Best Dog Food for Havanese in 2024

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havanese dog

Did you know that Havanese are the only dog breed native to Cuba? These super social dogs have long, silky coats and small sturdy bodies that need to be taken care of properly. 

And that’s why it’s important to choose the best dog food for them. If there are problems with their food, a Havanese will usually show it in their coat first. 

Obesity is a common problem amongst Havanese — and with that comes many other potential health problems like joint and respiratory issues. Because of this, their food should be lower in calories and contain enough protein to keep them active and satiated. 

Looking for a great dog food option for your Havanese? My top pick would be Wellness Core Small Breed dog food. I’ve also reviewed nine other options, so you can pick the best one for your furry friend.  

Our Top Picks  

10 Best Dog Foods for Havanese Reviewed 

All of the dog food options on this list meet the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog’s food, always consult with your veterinarian. 

Best Overall

Wellness CORE Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food Turkey
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas
  • Key Feature: Great overall grain-free dog food that’s loaded with vitamins and minerals

Wellness CORE Small Breed dog food is a grain-free option that’s higher in protein and offers important nutrients that your Havanese needs. 

First, it’s made to have a smaller kibble size, making it easier for dog’s like Havanese to eat. However, this may not be the food for your Havanese if they are prone to teeth tartar — but the other dog foods on this list can help with that. 

It’s also packed with healthy protein and fat, including turkey, chicken, and salmon oil. These ingredients provide glucosamine for healthy joints and taurine for heart health. Salmon oil also provides omega fatty acids to keep your Havenese’s coat dense, healthy, and shiny. 

It doesn’t contain any meat by-products or fillers, grain, corn, soy, wheat, or artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.

Spinach, broccoli, carrots, and blueberries are packed full of vitamins, offering vitamin A for eye health, vitamin C for immune support, and antioxidants that can prevent cancer. This is especially true for Havanese dogs since they live long lives, giving them more time to develop such diseases. 

Green tea extract and spearmint extract act as preservatives, but they can also help freshen your dog’s breath and keep their weight maintained.

Best for Puppies

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein
  • Key Feature: Highly digestible puppy food packed with DHA for brain function

Even when they’re puppies, Havenese don’t require many calories. In fact, if their dog food is too high in calories, it can cause them to gain weight that they can’t shed. 

Taste of the Wild Puppy dog food helps meet their nutrient needs, with just 364 calories per cup — the perfect amount for Havanese puppies! 

Not only is it lower in calories, but it also provides the protein and fats that puppies need most in development. The buffalo and bison also provide both calcium and magnesium for healthy bones and heart health. 

Peas and sweet potatoes provide carbohydrates for energy, as well as fiber. Flaxseed and dried chicory root offer prebiotic support which help with healthy digestion and their immune system. 

Last but not least, salmon oil supplies both omega fatty acids, for joint health, and amino acids to optimize the absorption of the other vitamins and minerals added to the food. 

This formula is made without grains, corn, wheat, or artificial flavors and colors. It’s also made in the US — a family-owned brand that works with sustainable local and global sources. 

Best for Seniors

Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Senior
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran
  • Key Feature: Dog food high in antioxidants for senior Havanese 

Nutro Ultra Senior dog food includes the perfect balance of lean proteins and whole grains for your older Havanese.

This formula focuses on high quality and holistic ingredients for the overall well-being of your dog — especially as they age.

Farm-raised chicken, pasture-fed lamb, and salmon offer lean proteins and amino acids for strong and healthy muscles and joints. Omega fatty acids in the salmon also promote their aging joints and add a luster to their coat.

Brown rice, whole grain oatmeal, and beet pulp offer fiber and easily digestible carbohydrates, and these provide energy and fuel for your dog’s heart, brain, and even their nervous system. 

Nutro Ultra Senior dog food is also made without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. And the product is produced in Nutro’s own facilities for quality control and safety. 

Best for Active Dogs

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain Free Chicken Freeze Dried
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Tapioca, Chicken Fat
  • Key Feature: Higher protein dog food for more active Havanese

Even though many Havanese aren’t extremely active, yours may be. If they need more protein and calories to keep up with this high-energy lifestyle, or if they’re underweight, Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed dog food is a great choice. 

This dry food, mixed with freeze dried raw meat, is both high in protein and nutrients. But, it’s also fairly low in calories, so your Havanese can enjoy their food without sacrificing their muscles and weight. 

