Are Havanese Dogs Smart?

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Are Havanese Dogs Smart?Dogs have been companions to humans for millennia. This is not just because they are cute – rather, they have been helping their humans with a myriad of duties.

There are different types of canine intelligence, such as instinctive or natural intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience. Read on to find out if Havanese dogs are smart and how you can make your pooch smarter.

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Intelligent vs. Smart Dogs: The Difference

Although sometimes used interchangeably, there is a huge difference between intelligent and smart dogs. Intelligence is measurable and instinctive – so-called “intelligent breeds” are born with certain skills. For instance, some intelligent dogs can understand 250 words or more – while others can only understand about 160 words.

Being smart, however, means that the pooch is able to learn from its environment and adapt to a variety of situations. So, smartness is learned – and it’s a trait that makes the pooch highly trainable.

Determining a Dog’s Intelligence

The first efforts of determining and ranking dogs’ intelligence were made by Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology.

His book, titled “The Intelligence of Dogs,” ranks breeds according to intelligence, which is of three types: instinctive intelligence, which refers to the dog’s ability to do the tasks it was bred for (such as hunting, guarding, protecting, or herding), adaptive intelligence, which refers to the dog’s ability to solve issues on its own, and working and obedience – a type of intelligence that measures the dog’s ability to learn from its human companions.

In the book, Coren ranked dog breeds based on a survey of obedience judges from America. Over the years, the book has received both praise and criticism, but nowadays it’s a common benchmark for breeds in terms of trainability.

As for practice rather than theory, determining a dog’s intelligence is not so straightforward. Some people may understand “intelligence” as having a dog obey all of its commands, others expect the dog to learn new tricks very quickly. Regardless of the breed, every dog is intelligent in some ways and may be lacking in others. Most people tend to agree that trainability is vital regarding a breed’s intelligence.

How Intelligent Is the Havanese?

Based on Coren’s book, the Havanese is in 45th place, along with the Siberian Husky and King Charles Spaniel. This means that Havanese has an average working and obedience intelligence, and there are about 25-40 repetitions necessary to understand new commands. At least 50% of the time, the dog will obey the first command.

The Havanese is overall considered an intelligent and smart dog – this is because it is always eager to please its owner, so it will listen to you as long as you use praise and positive training techniques.

They are also excellent watchdogs, so their instinctive intelligence is quite high. Perhaps one important aspect is the fact that the breed is highly sensitive – intimidation and harsh techniques should not be used in order to train this dog.

How to Tell If Your Havanese Is Intelligent and Smart

Your pooch is definitely the cutest, but is it intelligent and smart? Measuring your Havanese’s intelligence is not a very simple task. In general, it’s more of a question of what you want your dog to do rather than assessing their skills.

For instance, if your dog can easily figure out what you’re trying to do, they are considered intelligent. Some dogs learn very quickly how to play with new and tricky toys, while other dogs may require some teaching or instruction with a new toy. Essentially, some dogs need some guidance, while others can connect the dots right away.

Additionally, certain dogs have a very clear way of telling their owners what they want – such as feeding or going outside. If your dog is not showing you what it needs, it may not be a question of intelligence, but rather you are missing the cues. Sometimes, especially for first-time pet owners, it may be difficult to understand the way your dog communicates.

For example, if your dog has naughty behaviors, such as chewing your belongings, it doesn’t mean it is less smart – actually, the dog is understimulated (bored), so it is finding its own “fun” activities. For the Havanese, this behavior is quite common in the case of separation anxiety, too, so you need to keep your dog busy with mentally stimulating puzzles and toys.

Overall, Havanese dogs are smart – but the level of abilities may differ among dogs, even if they are part of the same breed. Some dogs excel at some tasks, while others have different skills – some that you may not have even discovered yet. Playing new games and challenging your dog in different ways is the only way to keep them busy and entertained.

How to Make Your Havanese Smarter

It’s important to note that intelligence is not what makes a dog trainable; rather, high instinctive intelligence often means that your dog is quite stubborn and less likely to follow your commands. Hence, being smart, which means being able to adapt to the environment and learn new commands, may be more important for many dog owners.

If you think your dog is not the sharpest tool in the shed, it may not be because they lack intelligence, but because they are bored or not really interested in following your commands. Some dogs may require some work on their owners’ behalf to make training very interesting. For Havanese dogs, it’s very important to keep training sessions very short and varied, so they won’t get bored too easily.

To make your Havanese smarter, you need to engage them in activities, such as:

  • Play with intelligence toys and puzzles
  • Provide treats to learn new commands and tricks
  • Use obstacles during playtime, so your pooch works on its problem-solving skills
  • Explore new areas (such as hiking or going for a walk on a different route each time)
  • Use baby talk (higher pitched tones) when talking to your pooch, as dogs respond best to happy talking
  • Use visual cues to teach your dog new commands (i.e., make distinct hand motions when teaching your pooch to “sit”, or “lie down”)

The quicker you start training your Havanese from puppyhood, the easier it will learn new commands and tricks. Socialized dogs always have a quicker time learning new commands. To improve your dog’s intelligence, you should use techniques for it every day, as consistency is key.

For instance, when feeding, opt for bowls with puzzles or use commands to make your dog work for their food. When your Havanese does something right, you need to use a lot of praise – as this will highly increase the chances of repeating that behavior.


Overall, Havanese dogs are considered both intelligent and smart. They are natural people-pleasers, so they will follow your commands just to make you happy. It’s important to start training as soon as possible and add puzzles and toys to your dog’s playtime routine.

This will help it work on problem-solving skills; at the same time, this pooch is highly sensitive, so it’s very important to use a lot of praise and treats whenever it does something right. Encouraging intelligent behaviors will result in more frequent ones.

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