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How To Breed Havanese Dogs

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Published on
Friday 24 May 2019
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
how to breed havanese dogs
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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to breed Havanese dogs ethically. It is an ideal read for experienced breeders as well as newcomers and breed fanciers.

In this article, we cover the background of the breed as well as its common health issues, inherited diseases, litter management, best breeding practices, grooming, and the breed standard (obviously).

This FREE guide will help owners who are planning to breed their dog or buy the breed in the future. Furthermore, we offer answers to common questions about Havanese dogs, and their breeding.

Background of Havanese Dog Breeding

Havanese dogs are famous for their long, lustrous hair, perfect cuddle size, and passionate staring eyes. This breed has a long history starting from the 1400s because people loved owning them as company pets.

Yet, Havanese dogs were nearly extinct when people almost failed to continue breeding their own bloodline. Fortunately, the breed is saved and now one of the highest in demand in the US and Europe.

A purebred Havanese has a standard appearance that makes them stand out. Their best feature is their long, silky hair, not fur, that grows elegantly. Their personality matches its beautiful look because they are loving and smart dogs who crave for companionship.

Beginnings of the Havanese breed

The origin of the Havanese breed is traced in 1492 when Christopher Columbus claimed Cuba under the Spaniards. He came with small companion dogs who are the ancestors of the Bichon Family. These dogs have the same characteristic of silky, smooth hair, instead of fur, playful yet gentle, and very smart. The lapdogs were traded because of their sweetness and cleverness even if they did no useful work.

Royals and aristocrats preferred to own Bichons which sets them apart from lower social classes. People named Havanese dogs after the capital city of Havana, where people were in greatest favor of that dog breed amongst others. Some said that the breed came from Italian sea captains or Spaniard colonizers.

Early 1800s

Spain imposed a strict trade restriction on the island which made the dogs isolated from other breeds. As these dogs interbred with local dogs in Cuba, with some thinking it has some Poodle crosses, this is the development of the breed we come to know today. Over 300 years as Cuba’s luxury, the breed was refined to beauty. People used to call them Blanquito de la Habana (Havana Silk Dog).

By the early 1800s, most aristocratic families in Cuba are graced by the Havanese on their laps. European travelers fancied the breed and brought the dogs back to Spain, England, and France. The dogs got famous in Europe in the mid-1800s. Plenty of aristocrats bring their dogs in family portraits to display the beauty of their pet.

An oil on canvas featuring four Havanese dogs (by Jean Jacques Bachelier, circa 1724 to 1806)
An oil on canvas featuring four Havanese dogs (by Jean Jacques Bachelier, circa 1724 to 1806)

The breed became so popular in Europe that it even became a common dog at one point – as plenty were seen running on the streets. During that time, the breed is known to accompany the blind, while some joined circuses and fairs.

Near extinction of the breed

Since the dog was famous in the higher social class, only a few families decided to breed and continue passing the dogs to the younger generation. Sadly, the Havanese neared its extinction when the Cuban Revolution happened in 1959. Fidel Castro led a revolution against the government forces and formed a liberal nationalist government. Only a few able Cuban families fleet with their dogs to America. There were exactly 11 dogs that made it to the U.S. as they escaped the revolution with their owners.

Americans fancied the breed and helped the refugees preserve and continue the breed throughout the years. It began in the 1970s when an American breeder couple, Dorothy and Bert Goodale, found a few of the descendants of the 11 dogs who escaped the revolution. They saw how smart and affectionate the dogs were so they dedicated time to track down other Havanese to reestablish the famous breed. These canine Cuban refugees are the ancestors of most Havanese dogs outside Cuba.

Breeders tried to widen the gene pool of the American-bred dogs. Successfully, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1995.

A rise in popularity

Dorothy Goodale
Dorothy Goodale dedicated over 50 years to propagate a variety of dog breeds.

The breed is a favorite way before they went to America. Famous people like Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria owned a Havanese. Today, people love the breed because of their cuddly size, healthy, silky and lustrous hair (not furs!), and passionate glares. Their hair is unique because it helps insulate the dog from the tropical sun being extremely light and soft with a silk floss texture.

Even though these dogs are not sporty, they are known to be clever and are easily trained. But their best characteristic is how much they love their owners.

Havanese are even known as velcro dogs because they would never leave the side of their beloved owners! Since they are brilliant, some of these dogs easily learned tricks to impress people and show how awesome they are.

