Scratch Dog or Not – Are Havanese Dogs Hypoallergenic

It's a question frequently posed by allergy suffering dog lovers the world over: are Havanese dogs hypoallergenic? There's been much said in response over the years, some commentators veering so far off course that they clean forget to answer the question at all. Here we give a final and comprehensive answer to the question.


So you want some four-legged love but you're one of the 10% of Americans who break out in hives, collapse with shortness of breath and have to watch the world through burning, watery red eyes after a cuddle up with man's best friend? Well, good news, there is a canine companion out there especially suitable for you. Enter our Little Dog from Havana – The Havanese.​

Is It True, Are Havanese Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The short and indisputable answer is, YES – The Havanese is hypoallergenic. Still, caution is required. Before rushing out on a mad mission to pick up the first Havanese you come across, there is a little matter of 'word usage' to deal with first.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

Hypoallergenic is one of those words that has been purposely led astray. Often used in the cosmetics industry, it is a classic example of those devious admen using an unfamiliar word to mean not quite what it really means. Hypo in fact means less/lower than – a reduced risk. What it does not mean is 'no risk'. So, while the Havanese breed is far less likely to bring about allergic reactions in folk, as with all living creatures, the potential remains.

3 Reasons Why The Havanese Is A Choice breed Among Allergy Sufferers

  • Havanese have hair not fur. Though they still shed, it is very little compared to the vast majority of other breeds.
  • Thick hair – The thick coat of the hypoallergenic Havanese acts as a filter, preventing dander and skin particles from being dispersed into the air.
  • Smaller surface area – Being a Small Breed the Havanese has less surface area with which to produce allergens or transport them. For those who suffer from allergies to pollen, mold, grass, etc., a small dog will bring in less of these on its coat

Havanese and allergies - What should I do?

Even though allergic reactions to hypoallergenic dog breeds like the Havanese may be much less common, they can and do occur. If you, or a member of your household, has a known history of allergic disease it would be wise to verify your allergic sensitivity after exposure to the Havanese breed before deciding to adopt one as a Forever Pet into your family.

The last thing you want is to commit to a new family member only to discover that you can't bear to be in the same house as each other. To quash any doubt over the question as to whether or not the Havanese would make a suitable and allergy-free addition to the household, there are a couple of things you can try.

  • Arrange the temporary foster of a Havanese to see how things go
  • Arrange with a reputable Havanese breeder a series of controlled access visits with the pup of your choice. If this introductory period goes without hiccup or hive then you can close the deal and add a veritable hypoallergenic Havanese to the family.

5 Ways To Reduce The Risk Of An Allergic Reaction From Your Pooch

  • Avoid coming into contact with your dog's saliva. If that means no petting for the sake of a nasty skin rash, then it's a small price to pay
  • Designate a special 'allergen free' area outside for the dog to do his business in.
  • Carefully examine the ingredients in all food and vitamins given to your beloved pet. Make sure that your dog does not ingest or transport on his body any allergens you have had a known history with. It's the golden rule : What goes in comes back out'
  • Bathe your Havanese at least twice a week using a hypoallergenic shampoo. This can really help during periods of heightened allergic activity.
  • Grooming – Groom your Havanese daily employing the line brushing technique. Once your four-legged companion gets used to the joys of a good brushing it will not be uncommon for just a few strokes to send him into a trance.

All about the Havanese - Origin of the Species

Celebrated and adored as the National Dog of Cuba, the origins of the Havanese can be traced way back to descendants in 16th century Spain. During the great age of European exploration, closely related breeds accompanied Spanish explorers on their long seafaring voyages, charged with keeping the deck's rat population down and providing entertainment to the crew.

They finally settled and made their way in the warm climes of Cuba, where they thrived, befriending the Cuban aristocracy and elite. Associated with privilege and class distinction, they found themselves out of favor with Castro's Communist Party of Cuba and, during the ensuing revolution, were mostly abandoned by their fleeing owners. Unable to survive alone in the wild, the Havanese were driven to the very brink of extinction.

Fortunately, three different lines of pure-breed were successfully smuggled off the island by their owners, two finding asylum in the US and the other in Costa Rica. With a careful and dedicated breeding program they once more began to thrive, and today are more popular than ever, loved and cherished the world over.

General Appearance

The Havanese, also known as the Havana Silk dog, are small companion dogs characterized by their long, tousled coats. Squarely built, adults stand between 23 – 27 cm and come in a variety of colors. The Havanese is closely related to the Bichon and the two share many similar traits. Today the Havenese is enjoying a major resurgence, currently ranked as the 25th most popular breed in the U.S.


Havanese are warm, affectionate, playful dogs that will return tenfold the love heaped upon them. Extremely social and pacifist in nature, they form close social bonds with other Havanese. The only company they enjoy more than their own kind is our kind - their bi-pedal owners, human beings.

In fact, the Havanese are so devotedly loyal that they make up a part of a small group of breeds affectionately referred to as 'velcro' dogs – i.e stuck to your side. During the colder months they will show a tendency to slow down and conserve energy, making fantastic bed-warmers during long dark winter nights.


