Havanese vs. Bolonka: Which Breed to Get?

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Havanese vs. BolonkaBoth the Havanese and the Bolonka are great breeds, however, the Bolonka is much less common in the West.

They’re fantastic pets to have around the home, but which one is more suited to your home life and lifestyle?

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Havanese vs. Bolonka: A Detailed Comparison

To figure that out, let’s start by looking at the two breeds side-by-side.


The Havanese breed’s history can be traced back to Cuba in the 1500s. The breed is thought to have developed from Tenerife dogs which were likely transported to the country with travelers from around the Mediterranean. They quickly became a popular breed, partially because they were incredibly well suited to city living – earning them the name Havanese.

The breed eventually traveled over to Europe with French and other European visitors who had fallen in love with the dogs in Cuba and decided to take them back. They then reached the United States in the 1970s, when many people fled Cuba during Castro’s revolution. In 1996, the dog was recognized as a breed.

Today, it is one of the few different types of bichon breeds.

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka, also known as the Russian Lapdog or Russian Colored Bichon, is from Saint Petersburg and Moscow. The breed’s ancestors were gifted to Russian oligarchs by the French Prince Louis XIV in the 1500s, and have been beloved dogs ever since.

It is thought that the breed’s origins come from mixing loyal and affectionate breeds such as the Bichon Frise, Pekingese, and French Bolognese.


The Havanese are known as “toy dogs,” and they suit the label very well, measuring 8 to 12 inches tall and 7 to 13 pounds. They have distinct dropped ears and a wavy coat, with a tail that curls upwards over their back.

Just like Havanese, Bolonki are “toy dogs” and they are often longer than they are tall. They tend to measure in at 9 to 10 inches and 4 to 11 pounds. They have a double coat, and their outer coat can be black, brown, gray, red, and fawn. They also have a distinct mustache and beard.

Aging Profile

Since both breeds are small “toy dogs,” they have higher life expectancies than most larger breeds.

The Havanese typically live up to 12 to 14 years and will reach their full size at 1 year old. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonki live anywhere between 14 and 20 years and will be fully grown after 1 year.


Temperament is a hugely important factor when deciding what dog breed suits you. For those relying on quiet, well-behaved dogs, a high-energy and playful dog is not suitable, for example.

Both Havanese and Bolonki are very affectionate, and would both be happy to be cozy and cuddly lap dogs. The other similarity with the breeds is that they are both incredibly sensitive. This comes from both breeds’ relations to the bichon frise, a notoriously sensitive dog breed. They are both also very responsive.

Bolonki are very even-tempered and sweet and make for relatively calm and yet fun dogs to have around the house. On the other hand, Havanese are a little more scatterbrained, and whilst they do have a chilled-out side, they are more playful than the Bolonki.


The two breeds are also of similar intelligence. They are both capable of being trained, but do rely heavily on positive reinforcement and will not respond to discipline or punishment.

If trained well, however, they are very capable of learning lots of interesting and useful tricks.


Far too often overlooked when debating about buying a dog, the breed’s grooming needs are very important things to factor in. A dog with high grooming needs is likely to cost families more on a regular basis than dogs with fewer grooming requirements.

The Havanese is lower maintenance than the Bolonka, and will simply need a damp brush every 2 to 3 weeks, and bathing once every other week. This can be changed if the dog is particularly noticeably smelly or dirty.

The Bolonka requires brushing several times a week. They also need a daily face wash, particularly on the mustache and beard (and especially if being fed wet foods). Dental hygiene will also need to be regularly attended to, and ear and nail care is incredibly important for this breed, too.


Neither of these breeds is cheap, and the cost of both will largely depend on the lineage of the dog, the breeder’s reputation, and whether or not the dogs are registered or pedigree. On average, however, the Havanese will cost between $1,000 and $1,500, and the Bolonka will cost between $1,500 and $2,500.

For those unable to pay so much for a dog, it is worth considering adopting from a shelter where you may see similar breeds or these breeds themselves.


Most dog breeds are particularly prone to a handful of conditions simply due to their lineage and genetic makeup. These conditions can be tacked, avoided, and treated, so long as adequate care is taken.

The Havanese is prone to Legg-Calves-Perthes disease, luxating patellas distichiasis, deafness, hypothyroidism, eye conditions, and heart problems. The Bolonka is prone to luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, liver stunt, thyroid, and heart and eye problems.

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

As well as all of the factors regarding health and temperament, it is vital to consider whether the dog breed you’re considering will suit your lifestyle and home.

For example, neither Havanese nor Bolonka would be suitable for a home where everyone is at work and/or school all day, as both breeds’ sensitivity makes them incredibly prone to separation anxiety. This anxiety can lead to massive personality changes, and misbehavior, and could potentially even lead to depression in dogs.

Both breeds, however, are the perfect dogs for those with small accommodation. Their size means that they can easily adapt to small spaces whilst still getting enough physical and mental stimulation.

For households with children, it is also worth noting that whilst both breeds of dog will socialize well with older children, there is a chance that having them around younger children will lead to a lot of jealousy since both breeds’ nature makes them incredibly sensitive.


These two hypoallergenic toy breeds are incredibly affectionate and will make brilliant companions for those who are feeling alone or for families who want a new member. They are very intelligent, and so long as owners are patient, they can be trained easily.

The breeds are great for elderly couples or singles, or for older families. Regardless of the space available, they make fantastic pets and would be a great benefit to most homes. They have some health conditions that they’re prone to, but with the right care in place, these health conditions shouldn’t be a major concern.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

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

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