I just registered yesterday in hopes of getting some first hand feedback from you all who have experience with Havanese. I have the opportunity of bringing a 7mos. old male pup home and now I seem to be at a crossroads... On the one hand, everything I read about the Havanese is very positive (from many sites, not just this one) with the one exception...potty training. I have two adult girls, 1 8yr old Cavalier King Charles and the other a 4 yr old wirehaired dachshund. Both were relatively easy to potty train. My concern is this that everything I've read indicates males are harder to potty train, especially in the small breeds. How long should it take before we can expect him to become 'reliable'? Marking is my #1 concern as our house is less then 2yrs old. My other concern is for grooming issues but those are the least of my worries (I think). Any advise you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
I don't think that Havanese are any harder to potty train than any other small breed, and easier than many. I also don't think males are any more difficult than females. Both male and female dogs mark, and both need to learn that marking in the house is not appropriate. (this is a separate issue from "potty training") That said, assuming that you plan to neuter your pup, whether male or female, it is unlikely to be a problem one way or the other. Kodi didn't even lift his leg for the first time until he was WELL over 2 years old, and by then he was well past potty training. It would never enter his mind to mark inside the house! The only times I see him mark is places that many other dogs have marked, like outside at a show site.
At our agility training center, there is a chute that has been marked by many dogs in the past. They've tried, to the best of their ability, to clean it, but you can tell by all the dogs' reactions to it, that there is still a lingering odor that THEY can smell. If Kodi is playing in that ring, I have seen him go and sniff this chute. (he ignores it while working) I don't know whether he would mark it or not if left to his own devices, but I don't give him the opportunity to make the wrong choice… I simply call him away from it.
I think a LOT of what you hear about little dogs being hard to potty train is because there are so many puppy mill small dogs out there in the pet world. If you buy your Havanese from a reputable breeder who has kept the puppies in clean surroundings and has started them on potty training as soon as they come out of the whelping box, (as should be done!) you won't have a problem. They do need to be either supervised or confined so that they make as few mistakes as possible until they are reliable, but that's easy to do… they are little dogs!
As far as grooming is concerned, there is no doubt that a Havanese coat is more work than a short haired coat. It goes with the territory and is part of their charm. Silky coats are much easier to care for than curly coats, so if you are concerned, buy from a breeder who genetically tests for, and breeds away from, the curly gene. I love the long hair of my Havanese, but there are many people who choose to keep their Havs in a short puppy cut, and, of course, this makes grooming MUCH less of an issue.