The Havanese is a long-lived, sprightly, sturdy little pup that makes friends wherever he goes.
Indeed, fans of this breed owe an enduring debt to the people of Havana, Cuba, for their role in birthing the dog they still call Blanquito de la Habana – the Havana Silk Dog.
And yet there is no escaping the fact that the Havanese is a toy dog breed, and toy dog breeds are generally not recommended as family dogs, especially for families who have very young kids. So is the Havanese off-limits or the canine exception to this rule?
Let’s find out now!
Are Havanese Good Family Dogs?
The short, sweet truth is that Havanese dogs make great family pets. The Havanese is truly one of those rare exceptions in the world of toy-sized dogs.
Havanese dogs readily get along with kids, dogs, and even other non-aggressive family pets! They are welcoming to strangers and bond readily with all family members equally.
Perhaps this is why the Havanese dog breed has climbed all the way up the American Kennel Club’s most popular purebred dog list and is now ranked 24th out of nearly 200 dog breeds!
Now that we’ve answered that question, let’s take a closer look at the specific traits and qualities that make the Havanese such great family pets.
Havanese May Be Small….But They Are Surprisingly Sturdy
The Havanese dog typically weighs between seven and 13 pounds when fully grown. That is a really petite pup! Of course, this dog’s silky, long, the human hairlike coat does make her look bigger than she is – and male Havanese do tend to outweigh females at least slightly.
However, this is not a dog that needs overly careful handling. Underneath their gorgeous show coat, this little dog is a natural athlete who can quickly maneuver as needed to sidestep klutzy kids (and klutzy adults, for that matter).
Furthermore, Havanese are known to be particularly smart and can quickly adapt to interact with family members of different ages without putting themselves in harm’s way.
This doesn’t mean you don’t still need to exercise care in the same way you would if a small child or family feline was underfoot. But even so, your Havanese dog is still likely to be one step ahead of you – figuratively and literally – when you do.
Havanese Learn Tricks & Love to Perform
Along his long and winding road 300-year road to becoming the modern purebred dog breed he is today, the Havanese crossed paths with the Bichon Frise, the Maltese, the Poodle, and perhaps others as well.
In fact, the Havanese breed was never intended for life as a working dog. This dog was always destined to live in the lap of luxury as a canine companion to the rich and famous (Ernest Hemingway and Charles Dickens among them).
And yet, unlike so many so-called “lap dogs,” the Havanese’s whip-smart intelligence and lively personality makes her a natural for learning tricks and performing them. This is one reason the Havanese tends to do so well in the show ring. They love to perform and they adore the spotlight.
This makes answering the question of “Are Havanese good family dogs?” super-simple since the textbook definition of a great family dog is a dog that wants to learn tricks and perform them.
Not only is the experience of teaching your Havanese tricks a richly entertaining pursuit for the younger family members, but it is also deeply enriching for your dog and ensures your pup will stay happy and healthy in your company.
The Havanese Loves to Cuddle
If you have fond memories of fighting with your siblings over whose turn it was to have the family dog sleep with you, you already have a picture of what life will be like once you welcome your Havanese dog home.
Outside of this breed’s innate love of romping, playing and learning tricks, the Havanese was always bred to keep people’s laps warm. To this end, you can absolutely expect your Havanese to want to be with you and your family all the time, as close to you as possible and preferably on you if possible.
In fact, during Fidel Castro’s invasion of Cuba when so many wealthy Cubans fled to the United States, they left many of their prized possessions behind, but their Havanese dogs traveled with them to the States. This is actually how the rest of us got the chance to meet and fall in love with the Havanese and welcome them into our homes and laps.
The Havanese Is Known to be Sweet and Affectionate
According to the official Havanese dog breed standard, this breed’s trademark personality is “sweet” and “non-aggressive.” Friendly, intelligent, playful, alert – these are the words long-time breeders, fans and judges use to describe the Havanese dog.
Kids, tweens, teens and adults alike will enjoy having such a sociable pup around. But the temperament of your new pup may have a particular impact on the younger family members, especially when the inevitable challenges of growing up rear their head.
Not only does is this proof positive of the profoundly positive impact pets (and especially dogs) can have on a child’s growing-up years, but it also highlights how vitally important your pet’s own personality can be to facilitating these benefits.
When you choose a Havanese dog as your family’s pet dog, you are potentially adding a new family member who will change your children’s lives in innumerable positive ways for the duration of their lives.
Havanese Are Surprisingly Low Maintenance Dogs
For some busy parents, even a casual glance at the long, silky, fancy coat of a Havanese all decked out for the show ring and you may find yourself saying, “That is not the dog for me!”
However, unless you have plans to breed or show your Havanese pup, the long show coat is easily dispensed with. Most Havanese owners of “pet” Havanese dogs opt for the much shorter, wash-and-wear puppy clip, which basically leaves your dog looking just like a sweet teddy bear come to life.
As well, Havanese dogs have their Poodle cross ancestors to thank for their largely non-shedding coats, which make cleaning up after this breed about as easy as it gets.
Havanese coats do shed just like all coated dogs do, but the surrounding hairs catch the shed-out hair so it does not fall to the ground. For anyone in your family who happens to struggle with allergies, this is an unexpected blessing in the form of fewer close encounters with the aggravating protein that triggers pet allergies.
Another happy fact of the Havanese breed is that these dogs are not known to emit any “doggy odor” even when they need a bath. So you won’t have to worry about finding pet-safe air fresheners when your dog is overdue for a bath.
Even if you keep your Havanese in a shorter puppy clip, you will need to commit to short brushing sessions every other day or so to prevent tangles and mats from forming and irritating your dog’s skin. And you will need to tend to certain other basic maintenance needs your dog will need help with.
The most common maintenance tasks Havanese owners report include these:
– Coat brushing (daily or every other day depending on the clip you choose).
– Teeth brushing as needed.
– Ear inspections and cleaning as needed.
– Paw pad inspections and toenail clips as needed.
– Anal gland maintenance as needed (or have your dog’s groomer do this one).
– Annual “well dog” veterinary exams.
Are Havanese Dogs Good Family Pets?
So are Havanese dogs good family pets? Let’s recap what we’ve learned in this article and find out!
Havanese dogs are sturdy, fun-loving, smart and social, eager to learn tricks and play. This breed loves to cuddle and be with “their” people and will readily opt for the nearest open lap when the time comes.
Havanese dogs are also easy to keep, especially when in the shorter puppy clip. They don’t shed, smell or even bark a lot, making them perfect for life in close quarters with neighbors.
Havanese are known to get along with people of all ages and are welcoming towards strangers when properly socialized. They can and do readily bond with all family members equally.
And Havanese dogs, while active and playful, don’t need a lot of space to run around. With sufficient indoor exercise, these dogs don’t even really need to be walked to get their daily activity.
For busy families on the go who crave the company and affection of a family dog but don’t have time for lots of extra pet care duties, the Havanese is about as perfect as you can get!