Appearance of Havanese Dogs

Havanese are small, stylish dogs. They are famous for their charming appearance. The native Cuban dog is known for its playful and intelligent nature. They typically grow weighing 7 to 13 pounds and height of 8 ½ to 11 ½ inches at the shoulder. The body is observed to be longer than it is taller. The breed is small, but it is not considered as the toy variety. They work well with children and small owners!

Eyes & Ears

The expression of their eyes shows a soft, mischievous and intelligent look. These dogs have dark brown, almond-shaped eyes. Most have solid black eye rims while chocolate dogs have solid brown eye rims.

As typical of the Bichon family, the breed has drop ears with a broad base and a distinct fold. When alert, the ears lift only at the base but remains folded. When the ear lobes are extended, it should reach halfway to the nose.

Neck & Shoulders

Havanese have a slightly arched neck that blends smoothly into the shoulders, shorter upper arm with its shoulders moderately laid back. If measured, the body from shoulders to buttocks should be longer than the height at the withers. The tails are arched forward up over the back decorated with long silky hair. Tail hair may fall forward or to either side of the body.


These dogs are famous for their silk floss hair which is very lightweight. They have a strong double coat, outer and undercoat, that helps protect their skin from the tropical rays of the sun or shivering cold. The hair is silky when touched. It should be long, abundant, and wavy. The hair sophisticatedly flows with movement. The perfect length should allow the natural lines of the body to be seen.


Purebred Havanese comes in different hair colors including:

  • gold,
  • silver,
  • black,
  • cream,
  • blue,
  • champagne, and
  • chocolate.

Some may also feature any combination of the colors.

Overall, its unique springy movement, spirited personality, and playfulness is a result of the breed’s structure. These characteristics are essential when breeding dogs.


A normal adult Havanese dog will reach its optimal size by the age of 6 to 8 months old but it will generally mature at the age of 1 year old. A good Havanese breeder considers all aspects when mating dogs to ensure that they will have a healthy pup.

Over the past years, there has been a huge demand for the so-called designer dogs that come with dogs that are so small, they can fit in a teacup. The itty bitty craze has been going around different breeds including the Havanese.

Mini, Pocket, or Teacup Havanese are the terms used to lure people in. However, the Canadian Kennel Club testified that the dog does not come in different size variants. They added that the only acceptable length for a standard full grown Havanese should be between 21 to 29 cm.

But some people are only after the money that these unique and uncommon breeds would give. They try to create the impression that rare dogs are worthy of crazy price tags. Teacup versions are often bred thinking only of its size. They fail to consider other aspects that might result in a sick pup. With this and the dog being an uncommon breed, legal breeders and dog lovers think it is immoral to breed a teacup version.

havanese dog breed standard (chart)
The AKC drawing of the perfect Havanese dog.

Temperament of Havanese dogs

A Havanese temperament is a delight to their owners! People who met this dog would testify that these dogs are just full of love and spirit. Anyone cannot have enough of these cuddly dogs.

The best characteristic of the Havanese breed is they thrive for companionship. They never leave their owner’s side and follow them all the time. They can even spend hours resting on the laps of their owner. This breed feels anxious when left alone.

Havanese hate kennels! They do not like the idea of being inside a cage because it prevents them from being near companionship and affection. Now, that is some clingy attitude!

It is uncommon for a Havanese temperament to be a bully. Most would be curious, playful, and attracted to people. But it is not impossible to meet one who pinches other littermates or one who’s afraid of interaction although it should be noted that temperament is usually affected by more than one factor such as socialization, training, and heredity.

Socialization, Training & Heredity

Heredity will help predict the temperament of a pup. It is best to meet one of the parents. Usually, the mother is available, and it is best to see how she behaves around people. This will help evaluate how her puppy may be like when they are fully grown adults.

Like people, dogs need to socialize to become well-rounded family pets. They have to meet, greet and be around people and other animals as early as possible. This will help them get used to different sounds, sights, and people. It will also help them form good experiences as they grow.

It is a good idea to enroll him in puppy classes to help keep him around other dogs as well. Start having visitors regularly. Daily bonding time over exercise or stroll around the park or in groceries will help in his socialization skills.

Health Issues When Breeding Havanese Dogs

Havanese are generally healthy and lively dogs. They have a fairly long lifespan of 13 to 15 years that makes the time with their owners worthwhile and well-lived.


