Sarah Mouton Dowdy

Sarah Mouton Dowdy

. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM
Updated Mar. 13, 2024
gray and white havapoo dog standing in grass

Adobe Stock/Kevin

In This Article

General Care

The Havapoo may have dog-next-door charm, but this pint-size pooch boasts an international pedigree. A mix between the only native Cuban dog breed (the Havanese) and the national dog of France (the Poodle), the Havapoo is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club. Despite the lack of a breed standard, the Havapoo’s parent breeds are well established with the AKC and can serve as a template for what to expect from this mixed breed.

Named after Cuba’s capital city, the Havanese is an endearing mix of brains, beauty, and congeniality. Poodles were originally bred to serve as duck-hunting dogs in Germany, where they would retrieve downed fowl from icy waters. Havapoos typically have either a Miniature Poodle (10–15 pounds) or a Toy Poodle (4–6 pounds) parent. And while these smaller Poodles aren’t likely to be quarry-fetching companions, they are no less intelligent or athletic than their Standard Poodle predecessors. 

When these two breeds combine, you can generally expect a Havapoo that’s pleasant both to look at, due to their beautiful coat, and to be around, thanks to their friendly temperament. 

Caring for a Havapoo

Havapoos are clever dogs that thrive with consistent, positive training. Though energetic and active, they need only moderate amounts of exercise every day. Havapoos don’t enjoy being alone for long and can resort to unwanted behaviors like excessive barking if they don’t get enough attention. 

Havapoo dogs can get along well with people of all ages and with other pets, but their small size warrants caution. Very small children and very large dogs can cause unintentional harm, so interactions need to be closely supervised. Full-grown Havapoos will typically weigh less than 15 pounds.

While you won’t have to deal with much shedding (which can be a plus for those with allergies), the Havapoo’s luxurious fur will need daily care to keep them free from matting. 

Havapoo Health Issues

Both Havanese and Poodles are healthy breeds with life expectancies of 14–16 years and 10–18 years, respectively. You can expect the Havapoo’s lifespan to fall within these ranges.

Still, like all dogs, the two breeds are prone to various health conditions that can be passed to their Havapoo puppies. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an umbrella term for a family of eye disorders in which the rods and cones of the retina either don’t develop properly in puppies (early-onset PRA) or begin deteriorating in adulthood (late-onset PRA). There is no cure for PRA, and the condition eventually leads to blindness.

Signs of PRA include:

  • Reluctance to enter dark spaces

  • Clumsiness (especially in dark spaces)

  • Dilated pupils that constrict slowly in response to light

  • Eyes that are more reflective in the dark

  • Cataracts

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is a progressive condition where bacteria accumulate in the mouth, leading to damage to the dog’s gums, bones, and other tissues. While the disease is common in all dogs, small and toy breeds are especially prone to the problem. 

Mild cases may simply require a professional dental cleaning, but severely affected teeth must be extracted. Frequent tooth brushing at home (at least three times a week) and regular professional cleanings (usually once a year) are the best way to prevent periodontal disease. 

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a condition in which the head of the femur bone deteriorates. This causes the hip joint to disintegrate, leading to bone and joint inflammation (osteoarthritis).

While the exact cause is unknown, it most often affects toy, miniature, and small-breed dogs. Many affected dogs require surgery to remove part of the femur, followed by a rigorous exercise and physical therapy regimen. Dogs with this condition tend to recover well and have minimal restrictions or pain after a treatment regime.

Signs of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease include:

  • Gradual lameness

  • Lifting affected limbs when walking

  • Pain when moving the hip joint

  • Loss of thigh muscle on affected limbs

Patellar Luxation

When the patella (kneecap) shifts outside its normal groove within the femur (thigh bone), it’s termed patellar luxation (dislocation). This condition is more prevalent in smaller breeds like the Havapoo. While in some dogs a luxating patella doesn’t cause problems, severe cases may require surgery.

Signs of patellar luxation include:

  • Limping

  • Bunny-hopping

  • A popping or cracking noise from the knee joint

What To Feed a Havapoo

There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for feeding your Havapoo dog. Work with your veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that’s nutritionally complete and balanced for your pup’s age, weight, and health. Even the size of the kibble is important, as the Havapoo’s small teeth need small kibble.  

How To Feed a Havapoo

Havapoo puppies need frequent meals—three or four a day—to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Adult Havapoos can be fed two or three times a day. Your vet can help you determine the best schedule for your dog’s age.  

How Much Should You Feed a Havapoo?

The nutrition label on your dog’s food bag includes a feeding guide that gives you a general idea of how much to feed your Havapoo, based on their weight. But for a more precise answer, ask your veterinarian. They will tailor their recommendation to your dog’s weight, body condition score, lifestyle, and health needs. 

Keep in mind that dog treats have calories, too, and they should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie requirements. 

