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I was hoping to get some advice and opinion on choosing the right breed for me. I am struggling with figuring out how to weigh the pros and cons of each breed. My journey to getting my next dog started in June 2019. I’ve been extremely close but keep having concerns that prevent me from finalizing my selection. Obviously being able to find the right puppy is even harder now. Exponentially harder.

I love almost everything about Poodles. My other current breed candidates are Havanese and Bichons. They each have qualities I’m looking for and some qualities that are not so much what I’m looking for. I completely understand that this is a Poodle Forum but figured it was worth mentioning what I’m looking at in case others willing to respond have experience in any of the other breeds as well.

I work from home on the phone so I need a relatively quiet dog. I also have house rabbits and need a dog that can work with having small animals. My preference would also be a dog that doesn’t need a large amount of exercise. With that said, those are my concerns about a Poodle. Although I know it can vary by individual, I’ve seen way too many stories about Poodles killing rabbits, (albeit they luckily have been wild rabbits-not so lucky for the poor wild bun), Poodles that bark too much and Poodles that are energizer bunnies. For all three breeds I have seen many people seeking advice about barking. I might be too optimistic but my hope was to find the right breeder that can select the right puppy for me and with training it can be a great fit. I’ve been in contact with some breeders in the last year and a half for all sizes and all three breeds with mixed results. In hindsight I was much better off a year ago when breeders actually had some puppies to pick from. As far as the Bichon and Havs, I have a big concern about potty training. Especially when it comes to Bichons I have seen way too many pictures of dogs in belly bands and have read so many bad stories. Barking and tear staining are also issues, but even those I understand can vary by individual. People also have mixed opinions on whether they are barkers or not. With all this said I am trying not to focus too much on the cosmetic. Overall I like the looks and intelligence of Poodles over the other two. I have wanted a standard for a long time but if I’m being honest with myself the miniature is probably a better size for my home. Some say a toy would be ok with rabbits, while others say they would have the same drive. I toys they are a little smaller than what I’m looking for but am open if they are a better fit. Of all the research I have done it seems Bichons would be the best fit with rabbits, but even then I have seen dog sites that have Poodles listed with low prey drive and Bichons with high drive. It’s amazing how much conflicting information is out there.

For full transparency I have also been in contact with a breeder that breeds a mix that shall not be named because I know there are some strong opinions on both sides but I have actually had the best results with this breeder. They actually work with professional trainers and help select puppies once they are 7 weeks old. I’m struggling finding this from a purebred breeder. I know I want a purebred but it’s frustrating and almost makes me want to wait until the puppy craze settles down. I just fear how long that will take and being even further down a waitlist. I’ve been without a dog for way too long already. I know there’s no such thing as a perfect dog but I have spent so much time researching breeds and don’t know of one that fits all of my wishes. It appears I just need to figure out what I can and can’t live with.

I know there’s a lot of poodle experience on this forum and would love to hear your thoughts. Would a Poodle be in your consideration if you were looking for the same thing? How did you weigh the pros and cons when you were choosing a breed? Thank you!
 

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For me I have a miniature poodle because I needed an allergy friendly dog that I could compete in agility with. That was rabbit friendly. My poodle has been great for this. He is a higher drive dog so was some work with the rabbit but never has attempted to actually harm him. Just more like an annoying little brother to the rabbit. Took management when he was young because he wanted to play rough. If you go to a good show breeder you will not have so much trouble finding what you want in terms of puppy raising and health testing. My breeder did not temperament test but did pair pups based on her judgment of their temperaments. And my dog has a bombproof temperament, basically zero fears.

The energy is a concern but talk to breeders about your wishes and their lines and if they think it is a good match. There are lower energy minis. Even my high energy mini is fairly manageable now that he is an adult. Very good off switch. Just needs a good hour of exercise every day.

Also I can't stand barking. Misha does not bark except in play. He does have some separation anxiety but not terrible. But not barking just crying. He is a very quiet dog.
 

