Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Hava-Wheat is a hybrid dog, the result of a match between a toy, Havanese father and a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier mother. Their parentage is this way round because the Wheaten Terrier is larger than the Havanese, which could make for birthing difficulties with the smaller dog as the mother.

The Hava-Wheat is a hirsute fellow that requires regular trimming or daily brushing (depending on which parent their coat takes after). They have a reputation for being good-natured, lovers of human company, and have a playful nature. Despite their small to medium size, the breed is not a lapdog and requires a moderate amount of exercise, and can be a great match as a family dog.

About & History

As a hybrid dog that is newly arrived on the scene, the story of the Hava-Wheat is that of the parent dogs.

The Havanese

The Havanese gets their name from Havana, the capital city of Cuba, where the breed first developed. In the 1800s, Spanish colonists came to Cuba, bringing with them a variety of dogs of the Bichon type. After a sustained period of interbreeding on the island, these dogs established a new breed, which we now know as the Havanese.

The number of Havanese dogs declined sharply with the Cuban Revolution (1959). But the breed was saved from extinction by wealthy aristocrats fleeing from Cuba and taking their pet Havanese dogs with them. It’s thought that the modern breed is descended from one of only eleven dogs that left Cuba and made it to the US at this time.

The Soft-Coasted Wheaten Terrier

In contrast, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium-sized dog that originates from Ireland. Unlike other terrier breeds, which tend to have a coarse wiry coat, as their name suggests, the Soft-Coated Wheaten has a silky, soft coat. They were originally working dogs taking on any number of roles on a farm: from rat-catching to guarding, and hunting badger to herding.


In a litter of hybrid dogs, there is no guarantee as to what the puppies will look like. This is because the laws of genetics dictate that each pup may inherit characteristics from either of their (very different) parents. Thus, a Hava-Wheat can vary greatly in size and coat type.

However, running with the idea of a true blend between both parents, a Hava-Wheat will be a small to medium-sized dog with plenty of hair. If their coat takes after the Havanese it will be long and curly, whilst the other parent yields a much softer, silkier hair type. Coat colours include wheaten, blonde, red, black or brown.

The Hava-Wheat has a medium-to-long snout with a black nose and dark eyes. Their face is framed by drop ears adorned with long hair or feathering. Their legs and trunk are somewhat to the heavy side, with the body usually being longer than the dog is high. This is topped with a medium-length tail, again festooned with feathering.

Character & Temperament

Most of the words used to describe the Hava-Wheat’s temperament are positive and include descriptions such as happy, playful, affectionate, and loyal. They love human company and prefer to be owned by someone who is home most of the time. They usually get on well with other pets and enjoy being around children (so long as the youngsters treat the dog with respect).

Just be aware that a Hava-Wheat that takes after their terrier parent may be a touch independent and have a strong instinct to hunt and chase. When left alone for long periods of time they may develop bad habits, such as digging or barking.


The Havanese is a laidback, chilled fellow whilst the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier does some typical terrier characteristics. This means the Hava-Wheat can have a stubborn, independent streak that adds extra challenge to training. Reward-based methods are best, where the owner motivates their dog to learn by encouraging them with rewards.


The Hava-Wheat is too newly established for data on their health problems to have amassed. However, it is reasonable to assume that they may be predisposed to some of the problems common in the parent breeds.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) refers to an inherited condition affecting the eyes, which lead to loss of vision in young life. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this progressive blindness, which is doubly distressing because it afflicts young active dogs.

In an ideal world, both parent dogs should be screened for and found to be free from PRA, and only healthy dogs used for breeding.

Familiar Nephropathy

This is another inherited condition affecting young dogs. This time it is the kidney that is affected whereby tiny blood vessels (capillaries) fail to develop properly within the kidney.

Affected dogs may start to show symptoms as young as six-months of age and may be in renal failure by their second birthday. Signs include increased thirst, excessive urination, poor coat, weight loss, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Once again, there is no treatment cure, although there are medications and diets that may help extend life.

Portosytemic Shunt (PSS)

This is a condition whereby the blood supply to the liver fails to develop, as the organ is bypassed by a vascular shunt (the portosystemic shunt or PSS). Without blood flowing through it, the liver cannot perform its filtering duties, and so the blood does not get detoxed.

Symptoms occur in young dogs and include heavy drooling after eating, mental stupor, stunted growth and seizures. The signs can be managed with medical treatment and diet, but this needs to be life-long. Alternatively, surgical correction of the shunt is possible, but this is specialist surgery and is expensive.

Addison’s Disease

This is a metabolic condition where the body is not able to produce of the stress-hormone, cortisol. This means the dog finds it physiologically difficult to cope with normal stress (such as a change of routine or a visit to the groomer), which triggers episodes of collapse.

The symptoms tend to wax and wane, which means Addison’s Disease, can often be overlooked until it reaches an advanced stage. However, it is vital this condition is identified as soon as possible because it gets worse with age and can eventually be fatal. Other symptoms include intermittent diarrhoea, vomiting, muscular weakness, and periods of extreme lethargy.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Hava-Wheat is a case of appearances being deceptive. Although a small dog, they are relatively active and do need regular, moderate amounts of exercise. Indeed, they will enjoy dogs sport and their stature is no bar to taking part in activities, such as flyball and dog agility.


It is important to realise that no dog is totally hypoallergenic, and this includes the Hava-Wheat. Some sources quote both parent breeds as being hypoallergenic (and thus also their off-spring) but this is not the case. Although the Hava-Wheat does not shed heavily, this is only one component of the allergens that can trigger a reaction in people who suffer from allergies.

The Hava-Wheat’s coat does represent a commitment in order to keep it in good condition. The Havanese coat can grow long and unkempt, meaning it needs regular trimming, whilst the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier needs a daily brush to stop tangles and knots forming. Whichever way you look at it, their offspring is going to need time spent keeping their coat in good condition.

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