How Long Do Havanese Live?

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Havanese Life ExpectancyThe Havanese is a well-beloved and incredibly sweet small dog breed. With origins in Cuba in the 1500s, the breed slowly made its way across the continents and has been a smash hit with every nation ever since. The breed’s lovable playfulness and adorable round face have made it a common pet everywhere from the United States to the towns of Europe.

One of the reasons they are so popular is that they are often long-term companions – but how long is long-term? How long can you expect your furry friend to stay by your side?

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How Long Do Havanese Typically Live?

Typically, the average lifespan for a Havanese is 12 to 14 years, however, with the right care, this can sometimes be stretched up to 12 to 16 years. The oldest Havanese on record was just over 18 years, so really, anything is possible with this little dog. So long as they are given the proper care, a Havanese could live anywhere up to 17 or 18 years old.

On average, statistics show that female Havanese live longer than their male counterparts, usually by one year. This may be because of their weight or size difference, or perhaps a difference in growth rates or predispositions to illness.

How Does Havanese’s Lifespan Compare to Other Breeds?

It is a well-known fact among the dog owner community and veterinarians that smaller breeds live longer than medium or large-breed dogs. Small dogs tend to have a rough lifespan of 10 to 15 years, whereas big dogs tend to only have a life expectancy of 9 to 12 years, and medium dogs have one of 10 to 13 years.

In fact, in most lists of breeds with high life expectancies, the only large dog that appears is the Australian Cattle Dog, an uncommon large breed with a life expectancy much higher than expected for a larger dog breed.

However, even among the smaller dog breeds, the Havanese has a life expectancy to envy. The breed has the 8th longest life expectancy out there! For comparison, take a peek at this life expectancy chart of the 15 breeds with the highest life expectancies.

Place Breed Life Expectancy
15 Bichon Frise 14 to 15 years
14 Italian Greyhound 14 to 15 years
13 Pomeranian 12 to 16 years
12 Miniature Pinscher 12 to 16 years
11 Norfolk Terrier 12 to 16 years
10 Australian Cattle Dog 12 to 16 years
9 Papillon 14 to 16 years
8 Havanese 14 to 16 years
7 Border Collie 10 to 17 years
6 Manchester Terrier 15 to 17 years
5 Toy Poodle 10 to 18 years
4 Rat Terrier 12 to 18 years
3 Chinese Crested 13 to 18 years
2 Coton du Tulear 15 to 19 years
1 Chihuahua 12 to 20 years

3 Reasons Havanese Live a Relatively Long Life

There are lots of factors at play when looking at how long a dog lives, and ultimately, regardless of the life expectancy, each dog is different. However, there are a few things that help the Havanese to live such long and happy lives, regardless of the environmental factors.

1. Their Size

As mentioned above, small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs. Since the Havanese breed weighs only 7 to 13 pounds and measures a mere 8 to 12 inches tall, it is very definitely a small dog breed. Small dogs, typically speaking, live longer simply due to the difference in age and growth rates.

With a small breed like a Havanese, the breed will age rapidly until it is fully grown, often reaching full size within a year. From there, the rate of growth changes, and the breed will age slowly. This slow aging means that many of the issues that come with age do not affect the smaller breeds like Havanese until much later.

Therefore, things like joint issues, muscle deterioration, and other age-related concerns cannot get in the way of the Havanese living a healthy life, allowing it to live much longer than perhaps a larger dog whose joints have had enough.

It is also worth considering that whilst big breeds will be slightly different biologically, small breeds like the Havanese have less weight to carry each day, putting their organs and joints under substantially less pressure.

2. Require Less Exercise

As a small breed, the Havanese only requires around an hour of exercise each day. This is really achievable for most owners, which means that the breed is more likely to get its needs met than perhaps a dog that needs 2 hours of exercise every day.

Getting these needs met helps to prevent obesity, keep the mind and body stimulated, and keep that mood high, helping to combat things like depression and anxiety.

3. Develops Fewer Diseases

One of the leading causes of death in bigger dog breeds is diseases such as cancer. Whilst this is still a killer in smaller dog breeds too, they are much less likely to develop deadly diseases like cancer than their larger counterparts.

5 Common Causes of Death for Havanese

Most dogs have a few conditions that their breed is prone to, and the Havanese is no exception. Just as there are conditions that they are likely to develop, there are also certain common causes of death among breeds.

