The Havanese is the only dog breed native to Cuba, bearing the name of its capital city, Havana. Its ancestors hail from the bichon family, having traveled to Cuba with Spanish noblemen and farmers in the 1500s. The breed quickly became a favorite among Cuban families as a companion dog, eventually spreading far beyond the country’s borders. This comical, intelligent, outgoing breed lives to give and receive affection. However, its gorgeous coat requires a high level of maintenance. Given the thickness and length of their hair, do Havanese shed? And are they hypoallergenic?
Do Havanese Shed?
Havanese are low-shedding dogs despite their abundant, luxuriant hair. Even seasonal shedding is minimal in this breed. Fortunately for allergy sufferers looking for a canine companion, Havanese are one of the few hypoallergenic breeds.
To be clear, no dog is one hundred percent hypoallergenic. Every dog produces allergens (glycoproteins) in its dander, saliva, and urine. Dander (flakes of dead skin) is the leading pet allergen. When dogs shed, they release dander into the air. The more a dog sheds, the more they release. Breeds like the Havanese shed so little that their dander remains largely trapped in their hair.
How Much Do Havanese Shed?
Havanese shed extremely little, though pet owners may notice a slight increase during periods of seasonal transition. Dog coats respond to changes in light and temperature by either thinning or thickening. Heavier shedding accompanies these changes.
Most double-coated dogs “blow their coats” once or twice annually, typically in the spring and fall. This means they undergo massive shedding of the undercoat over a period of two to four weeks. Despite having a double layer of hair, most Havanese only blow their coats once when they transition from a puppy coat to an adult coat. Some females may also do this after whelping (giving birth).
Do Havanese Have Hair or Fur?
Unlike most double-coated dogs, Havanese have hair, not fur. This unusual trait means their coats behave in certain unique ways.
Double-coated dogs are notorious shedders. This is because shedding mostly implicates the undercoat. However, dogs with hair shed far less than dogs with fur. This has to do with the growth cycle of the follicles. Fur has a much shorter growth cycle and therefore falls out more quickly. It’s also much denser. Hair has a longer growth cycle with more time between the anagen stage (growth) and the exogen stage (shedding). This means it falls out less frequently and also grows to greater lengths. Though Havanese have double coats, the fact that they have hair and not fur means they shed minimally.
Havanese are double-coated, meaning they have two layers of hair. The first layer is the undercoat (ground hair). This is a soft, fine, insulating layer that keeps the dog cool in summer and warm in winter. The second layer is the outer coat (guard hair). As its name suggests, this is a protective layer that keeps out moisture and dirt.
However, the outer coat of a Havanese is different from that of most double-coated breeds. Because it’s made of hair, not fur, it’s much softer and finer than typical guard hair.
The coat of a Havanese comes in three styles: curly, wavy, and straight. All coat types have a silky, soft feel, which is typical of hair. Without clipping or shaving, the coat grows thick and long.
Grooming a Havanese
Despite being minimal shedders, Havanese requires frequent, consistent grooming. You should brush your Havanese a minimum of two to three times a week regardless of its coat length. Long, untrimmed coats may require daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles. A slicker or pin brush is the most efficient tool for this type of coat. Follow up with a steel comb to ensure it is completely free of knots.
In addition to frequent brushing, you should ideally bathe your Havanese once every two to three weeks. This will keep their hair free of dirt and dust that can contribute to tangling and matting. Avoid bathing these dogs more often than once a week to keep their skin and coat from drying out. A lusterless coat is a sign of either excessive bathing or untreated health problems. After the bath is finished, blow-dry your Havanese to keep their coats from matting.
Should you shave or trim your Havanese? Generally, experts advise against shaving double-coated dogs as it robs them of a natural means of regulating their body temperature. It also affects the way the hair grows and may increase shedding or lead to a patchy appearance. However, owners may safely trim their Havanese in a variety of styles. Most choose to keep their dog somewhere between a very short puppy cut and a medium-length cut. Rarely will owners keep a companion Havanese in a full-length show coat as it requires a high level of care to maintain. The ears and tail should be kept long in any case.
How to Reduce Shedding
If you find your Havanese is shedding more than usual, it’s most likely due to seasonal changes in temperature. As long as there are no health issues causing the increased hair loss, you might want to try the following ways to reduce shedding in your dog. Check out the linked review articles for our take on the best pet products for shedders.
- Brushing: There’s no substitute for regular brushing, especially when it comes to a breed like the Havanese. Consistent grooming will remove loose hairs and stimulate the coat, both of which reduce the amount of hair that ends up on your furniture.
- De-shedding brush: For the best results, you’ll want to invest in the right type of brush. Check out this review article for the best de-shedding brushes for dogs.
- De-shedding shampoo: Find the right shampoo for shedders in this review article of the best de-shedding shampoos for dogs.
- Blow-dryer: One of the best ways to get rid of excess hair is to blow it away with a pet-appropriate blow-dryer.
- Dog food for shedders: Though most Havanese are not likely to need it, you might want to consider one of these high-quality dog foods for shedders if you’re finding a lot of hair around the house.
For those who love dogs but need a low-shedding, hypoallergenic breed, the Havanese is a great choice. As with any high-maintenance dog, make sure you have the time and money to devote to regular grooming.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Dorottya_Mathe
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.