Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Havashu
Have an image we can use? Message us here!

A designer toy breed, the Havashu inherits the courageous and loyal nature of the Shih Tzu and the spirited personality of the Havanese. Most individuals will have a long and flowing coat that is particularly wavy on their ears and tail. Fur colour varies, though many will be white and brown.

The real appeal of the Havashu is their loving nature and the loyalty that they have for their family. They make good companions for small children and can generally tolerate their company for longer than most! The quick mind of the Havashu should be kept engaged with a variety of fun games and activities.

About & History

Two beautiful, long-haired breeds have been crossed together to produce a new hybrid that has many positive attributes. The Havashu is a cross of the Shih Tzu and the Havanese and has likely been in existence for the last twenty years or so. There is not much to say about the limited history of the Havashu but we can look to the history of its parents to get a better understanding of where it has come from.

The Havanese

The Havanese is a Cuban dog that was developed from Bichon-type dogs originally brought over by sailors from the Spanish island of Tenerife. They were bred to have a long, silky coat and an affectionate nature, making them wonderful companion animals.

Interestingly, as the Havanese originated in a place that has little contact with the outside world, they were standardised quickly. Sadly, during the time of the Cuban revolution, the breed almost completely died out and only a few individuals survived after being exported to the United States. The Kennel Club recognise the Havanese within their Toy Group.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a truly ancient breed that dates back to around 800 BC. Many believe that they are Tibetan, though some experts claim that they may be Chinese. It is thought that the Shih Tzu is closely related to the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso and these dogs do share many common traits.

The Shih Tzu was always regarded as a dog of the higher classes and was owned by royalty and emperors. In the early 1900s, the Shih Tzu was brought to Europe and a couple of decades later they made it to America. It was in 1969 that they gained recognition from the American Kennel Club within their Toy Group.


In truth, the Shih Tzu and the Havanese share many of the same physical characteristics and are both toy-sized dogs with sturdy bodies, however, there are several differences. Which genes the Havashu will inherit is unpredictable so, even within the same litter, there will be a degree of variation in the appearance of each pup.

A small yet compact dog, the Havashu grows to heights of between 20cm and 28cm and will weigh from 3kg to 6.5kg. They have a rounded head with relatively small ears that hang sweetly to the side of their face. Their eyes are dark and circular, giving them a playful and cheeky expression. Their muzzle is typically longer than that of the Shih Tzu and they will have less of a ‘snub’ face. They should have a long body and a good abdominal tuck-up. Their tail is typically densely furred and will curl over their body.

The fur of the Havashu is long and wavy with a variety of potential colours and patterns. Fur may be white, brown, black, cream and grey and most dogs will have at least two coat colours.

Character & Temperament

For many, the most endearing feature of all when it comes to the Havashu is their loving, trusting nature. These dogs are perfectly content in the company of their family and enjoy being surrounded by people at all times. They are more likely to be found curled up next to their owner (or on their lap!) rather than in the corner of the room. Their love extends to the whole family and they form particularly strong bonds with any children present.

Mischievous and at times hyperactive, the Havashu can have ‘crazy moments’ where they will sprint around in bursts of energy before flopping down at your feet, all tuckered out. They enjoy participating in all types of games and will pick up on things quickly.

The typical Havashu will get on well with any other cats or dogs that were present before them, though adding a new pet to the mix can take some time. They may try to chase smaller pets, though never do so with any malice.


Smart dogs that relish any opportunity to do what they’re told and be praised, the Havashu makes a fun dog to train for even the novice owner. They respond best to praise and can take criticism poorly, often refusing to participate in future sessions for fear of being told off again. Sensitivity aside, these dogs take to training very well and can master a number of different tasks.


As this hybrid was created so recently, no health studies have been performed on them. However, we can look to their parent’s health information, as well as anecdotal evidence in order to determine which health conditions we should be on the lookout for.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

MVD is one of the most common heart conditions diagnosed in veterinary medicine and small breed dogs are over-represented. Initially, dogs that are affected may not have any symptoms though a vet may pick up a quiet murmur when they are seen for their annual vaccinations.

For some, their disease progresses so slowly that they are never really affected. For others, their disease may progress quickly and they can begin to exhibit signs of heart disease shortly after a murmur is detected. The murmur is typically investigated with a heart scan and if MVD is diagnosed, most dogs will be started on life-long medication.

Bladder Stones

Bladder stones can be difficult to detect and a number of dogs will suffer in silence, without owners ever realising there is an issue. Amazingly, some bladder stones are only detected when a dog has an X-ray for something else, such as a hind limb lameness. An astute owner may notice subtle symptoms, such as a dog that is urinating more than usual or is taking longer to pass urine.

A urine exam may detect urinary crystals and a bladder scan or X-ray will then be performed to check for stones. Some stones can be dissolved using prescription diets alone, while others will require surgery. As stones can recur, many dogs will be kept on special food for life.

Allergic Skin Disease

Allergic disease is the number one reason that dogs present to the veterinary clinic and can be one of the most complex and frustrating conditions to treat. Dogs will be affected to varying degrees and some will only show signs seasonally. Potential symptoms include: generalised itchiness, paw licking and red skin.

Making a diagnosis often consists of performing several tests to rule out other diseases that can mimic allergies, such as mange or bacterial infections. Frustratingly, there is no real cure for allergic skin disease and many animals will be managed on a combination of anti-itch medicine, antibiotics, medicated washes and immunotherapy for their entire lives.

Exercise and Activity Levels

For owners on the hunt for a dog with moderate exercise requirements that will be content in a small home with no garden, the Havashu may well be a good match. Though lively and always up for a game, the Havashu does not demand a great deal of physical activity and will just need a few short walks a day to go to the toilet and explore the outdoors.

It is important that the mental needs of the Havashu are not over-looked and that they are also provided with plenty of mental stimulation. They can excel at obedience training and will often graduate top of their class!


Quite a high maintenance breed, the long coat of the Havashu should be brushed three to four times a week to prevent matts from forming and remove any debris. Their fur does not shed a lot and some individuals will be classed by their breeders as hypoallergenic. It will not be necessary to bathe the Havashu often and they do not tend to emit the typical ‘doggy odour’ associated with some other breeds.

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.