Havanese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Which Breed to Get?

Bichon World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post may also contain other affiliate links and Bichon World might be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them.

Havanese vs. Cavalier King Charles SpanielBoth the Havanese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are incredibly wonderful pets, and they are both popular breeds because of that. They are in some ways very similar, and in others, incredibly different, and each would suit a different type of household.

In this article, I’ll help you figure out which of the two is better for you – if either.

Whether you are looking for food for your dog or other pet supplies, Chewy.com has them all. Right now, they are even running a promotion where you get 40% OFF your first Instinct Raw Frozen autoship order.

Havanese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: A Detailed Comparison

Let’s start by a side-by-side comparison of the two breeds.


Both breeds have extensive histories.

The Havanese’s roots begin in 1500s Cuba, where historians estimate that they descended from the Tenerife dogs of the time that had been bought to the country by Mediterranean travelers. They then became massively popular in Cuba and earned their place as the country’s national dog, with many people keeping them as pets.

From Cuba, the breed ended up in mainland Europe after French visitors took a liking to them, and then eventually, in the 1970s, the breed made its way into the United States as Cuban citizens fled Castro’s Revolution. In 1996, the American Kennel Club registered it as an official breed. It is one of a few different types of bichon breeds.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel descended from the Spaniels seen in portraits from 16th century England. They were named after the “Merry Monarch,” who loved them incredibly to the point that he made a law decreeing that King Charles Spaniels must be allowed in any public place.

They began to go extinct following the King’s death due to a focus on breeding for flat faces, but due to an American breeder, they soon reemerged and in 1945 were registered by the American Kennel Club.


Both dogs are small breeds, and they are both categorized as “toy dogs” due to their size. The Havanese measure between 8 and 12 inches, weighing between 7 and 13 pounds. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel measures between 12 to 13 inches, weighing between 13 and 18 pounds.

The Havanese are recognized for their dropped ears, wavy coat and tail that curls up and over their back. They are often longer than they are tall and come in a range of colors, including black, white, tobacco, Havana brown, fawn, and mahogany.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for their large round eyes, full muzzle, and high set feathered ears, and can come in either red, Blenheim, black and tan, or tricolor.

Aging Profile

Since both breeds are small dogs, they have relatively high life expectancies. This is typically the case, as smaller dogs age and mature in a different way to the larger breeds. On average, the Havanese have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be expected to live between 9 and 14 years.

When the breeds are puppies, they tend to reach full growth at similar ages too. Owners of the Havanese will find that their puppy stops growing after about 12 months, whereas the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will grow for a little bit longer, reaching full size at around 18 months on average.


Sometimes there is an assumption that smaller breeds like the Havanese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are likely to be aggressive, noisy, and feisty. And whilst that is sometimes the case, there are also many small breeds that do not carry these traits; both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Havanese are examples of this.

The Havanese is known to be incredibly affectionate and playful. Desperate to be the center of attention, the Havanese is definitely happy to be a lapdog and constant companion and is often very deeply sensitive. They form intense bonds with their owners and families and are very observant of changes in the household.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also very happy, friendly dogs. They are very affectionate and cuddly and are often considered some of the most devoted and loyal dogs out there. Their bonds with other members of their household are unlike those of many other breeds, and they will often show unrelenting affection to those people. They are playful and excitable and have the characteristic energy of a spaniel.


In terms of intelligence, both breeds rank reasonably well.

The Havanese is considered a relatively intelligent dog and will respond very well to positive reinforcement. However, due to their sensitive nature, they respond very poorly to negative reinforcement, so this should not be used during any training sessions as it may result in poor behavior and a change in temperament.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not incredibly intelligent, but they are known to be very obedient. They are people pleasers and will do what they can to make their owners happy. Trainers should just bear in mind that their spaniel is unlikely to be able to grasp more difficult tricks straight away, and may also suffer from a short attention span.


Since both breeds have reasonably long coats, they are both considered medium- to high-maintenance grooming breeds.

The Havanese must be brushed every 2 to 3 weeks and needs bathing every other week. Their coats should only ever be brushed when washed, and they are likely to need eye and ear cleaning in between washes.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will also need regular bathing and brushing, with baths being required every 2 to 4 weeks, and brushing being needed much more regularly. They will also likely need their ears cleaned and eyes wiped daily to help prevent infection.


All dog breeds have a few health conditions that they are particularly susceptible to. This is usually due to genetic lineage and the way in which dog breeds have been bred to suit human desires and needs. These health conditions can usually be avoided or treated so long as adequate care is taken.

The Havanese is particularly susceptible to Legg-Calves-Perthes disease, luxating patellas, distichiasis, deafness, hypothyroidism, eye conditions, and heart problems. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is susceptible to heart disease, ear infections, dental disease, obesity, epilepsy, luxating patellas, elbow and hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, and breathing issues.


Typically, buyers can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for a Havanese, and between $800 and $2,500 for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, depending on whether the breeder is registered, and the lineage of the dog’s parents.

Havanese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

All of these traits are important when deciding which breed to get as a pet, but it is also worth considering other factors.

For example, if you work away from home a lot, and are likely to need to leave your dog at home alone, it is important that you choose a breed that can handle that. Unfortunately, neither the Cavalier Charles King Spaniel nor the Havanese handles loneliness well, and both are likely to form separation anxiety which can cause them to act out in destructive ways.

For those with children, it is imperative that their dog is well suited to be around small children. The Havanese is not one such breed. The breed is very well suited to older children, but if there are babies or toddlers in the house, a Havanese is likely to feel jealousy and this may cause them to act out. On the other hand, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is absolutely fine to have around children.

It is also, of course, important to consider whether the dog breed of choice will suit your living situation. More and more people live in apartments or have nomadic lifestyles, which involve small spaces for periods of time. Larger breeds, for obvious reasons, are less suited to these lifestyles. Both the Havanese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, however, are more than happy to live in apartments or small homes.


Both the Havanese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are great pets for those seeking companionship and fun. They are affectionate and loyal, but the Havanese are more sensitive, and this makes them unsuitable to be family pets. Both dogs would best suit a busy household where there is always someone home.

For those concerned with allergies, it is also important to note that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not hypoallergenic, but the Havanese is.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

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

Whether you are looking for food for your dog or other pet supplies, Chewy.com has them all. Right now, they are even running a promotion where you get 40% OFF your first Instinct Raw Frozen autoship order.