Cage-free chicken is the very first ingredient, offering both glucosamine and chondroitin, which help maintain and renew cartilage. They’re also beneficial in protecting your dog’s joints. 

Chicken fat and chicken liver are added to provide iron and omega fatty acids. These aid in growth and development, as well as carry oxygen throughout your Havenese’s body to aid in function. 

The formula has added prebiotics and probiotics to ease possible tummy troubles. And pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and dried kelp add antioxidants for an immune boost. 

Calcium and phosphorus from chickpeas and eggs also fortify protein — building strong bones and teeth. 

Instinct dog food is made in the US. It’s free from grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, and both artificial colors and preservatives.

Best for Allergies

Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Rice, Barley, Canola Meal, Fish Meal
  • Key Feature: No chicken formula for Havanese with food allergies 

Havanese are fairly lucky to not have to worry about food or environmental allergies. In fact, unlike other dog breeds, Havanese are less likely to suffer from allergies. 

However, when they do have allergies, the most common seems to be with chicken. These allergies can cause them to have digestive issues or itchy skin, so if your Havanese has a problem digesting chicken, try Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Sensitive dry food. 

It includes salmon and fish meal instead of chicken or other poultry. These make a higher protein formula with omega fatty acids for heart health and muscle recovery. 

Easily digestible oatmeal also provides a natural prebiotic fiber that supplies the gut with good bacteria. This nourishes the stomach and makes it easier for your dog to properly digest their food. 

The formula is made without corn, wheat, soy, and poultry by-product meal. It’s also free of food dyes and artificial flavors. 

Best Wet Food

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Natural Balance LID Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Fish Broth, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Salmon, Potato Protein
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient diet and grain-free wet dog food 

Because of their predisposition to gain weight, Havanese need a simple dog food with clean and wholesome ingredients. 

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets canned dog food offers simple ingredients, low calories, and a vitamin enriched diet all rolled into one. 

First, this recipe starts with salmon and fish broth, which provides calcium, omega fatty acids, protein, and magnesium. This is a great food for dogs with sensitive stomachs, itchy skin, or who hate dry dog food. 

It includes sweet potato as its only carb source. This provides fiber, B vitamins for energy, and vitamin C for immune support. 

The formula is made without grains, and it doesn’t contain any artificial colors or preservatives. While it is a complete and balanced diet all on it’s own, you can also use it as a topper to entice your dog to eat their kibble. 

Keep in mind that wet dog food can worsen tartar development if your Havanese suffers from it. If this is the case, mix the wet food with dry kibble that will help clean their teeth. 

Best Fresh Food

Nom Nom Now Fresh Turkey Fare Dog Food

Nom Nom Turkey Recipe
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach
  • Key Feature: Freshly made dog food with human grade ingredients
Get 50% OFF your first Nom Nom order!

Fresh food doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, did you know that you can feed your Havanese a customized diet that’s delivered to your doorstep, all while on a budget? 

Nom Nom Now offers freshly made and human grade dog food with cage free turkey (and other meat options), fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice

To start your Nom Nom Now order, you’ll take a quiz and answer based on your Havanese. You’ll be asked specific questions about your dog — including about their weight, body type, potential allergies, and if they’ve been spayed or neutered. 

After you complete the quiz, Nom Nom Now will calculate the perfect diet for your Havenese. Then you’ll get the opportunity to choose between four different food options — beef, turkey, pork, and chicken. You can also choose a combination of the four. 

The recipes are formulated and scientifically evaluated for nutrition content by the company’s veterinary nutrition experts on. They include PhD nutritionists, with two Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists. 

The meals are also shipped fresh when you request a refill, and are individually portioned to fit your dog’s daily caloric needs. 

Best Budget Food

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Salmon & Whitefish
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Meal
  • Key Feature: Grain and corn free dog food for budget conscious owners 

As a small breed owner myself, I know how difficult it can be to check off all the boxes on a budget friendly dog food. You don’t want to buy food with fillers or potentially harmful ingredients, but you also don’t want to break the bank.

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed dog food offers the same high quality ingredients as other dog foods, while being an affordable option for dogs on a grain-free diet. 

The kibble is made smaller for your Havanese to enjoy, but includes the same whole ingredients as Whole Earth Farms original formula. 

Salmon and whitefish make up the protein, and chicken fat aids in protein absorption with omega fatty acids. 

The recipe also includes apples, sweet potatoes, and flaxseed for fiber and to support sensitive stomachs. This formula is grain-free, but does supplement probiotics to help reduce shedding, promote a shiny coat, and encourage healthy skin. 

