The havanese are beautiful little lap dogs, and an absolute joy to be around.  But they do seem to have a bad reputation for being high maintenance.  We’re going to examine this assertion and determine whether or not it’s justified.

What is Meant by High Maintenance

First we need to clarify what is meant by “high maintenance”.

It can, in fact, mean several things.  It can mean they need a lot of attention.  It can mean they need a lot of exercise.  It can mean they have behavioral issues.  Or it could simply mean that they need a lot of grooming.  We’re going to cover all the bases, and look into each of these factors in turn.

By the end of the article you’ll see that while havanese can be high maintenance in some ways, in other ways they’re not high maintenance at all.

It’s worth noting at this point that their behavior and temperament is much less predictable than their physical traits such as size or shedding, and temperament and behavior can very much be shaped by raising and training.

Havanese Attention Needs

We’re going to level with you here.  A havanese dog does not like to be alone for long periods of time and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone too long.

For these reasons they wouldn’t suit an owner who is going to be out at work for several hours a day.  Although they would make a good pet for those who work from home or are retired.

When you do have to leave them for any reason, be sure to leave them a toy or two to play with to keep them busy until you come home.  

It’s best not to leave them on their own for more than 3 to 4 hours.  Any longer than that and the dog may start to express their unhappiness and boredom by barking or chewing things up.

(For an answer to the question “Do havanese dogs bark a lot?” Please see this link.)

If you have a havanese and you wish to go on vacation, then we recommend that you either pick a resort that accepts pets or have the dog stay with friends or family.

Havanese love attention and love to be well looked after.

Havanese Exercise Needs

As a general rule, although they can make for a nice lap dog, havanese still need their fair share of exercise.  They have a little playful energy that they’ll need to walk off before they can settle to be your Netflix watching companion.

They should be taken for a walk at least once per day, but it really doesn’t have to be very far at all, so long as by the end of the week they’ll have covered a distance of about 7 miles.

Havanese and Behavioral Issues

This is kind of a tricky one to answer.  Their behavior is not strictly problematic as such, but there are things you’ll need to watch out for.

Let’s start with the good news.  The Havanese are typically very happy dogs, and will easily adapt to your home, family and lifestyle.

They don’t bark too often, like some dogs do.  But that said, when a visitor approaches the home, they will sound their alarm.

When it comes to house training, you’ll be pleased to hear that they learn quickly!  They love to receive praise from their owner and family, and are happy to earn the praise.

(For a fuller answer to the question “Are havanese hard to potty train?” Please see this link.)

When it comes to socialising with strangers, children and other dogs, the havanese are usually quite affectionate and like to play.  That said, you do also get havanese that can be a little shy around strangers.

Here’s the not so good news.  The Havanese can be quite mischievous and will turn to making their own fun if not given enough toys and attention.  Furthermore, they’re a smart little breed and will try to get away with developing bad behavior.

But that said, that’s the closest you should get to having to deal with any behavioral issues.  They are not overly anxious, angry or stubborn.  But they do demand a significant amount of attention.

Havanese Grooming Needs

This is the area that has led to the Havanese having a bad reputation as a high maintenance dog.  

If you’ve ever seen a Havanese or even just a picture of one, you’ll see just how thick their fur coat is.  And as you can imagine, it does require a lot of grooming.

When they are in full coat, their hair can grow to a whopping eight inches in length!  If you wish to keep them in full coat, you will have to brush their coat at least once a day and have weekly baths besides.

(It’s worth noting at this point that despite their long coat they don’t actually shed that much fur, and are actually one of the best breeds for allergy sufferers.)

If you want to keep the fur short however, then they will need to be clipped every six to eight weeks, and to have a bath every other week.  And even when cut, their fur coat still needs to be brushed often, several times a week in fact.

But there’s a cool twist!  The Havanese have a coat that will naturally cord or can be trained to cord – much like dreadlocks!  In addition to making the dog look super cool, when their coat is allowed to cord, or mat into ringlets, it does need any brushing whatsoever!

(It’s worth noting at this point that severe matting can be quite painful for your dog if you were to try to brush it out.  If your havanese has corded fur that has become too difficult to wash, then our recommendation in this situation is to get the fur clipped short rather than try to brush it out and cause pain.)

So, if you let your Havanese go for the dreadlock look, you will no longer have to brush their coat every day.  You will however still have to bath it at least once a week, so that the dog doesn’t start to smell.  And in doing this you will remove any dirt or debris that can collect in their fur.

As part of their grooming routine, your little havanese should also have their teeth brushed as often as twice a week, and should have their nails trimmed once every month.

(For a more in depth guide into “How to groom a havanese” please check out this link.  And you may also be interested in our other article “How often should a havanese be bathed?” which is available on this link.)

Are Havanese Dogs More High Maintenance Than Your Average Dog or Pet?

So, in short, in terms of their temperament and behavior, the havanese are no more high maintenance than any other dog or pet.  If anything their behavior and temperament is far better than several other breeds you can get, so long as you give them enough attention.  Their grooming however is something of a different story.  

There are basically three routes you can go down with their fur grooming.  You can either let their fur cord and mat into dreadlock-like ringlets, and not brush their fur at all, or you can keep them in full coat, brushing their fur every single day, or the third option is to have their fur cut short and clip it every 6 to 8 weeks.


So, to sum up then, in terms of the Havanese getting along with people and other dogs, you’re not going to have any real problems.  Neither will you have any real problems when it comes to getting them to do their business in an appropriate place.

Where you might see problems, first of all, is with their constant need for attention.  And when they’re not getting enough attention, they get anxious for the return of their owners.

They can also become a little mischievous, and try to see just how much bad behavior they can get away with.

Their reputation as being high maintenance is derived from their grooming requirements.  As we made reference to earlier, if you want to keep a Havanese in their full coat you will have to brush their fur every single day.  But there are ways around that which can make a huge difference to their maintenance level.

If you don’t want to brush the dog’s fur every day, you could either give them a puppy cut, so their fur is super short, or you could let their fur form dreadlock-like cords.  So if you like either of those looks in a Havanese, then their grooming and maintenance becomes a breeze.  But not so if you want to keep them in their full coat.

In short, the Havanese are not too high maintenance for owners who are home a lot.  Regardless of which grooming routine you choose to follow.

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