In a separate article, we wrote in detail about what Havanese usually die from.

1. Trauma and Injury

In Havanese puppies, one of the leading causes of death is trauma and/or injury. That includes mental trauma i.e being abused, as well as physical trauma and injury such as car accidents, being dropped or falling, being stepped on, or scrapping with other dogs.

This is one of the saddest ways for a Havanese to die, especially as a puppy. But luckily, many of the causes of trauma and injury are avoidable.

2. Infection

Both parasitic and bacterial infections have high mortality rates in young Havanese especially. Parasites such as hookworms attach themselves to the lining of the intestine and can cause rapid weight loss, diarrhea, dizziness, confusion, discomfort, and in many Havanese, can also lead to death.

Bacterial infections are easier to avoid – if you see a scratch or a wound on your dog at all, be sure to give it a clean and to keep an eye on it in the days coming to ensure it heals correctly and does not have any pus or sign of inflammation.

3. Cardiovascular Disease

This is the number one cause of death in adult Havanese. In particular, heart failure is the leading cause of death. This is caused by the weakening of a valve in the heart that slowly becomes so deformed that it no longer closes tightly. When this happens, the blood then leaks around the valve and this causes intense strain on the heart.

Unfortunately, unless caught very early, most cardiovascular diseases cannot be stopped. They can sometimes be treated to give dogs a bit longer with us, but typically they are fatal.

4. Congenital Diseases

Congenital diseases are any diseases passed down through genetics from the mother and father. The specific types of disease will vary from lineage to lineage, but the most common congenital diseases within the Havanese breed are:

  • Skeletal defects such as osteochondrodysplasia
  • Portosystemic Liver Shunts
  • Patellar Luxation

5. Heartworm

Heartworm is a parasite that results in lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and death in Havanese. Unlike ringworm, heartworm is an actual worm called Dirofilaria immitis, and it is spread through the bite of a mosquito. When inside the dog, the worm will mature, mate, and produce offspring.

It is not a contagious parasite, meaning that your Havanese will not catch it from another dog with the parasite. It can only be caught via a mosquito bite. Once inside the dog, the heartworm can live from 5 to 7 years. If caught in time, the worm can be treated with melarsomine dihydrochloride, but often the symptoms go unchecked and lead to an untimely death for many Havanese.

4 Tips to Make Your Havanese Live Longer

If you want your furry friend to stay by your side longer, there are a few things that you can do.

1. Keep Them Well Exercised

Just like humans, obesity can cause real issues for dogs. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, they are likely to start piling on pounds, and on a breed as small as the Havanese, that can be really detrimental to their joints and essential organs.

An hour or more worth of exercise a day via walking, running, swimming, or even just a long game of fetch, will help to ensure your Havanese has a healthy heart and brain and will give you an excuse to spend more time with them!

2. Balanced Diet

Similarly to enough exercise, your Havanese requires a balanced diet to ensure that they get all of the essential nutrients that they need and to prevent them from putting on too much excess weight. Continuously feeding your Havanese their favorite treats may seem tempting, but it is the first step on the road to doggy obesity!

Keep your dog’s diet full of vitamins and nutrients, and if you do decide to use treats for training, use them sparingly and use healthy ones. The odd special treat every now and then is completely fine, though, so don’t feel that your Havanese has to be without the luxuries of a modern dog!

3. Vaccinations

Vaccines can be life-saving for your Havanese, and they can’t make the decision themselves so it is up to you. It is recommended that you get your Havanese vaccinated against distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, and rabies. The AAHA recommends that these vaccinations are done as a puppy, at 1 year old, and then are topped up every 3 years.

4. Regular Vet Checkups

Your Havanese should be getting regular checkups with their vet to ensure that any warning signs for congenital diseases are spotted and to make sure that they are generally healthy. The vet can check your Havanese’s weight and height, their teeth, eyes, and joints, and just ensure that your furry friend is doing well.

Typically, it is advised to ensure you see the vet at least once a year.


If cared for correctly and given the right food, exercise, and medical care, a well-loved Havanese can live as long as 17 or 18 years. This is much longer than the vast majority of dog breeds due to their size and stature.

They may, in their time, however, develop conditions that need managing such as luxating patellas, cataracts, and hip dysplasia.

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