All dogs are prone to certain diseases. However, the Havanese is prone to more conditions due to its small gene pool and hybrid vigor. It is essential to take note of some of the possible illness that may show up as they age. When dealing with such a breed, it is important to know these conditions to better avoid them when purchasing and raising Havanese puppies.

Find a breeder who knows how to breed Havanese dogs well and provide health clearances for both parents. These will clear them of any health complications. Most health conditions are hereditary which makes healthy parents a huge factor. Health clearance of the pup should only come from accredited experts and results described on a hard-copy you can take home.

A trustworthy Havanese breeder would discuss these things with you beforehand so make sure you are aware of the below.


One huge factor when breeding Havanese is healthy eyes. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) will certify that a dog does not have any eye complication.

A cataract is one common eye issue among dogs of many breeds. It is opacity of the eye lens that causes loss of vision. It is usually hereditary and common among old dogs. Cloudiness of the eyes can be a major sign of the onset of cataracts. However, it can occur at any age and should be treated by surgical removal of cataracts.

Cherry Eye

Another common issue among Havanese is Cherry Eye. It is caused by weak connective tissues in the eye causing swollen or prolapse gland of the eyelid. This illness can easily be spotted by irritation and inflammation of a protruding eyelid. There is no natural way to treat Cherry Eye but the gland can be surgically repositioned tacked into its proper place.


Havanese is a fairly young breed which is why some diseases are only showing over the past few years. Chondrodysplasia is a condition when dogs have abnormally shorter limbs than standard. It may appear from nearly normal to crippling. Good breeders know that dogs with this condition should not be bred.


Deafness is usually untreatable. It can create many challenges between the dog and the owner. But thanks to technology, there are a number of devices that will help make their lives easier. These devices will help them communicate with their owner like a normal dog.

Hip Dysplasia

Many dog breeds are known to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia. Their hip joint weakened and degenerate due to abnormal growth and development. It can appear even in dogs born from healthy parents so it can be quite unpredictable. But it can be treated with medicine, proper exercise, weight loss, or, sometimes, surgery.

Legg Perthes

This disease causes a deformity of the hip joint ball that results in inflammation or arthritis in the hip joint. The cause of Legg Perthes disease is unknown, but it could be hereditary or injury related. Dogs with this disease require physical therapy or surgery with little to no side effects, like lameness.

Liver Shunt

This disease is uncommon among dogs, but small dogs can be congenitally prone to Liver Shunt. It occurs when an abnormal blood vessel bypasses the liver making it unable to do its function. The only way to treat the disease is through surgery. A liver shunt is more common in smaller-sized Havanese dogs.

Patellar Luxation

Also known as the trick knee, patellar luxation is common among small dogs. It happens when the patella, including the thigh bone, knee cap, and calf, are not properly aligned. The best solution for this disease is surgery.

How To Breed Havanese Dogs?

How To Breed Havanese Dogs? (Infographics)
Infographics – How To Breed Havanese Dogs?

All should go smoothly with some whining during delivery because she is in labor pain. Hey, that’s normal! But we need to be watchful of some difficulty or trouble as she is in labor and be ready to run to the nearest vet if in case an emergency occurs.

Remember that the delivery of puppies can take hours. There will be some training and reminders that veterinarians provide, so it is essential that the Havanese mother is up to date with vet visits throughout the pregnancy.

Average litter size in Havanese dog

Havanese are small dogs, so 4 is a good average litter size. However, it can range from 1 to 9 puppies. The breed is sturdy and capable of carrying more than other similar-sized breeds.

Humans intervention gives little to no effect on the number of littermates a Havanese will give birth to. Artificial insemination using frozen semen may result in a smaller puppy count compared to natural impregnation or fresh semen (see Swedish study). The age and health condition of both parents will have a huge impact on the litter size.

Ultimately, do not try to interfere with the impregnation to prevent further complication during pregnancy and delivery. Nature does its best job on its own.

Birthing problems in Havanese dogs

Common birthing problems include:

  • too big of a puppy,
  • two puppies presenting at the same time, or
  • malpositioned puppies.

It will be obvious by the looks of the bitch if she is having trouble during the delivery. If unsure, better call the vet and seek medical advice.

How much do Havanese dogs cost?

