Thank you. We will look outside of Florida and will travel to interview the breeder first. It is very important for us to get a healthy puppy this time. We have been through a lot with our handsome guy. We like the bigger Havanese like Coco was, but do you think that is inviting more health problems?
I don't think larger size has anything to do with health problems (though very small sizes can). But reputable breeders are going to be breeding for the middle of the size range (10-12 lbs) so that fewer puppies end up outside the acceptable hight range for the breed. (8 1/2" to 11 1/2") there is no stated weight range for the breed, but to give you an example, my Kodi is EXACTLY 11 1/2", and weighs 17 lbs. That is all muscle, no fat, and he is nicely conformed, even if he is larger than the "preferred" size range. (the preferred size range is narrower than the allowed size range) He is the largest dog that my breeders have ever had come from their breeding program.
Now, there are Havs that are no taller than Kodi but have shorter legs and a heavier body, who might weigh more than him (without being overweight) and still be within standard height. But it gives you an idea of the top end of the acceptable size range. Havanese do occasionally surprise their breeders and end up bigger, of course, but no good breeder does that on purpose.
I think your best bet is to find a good breeder with a good track record on health. One way you can gauge this is to look at their health guarantee. A breeder who feels very comfortable about the health of their lines will usually not stop at a "one year replacement" type guarantee. (How many people will REALLY give their beloved pet back after a year? Breeders count on that!) Top breeders will offer to cover medical expenses for any genetic or congenital problem that shows up, up to the purchase price of the dog. IMO, that is a MUCH more useful type of guarantee. And in my mind, a breeder who makes such a guarantee really believes in the health of their animals. Otherwise, they couldn't afford to do it!
Then, when you find the breeder you feel comfortable working with, tell them that your preference is for a larger puppy. You may not end up with a "super size" one like Coco, but most experienced breeders will have a good idea which pups in a litter will be smaller or larger than average.
When I got Kodi, my breeder warned me that he would be on the larger side (though she didn't guess how much!!!
). But I didn't care. I was looking for a well conformed, athletic puppy for sports, not a conformation show prospect.