Are Havanese Dogs Aggressive?

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Are Havanese Dogs Aggressive?We tend to bring a dog into our lives when we are looking for a loving, fun companion. This means that when a dog begins to display aggressive behavior, it can be quite a shock.

If your Havanese is acting out and you’re worried it might be an aggressive dog, here’s what you need to know.

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What Is Considered Aggressive Behavior in Dog?

The first thing to remember when thinking about dog aggression is that dogs are animals. Aggression is entirely normal within the animal kingdom. Not all dog aggression is dangerous, or worth worrying about. Sometimes, a dog might act this way simply to cope with a situation or feeling. Other times, these smaller ‘harmless’ acts might be warning signs that a dog is going to become dangerous.

Typically, aggressive behavior in your Havanese would manifest as becoming rigid, producing a deep and guttural threatening bark, lunging or charging, headbutting, growling, baring teeth, snarling, snapping, and biting.

Some owners find that their dog will begin at the start of that list and gradually become more and more violent until the dog eventually snaps and bites with enough force to cause puncture wounds. It is at this point that owners should consider their dog to be dangerously aggressive.

Are Havanese Naturally Aggressive?

Many people have a preconception about small dog breeds, especially toy dog breeds like the Havanese. They assume that smaller dog breeds suffer from what is often called ‘small dog syndrome’, where the dog feels the need to compensate for its size by developing a feisty and sometimes aggressive nature.

Whilst this is the case for many toy dog breeds, the Havanese is not one of them. In fact, the Havanese is naturally very happy and carefree, playful and full of energy but equally as full of love. It is not an inherently angry or aggressive breed in the slightest, although it can sometimes act territorially.

8 Things That Can Make Your Havanese Aggressive

Sometimes, owners will notice that their Havanese has suddenly developed aggressive behavior. This feels as if it comes out of nowhere, but there is usually a reason for a dog to act out aggressively.


Your Havanese is just as likely as you are to get scared, only he doesn’t have the ability to voice it or tell you. This will often result in him acting out and becoming aggressive, usually towards whatever he is scared of (other dogs, the vacuum, strangers).

Dogs that have come from shelters are more likely to be aggressive out of fear, often caused by past trauma and abuse. Usually, a shelter will be able to tell you what they know about the dog’s history to help you spot this.

Resource-Guarding and Possessiveness

Sometimes Havanese can get territorial, and this can present as aggression. It will often be over either territory or resources (food, water, toys). Sometimes, it can be over people too. If your Havanese is lunging and snapping when someone goes near their space or their things (or you!) then it is likely to be a resource-guarding issue.


Just as with fear, the Havanese might act aggressively when anxious. Just like many Bichon-types, the Havanese is a sensitive breed and is prone to feelings of anxiety – especially separation anxiety. Simple things like a change in environment or a new person in the home might cause your Havanese to become anxious. You might notice them snarling and hiding or something similar.

Social Aggression

Before we domesticated them, canines lived in packs with a very clear hierarchy. Now that we keep them as pets, dogs in multi-dog households still act as if they are a pack, and will usually have a very strict hierarchy. This will usually be important when it comes to feeding, resting, and even things like who gets what toys.

If this hierarchy is disrupted by one of the lower dogs, then your Havanese might demonstrate their dominance by acting out aggressively toward the other dog.

Leash Aggression

Canines were never made to walk on leashes when they were wild, and even today, many dogs do not appreciate having a leash on. This frequently causes lead aggression, a type of aggressive behavior that is typically aimed at other dogs that you encounter whilst out and about. If you notice that your dog is lunging and yapping whenever you attach their lead, then your Havanese is likely leash aggressive.


When a Havanese (or any dog, for that matter) falls ill, it can really take a toll on the dog’s personality. It can change a dog’s energy levels, their playfulness, and it can even make a dog aggressive. If they are in pain or feel wrong, this feeling stays with them, reducing their temper until they act out.

3 Things to Do If Your Havanese Is Too Aggressive

Once you’ve noticed that your Havanese is aggressive, you need to do something about it. There are a few things that you can do to tackle the issue.

Take Them to the Vet

If your Havanese is very suddenly acting aggressively, it suggests that there is something more at play than just them acting out. It is important that you take them to the vet to get them checked over before just moving on to training. Any number of things can cause a dog to become suddenly aggressive, from a cut or injury to an underlying condition. Either way, it’s good to catch it early.

Assess Their Environment

Since aggression can be a sign of fear, anxiety, or uncertainty, especially in sensitive dogs like the Havanese, it is worth taking a good look at their environment. Assess whether there is anything new that they’ve shown a particular dislike for (perhaps they bark at it, or avoid the room that it is in). You should also consider whether you’ve just moved or changed a room around – even the littlest things could be a source of nervousness.

You might even notice that it is nothing to do with your home, but that when you’re out and about your dog becomes aggressive when he sees a policeman or a helicopter. This is suggestive of a fear that may or may not be rooted in past trauma.

Once you’ve spotted things that could be triggering your dog, come up with a plan to change them without ruining your home. You can also work to avoid the things that trigger your Havanese outside of the home by taking new routes on walks or distracting them with treats when the trigger is nearby.

Combat the Aggression with Specific Training

If your Havanese is showing resource-guarding behavior or possessive aggression, you’ll need to work with your dog to train the behavior away. This can be done by helping them to realize that nobody is going to take the food or water away (or toy, etc.). You can do this by sitting with your Havanese when it eats, drinks, or plays, and then slowly (day by day) working your way up to petting them whilst they do whatever it is.

For leash aggression, you can work with a trainer or alone to reward your Havanese for time spent on the leash. As soon as his harness or collar is on, reward them, and then when the leash is attached, reward them again. This will help to create positive connotations for your Havanese, making them more likely to act calmly when the leash is attached.

Most types of dog aggression can be tackled by training. If you are too overwhelmed to consider how to best train your Havanese to prevent or stop them from being aggressive, it might be worth contacting a local dog trainer so that you can work together to make sure that your Havanese does not become a dangerous dog.


Some forms of aggression are normal in dogs, and sometimes behaviors are mistaken for aggression when they’re really playful. But, if a Havanese is actually aggressive, it’s crucial for the owner to spot the signs and work hard to correct any behavior. This will help to make the owner’s life easier, and could potentially save the Havanese from getting into any situations where the dog becomes dangerous.

Training, lifestyle changes, and plenty of patience are key when it comes to combating aggression in Havanese dogs. With a careful combination of all of them, owners should be able to get their playful, happy, and calm pooch back into their lives.

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