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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Havanese as a first dog?

Hello all,

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.
Havanese Newbie
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 02:31 PM
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Hi, and welcome. You'll get lots of advice to weigh and measure and think on for yourself. Here's my take:

1. They are moderately difficult to potty train. That's mainly because of two things -- because, like lots of little dogs, they have small bladders and because they want to be with you all the time. That means you HAVE to be on task and vigilent about training. The plus side is that they are VERY trainable and get the idea pretty fast. Also, as you will hear, lots of folks just litter train their dogs or use something like UGODOG, which eliminates the hassle of potty training them.

2. Grooming is required, but the hassle of it can be lessened if you keep the dog in a "puppy coat" -- a shorter cut. Up until 8 months or so, it's just a matter of regular brushing and bathing. At that age, they start to "blow coat," which means matting, and brushing can be more of a challenge -- and needs to be done more frequently. My dog Baxter is in that stage, and it is very much a challenge. When it's going well, we enjoy the "together time" -- when I'm having to tease out mats, not so much.

3. There are lots of pluses for a first-dog Havanese. They are bred to be companions--if that is what you are looking for, this is the dog for you. They are happy and fun and very, very easy to teach tricks to. They do not shed. Their potty messes are small. They don't eat a lot. They like to cuddle. They're good with kids.

On the other hand, they do crave attention and companionship -- that's what they're bred for. And (I'm just comparing my Hav to my dachshund here), they are not quite as "doggy" as other breeds. My dachshund is a "hunter" and "protector" and is happy to trot along the fence line patrolling or spend an hour or so digging for imaginary badgers. My Havanese will spend some time doing stuff like that, but it's not too long before he's looking around to find me and trotting back over to sit with me on the porch or play. They just love people. So, whether that's for you -- only you can answer.

Hope this helps. I can tell you -- your kids will love this dog. My son ADORES Baxter.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 02:38 PM
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Hi, and, welcome! It is true that once you fall for this breed, there is pretty much no turning back .

As far as potty training goes, it really is (IMO) not that much worse than any other small breed. Any puppy of any breed will require training. I don't think the bad rep havs have acquired in this department is really very fair; I don't think they are necessarily that much harder to train.

If you want low-maintenance grooming, then just keep your dog in a puppy cut! Then, just an occasional brushing and bath will be required from what I understand. (I keep my dog in a full coat so he requires combing every other day or so and a bath every week, but, I enjoy grooming him!)

As far as a breed for an novice, I would say that the Havanese IS the perfect one! They are (as a whole) very sweet, very smart, easily trainable, small, and SOOOO loveable! Just be sure to get one from a reputable breeder to ensure health and temperament, and, be prepared to do a lot of work at least at first, especially if you get a puppy - ANY puppy can/will be a handful and will require time and commitment. If your entire family is ready for a dog and willing to help out, it shouldn't be too hard though

(I actually did a lot of research before getting my pup and specifically picked the Havanese breed because I wanted a smaller, friendlier dog as my first dog in 14 years, and, I couldn't be happier!)
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 03:17 PM
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Welcome to the forum.

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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havnewbie View Post
Hello all,

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.
Havanese Newbie
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.


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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaC View Post
1. They are moderately difficult to potty train. That's mainly because of two things -- because, like lots of little dogs, they have small bladders and because they want to be with you all the time. That means you HAVE to be on task and vigilent about training. The plus side is that they are VERY trainable and get the idea pretty fast. Also, as you will hear, lots of folks just litter train their dogs or use something like UGODOG, which eliminates the hassle of potty training them.
Hi Donna, I don't think that Hav puppies who have been started properly are that difficult to potty train. I think there are a lot out there whose breeders haven't started them properly. I will agree completely that you need to be vigilant about training, but from what I hear from others, that's pretty much true of all small breeds, and to some extent, of all young puppies. And of course you have the advantage that at least when they DO make a mistake, it's a much SMALLER mistake than a Lab puppy!

But I really wanted to address your comment about litter boxes, UGO-Dog, etc. These indoor potty options DO NOT eliminate the hassle of potty training. It is still JUST as important to teach the puppy what are the "OK" places to go (outside or in the litter box) and which are the "not OK" places. (everywhere else) If a puppy comes to you from the breeder already familiar with and using a litter box (or whatever), of course it will be easier to transition to that at home. But it DOESN'T mean you are off the hook. The puppy must still be watched diligently, or closely confined when you CAN'T watch them until they really, completely understand the rules.

Litter box trained puppies USUALLY, on their own, start to transition to going outdoors when that is an option. But for those of us who either live in areas where weather makes outdoor potty trips extremely unpleasant for man and beast, or those who are away from home for longer than a puppy or dog should be expected to "hold it", litter boxes are a wonderful option. It is pouring here this afternoon, and when Kodi asks to go out, I will tell him, "Go use your box", and neither of us will have to get soaking wet, and I won't then have to blow dry a soaking wet dog.

