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Teacup Havanese: The Bite-Sized Companion

The Teacup Havanese, or the miniature Havanese, is a big-eyed puffball bred to be an even smaller version of the Havanese. Cute as a button, the mini Havanese puppy is irresistible to even the hardest of hearts. Despite this, the mini Havanese may have health and ethical issues that require investigation before you bring one of these into your home.

History and Origins of the Havanese

The Havanese is an old breed descended from the now-extinct Tenerife dog that arrived in Cuba with the Spanish in the 1500s. It is descended from Bichon, Maltese, and the Coton de Tulear, making it closely related to the Teacup Bichon Frise.

After the Cuban revolution, some Cubans fled to the USA with their Havanese dogs. These are said to have become the foundation stock for the Havanese in the USA today. 

What is the origin of the Teacup Havanese?

The Teacup Havanese is the product of a recent trend to breed toy breeds as small as possible. 

Some breeders can put a premium on extra small puppies because of their cuteness factor, rarity and because they are popularized by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, who have been known to shell out as much as $ 8000 for a Teacup Chihuahua. 

Since the Havanese is already a small breed, there are three main ways of creating a teacup version. These are breeding runts, introducing the dwarfism gene, or outcrossing with smaller dogs such as the Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier. 

Of these three methods, the first two are the biggest causes of the health problems described below. 


What Are the Physical Features of a Teacup Havanese?

Height

Weight

Lifespan

Color

Nose

Smaller than

8.5 inches

Less than 7 pounds

12 to 16 years

Blue, silver, chocolate, cream, white, black, gold, red, sable, champagne, or any combination of these colors

Black or brown


The normal Havanese is similar to a Maltese, only slightly stockier. It stands 8 to 12 inches high and weighs between 7 and 13 pounds. This means that a Havanese could be considered a teacup or mini version if it stands beneath 8 inches and weighs less than 7 pounds.

Its coat is silky and can be either straight or wavy. It comes in blue, silver, chocolate, cream, white, black, gold, red, sable, champagne, or any combination of these.

The Havaneses’s eyes and nose are usually dark unless the dog is white or cream, in which case they may be paler light brown. 

Albinos with pink noses and blue eyes are occasionally present but are considered a fault in the show ring. But there is no reason that such a dog wouldn’t make a lovely pet, so never be discouraged from taking any unusual coloring on.

General Care of a Teacup Havanese

Hypoallergenic

Shedding

Exercise

Housing

Temperament

Trainability

Moderately hypoallergenic

Little to no shedding

Minimal. Enjoys a romp around a garden or park.

Can adapt apartments. Housing should be proofed to avoid injury

Playful, social, curious and extremely attached to their owner. Should not be left alone for long periods as can develop separation anxiety

Highly trainable.

Responds well to rewards.


Energy

The Teacup Havanese might be an active little dog that enjoys running around and playing. However, because of its size, it generally won’t have high exercise requirements.

Housing

This is not a kennel dog that can be kept outdoors. Not only does its size make it harder for it to regulate its body temperature, but it is a deeply attached little dog that needs to be indoors with its owner. 

It can adapt well to apartment living and first time owners.

Food & Diet Requirements

When deciding on a diet for your Teacup Havanese, it is best to consult your vet. As many teacup breeds are prone to liver shunts, they may need to be on a low protein diet (no more than 18% quality protein) from an early age. 

They may also need a special diet for allergies, digestive problems or bone formation.

Grooming

Although these are light shedders, their long coats require frequent grooming. Havaneserescuse.com provides an in-depth description of the best daily care of their coat, from daily brushing to trims and clipping.

They also need their teeth cleaned three to four times a week and their nails trimmed at least once a month. A good nail grinder might be the gentlest tool to use for such tiny paws. 

As these dogs are given to dental issues that can lead to heart problems later in life, it's a good idea to brush their teeth three or four times a week. Regular ear cleaning can also help prevent infection.

The health of a Teacup Havanese

Exercise

A regular Havanese can do with a medium to long walk a day or visit the dog park. They also do fine with sports like fetch, agility, or flyball, although their exercise needs aren’t excessive. 

This may not be possible with a Teacup Havenese, whose size might be limiting. Still, you can schedule about 30 minutes of exercise a day for the tiny fluff balls. 

Remember to only exercise in a good no-pull harness to avoid damage to their throat. 

Concerns

Severe Health Problems

Mild to Moderate Health Problems

Occasional Health Problems

Patellar luxation

Heart defects

Cataracts or eye problems

Collapsing tracheas

Respiratory issues

Hydrocephalus

Liver Shunts

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

cervical (dry) disc

 

 

Dental diseases

Allergies

Hypothyroidism

Digestive issues

Deafness 

Seizures or epilepsy

Demodectic mange

Obesity


Being a small dog, the Havanese is usually relatively long-lived and healthy. However, any dog deliberately bred smaller is prone to more health issues, particularly if it was bred using runts or by introducing the dwarf gene. 

This means that the Teacup Havanese may struggle with the typical health problems of Havanese as well as the added health issues that come with its size.

