Everything you need to know

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Is It Right For You?

So you have decided to get a dog and you think that you might like a Havanese. Are you sure that this is the breed that is the most suitable for you and your family? Responsible dog ownership begins well before acquiring a puppy, with careful research to select the breed which is just right for your needs and expectations. If you want a Havanese because you are looking for a dog which is small, long haired, low-shedding, sweet, gentle, good with children, intelligent, easy to train, good for a novice owner and lovingly devoted to its family; then YES the Havanese may be the perfect dog for you. Are you considering the Havanese because someone in the family has asthma or allergies? A Havanese is perhaps the ideal choice, if all other considerations are taken into account. On the other hand if you want a Havanese just because you think they are cute; then think again and do your homework.

A starting spot is SELECT SMART. This is an excellent website that has an on-line quiz to help you determine which breed or breeds are best for you. It asks questions like time management, grooming, coat preferences, size, temperament, suitability for children, etc. Once you have completed the quiz , your answers will be compiled into a list of breeds and a percentage match. The top 5 breeds ( or any over 80%) are the ones that you may wish to investigate as potential additions to your family. The list includes an impressive assortment of breeds including the Havanese. The more honest you are in answering the questions, the more accurate the results will be. Remember that this is only a guideline and not a recommendation.

Other good websites worth a look are listed below. There are many more all around the world.


As well, you should check out your local library or book store. There are a number of excellent books available. Here are just a few to get you started.

THE PERFECT MATCH - A Dog Buyers Guide - Chris Walkowicz

The commitments of time and finances in owning a dog are very real. Do you have the time to spend with a dog every day? Do you enjoy having a furry friend shadowing your every step? Havanese are first and foremost companion dogs. They need and thrive on human companionship. They are not a dog to be left aside away from the family or alone for long periods of time. They love to cuddle and be close by. Do you have time to train, exercise and play? Toy dogs need training and basic manners if they are to grow up to be the delightful companion you are dreaming of. And, though their exercise needs are minimal; they do still need some. They are also quite active indoors and very playful. The profuse Havanese coat sheds less than many other breeds. This however does NOT mean low maintenance. Do you have the time and inclination to groom several times a week? And/or the funds to pay for regular visits to the groomers?

Costs of Havanese ownership

Dogs can be expensive to own and upkeep. Even with only the basics, the bills can add up. Have you honestly looked at all of the things a dog will need; early on as a puppy and for the next 14 or more years. The following lists outline some of the things you should anticipate. Aside from the purchase price of your Havanese puppy (about $1000.00 - $1500 for a pet/companion), you can expect expenses of about $1000 for the first year and $500 yearly after that. These are only the basics and do not include unforseen illness and injury, nor kennelling costs during holidays, nor advanced training required for campaigning or trialing a dog in assorted activities.

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You will go through at least two collars as your puppy grows, and at least 1 leash. Having three leashes is not unusual; you may find yourself with a 4' walking leash, a 6' training leash and a 25' retractable exercise leash. A crate is indispensable for housebreaking, car travel, dog shows, holidays, as well as a safe haven for your dog. You will also need two bowls, one for food and one for water. Grooming supplies should include things like a brush, comb, nail clippers, file, quick stop, shampoo, conditioner, ear powder, fingerbrush and toothpaste. As well most Havanese may benefit from the occasional attentions of a professional groomer. A short coat may need to be trimmed every 3-4 months while a long coat may need attention every 6-8 weeks. Do you know how to train and care for your Havanese? Books are a great source of information for many new owners. You should consider buying a book of basic dog care as well as a book on training. Obedience school is an excellent idea, particularly for first time dog owners. Two sessions , one of puppy classes and one of beginner obedience are a great start to having a well behaved pet. All dogs need toys of their own, some of these you can make inexpensively at home. Bought toys can cost anywhere from $2-$25 each depending on your selection. Good toys to start with would be a Kong, nylabone, dental rope, stuffed toy and a ball. The first year brings with it rather extensive veterinary care with checkups, inoculations and medications for worms, heartworm and fleas. And don't forget the importance of having your pet spayed or neutered. Some owners may choose to invest in Pet Insurance to help with unforseen veterinary costs. Last but not least is food and treats.

