Havanese vs. Bolognese: Which Breed to Get?

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Havanese vs. BologneseAre you looking for a small, fluffy companion? If you cannot decide between a Havanese and a Bolognese, you are in the right place. Although these breeds may look similar, there are several differences that could help you pick the right one for your needs and preferences.

Check out the following sections to find out more about these pooches, their similarities, and what sets them apart.

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Havanese vs. Bolognese: A Detailed Comparison

Let’s start by looking at the two breeds side-by-side.


The Havanese and the Bolognese belong to the same family of bichon breeds. However, they appeared in very different areas of the world. As the name suggests, the Havanese is a Cuban breed that originates in the capital, the city of Havana, while “Bolognese” is derived from the city of Bologna, Italy.

The Havanese is the only breed native to Cuba. It has been known throughout history as one of the favorite lap dogs for aristocrats and royal families. The ancestor of this lap dog is believed to have been brought to Cuba in the 1600s, most likely by Spanish colonizers or Italian sea captains.

Given the fact that this pup used to be called the Spanish Silk Poodle, it’s believed to be a mix of Poodle with another unknown breed, pretty much like the bichon frise.

The Bolognese is also a lapdog and was a popular choice among the nobility in Europe, particularly in France, Italy, and Belgium. This pooch used to be given as a gift to nobility in the Renaissance period. Some believe that it actually originated in the 11th century.


The Havanese may look larger than other small breeds, but that’s only an illusion. The long and fluffy coat makes it seem significantly bigger than it actually is. Usually, they reach up to 11 inches in height and about 7-13 pounds.

The coat is soft and wavy and may come in a broad range of colors, including white, silver, gold, and red. It has dark, large eyes, and has a specific bouncy walk. Most of the time, a Havanese puppy changes its coat color at around 1 year old, when it either lightens or darkens in color.

The Bolognese has quite a similar appearance, although it’s often white in color and has a very fluffy appearance. They shed very little; some owners prefer to trim their coats quite short, but leave the head hair longer, which makes it look like a “mop head.”

A Bolognese’s body is small, square, and stocky, weighing up to 9 pounds and reaching about 12 inches in height. It’s not uncommon to mistake them for Maltese, but the Bolognese is usually larger. Just like a Havanese, it has large, dark eyes, and a feathered tail that curls up.

Size and Weight

An adult Havanese reaches 7 pounds by the time they are 4-7 months old. After that, the pup may still develop slightly until 10-12 months of age, but with no significant growth spurts. The Bolognese is lighter, so they usually weigh 3-5 pounds by 3 months old, and about 4-8 pounds by 6 months old.

Aging Profile

The Havanese tends to live 12-15 years. Small breeds mature quicker than larger breeds, so a Havanese will become a teenager around 5-6 months and reach sexual maturity around 8 months. Mentally, a Havanese still develops until 18 months old.

The Bolognese has a similar aging profile, becoming a fully-grown adult, physically and mentally, at about 15 months. They also have a life span of 12-14 years.

When cared for properly, many Havanese and Bolognese can live until their late teens. Some pups were reported to live up to 17-18 years old.


The Havanese and Bolognese are smart and easy to train, but you need to use positive reinforcement, with no scolding or harsh treatments. Early socialization and introduction to new people, animals, and experiences will render a positive result. Both breeds are loyal, loving, and quite entertaining.

They are not aggressive or territorial dogs, but they require a soft approach and plenty of attention. Neither breed is suitable for spending plenty of time by itself, so you need to make sure you have enough time available to spend with your furry friend.


These breeds are small and may look goofy thanks to their fluffy cotton ball appearance. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, they are highly intelligent and they can take part in sports competitions.

A happy Havanese loves agility training, learning new tricks, and mental stimuli. The Bolognese may also be up to basic training, along with mental stimulation, just like a Havanese. Both breeds are intelligent and relatively easy to train, but a first-time owner may still require professional guidance for the best results.


The grooming required for these breeds depends on your personal preference. The longer the coat is, the more you need to spend brushing and combing to maintain it. If you trim the coat short, you will have a significantly easier time grooming your dog.

The Havanese has a long and soft coat, so you should typically brush or comb your dog’s coat daily to keep it free of tangles and mats. You should also gently clean the area around the dog’s eyes to avoid staining, while their ears often accumulate too much wax or dust, so they must be wiped clean from time to time.

The Bolognese is a low-shedder, and is often unshaped and not trimmed. Nonetheless, you should keep facial hair very short and clean for both breeds to avoid eye and ear infections. If the coat is long, it needs daily grooming.

Both breeds should have their nails trimmed and their teeth brushed regularly to avoid dental problems.

Other Factors

Overall, the Havanese and the Bolognese have many similarities. Perhaps one of the most important aspects you need to consider is that the Bolognese is more difficult to get than a Havanese. In addition to this, the breeder is very important. When choosing a puppy, you should only choose a well-reputed breeder, and they should allow you to visit the parents (at least the pup’s mother) and see the whole litter.

Both breeds are excellent for small apartments and large country houses. However, the Bolognese loves barking and howling, which may bother your neighbors if you live in an apartment.

A Havanese can put on weight quite quickly, so you need to pay attention to physical exercise needs. Both breeds are small and do not require intensive physical activity – about 30 minutes of walking per day, some fun playtime, fetching balls, and other light activities will be sufficient to keep them healthy and within the normal weight range.

Havanese vs. Bolognese: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

Overall, it may be difficult to choose one of these two breeds, given the fact that they are quite alike. However, there are some slight differences between them.

Here are some considerations you may want to keep in mind when deciding:

  • If you want a quiet pup, a Havanese may be best since the Bolognese loves barking and howling
  • If you want to minimize grooming time, a Bolognese may be better suited; regardless, you should trim the coat short if you want to ease your job regardless of what breed you choose
  • If you want a watchdog to alert you when strangers are nearby, you should get a Bolognese
  • Neither a Havanese nor a Bolognese is suitable if you cannot spend much time at home or you want a low-maintenance dog

Both pups can be great family companions. They may also be suitable for families with kids. However, keep in mind that these small pups are frail, so they may not be suitable for families with very small kids unless they are supervised.

Also, you need to make sure you are at home all the time or someone else can stay with them when you are out. None of these breeds loves spending time by itself. It can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors. If you cannot spend much time with them, it’s best to consider another breed.


All in all, both the Havanese and Bolognese are great dogs for a wide range of needs, preferences, and families. They need quite intensive grooming thanks to their high-maintenance, majestic coats.

After all, these looks are the trademark of the Barbichon family, so you need to make sure you can spend sufficient time caring for your pup. First-time owners may need professional guidance to make sure they are properly cared for. With sufficient love and care, a dog from either of these breeds can become a trustworthy, loving, and protective family member for many years to come.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

Make sure to read how the Havanese compares with other breeds too:

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