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Havanese: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Havanese temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Havanese dog breed

Havanese Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Havanese Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014

One of the brightest and sturdiest of the toys, the Havanese is happy and playful and enjoys clever games of dexterity such as "pull the hidden toy from under the cabinet with your paw."

Havanese are very people-oriented dogs, love snuggling in laps, and can be overly dependent -- they don't do well at all when left for long periods of time without companionship. "Not doing well" means unhappiness and boredom, which they may try to vent through barking and destructive chewing.

Though peaceful and gentle with everyone (humans and other pets), the Havanese can be conservative with strangers. Socialization is important to build a confident, outgoing temperament, as there is a potential for excessive caution/timidity.

Havanese do have an independent streak, but they are not a dominant breed. They respond well to training that includes food rewards and they especially love learning tricks. Many individuals excel in competitive obedience and agility.

The most problematic training issue is housebreaking -- Havanese are slow to housetrain. Barking needs to be curtailed, as well. Many Havanese like to perch on the high back of a sofa or chair, looking out the window so they can announce visitors.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is small, yet sturdier (and healthier) than his tiny Maltese cousin
  • Doesn't need much outdoor exercise
  • Is playful and entertaining
  • Makes a good watchdog, but is not aggressive
  • Has a long coat that can be clipped short so he looks like a cute perpetual puppy
  • Doesn't shed much (one of the best breeds for allergy sufferers)
  • Is good with other pets

A Havanese may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Shyness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
  • Frequent brushing (unless regularly clipped short)
  • Mild stubbornness
  • Housebreaking difficulties
  • Barking

A Havanese may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the Havanese

If I was considering a Havanese, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Housebreaking. All of the "Havanese family breeds" (the Bichon Frise, Havanese, Maltese, and Coton de Tulear) are notoriously slow to housebreak, with the Maltese and Bichon being the worst. Consistent crate training is mandatory, and sometimes a doggy door is necessary.
  2. Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, all of the Bichon family breeds, including the Havanese, need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.
  3. Havanese dog breedGrooming. Without frequent brushing and combing, the Havanese becomes a matted mess. If you can't (or don't want to) commit to all this brushing, you have to commit to frequent clipping to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy. Personally, I love the look of clipped Havanese -- they look like cute, perpetual puppies!
  4. Providing enough socialization. The Havanese needs extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural "softness" can become shyness or suspiciousness, which are difficult to live with.

    Havanese puppies are NOT suited to small children, no matter how well-meaning the child. Children cannot help being clumsy, and that a child meant well is little solace to a Havanese puppy who has been accidentally stepped on, sat on, rolled on, squeezed, or dropped onto the patio. Even Havanese adults may feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making -- and stress and shyness (even defensive biting) may be the result.

  5. Mind of their own. Havanese can be mildly stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Havanese to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Havanese Training Page discusses the program you need.

  6. Barking. Havanese are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.

book cover To learn more about training Havanese to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Havanese the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.



book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Havanese puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.


If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Havanese might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


book cover Once you have your Havanese home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.



Please consider adopting an ADULT Havanese...

When you're acquiring a Havanese PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Havanese who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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