I just don't want anyone to get the idea that using a litter box, UGO-Dog or pee pads is a "get out of jail free" card. You STILL have to spend the time and properly potty train your puppy.


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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 03:48 PM
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Well....... um.... Since a Hav would be your first dog, you wouldn't be comparing it to another breed. I grew up with Border Collies & Aussies. (I would never recommend one of those as a first dog.) Potty-training Jack was a frickin' nightmare compared to my other dogs. Buy lots of paper towels and vinegar. You have to watch them like a hawk for 6 months. Hopefully, by then you will be able to know their signals but Jack wasn't reliable until he was over 1 year old.

If you ignore the potty-training nightmare, I really do enjoy having a little dog. I didn't think I would. He is so much easier to haul around. He is just as exuberant and happy to see you but a Hav won't scare your kids' friends. My previous and much-missed border collie loved kids but a bouncing 60 lb. dog is a bit unnerving when you are a kid. Especially when he tries to sit in your lap.

Havs are sturdy. That was one of my requirements. I have 2 boys, 2 cats, and an Aussie. Jack has to be rugged.

Grooming - I keep Jack in a puppy cut. I try to comb him a little whenever he is snuggling.

Barking - meh. So he barks to announce visitors and intruders on his sidewalk. He stops once you have acknowledged that he did his job.

Personality - sweet, funny and loving.

The hardest thing with getting any puppy is training your kids. They just don't get that the puppy isn't a toy and will keep pestering it until bad things happen. Puppy and kids should never, never, never, be left alone in a room together. This goes for your 9 yr. old, too. My youngest is 10 and stills hugs too hard. You are going to have to make a list of strict rules.

Final note: I can't imagine not having a furry face greet me whenever I come into the room.

TTFN,
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 03:50 PM
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That's all correct -- I have to say that I found pads to be something more of a hassle, because Baxter thought they were food and Libby seemed never to really get the difference between pads and rugs. Outside was best for me, except for rainy days.

I agree that they are no more difficult than other small dogs. Baxter is no more difficult than Libby, to be sure. In fact, a dachshund's stubborness makes them, imho, a bit more difficult.

My comments were directed toward the mention of a Lab, which, I understand from friends, is an easier dog to potty train. If you choose a small dog -- no matter what the breed -- there's more work.

I am thinking of putting a litter box on the patio for rainy days. I'm about to pull my hair out trying to make that work.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 03:57 PM
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I guess I should say I also agree on the coat. I love Baxter's curly collar hair (not so much the cottony wispy stuff on his back) and head hair, but I do get jealous of the silky dogs on this forum. Very pretty -- and they look easier to deal with. I spent an hour brushing Baxter out after his bath last night, getting everything to lay down just the way it does in the pictures on this site, and, as soon as he got up and shook himself, he looked like a little bear who'd put his paw in an electric socket!
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 11-17-2011, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krandall View Post
Hi Donna, I don't think that Hav puppies who have been started properly are that difficult to potty train. I think there are a lot out there whose breeders haven't started them properly. I will agree completely that you need to be vigilant about training, but from what I hear from others, that's pretty much true of all small breeds, and to some extent, of all young puppies. And of course you have the advantage that at least when they DO make a mistake, it's a much SMALLER mistake than a Lab puppy!

But I really wanted to address your comment about litter boxes, UGO-Dog, etc. These indoor potty options DO NOT eliminate the hassle of potty training. It is still JUST as important to teach the puppy what are the "OK" places to go (outside or in the litter box) and which are the "not OK" places. (everywhere else) If a puppy comes to you from the breeder already familiar with and using a litter box (or whatever), of course it will be easier to transition to that at home. But it DOESN'T mean you are off the hook. The puppy must still be watched diligently, or closely confined when you CAN'T watch them until they really, completely understand the rules.

Litter box trained puppies USUALLY, on their own, start to transition to going outdoors when that is an option. But for those of us who either live in areas where weather makes outdoor potty trips extremely unpleasant for man and beast, or those who are away from home for longer than a puppy or dog should be expected to "hold it", litter boxes are a wonderful option. It is pouring here this afternoon, and when Kodi asks to go out, I will tell him, "Go use your box", and neither of us will have to get soaking wet, and I won't then have to blow dry a soaking wet dog.

I just don't want anyone to get the idea that using a litter box, UGO-Dog or pee pads is a "get out of jail free" card. You STILL have to spend the time and properly potty train your puppy.
Excellent post, Karen. As a UgoDog user, I was going to comment, as well, that it does not eliminate potty training. I will just say that we made the mistake of not having Augie continue using it at times, to keep it as a 'back up' for foul weather or if we are gone longer periods, so after he was transitioned to outside, he will no longer use it. A couple of times, I forgot to take him out and at least he had the smarts to pee on the kitchen floor or the throw rug on the tile in front of the door.

Linda, Augie & Finn's Mom
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