We are a family of 4 (me, wife, 9 and 6 yo kids) and thinking about getting our first family dog. Neither my wife or I haven't owned a dog before.
We've never heard of Havanese until recently. While walking around our neighborhood, we encountered a lady walking a really cute dog. She said her dog is a Havanese. She told us all the good things about Havanese: it's sweet, smart, funny, etc. But then she added that it requires constant grooming and also hard to potty train, so it may not be a good fit for a first-time dog owner.
But ever since we saw that dog, my kids really really want a Havanese. My wife was also sold ever since she heard that it doesn't shed much. I've been wanting to get a Lab Retriever, but she was hesitant due to its shedding.
Fortunately I found this forum, so I'd like to get some real advice from the actual owners. My questions are:
1. How hard is it to potty train a Havanese puppy?
2. How often should we groom? Any maintenance needed other than brushing in between groomings?
3. Would you recommend this breed for a first-time dog owner? I understand not all breeds are suitable for novice owners.
Thanks in advance.
Hi and welcome! Kodi is our first dog too, and he has been fabulous. I can't imagine a better first dog. They are EXTREMELY "trainable", and if you purchase one from a good breeder who, breeds to the standard and is very careful about breeding for good health and good temperaments, you will find them to be an absolute delight. A good Hav is well balanced, LOVES to be with people, but at the same time playful, curious and outgoing.
As far as potty training is concerned, this is another area where the breeder is of paramount importance. If you buy from a breeder who properly starts their puppies on a good potty training system before you bring them home, and YOU follow through diligently once you get them, they are very trainable. I don't think they are particularly harder than any other small breed. I you buy a puppy mill or pet store puppy, or even a puppy from a breeder who doesn't start the puppy well, potty training will be a lot harder. ...Not impossible, but it will take longer and be more difficult.
As Heather and Donna said, it you want to reduce the hassle of grooming, keep the dog in a puppy cut. Then some minimal grooming and regular baths should be all that is needed. Even if you choose to keep your Hav in a full coat (I do) this is another place where the breeder makes a difference. It is now possible to genetically test to see whether Hav carries the curly coat gene or not. While either is "correct" in the breed standard, the less curly, silkier coats are WAY easier to maintain. Some breeders put specific emphasis on breeding for these silky, less curly coats. So if this is a major concern, don't buy a puppy from a breeder who produces a lot of very cottony, curlier Havs. Even though Kodi is in long coat, it takes me less than 10 minutes a day to groom him now that he is an adult.
As Donna mentioned, whether you've got a silky one or a cottony one, unless you clip them quite short during that period, you WILL have to do a lot more grooming when they "blow" their puppy coat, somewhere between 8-14 months. Even some people who want to keep their Hav in a long coat as an adult, give up and cut the puppy short during this period, then let it grow out again when they stop matting so badly.
From a family perspective, the one thing you should know is that small dogs in general are fragile. Havs may be a little LESS fragile than some toy breeds, but it will be imperative that your children, especially the 6 year old, be taught NOT to pick the puppy up. Puppies are notorious for suddenly leaping out of children's arms with no thought of safety. They are NOT like cats, do NOT land gracefully, and can SERIOUSLY hurt themselves. Children should be taught to get down on the floor and play with the puppy there, where everyone is safe!
You should also plan to enroll your puppy and the whole family in a puppy kindergarten, where everyone can learn consistent ways of handling the puppy. This will go a long way toward making the puppy's up-bringing go as smoothly as possible.