The Difference Between a Havanese & Tibetan Terrier

Written by lauren herrington
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The Difference Between a Havanese & Tibetan Terrier
The Havanese is different from the Tibetan Terrier. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The Tibetan terrier and the Havanese are both longhair dogs of smaller size, and may seem to be nearly identical to the untrained eye. However, when examined closely, these two breeds have distinct differences in presentation and in personality. These differences are not only interesting; they may be the deciding factor for someone trying to choose between the two breeds as a pet.

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The biggest difference between a Havanese and a Tibetan terrier is their distinct personalities, according to the breed standards outlined by the American Kennel Club. The Havanese is a playful and happy-go-lucky breed with a sweet temperament. This stands in great contrast to the more reserved and cautious personality of the Tibetan terrier. This difference stems from the purpose of each breed: the Tibetan terrier was bred to be a watchdog as well as a companion, whereas the Havanese originally was bred solely to be a companion and playmate.


While both the Havanese and the Tibetan terrier are both small breeds, the Havanese is the shorter and lighter of the two. According to the AKC, Tibetan terriers are generally 14 to 17 inches tall and weigh 8.16 to 13.6kg., while the Havanese is 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches tall and weighs 7 to 13lbs. While this variation in size is not extremely different, the Havanese is considered a toy breed, while the Tibetan terrier is not.


Both the Havanese and Tibetan terrier have long, flowing fur coats, the Tibetan terrier's coat tends to be very thick while the coat of a Havanese is thin, comparatively. This difference is due to the history and origination of each breed. According to the AKC, Tibetan terriers originate from the cold, snowy mountains of Tibet, where a thick coat was necessary to keep it warm. The Havanese hails from Cuba, where a thin, light coat to insulate against heat and sun was needed, according to the Havanese Club of America. While both breeds require regular grooming, the Tibetan terrier needs more frequent brushing to maintain a tangle-free coat, while the Havanese needs less maintenance.


Since Tibetan terriers originally had to navigate snowy mountains, their build tends to be compact, muscular and athletic, with wide feet that originally functioned like a snowshoe. In contrast, the Havanese tends to be lean and lithe, with a bouncy and flashy way of moving. The feet of a Havanese are not proportionally large when compared to the Tibetan terrier.

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