Havanese vs. Cockapoo: Which Breed to Get?

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Havanese vs. CockapooWhen it comes to choosing the perfect companion with teddy bear looks and charming nature, deciding between the Havanese and the Cockapoo is a tough choice. One is a popular and jolly purebred, while the other is a sensitive and devoted crossbreed and one of the first designer dogs.

So how do you know which – if either – of the two is the right dog for you?

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Havanese vs Cockapoo: A Detailed Comparison

Let’s compare these two dogs to help you choose.


As a relatively new crossbreed, the Cockapoo is not yet a recognized breed. However, it has been around since the 1950s, and while it is not recognized by the AKC, there is a Cockapoo Club of America.

The Cockapoo originated in the United States, whereas the bichon frise originated in Spain. The lovely Cockapoo is a designer dog breed that has rapidly gained popularity in the last decades.

The Cockapoo descends from multigenerational crosses of the poodle and the cocker spaniel. Two hunting breeds give it a sensitive, intelligent nature, with a strong prey drive or tendency to chase small creatures. It is primarily a companion breed, but the hunting instinct may still exist in many cockapoos today.

On the other hand, the Havanese hails from Cuba, where it was the “Havanese Silky Dog” and a favorite amongst the powerful and affluent. It likely also has some poodle heritage, like the Cockapoo, which gave it its range of colors. However, it is one of the bichon-type dogs most likely descended from the Tenerife dog, just like the bichon frise. Some also argue that it may be descended from the little dogs of Malta.

After the Cuban revolution, some wealthier Cubans fled to the United States and brought 11 Havanese with them. By bringing in some other Havanese from around the world, the Havanese was soon established as the popular breed it is today.


The Havanese is a sturdy dog that is slightly longer than it is tall. It weighs between 10 and 16 pounds and stands between 8 and 11 inches tall at the wither. They have tails that curve over their backs, dark, intelligent eyes, a slender nose, and an intelligent expression.

They are low shedders and mostly hypoallergenic. Their coat can be any color, combination of colors, or any pattern and is typically very silky, long, with inner and outer layers. Some owners choose to cord a Havanese coat like the Puli.

In comparison, the Cockapoo comes in three distinct types. The toy cockapoo is about 10 inches but very sturdy, weighing up to 12 lbs. The miniature Cockapoo is 13 to 18 lbs, standing between 11 and 14 inches high. The largest Cockapoo is called the maxi or standard and can stand up to 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 19 lbs.

The Cockapoo has a greater range of coat textures, as it can have curls or long silky hair. The coat is usually about medium length, although it can be longer. Most of them are low shedders and fairly hypoallergenic. However, their spaniel heritage does not guarantee this. They can be black, red, apricot, chocolate, cream, or white.

Aging Profile

A Cockapoo generally lives between 13 to 15 years, and a Havanese has about 10 to 16 years of longevity. The smaller cockapoos and the Havanese generally become adults after 10 months, while the larger Cockapoos may be considered adults once they are closer to one year old.

The Havanese are usually the healthier breed, although they may have luxating patellas (dislocating kneecaps), liver or heart issues, and eye problems as they age.

Unfortunately, many Cockapoos have inherited several congenital issues. These include eye issues, a tendency toward allergies and food intolerances, heart issues such as dilated cardiomyopathy, or even a metabolic disorder that can lead to anemia. The larger cockapoos can also have problems with their hips and elbows.

It’s a good idea to make sure cockapoos get added taurine in their diet as they may have issues with taurine deficiencies like the cocker spaniel.


The Cockapoo is a gentle and highly sensitive dog. They are bright but will not do well with any kind of harsh treatment due to their hypersensitive disposition. These are “handler soft” dogs, meaning they need to be handled somewhat gently at all times.

They also need quite a bit of socialization and exercise. They can be shy and withdrawn, so early work needs to be done to bring out their confidence. They can also be prone to chasing small animals and have a strong prey drive, so be sure to raise them with cats and other animals to avoid issues.

It may also be a good idea not to let them off-leash in the park in case they take off after a squirrel. They have active minds and need plenty of training and mental stimulation.

On the other hand, the Havanese is a merry, confident, friendly soul that is much more outgoing. They are less prone to barking and not quite as energetic. They get on great with children and other animals, although they will benefit from lifelong socialization like any other dog. They are usually friendly with strangers as well.

Both cockapoos and the Havanese are very attached dogs, but the Havanese is definitely not a dog for anybody who is gone long hours during the day.


The Havanese and the Cockapoo are extremely trainable and highly intelligent. However, the Cockapoos’ sensitivity can make training them a tad difficult since they are very quick, a bit perfectionistic, and sensitive to corrections. This can make them slow to forgive a trainer who makes a mistake and does not reward at the right time or is a little too strong with a corrective word.

On the other hand, the Havanese are easier for beginners to train, as keeping their favorite person happy is what they do best. They are also more easy-going and relaxed and make excellent therapy dogs.

However, both dogs should excel at training and will benefit from the extra bonding time with their owner, so long as training is a positive experience.


Both dogs need quite a bit of grooming but keeping the Havanese’s thick double coat in good condition when it is long needs a lot of upkeep. It can be easier to maintain the Havanese in a shorter “puppy cut” or to cord their hair like the Puli.

Both the Cockapoo and the Havanese will need to be bathed about once every  4 – 6 weeks and will need professional grooming reasonably regularly. Be sure to keep their ears clean and dry to avoid infections, use doggy mouthwash in their water and brush their teeth, and keep the nails neat and trimmed.

Other Factors

In addition to the above, also keep in mind that:

  • Cockapoos are generally more energetic than the Havanese. Larger Cockapoos will benefit from a bit more exercise and playtime. While the Havanese should be fine with about a 30-minute daily walk, a larger Cockapoo may need closer to 45-minute walks.
  • Both dogs can adapt to apartments and small spaces, but the Cockapoo may be more prone to barking and disturbing the neighbors.
  • The price for the Cockapoo and the Havanese are similar, usually starting from between $500 to $850 on the low end and $2,500 being the high end for pups from either of these breeds. Buying from a good breeder is a good way to ensure you get a healthier pup and do not support backyard breeding practices. If you would rather adopt, you can have a look at Cockapoo or Havanese rescues.

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

Get a Havanese if:

  • You want a dog that is more reliably hypoallergenic.
  • You want a companion that prefers cuddling on the couch to too much exercise.
  • You work from home, are retired, or have a household member home most of the time.
  • You want a dog that is easy to train.
  • You have time for grooming
  • You are looking for a healthier breed.
  • You have children and other animals, especially small ones like hamsters or guinea pigs.
  • You are looking for a quieter dog that is generally very friendly.

Get a Cockapoo if:

  • You are slightly more active and would like a companion that needs more activities.
  • You would like to spend slightly less time on grooming.
  • You want a more alert dog that is more prone to barking at strangers.
  • You live in a relatively quiet environment that isn’t too overwhelming for a sensitive breed.
  • Allergies are not a concern for you.


The Cockapoo and the Havanese are similar in their gorgeous teddy bear looks, high intelligence, and devotion to their people.

However, the Cockapoo is generally a more sensitive and high-strung dog that can be more prone to barking and nervousness. The Havanese is generally a happy-go-lucky little fellow that is well adapted for companionship, although being left alone for long periods is not an option.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

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

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