Generally the Havanese is a very healthy breed of dog, but like all breeds they are genetically prone to certain ailments more than others. The most common ailments affecting Havanese are:

  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Deafness
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Liver Shunt

Havanese are especially susceptible to allergies themselves. Their thick coat – an attribute that helps make the Havanese hypoallergenic to their owners – is conversely the main contributing factor in their own allergy problems.

If you notice that your Havanese is persistently scratching, to the point of leaving bald patches in its coat, it is likely the result of an allergic reaction to a third-party source – a food ingredient or a chemical in laundry detergent or shampoo. Allergies effecting Havanese are usually treated with a combination of dietary change and medications.

Genetic and environmental considerations aside, YOU are the most important factor governing the health of your Havanese. Good nutrition is the single most important thing you can do for your canine companion. From their puppy years, right up into their retirement period, your Havanese is wholly dependent on you – in good health and bad.

Fortunately, such Toy Breeds as the Havanese attract only the most responsible and loving keepers, and there is no better motivational factor than love to do what's right.


Due to their small size the Havanese are ideal candidates for Small Breed Dog Food. A quality small breed dog food will not only contain more calories per scoop than others, but will also contain a composite of vitamins and minerals which will ensure that your furry friend will enjoy a healthy retirement when the time comes.

One of the happiest eaters in the business, the Havanese will wolf down just about any good quality dog food. Though, just like their human counterparts, Havanese can be fussy eaters. Finding the brand and flavors that best suits your Havanese is a matter of trial and error. Regardless of the individual brand or flavor of food, good nutrition is a must if you want your pooch happy and in good spirits.

Finding A Good Havanese Breeder

Finding a good breeder of any breed takes time and research. That shouldn't put you off , as a reputable Havanese breeder is really the best start for you and the prospect pup. A good breeder, over anything else, will want to match the perfect puppy to the perfect owner.

When searching for a breeder it would be a wise move to verify that he/she is a member of the Havanese club of America. Such breeders are very responsible and put the dog's future and well-being above all else. They will issue all buyers with a written contract, guaranteeing a home for any dog they breed if the owner becomes unable to keep it For those searching a hypoallergenic Havanese this guarantee can really be a Godsend in the case of a chronic allergic reaction to the pup.

Regardless of the dog you finally opt for, it is of the utmost importance that the breeder shows you the results of the genetic screening tests for the pup’s parents.

3 Red Flags To Look Out For When Searching A Havanese Breeder

  • Avoid breeders whose main preoccupation is with your credit card.
  • Instant pet websites can be tempting, esp when you want the warm comfort of a loyal pooch. But, they are to be avoided at all costs.
  • Having your pick of any puppy, and the option of paying online. Such practices are almost never associated with reputable breeders.

Adopting a Havanese from a Rescue or Shelter

Adopting a Havanese from a rescue or shelter could prove a lengthy process, but for those who have the inclination and patience it could just be the answer to your doggy prayers. As with all rescue animals there are some things you must keep in mind. The bad news is that being a pure-breed, relatively few Havanese turn up in rescue shelters.

The reason is a combination of their pedigree price and their low numbers on the market. Of the few that do turn up in shelters they will more likely than not do so with an incomplete medical and behavioral history. Many shelter animals have been abused or have had traumatic experiences which will have left a mark upon their personality.

Potential drawbacks aside, many dogs from shelters turn out to be the most adorable kind, who love you that much more after experiencing the trauma of abandonment. It remains true that the potential benefits and the personal reward of adopting a shelter Havanese far outweigh the risks.

To find out about local pet shelters in your area go online, sniff about and do some research. You can also find Havanese rescue boards and forums which will allow you to widen your search further. Somewhere out there A little Havanese may be waiting for you.

How Much Will a Havanese Set You Back?

The cost of a Havanese pup will vary according to its place of origin, it's sex, what pedigree its parents have, and whether the pup is deemed more suited for the show ring or a domestic life. From reputable Havanese breeders the price can range from $1,400 to $2,000.

For that price the young Havanese should have been raised in a safe, healthy environment and be from parents with medical clearances and conformation titles to prove that they are pure specimens of the breed. All Puppies should have had their temperament evaluated, have been vetted and de-wormed.

It's a Wrap

So, with everything said and done, the Havanese is certainly not a scratch dog. For those suffering with chronic allergies the breed may still prove a little sensitive at times, but there are many steps which can be taken to minimize the chance of suffering any discomfort.

However, for the majority of allergy sufferers, the Havanese proves itself the perfect breed, offering sensitive dog lovers the world over the opportunity to finally have a four-legged friend without the risk of running a fever.

And, after years of struggling with pet allergies, what breed of dog could be more apt or inspirational? What breed could demonstrate better the fight to overcome barriers and hardship? Once almost extinct, down to just three family lines, The Little Dog of Havana fought back and is now more widespread and popular than ever.

So it's a closed case, a done deal, the final word to the frequently posed question of: Are Havanese Dogs Hypoallergenic.

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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