy Cuban women. Eventually these dogs became what we now know as the Havanese, small, fluffy companions that also sometimes doubled as herders for the family poultry flock. By the 1950s, when political unrest was taking its toll on Cuba, only a very few people still had Havanese and the breed was considered nearly extinct. Luckily, a couple in Colorado started actively looking for and breeding Havanese that had been smuggled out of Cuba, and saved the breed from extinction. Today, some 4,000 Havanese live in the United States, and they are best known for being perky, affectionate, and especially good with children. The AKC admitted the Havanese to the Toy Group in 2001.

Key Facts:



The operative word here is "charm." Smart, playful, and bouncy. Enthusiastic companions for children and other pets in the home, and exceptionally easy to train. Despite their energetic nature, Havanese don't need a lot of exercise, and can be quite happy living in an apartment or a house with a very small yard. Havanese are very curious. They enjoy showing off, and love to romp around in what one breeder calls "madcap" play. This love of play has, at times, made them popular circus dogs. Havanese are very needy dogs and should not be left alone all day; they must be with their people or they will not be happy. Another dog in the home to keep the lone Havanese company may help reduce the stress, but it's best if someone can be around at least part of the day.