Typically, purebred Havanese puppies cost from $1,000 to $1,500. Some factors dictate the cost of the puppies, like AKC certification and pup location. Working with a trusted breeder will ensure that you are well aware of the pup’s future heritage and possible health issues that might show up any time. A reputable breeder will have these details readily available alongside the dog’s pedigree.

Aside from the cost of the pup, there are other things that will need a big chunk of your wallet. Havanese needs registration papers, regular vet visits, shots, and healthy dog food. Buying a pup with a known bloodline, champion blood, and paperwork can cost around $1,500 to $2,500. They are not cheap dogs, and there is a huge demand for purebred Havanese making their market value high.

Teacup Havanese will be more expensive given they are called designer dogs. But take note that the Havanese Kennel Club or other known association verify that there are no size varieties for Havanese pups. So these so-called teacup Havanese might be accompanied by health complications that were unconsidered by the breeder.

Before putting money on a deal, it is best to check the legitimacy of the pup. There are plenty of crossbred Havanese (e.g. Havapoo), and they are not worth the same as the purebred pups. So only get from a trustworthy breeder!

FAQ – Havanese Dog Breed

The Havanese being one of the most popular dog breeds currently, plenty of questions are on a future owner’s mind. We’re answering to the best of our knowledge some frequently asked questions.

How long do Havanese dogs live for?

A healthy Havanese dog can live an average of 13 to 15 years. This fares better than most small dogs who live a shorter life averaging 10 to 13 years.

Concurrently, consider that many potential health issues can be treated with early detection. Discuss early screening with a legitimate breeder and your own vet so a health clearance can be provided and help prepare for a healthy recovery as soon as possible.

Are Havanese dogs allergy free?

Havanese are allergy free dogs. The breed has real hair, not fur, therefore won’t shed. Additionally, they do not have a fur undercoat.


Indeed, Havanese dogs are hypoallergenic dogs. So if you might ask, “do Havanese shed?” Well, they do not! There won’t be fur clinging on furniture around the house.

Surely, this is a huge impact for people with allergies because the Havanese breed does not have fur coats that will attach all over the furniture and cause an allergic reaction. They have silky smooth hair that greatly reduces the risk of fur allergy! This is a deal closer for sensitive people.

Can a Havanese dog be left alone?

If left alone for longer than they can handle, Havanese dogs experience anxiety and even stress! It is unhealthy for dogs to feel that way so it should be avoided. It is nice to keep them company or have another mate to make them feel safe.

So Havanese dogs can be left alone without a companion. You could even leave them for a short time but never for long hours! Havanese are very affectionate creatures. They love being the center of attention and being around their owners or other friendly dogs. People breed them for companionship because they are such intelligent pets.

Are Havanese dogs good family pets?

Havanese dogs are good family pets because they are calm and sweet. They would blend well with any type of family, as long as someone is home with the dog at most times. The dog prefers being with their owners and keeps a happy company.

The Havanese breed is easily trainable and very intelligent. They are highly social, so it is no trouble to keep them around a good bunch of people, provided that they were given socialization training when younger.

If around children, Havanese dogs and kids blend well! They love playing together. Who can resist the charm and cuddly size of the pups? Plus, this breed loves being played with. It is just the perfect match for nearly all pooch-loving amilies.

How much exercise do Havanese dogs need?

Havanese dogs need up to 30 minutes of exercise per day. Rule of thumb: use your dog’s size as a basis for their required exercise. Havanese are small-medium sized dogs. They have a medium energy level and does not need much exercise, unlike bigger dogs. Large yards are not needed since they will stay where the companion is.

It is good to bring them out for two or three short walks daily. It will also help their socialization skills if kept around people like in parks or city walks. This will help keep them fit and healthy. Aside from walks, in-house games and playtime can also act as exercise so there will be an interaction that they love.

Havanese dogs are great companions because they live a long, happy, and healthy life. There are factors that should be considered when breeding Havanese dogs and buying from a reputable breeder. Make sure that everything has been discussed, like possible health conditions. Regularly visit a vet to keep their health in check. The Havanese is a good breed since they are not as demanding like others but mostly need companionship above all. We hope you now know better how to breed Havanese dogs and leave comments below if you have further questions.

One comment on “How To Breed Havanese Dogs”

  1. Kathey Mayhall

    There is no such thing as a Hypoallergenic dog and the Havanese is not one. You should not put this in your article. They are less likely to cause a problem.

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