In fact, teacup breeds have a tendency toward throat and digestive problems, heart defects, blindness, or seizures.

They may also have issues with a liver that fails to flush away toxins, called liver shunts, and sometimes they suffer from brain swelling due to excessive fluid in their skull. Patellar luxation, or a shifting knee-cap, is also common in tiny breeds and can cause arthritis later in life.

The Havanese can also suffer from several conditions that may be passed on to the teacup version. This includes Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, where blood flow to the femur is restricted, causing it to degenerate. 

They may also struggle with progressive retinal atrophy, an eye problem where the retina deteriorates over time.

However, the most common issue found in the Havanese, which is likely to be made worse in the teacup variety, is abnormal bone structure, particularly of the front legs. One study shows that as much as 44% of Havanese have abnormal forelegs.

Other problems that may affect your Teacup Havanese include seizures and epilepsy, dental issues, obesity, allergies, cataracts, and hypothyroidism.

Lifespan

Provided the Teacup Havanese is well cared for and hasn’t inherited any bad genes due to its breeding, it should live as long as the regular Havanese; 12-16 years. 

Trainability and Temperament of a Teacup Havanese 

As the teacup is only a smaller version of the true Havanese, it shares most of the same characteristics. It is a sensitive and people-orientated dog who tends to be hyper-attached to its owner. 

This can cause problems with separation anxiety, and it should not be left alone for periods. It can also be timid around people and should be well-socialized from a young age to avoid it becoming fearful of strangers. 

This aloofness with strangers can also become a tendency to be a bit yappy, often sitting near a window to warn you, at length, of any passersby.

On the other hand, when properly socialized and trained, these are loveable and playful little dogs who love zooming around the garden and curling up on your lap. They are highly intelligent and trainable, although their sensitivity means it’s best to keep training sessions light and full of positive reinforcement. 

Sociability with Other Pets

Although all dogs need to be socialized with other animals from a young age to avoid problems, the Havanese is generally a friendly little dog that can do well with other pets. 

But care should be taken with the Teacup Havanese that it isn’t accidentally hurt by bigger animals because of its size.

Suitable Home

A Teacup Havanese is the ideal companion for an owner who is home most of the day and needs company. They can do fine in apartments, although housetraining may never be achieved due to their tiny bladders. 

Because of their size, teacups do better without too many bigger animals or young children who might accidentally hurt them.

How much should I expect to pay for a Havanese puppy?

An AKC registered regular-sized Havanese can go for as much as $ 3500 or more. On the other hand, a breeder who has purposefully bred Teacup Havanese could easily ask for more than that based on their rarity.

But you may find a Teacup Havanese for much cheaper at a shelter, so it is worth scanning Havanese specific rescues for a dog that needs a loving home. 

The Teacup Havanese may come with health and ethical concerns, so it is always worth being careful and doing thorough research before you buy or adopt one of these unique little balls of fluff. Nevertheless, with proper care and due diligence, they may very well provide you with many years of close companionship. 

If you have any experience with teacups or the Havanese breed, drop us a comment below. We would love to hear from you. 

References

Colgate. “Havanese Dog Breed - Facts and Personality Traits | Hill's Pet.” Hill’s Pet Nutrition, 12 Aug. 2019, www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/havanese.

Horton, Helena. “Dog Organisations Warn of Craze for Tiny ‘teacup Puppies’ as Breeders Sell Sick Dogs with Fragile Bones and Brain Problems.” The Telegraph, 2 July 2017, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/02/dog-organisations-warn-craze-tiny-teacup-puppies-breeders-sell.

Hunter, Tammy, and Ernest Ward. “Hydrocephalus in Toy Breed Puppies.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hydrocephalus-in-toy-breed-puppies Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.

Lundgren, Becky. “Cervical (Neck) Disk Disease in Dogs and Cats.” Veterinary Partner, 14 May 2008, veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&catId=102899&id=4952768

Pet MD Editorial. “The Truth About Teacup Dogs.” PetMD, 5 July 2017, www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/truth-about-teacup-dogs

Hunter, Tammy, and Ernest Ward. “Luxating Patella in Dogs.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/luxating-patella-in-dogs Accessed 11 Nov. 2020..

Vought, Terry. “What You Don’t (But Should) Know About Teacup Dogs.” Silver Streak Kennels, 28 Jan. 2020, www.dogretirement.com/what-you-dont-but-should-know-about-teacup-dogs/

Sandilands, Tracey. “Diet for Liver Shunts.” Daily Puppy, 8 Mar. 2018, www.dailypuppy.com/diet-liver-shunts-1049.html.

Starr, Alison N., et al. “Hereditary Evaluation of Multiple Developmental Abnormalities in the Havanese Dog Breed.” Journal of Heredity, vol. 98, no. 5, 2007, pp. 510–17. Crossref, doi:10.1093/jhered/esm049.

Starr, A., Developmental Abnormalities In The Havanese

Williams, Krista, and Ernest Ward. “Portosystemic Shunt in Dogs.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/portosystemic-shunt-in-dogs