It’s also made without any corn, wheat, soy, by-products, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. And, it’s made right in the US with sustainably sourced ingredients. 

Best for Weight Loss

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Healthy Weight Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Canidae Pure Healthy Weight Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
  • Key Feature: Weight loss formula for small dogs 

Your Havanese can easily become a chunky dog if their portion sizes are too big or if their dog food is too high in fat and calories. CANIDAE Healthy Weight dog food can help them lose weight, maintain lean muscles, and still keep your dog satisfied. 

The formula is made with just nine simple ingredients, with real chicken being the first. The rest of the formula includes vegetables and fruits like sweet potatoes, peas, and supplemented vitamins and minerals. 

All of these ingredients provide vitamins like Niacin for energy and Riboflavin for proper muscle support. The recipe also includes omega fatty acids, taurine, and thiamine to help encourage your dog’s body to shed those extra pounds. 

Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, also known as probiotics, is also supplemented for digestive health and to boost your dog’s metabolism. 

There are no artificial ingredients, fillers, or additives including corn, wheat, soy, or grain. The food is also made in the US at Canidae’s Texas facility.

Best for Eye Health

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Ancient Grains Adult Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Lamb + Brown Rice
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Salmon Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Key Feature: Dog food high in vitamins that supports Havanese eye health 

While Havanese are considered one of the healthier breeds without too many health issues, their main cause of concern is their eyes. So it’s essential to find dog food that supports eye health with the right vitamins and minerals. 

Merrick Classic Ancient Grains dog food offers a formula high in vitamin A, biotin, vitamin D3, and folic acid. All of these aid in eye function and health, plus provide heart, metabolism, and joint support. 

The formula also includes real deboned lamb as the very first ingredient and main protein source. It provides omega fatty acids to help promote healthy skin and a shiny coat, and brown rice and quinoa also aid in digestion. 

This dog food does not contain any potatoes, peas, or lentils for stomachs that may be sensitive to those ingredients. It also doesn’t include any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. 

Merrick Classic is crafted in Hereford, TX and cooked in the USA.

How to Choose Best Dog Food for Havanese

white havanese dog

Although they are considered friendly and energetic dogs, Havanese don’t need many calories. They also need the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to keep them from gaining weight or having other health problems. 

Here’s what to look for. 

Moderate Protein

Although Havanese are considered social and active, they aren’t part of the working dog group for a reason. They are considered a toy breed, so their activity level is still short compared to other dogs their size, like Corgis

Because of this, they don’t need as much protein and as many calories as dogs that are more active. 

When it comes to protein, they can thrive on 20% easily. They can also be a great fit for vegan and vegetarian protein, like pea protein, beans, and soy.  

Lower in Fat When Possible 

Because they can gain weight easily, it’s best to feed a Havanese dog food that has less than 15% Crude Fat, as long as you stick to the minimum of 8% fat as advised by AAFCO. 

It’s also important to focus on healthier fat sources, like salmon oil or chicken fat. These are better than saturated fat, like canola oil. 

Digestible Carbohydrates

Almost all dogs can thrive on carbohydrates. They give a boost of energy, and also help with digestion. Plus, many carbohydrates are found in whole foods that provide vitamins and nutrients for your pup. 

When choosing dog food for your Havanese, be sure to focus on digestible carbs. Great options include oats, potatoes (and sweet potatoes), brown rice, and barley

Plenty of Fiber

All dogs need proper amounts of fiber in their diet, but fiber is especially important for Havanese. Not only does fiber help them digest their food better, but it also helps them regulate their metabolism. 

This is especially important for dogs like Havanese that can suffer from obesity. 

Prebiotics and probiotics can be helpful in providing fiber. But also focus on whole foods and digestible carbs, like vegetables, rice, and oats. These all provide fiber that your Havanese can absorb. 

Vitamins & Minerals

Just like humans, Havanese need vitamins and minerals to live their best lives. But the vitamins and minerals that they need most are vitamin A, C, and E. Other supplements like glucosamine, omega fatty acids, iron, and magnesium are helpful as well. 

These vitamins and minerals help Havanese who may suffer from certain disabilities and diseases, like cataracts and obesity. Plus, many support their health and may help prevent diseases from occurring — or at least delay them. 

Many of these vitamins and minerals are already supplemented in dog foods, including those on this list. But, talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate percentage that your dog should get. 

