Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Havashire
Fifi the Havashire (Photo thanks to Larissa Michelle)

The Havashire is an undeniably cute dog that wants nothing more than to be around their family at all times. A mix between the affectionate, loyal Havanese and the charismatic and charming Yorkshire Terrier, the Havashire is a small dog with a big personality. They have a compact body with short legs and a long and flowing coat that may be a wide range of colours, including cream, white or brown.

Adaptable and fun-loving, these dogs like to be a part of the action and will follow their owners from room to room in the hope of something exciting happening. Their natural curiosity means that they enjoy being trained, though some may need a bit of persuasion in the form of food.

About & History

The Havashire is one of the more recent hybrid dog creations and was likely only first developed at the beginning of this century. However, both parent breeds (the Havanese and the Yorkshire Terrier) were developed many years ago, during the 1800s. We can thus examine the past of each parent breed in more detail to gain a better understanding of who the Havashire really is.

The Havanese

The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba and was developed within the capital, Havana, from dogs that had been imported by sailors from places, such as Tenerife. The ancestors of the Havanese are thought to include some popular modern-day breeds, such as the Bichon Frise and the Maltese. The Havanese was able to develop into such a unique breed in a short space of time thanks to the fact that the island of Cuba was so isolated and operated under strict trade restrictions.

The Havanese became known as an excellent choice of pet for the upper classes; a playful lapdog that would shower its master with affection. Unsurprisingly, the breed almost met its end during the Cuban revolution of 1959 and it is only due to the fact that a small number of individuals were smuggled to America that the breed has survived to this day. While the Havanese was always bred for companionship, its adaptable and sweet personality also makes it a suitable therapy dog.

The Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is an extremely popular breed of dog that was developed within Yorkshire, England in the 19th century. Breeds including the Skye Terrier and the now extinct Paisley Terrier were used in its creation. This small and feisty dog was originally used as a ratter and was a remarkably efficient vermin exterminator, using its small size and quick turn of foot to hunt down the small pests.

Yorkshire Terriers, or ‘Yorkies’ for short, are possibly best known for their determined character and they would certainly not have shown any fear or hesitation when pursuing their prey. Nowadays, the breed is not a working one and instead is kept as a companion animal all over the world. Owners particularly enjoy the fact that these small dogs can be kept in urban areas and do not require a large amount of exercise.


The Havashire can look more like it’s Yorkie parent or it’s Havanese parent, depending on which genes it inherits. Such a newly-developed hybrid, there is a still a good deal of variation in the appearance from one dog to another. Generally, they will have rectangular bodies that are sturdier than those of the Yorkie with a more robust bone structure. Their skull is moderately rounded and their muzzle is medium in length and not too stunted. Their ears may either stand erect or hang to the side of their face. Every Havashire will have dark brown eyes that are full of character. Their tail is not particularly long and may or may not have a plume of fur.

The Havashire is a small dog that tends to be larger than the Yorkie and about the same size as the Havanese. When fully grown, the Havashire will measure from 20cm to 28cm and will weigh between 3kg and 6kg. The coat of the Havashire should be long and silky – a real sight to behold when properly groomed. There are many possible colour combinations, including Black & Tan, White, Cream, Red & Brown. Most will have an adorable ‘moustache’ and ‘beard’ that only serve to make them more endearing.

Character & Temperament

Best-known for their dependence on people, Havashires really do rely on their masters for their happiness. They cannot be left alone for prolonged periods and separation anxiety can become a real issue for some. These characteristics make the Havashire best-suited to owners that can spend most of their time in their presence, such as those that are retired or work from home.

Inquisitive and energetic, these dogs enjoy keeping themselves busy and like to be entertained with a variety of canine games and activities. They are typically quite happy to participate in training sessions and their abundant intelligence soon becomes obvious when interacting with them.

Most Havashires will feel the need to protect their family and can make quite good watch dogs. If well socialised from a young age and exposed to plenty of people of all ages, they should be tolerant of new house guests and are rarely hostile. Getting along with other pets does not tend to pose any problems.


Photo of Havashire puppy
Fifi the Havashire (Photo thanks to Larissa Michelle)

While some Havashires can possess a stubborn streak and may require slightly more time to master a cue than other breeds, they are smart and curious so have the potential to do well with the right trainer.

The trick is in making them believe they want to participate in the training session, rather than feeling that they have to! This can be achieved with plenty of praise and delicious treats.


While it is generally assumed that crossbreed dogs suffer from less health issues than pedigree dogs due to their genetic diversity, the Havashire can potentially inherit health issues from either parent.

Patellar Luxation

A common problem of smaller breeds, patellar luxation is an orthopaedic condition that arises from having knee caps that do not sit as they should within their groove. Owners may notice that their dog ‘skips’ on their back leg from time to time.

As time goes on, arthritis will inevitably set in and dogs may start to become lamer, with some struggling more than others. Depending on the grade of the luxation and on how much the dog is affected, they may be managed surgically or medically.

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral Valve Disease is one of the most common heart conditions seen in dogs and is especially prevalent within toy dog populations. It is a progressive disease that gets worse over time, meaning symptoms will worsen as the dog ages. Symptomatic dogs will have a cough and may struggle to exercise.

Owners will also notice that they pant more than they used to and may breathe at a faster rate when resting. Diagnostic tests, such as echocardiograms, can diagnose the condition and cardiac medications can both reduce symptoms and prolong an affected animal’s life.

Porto-Systemic Shunt

A Porto-Systemic Shunt is an abnormal blood flow that bypasses the liver, meaning blood is not processed as it should be. This means that the dog does not receive the nutrients that it needs to grow and be active and that the toxic wastes are not removed from their body efficiently.

Blood tests and a specialised ultrasound can help to diagnose the condition. While medical management can improve symptoms, the therapy of choice is generally a surgery to correct the abnormal blood flow.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A small dog, the Havashire has moderate exercise requirements but does have a good deal of energy that it likes to release in ‘mad little bursts’! They relish having a good run around and enjoy sniffing and scenting.

Scent games, such as hide and seek with treats, can help them to satisfy any prey drive. Access to a garden can be a real bonus, though they don’t like to stay outside for too long without company.


To maintain the long and elegant coat of the Havashire in show condition requires a great deal of dedication and daily grooming sessions. Some will opt to have the coat clipped in order to reduce the amount of brushing needed. Most will benefit from professional grooming several times a year.

Those breed members that have inherited the erect ears of the Yorkie will be less prone to ear issues than those with pendulous ears. Ears that hang down will require more frequent cleaning and should be checked for signs of infection at regular intervals.

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