German Shepherd Dog

Have a Hav? Or Just Considering One?

By TD Yandt

Have a Hav? or just want one?

Trying to decide on the right breed for your next family pet? A Havanese might be the perfect match. A toy breed dog with the personality and structure of a non-sporting dog… what more could you ask for?

How do you pronounce Havanese, and it’s short form, Hav?

Hav – a – neez or Have a Knees. The emphasis should be placed on the first syllable. If you are having a difficult time pronouncing the full breed name, you can always refer to a Hav using the abbreviated form of the breed name. Just as the name of this article infers, Hav, is pronounced Have.

How are Havanese with other dogs?

Havanese are typically a blast when kept in a small pack. They get along with other dogs, and enjoy a chance to rough house and play “bitey face games”. As in all group settings, skirmishes do crop up from time to time, but they will often resolve themselves without intervention.

Are Havanese good with children?

A Hav is one of the few toy breeds that I commonly recommend to families with children. Unlike many of the toys, a Havanese is actually a very solid little dog. Where a Pomeranian or Chihuahua has fairly thin delicate bone structure, a Havanese is built like a much larger dog and can withstand the sometimes rambunctious play of a school age child.

Can a Havanese participate in dog sports like agility?

YES! Havanese are typically very trainable and love to run and play as is required in many dog sports. Agility, Flyball, and Freestyle dance are all excellent ways to share and active lifestyle with your small dog.

Are Havanese good family dogs?

Unlike many breeds who bond with one person rather than an entire family, Havanese are well suited to family life. Havanese puppies have a ton of energy, and the more people they have to play with, the better.

Do Havanese make good pets?

Another resounding yes! For many people the Havanese is a wonderful companion animal. However, some people are turned off by a “velcro dog” type personality. A Hav is very loyal, and loves to be with his people. They will happily follow you everywhere – including the bathroom. If you prefer a more independent pet I would not recommend a Hav.

Can a Havanese be litter trained?

Most definitely. Havanese are actually wonderful apartment dogs. Because of their size, litter training or pad training are excellent options for those who are not able to be home during the day to take their adult dog out to pee. As with any dog, it’s not recommended to leave them for more than five or six hours a day… but litter training is a great option for those who are away at work or who don’t have a yard to let their dog out in.

Are Havanese easy to train?

Havanese are wonderful obedience dogs. They love to work and to train with their people. Clicker training is an excellent option for any of the toy breeds, and Havs are no exception. They respond very well to the click and it doesn’t take long for them to catch onto anything you decide to teach them.

Would you recommend a Havanese for me and my husband?

As long as you wouldn’t be away from home for more than a four hour stretch, and six hours total, each day, then a Hav may well be the dog for you. Because of their velcro personalities it can be very stressful for them to be left home alone. If you are away for several hours a day, I highly recommend either chosing a more independent breed, hiring a professional dog walker, or leaving your little one at a doggy daycare while you are gone.

How much exercise does a Havanese need every day?

While a Hav is hog heaven when running, playing, and training, they really don’t need a whole lot of space to meet their energy requirements. Playing fetch, wrestling, clicker training, or just engaging in some other indoor active play is often enough to meet their needs. However, be advised that Havanese do enjoy having some outside time every day. They can suffer from a condition called “winter nose” when not allowed enough natural sunshine each day.

How often do you need to groom a Havanese?

Havanese have a very thick plush coat. If you are not up to daily brushing consider keeping your Hav in a puppy clip. Regular grooming appointments to keep the coat short is a great option. If you do decide to have your Hav kept in a puppy clip you will need to book grooming appointments roughly once every four to six weeks.

I’m not a groomer, would I be able to maintain a Havanese coat?

This is one wonderful thing about the Havanese coat… you really do have a lot of options. Daily brushing and a monthly bath is all they really need, even if left in full coat. However, their coat will also cord – much like a Puli’s. If you are interested, ask your groomer for more information on cording your Hav. A corded Hav still needs their monthly bath, but does not need to be brushed. The third option, as mentioned, is to keep your Hav in a puppy clip. You will still need to brush and bathe your Hav, but the required grooming is much less frequent.

The Havanese is one of the few toy breeds that are perfectly suited to family life. Sturdy enough to rough house with the kids, play fetch with dad, and yet quite happy to sit quietly and cuddle with grandma. These versatile little dogs really are a great match for many different kinds of families.


Ms. Yandt’s goal is to postively impact the lives of pets and their people by providing an education on individual species, their proper care and the use of operant conditioning to enhance the human-animal bond. You can learn more about TD and her animal family at www.noselicks.comOriginally published April 23, 2003,

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