Ingredients to Avoid

Dogs have simple digestive systems. This is why it’s so important to feed them foods without additives, fillers, and potentially harmful ingredients. 

The main ingredients to avoid are BHA and BHT, which are chemical preservatives. These chemicals have been banned in Europe and Canada, due to their harmful nature. But they aren’t banned for dog food. 

None of the formulas on this list contain these preservatives, so you can feel safe feeding them to your dog. 

Other ingredients include food dyes, white or wheat flour, xylitol, and artificial flavorings. While these may not be harmful in small doses, they can be harmful over time. 

Also, it’s important to remember — no matter how tempting and convincing their big puppy eyes may be — not to feed your dog from your plate, as human food can have additives that are harmful as well.

In fact, they’ve been known to cause problems like heart disease, digestive health issues, and possibly even cancer. So it’s safer to avoid them. 

Havanese Calorie Intake and Feeding Guide

Now that you know what to feed your Havanese, you may be wondering how much you should be feeding them. Here are our guidelines for calories. 


Because Havanese puppies are so small, they don’t need many calories. In fact, the average Havanese puppy can thrive on about 200 to 250 calories a day, assuming they’re the average puppy size of about 5 pounds. 


Unlike large dogs, Havanese mature earlier, and will usually reach their adult size by 8 months. Their average weight is around 13 pounds, so they’ll need about 400 to 450 calories a day to sustain their weight once they reach adulthood. 

Before switching your Havanese to adult food, consult with your veterinarian to make sure they’re ready. 


The older a dog gets, the more likely they are to slow down and need less calories. Since Havanese are already prone to obesity and inactivity, it’s best to limit their calories to about 350 a day once they reach their senior years. 

Of course, if you notice that your dog is still gaining weight on the 350 calories a day, feel free to talk to their veterinarian. They may recommend lowering their calories or switching to a lower fat or calorie food. 

If their weight still continues to increase, see your veterinarian for possible fluid build up or neoplasia. 

havanese puppy

Common Havanese Health Issues 

Havanese are generally healthy dogs, but they are prone to a few health issues — specifically based on their weight and eyesight. 

Here are the most common health issues your Havanese may encounter. 


Havanese are active for their size, but don’t burn energy easily. They’re more social than hard working, so it’s important to ensure that they don’t become overweight. Feeding them the proper amount of calories, fat, and protein can help them maintain their proper weight. 

Also, always remember to measure out your Havenese’s food. Eyeballing their portion sizes can mean that you’re overfeeding them. And, if their weight changes, remember to recheck for the proper amount. 

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a hereditary disease that’s common with most small dog breeds, like Havanese. 

It occurs when the blood supply to the ball part (or femoral head) of the hip joint is temporarily interrupted and the bone begins to die. If it breaks apart and doesn’t heal properly it can cause extreme pain and stiffness. Usually, surgery is the only option to fix these issues. 

While this disease isn’t caused by anything but genetic predisposition, there are a few ways to help your Havanese after surgery. 

First, keep their weight at a healthy maintenance level. Too much extra weight can cause the disease to worsen. 

Next, focus on foods that offer healthy fats and joint protection, like omega fatty acids and glucosamine. Vitamin E can also be supplemented or found in most dog foods. 


A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye. This is the most common cause of blindness for dogs, including Havanese. 

Cataracts can be caused by injuries or diabetes, but most cataracts happen due to genetics and old age. They can’t be completely avoided, but you can focus on taking good care of your dog’s eyes. 

A healthy diet can keep your Havenese’s eyes healthy, even when they reach their senior years. Focusing on vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, and omega fatty acids can be beneficial. Look for dog foods that have carrots, spinach, and salmon oil as ingredients to get these nutrients into your pup. 


Entropion is a genetic condition where a part of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward. When this happens, an eyelash can irritate and scratch the surface of the eye, which leads to a corneal ulceration or perforation.

The best way to avoid this is to get surgery for your dog. It’s a genetic condition, so no diet can fix it. However, after surgery, you should still focus on protecting your dog’s eyes. Just like with cataracts, your focal point should be ingredients that support eye health.  

Our Verdict

Havanese are small and don’t require too many calories, fats, or proteins to have a healthy lifestyle full of friendship and love. 

Wellness CORE dog food offers the vitamins and nutrients your Havanese needs for healthy eye and weight maintenance, without being heavy on their digestive system. 

But your Havanese can live a happy life with any of the foods on this list. The key is to provide them a food that gives them what they need, without the fillers they don’t. 

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Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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