Spay / Neuter

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Some of these items may last you several years or even for the lifetime of the dog. Yearly maintenance include Vet checks, inoculations, medication for Heartworm and fleas, pet insurance and licence fees , feeding, ongoing grooming as well as the replacement of miscellaneous items such as new collars and leashes. There are a number of other things that you might choose to add on as the years go by. Such as more reference books, a magazine subscription and/or becoming a member of a breed club or kennel club. Extra grooming supplies that can be added to the basics are a grooming table and dryer, as well as a larger selection of brushes and combs. Or how about a pet bed for your pampered pup and more toys to play with. Many people enjoy giving their pets special treats and gifts for Christmas , Birthdays and other special occasions. You can be as basic or extravagant as your choices and pocket book allow.

You've done all your homework and have decided that the Havanese is definitely the right breed for your family.
So, how do you go about getting one of these little charmers? The next step is just as important. Where will your puppy come from? A Havanese will be part of your family for 15 years or more. It only makes sense to devote time and thought into getting just the right pup. Hopefully, you have already looked up breed descriptions for general information and photos, read the breed standard, and perhaps contacted one of the Breed Clubs for detailed information as well as breeder referrals. Contact several breeders and visit their homes/kennels if possible. Talk to them about dogs in general and the Havanese in particular to find out about their knowledge, ideals and breeding practices. Ask questions, and check references. These questions are important when buying any dog but even more so with a rare breed like the Havanese; as in all likelihood you will be picking a breeder long distance. Answers to these questions along with referrals and references will help to ensure that you are buying a well bred puppy from a reputable ethical breeder. At all costs, avoid puppy mills and pet shops. Many puppies from these sources have numerous temperament and health problems. Spare yourself the heartache and costly vet bills. As Havanese become more popular, there may be unscrupulous breeders looking more to quantity and profit rather than quality and the best interests of the breed. Using newspaper classified ads to locate a Havanese breeder is a gamble. Few responsible breeders advertise in local classified ads because they have no trouble placing their dogs; in fact many will have waiting lists. So how do you find that great breeder? The following questions are a place to start.

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How many years have they bred Havanese? Do they also breed other dogs? More than 3 breeds may indicate a commercial breeder or puppy mill. It is hard enough to learn the intricacies of one breed, let alone many breeds.

Is the breeder a member of the national breed club? Can you get references? From the Club? From other owners?

Does the breeder show their Havanese? Or train and compete in performance events? Do any of their dogs have titles? Commercial breeders rarely spend the time, effort and money to campaign a dog.

Are the dogs part of the family? Or living in kennels? Does the breeder have pictures to show you and stories about their Havanese? Commercial breeders will only have one or two professional photos to show or perhaps a brochure. A breeder dedicated to the breed will likely have albums full of pictures and be able to regale you with numerous tales of their dogs antics and special moments.

How many litters are bred each year? Many litters each year may indicate a love of money rather than the breed.

Does the breeder raise all the puppies personally in their own home? What sort of socializing do the puppies receive? When is the next litter planned?

Are the breeding dogs screened for hereditary problems? How often? What tests? Can you see a copy of those results? The most common hereditary problems in the Havanese are Heritable Cataracts and Luxating Patellas (slipping kneecaps).

Can the breeder tell you about the pedigree of their dogs? For which traits do they breed? How old are the sire and dam? How often is the dam bred? When was her last litter? How old was she at her first litter? Reputable breeders do not breed a female before at least her second season or 18 months of age; and are sure to allow sufficient time for her to recover before breeding another litter. Breeding a female at every season is NOT good practice.

Insist on seeing the dam, and sire if possible; these dogs are a good indication of the temperament of the pups when they reach adulthood. Any other adult relatives that you see are a bonus.

What type of coats do the dogs have? Smooth? Wavy? Curly? Silky? Profuse? What colour are their adult dogs? What is the average size as adults? Males? Females?

How old are the pups when they go to their new homes? Havanese puppies should stay with their mothers until at least 8 weeks of age; 10-12 weeks is not uncommon.

Does the breeder ship puppies? How? At what age? What precautions are taken to ensure safe arrival?

What do puppies cost? Male? Female? Companion? Show?

Is there a health guarantee? Does it cover known hereditary disorders of the breed?

What of the sales contract? Does it specify that this is a purebred Havanese and that official papers are part of the deal? Are financial matters, ownership transfer and breeding rights/restrictions clearly spelled out? Be wary of contracts that specify that you owe puppies or entire litters back when your dog is bred. One puppy back may be legitimate, but numerous puppies back should be examined suspiciously. This pyramid is a way that commercial breeders advance their gains by using trusting unsuspecting owners. Such diversification helps to shield their shady operations. In exchange for a deemed "show quality" puppy at a cheaper price, they may expect back several puppies or even entire litters. In many cases the "show quality" puppy may not even be a good example of the breed, and should not be bred.>

Will the breeder be available for any questions you might have as your Havanese grows up? For how long?

