14 Pros and Cons of Owning a Havanese Dog Breed

Havanese dogs are the only breed that is native to the island nation of Cuba. These cute little pups are spontaneous, cheerful, and always seem to have a gleam in their bright brown eyes. They often make for a sociable companion, and their small size makes them the perfect addition to the urban household. It is the 142nd breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.

There are some distinctive features to consider with the Havanese, including a tail that curls over and a long, silky coat. These dogs come in a variety of different colors. You can cord their fur to have them resemble a Puli, clip it short to reduce their grooming needs, or let it grow out long to let it flow in the breeze. It really doesn’t matter – this breed looks handsome no matter which option you choose.

Havanese are highly adaptable, but they can also find contentment in a consistent routine. They are intelligent extroverts who take their jobs of being a watchdog and a comedian very seriously. There are some additional pros and cons with this breed to consider as well.

List of the Pros of Havanese

1. Havanese are sturdier than most other toy breeds.
The cousin of the Havanese is the Maltese. You will discover that these guys and gals are even smaller than their counterparts, yet they are also sturdier that most other pups of their size. This breed is consistently happy and playful, ready to show off the latest athletic feats that they’ve figured out. That might mean having a romp around the backyard to show off their speed, or a game of “try to catch me on the furniture.”

2. This breed loves to be around people.
If you like the idea of having an active dog around the home that still likes to snuggle, then the Havanese is a perfect option to consider. This breed is exceptionally people-oriented. They love to snuggle in on your lap while you watch TV or read a book. If you have errands to run, then they will want to come along – even if that means sitting in a carrier or riding next to you in a carrying bag. One of the few ways that you can make these pups feel unhappy is if you place them in a situation where they are lonely and bored. That’s when you can experience some unwanted behaviors.

3. Havanese respond well to most training situations.
You won’t find a smaller dog who is more motivated by food than this breed. They can have an independent streak that can make their personality seem aloof, but that changes if you give your pup some tricks to start learning. Havanese excel at agility training and obedience because of their intelligence and robust motivation for rewards. There are some behaviors that are more challenging to train with this breed than others, but most owners find that the positives here outweigh any negatives that they might experience with their dog.

4. These dogs don’t require a lot of activity to stay physically fit.
Because the Havanese is a toy breed, the levels of exercise that they need to stay fit and active are minimal compared to larger dogs. Most pups will need a daily walk or two, along with some play time in the backyard or in your home, to satisfy their energy requirements. If they are unable to get all of their energy out, then you will see some laps run around your home – and no awareness of the items that might be in their way. It can be entertaining to watch them go “crazy” like this, but it is also an indication that they aren’t having their full needs met.

5. Havanese don’t shed much for being a long-haired breed.
These dogs have a beautiful coat that comes in a wide range of color options. Most people can find a pup that matches their expectations for handsomeness or beauty. Even if you decide to leave the coat long, there won’t be that much fur to manage in your home. Shedding is minimal, even during the changing of seasons, and it is easy to clip, braid, or maintain in other ways as well. If you do decide to leave it long, brushing it out a couple of times per week will help your little guy or gal to be always looking their best.

6. Most Havanese are not aggressive toward other people.
When you can socialize your Havanese with other people and pets, then you will find that their territorial instincts are directed toward warnings more than aggression. Your dog will let you know when anything suspicious is happening around your place. They take their role as the family guardian very seriously. If someone they don’t trust comes in your place, then this breed generates a lot of noise to make sure that you know about the problem. It is only when the dog feels threatened or believes that their family is in imminent danger that they will do what they can to eliminate the problem.

7. The various coat markings still meet the breed standard.
There are numerous colors and markings that are part of the coat of the Havanese that are considered part of the breed standard if you want to show your pure-bred dog. You can find pups with Irish pied, cream markings, silver streaks or points, or white marks depending on the overall color of the coat. Standard colors include black, gold, cream, chocolate, and red brindle.

List of the Cons of Havanese

1. Many Havanese dogs suffer from anxiety issues.
Small dogs tend to overcompensate with their stature and noise as a way to announce their presence, and Havanese are no exception to this rule. They can be loud and obnoxious at times, especially when they are playing or feel threatened. Instead of worrying about burglars or the occasional knock at your front door, these pups tend to fear being alone. If you must leave them at home for long periods each day for work or school, then the dog may begin to destructively chew or scratch items around your place as a way to self-soothe. They will vent their frustration through barking during these times as well.

2. It can be a struggle to housebreak Havanese dogs.
Most owners find that the most difficult training issue that they face with their Havanese is the process of housetraining. It can be exceptionally challenging to housebreak this breed. Because of their size, it can be a challenge for them to recognize the need to go outside, so you will need a lot of patience with your dog during this part of the learning process. It can help to have puppy pads that you can lay out somewhere that will encourage them to go in one spot instead of wherever they happen to be.

3. Havanese dogs like to bark.
As with most other toy breeds, you will find the Havanese breed loves to hear the sound of its own voice. These dogs are very sociable with other pets and humans, but they also take the threat of a stranger very seriously. If your pup doesn’t know someone who comes to the front door, then their barking is going to sound throughout your home. They like to find the highest place in their favorite room, like the back of a couch, to make sure that the whole room can be seen, and strangers announced in warning.

4. Some Havanese can be timid and shy.
If you start working with your Havanese from an early age, then it is imperative that you give the dog some social experiences immediately. You will want to bring your pup to be around other dogs and people in safe environments where they don’t feel threatened. If there are not opportunities to make friends, then some of the dogs in this breed can become timid instead of outgoing. They will be shy instead of gracious. If the behaviors from this disadvantage develop, then there is an increased risk of defensive aggression, biting, and other unwanted behaviors that could be problematic in some situations.

5. This breed can be stubborn at times.
The temperament of some Havanese can be mildly stubborn. You will encounter this trait most often when you need to stop play time or it is time to come home after a walk. They can get a dog-based version of tunnel vision on their favorite activities, not wanting to stop until they have expended all of their energy. This trait tends to establish itself in the dogs that need to fend for themselves instead of relying on their family for the care that they need, so you may be able to avoid the worst of it by raising a puppy.

6. The focus on treats can lead to weight issues.
Havanese don’t need many calories each day because of their size, so treat motivation can become a disadvantage if it is used to often. This breed tends to struggle with their weight as they get older, especially with seniors. You’ll need to watch the number of calories your pup eats and offer treats in moderation to reduce a potential issue with obesity. Table scraps that include high-fat content foods and cooked bones should be avoided whenever possible.

7. There are some health tests you will want to have completed.
Havanese are dogs that are long-lived and healthy in general terms, but there are a handful of conditions and disorders that can be present in some genetic lines. These conditions include heart murmurs, deafness, hip disease, and eye disorders. The American Kennel Club recommends that all dogs receive a hip evaluation, go through BAER testing, and receive a close inspection of the patella. An ophthalmologist appointment is probably a good idea too.

The pros and cons of Havanese dogs are important to consider because there are specific traits that you’ll need to deal with if one joins your family. If you don’t want to manage barking, housebreaking challenges, and the stubbornness of some personalities, then this breed is not a great option for you. When you need a dog that is excellent with other people and pets, provides entertainment, and works with your small living space, then it may be worth giving this breed a closer look.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.