Nutritional Tips for Havapoos

If your Havapoo is eating a complete and balanced diet of dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), they shouldn’t need supplementation in their diet.

However, nutritional supplements may be used to treat or prevent certain health conditions. Given the parent breeds’ predisposition for developing periodontal disease, your vet may recommend dental chews as a precaution—though they won’t replace regular brushing.

Talk to your veterinary team before adding anything new to your dog’s diet, including supplements.

Behavior and Training Tips for Havapoos

Havapoo Personality and Temperament

Ultimately, your Havapoo’s personality will depend on which parent they favor. Though Havanese and Poodles both receive top marks for friendliness, playfulness, adaptability, and intelligence, the latter tend to have higher energy levels and mental stimulation needs.

Havapoos don’t enjoy being alone for long and can resort to unwanted behaviors like excessive barking if they don’t get enough attention. 

Havapoo Behavior

Havanese are descendants of posh lap dogs, and Miniature and Toy Poodles come from hunting dogs. What do these two breeds have in common? A need for close companionship—and their offspring is no different. 

Bored, lonely Havapoos with energy to burn are more likely to experience separation anxiety and engage in unwanted behaviors, such as excessive barking.

Havapoo Training

It’s important to safely expose your Havapoo puppy to various animals, people, environments, activities, and objects during their first 16 weeks of life. This is a crucial learning period, and socializing your puppy can help them feel comfortable in a wide variety of settings. Ask your veterinarian to list age-appropriate activities.  

Havapoos are brainy dogs that respond well to training, but their Havanese parent can be sensitive and their Poodle parent needs consistency. A lifelong, rewards-based training approach will build the human-animal bond, while also providing much-needed mental and physical exercise. 

If you use treats as a reward during training, factor them into your dog’s daily calorie count. Play, toys, and other things your dog enjoys can also be used as rewards—and won’t make your dog gain too much weight.

Fun Activities for Havapoos

Havapoo Grooming Guide

Both of the Havapoo’s parents are known for their long fur. And while their impressive coats don’t shed very much, they do require daily maintenance. 

Skin Care

Good coat care is the foundation of good skin care. Matting can trap moisture, debris, and other irritants next to your Havapoo’s skin, so it’s important to keep their hair free from problems. 

Ask your veterinarian how often you should bathe your Havapoo. Bathing your pup too often can strip their skin of healthy oils, and lead to dryness and itchiness

Coat Care

Matting is an ever-looming problem with Havapoos, so daily brushing and regular trips to the groomer are musts. However, shorter haircuts can lighten your grooming load.  

Eye Care

Because both parent breeds are prone to eye issues, closely monitor your Havapoo’s eyes for signs of problems like cloudiness and inflammation. Keep the hair around their eyes trimmed to avoid irritation.

Both parent breeds can also be predisposed to tear staining. Tear stains typically aren’t a problem and can often just be cleaned with a dog-safe wipe. Nevertheless, contact your veterinarian if you suddenly notice the characteristic reddish-brown streaks on your dog’s face, as they can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue. 

Ear Care

Havapoos can be prone to ear infections, especially if they take after their Poodle parent and love to swim. Ask your veterinarian how and how often you should clean your dog’s ears and what ear cleaning products to use. If you see signs of infection (redness, odor, pain, itchiness), it’s time to visit the vet.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Here are some questions to consider before adding a Havapoo puppy to your family:

  1. Can I provide a safe environment for a dog that can be easily injured by young children or other pets?

  2. Can I brush a dog’s coat at least once a day? 

  3. Am I financially prepared to provide regular professional grooming services?

  4. Can I brush a dog’s teeth at least three times a week?

  5. Am I home enough to give a dog companionship? 

  6. Do I have time to provide a dog with mental and physical exercise every day? 

  7. Do I have the skills, patience, and dedication to train a dog using positive reinforcement?

  8. Am I financially prepared to provide veterinary care?  

  9. Can I provide a dog with a loving home for their lifetime, which could be 18 years or more?

If you can answer these questions with an enthusiastic “Yes!” you may be ready to parent a Havapoo. 

Havapoo FAQs

How big will a Havapoo get?

Havapoos are a mix between a Havanese (7–13 pounds), and typically either a Miniature Poodle (10–15 pounds) or a Toy Poodle (4–6 pounds). A full-grown Havapoo shouldn’t weigh more than 15 pounds. 

What’s the difference between a Havapoo and a Cavapoo?

Havapoos are the offspring of a Havanese and a Poodle, while Cavapoos are a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle. 

Are Havapoos easy to train?

Havapoos are clever pups with a desire to please, making them highly trainable. Consistent, positive training that uses rewards instead of punishments is the best approach.

Are Havapoos hypoallergenic?

Havapoos don’t shed much and can be a good fit for some people with allergies, though there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog.

Sarah Mouton Dowdy


Sarah Mouton Dowdy

Freelance Writer

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