How does the breeder select homes for their puppies? What do they need to know about you, your expectations and plans for the future?

Click here to find sample questions.

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Responsible Havanese breeders will ask numerous questions to ensure they place their puppies in the best possible homes. The more they know about you, the better they can select the Havanese puppy which is the best match for you and your family. You may be asked some or all of the following questions by an ethical breeder. Commercial breeders don't care. All they want is your money.

- Will this be your first dog? Havanese are easy to train and eager to please which may make them suitable dogs for first time owners.
- Does anyone in the family suffer from asthma or allergies? This breed is non-shedding and may be a good choice. Contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as a truly non-allergenic breed. There are however some breeds like the Havanese that are hypo-allergenic - that is; less likely to produce an allergic reaction. Some extremely sensitive individuals may still react to these breeds. There is not one specific allergen. Some people react to the dander, while others to the hair or saliva. Many allergy and asthma afflicted individuals who cannot tolerate other dog breeds are able to live with a Havanese. Numerous visits should be planned to check for sensitivity.
- Do you currently own any dogs or other pets? How many? What breeds? Havanese generally get along well with other animals but caution should be exercised if these include dogs that are aggressive or have a very high prey drive. Havanese love to tease and also dart and run quickly as they play; provocative actions that may resemble escaping prey. Such a chase could be potentially fatal.
- Do you have any children? How many? What ages? Havanese are very sociable and like almost everyone. They are especially playful , quite sturdy and very tolerant . They tend to get along well with children, though supervision is always important.
- What sort of environment will the puppy be raised in? Detached house? Apartment? Condo? Does the landlord allow dogs? Havanese may be suitable for apartment dwellers as they tend to be quiet pets, though some are more vocal than others.
- Will the pup be left alone during the day? Havanese need and crave human company and will need time and attention every day. They are at their best as a fully participating member of the family.
- Do you have a fenced yard? Where will the dog live? house? yard? kennel?

Are you aware of the grooming requirements of the Havanese? The luxurious coat is fairly high maintenance.

Are you planning on taking your Havanese to Obedience classes?

Be honest with your breeder about any plans/expectations you have for your Havanese. Are you primarily wanting a loving companion? or do your plans include showing, breeding, agility, obedience, therapy etc?

Not all puppies are right for everyone. All Havanese have bright sparkling personalities, but there are variations, even within a litter. Differences can be subtle. One puppy may be quieter and more reserved while his littermate is more lively and curious. A reputable Havanese breeder is knowledgeable about the breed. Experience gives them a pretty good idea of how a certain puppy might mature. While an especially lively, bouncy Havanese puppy might be an ideal candidate for an agility enthusiast, the same puppy might be a handful for an elderly couple. By the same token, a quiet gentle cuddly puppy might be a perfect match for this couple but be a disappointment to someone whose goal is performance events.

Do you know the dog laws in your community? Leash laws? clean up laws? licencing laws?

Have you considered the costs of owning a Havanese, including veterinary care, feeding, training, boarding, grooming, annual license etc? See above for a detailed list.

These questions help the breeder choose just the right home for each precious pup. Responsible breeders answer buyers' questions. They breed Havanese because they love and admire the breed and strive to improve it. They feel responsibility through the lifetime of each pup, so they follow up frequently, and may want regular pictures and updates. A truly responsible ethical breeder cares where his puppies grow up and makes every effort to ensure that all puppies are placed in loving suitable homes. Some unscrupulous breeders will tell the unsuspecting person anything he wants to hear. It really is "buyer beware". The more homework you do, the better off you will be.

Once you have chosen the breeder that you are happy with, then it is time to place a deposit for a puppy. Though the Havanese are becoming more popular they are still quite rare. Don't expect to have your puppy right away; you may have to wait a bit. Use your waiting time wisely; it is a good time to find out about veterinarians, groomers and obedience schools. You may also choose to start to buy some of your supplies. Take books out of the library and read up on different methods of training. All this research, preparation and planning will pay off. When your special puppy arrives you will be ready.

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Best of luck in finding that special new addition to your family.