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I would think a toy poodle would be a great choice here. Barking is a training issue, not an inevitable destiny. Plus let your breeder know you need a quieter dog so you have a good starting point.
 
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I don't have much experience with Havanese. As for barking and prey drive, I think Poodles and Bichons are pretty similar. Some bark and chase more than others, and training also helps.
 

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Thank you for the reply and information Raindrops. I am glad you mentioned separation anxiety! That is a huge concern about all three as well. I know someone who had a dog with it and it was an absolute nightmare. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with it but know it‘s something I should be prepared for, especially since I rarely leave home. I have been focused on show breeders. The one breeder I originally picked now takes deposit for sex and color but it’s luck of the draw. They do allow you to pass if the personality turns out to be a bad match but then that would just extend the wait longer. I know it would be worth it if the fit just isn’t there but far from ideal. One miniature breeder said absolutely not when I mentioned bunnies, others have been fine with it, others weren’t sure. I had a standard breeder respond and when I mentioned rabbits they never responded again. I read this to mean ‘no’ as well. When I see an unattended poodle laying on a grooming table at a dog show it just makes me believe that those lines have to possess great self control.

Thank you Newport! I think my bunnies would prefer a toy but I’d prefer a miniature. That is also why I’m struggling with my pros and cons. I have definitely been upfront with all of the breeders that this is what I’m looking for. It seems like it’s much easier to find breeders that help match personality’s when it’s a larger dog. It makes sense larger litters means more options. You are right about the training aspect and some of my concerns can hopefully be addressed by this. I don’t want to pick a breed that I might not be really set on just because I’m worrying about possibilities on others. I am just hoping to make the right decision that would give me the highest probability of success.
 

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Thank you for the reply and information Raindrops. I am glad you mentioned separation anxiety! That is a huge concern about all three as well. I know someone who had a dog with it and it was an absolute nightmare. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with it but know it‘s something I should be prepared for, especially since I rarely leave home. I have been focused on show breeders. The one breeder I originally picked now takes deposit for sex and color but it’s luck of the draw. They do allow you to pass if the personality turns out to be a bad match but then that would just extend the wait longer. I know it would be worth it if the fit just isn’t there but far from ideal. One miniature breeder said absolutely not when I mentioned bunnies, others have been fine with it, others weren’t sure. I had a standard breeder respond and when I mentioned rabbits they never responded again. I read this to mean ‘no’ as well. When I see an unattended poodle laying on a grooming table at a dog show it just makes me believe that those lines have to possess great self control.

Thank you Newport! I think my bunnies would prefer a toy but I’d prefer a miniature. That is also why I’m struggling with my pros and cons. I have definitely been upfront with all of the breeders that this is what I’m looking for. It seems like it’s much easier to find breeders that help match personality’s when it’s a larger dog. It makes sense larger litters means more options. You are right about the training aspect and some of my concerns can hopefully be addressed by this. I don’t want to pick a breed that I might not be really set on just because I’m worrying about possibilities on others. I am just hoping to make the right decision that would give me the highest probability of success.
I contacted two miniature breeders. Both seemed to feel that it would be alright with a rabbit. The standard breeders were less sure it would work. My dog's breeder said she would be cautious but not concerned. I had a tricky time because I wanted a higher drive dog and high prey drive tends to be a given in high drive dogs. But luckily Misha has none of the terrier type of murder lust. He does enjoy a chase but if an animal doesn't run he is less interested. The two mini breeders I talked to were eaglehill-south and Danube. Both are very good. And both for sure match based on temperament. I would not go with a breeder that does not match mainly by temperament. It just isn't worth chancing a bad match. Misha was clearly a little monster as a puppy, fearless and people oriented and driven. But would have been a terrible match for a home wanting a calm puppy. Some of his littermates were much easier going, and his mother is a relatively calm mini.

I think a mini or toy puppy raised with rabbits will do ok if the rabbits are very confident. Shy flighty rabbits would be tough. A puppy raised with an animal sees it as a pack member rather than food. But Misha is also fairly ok with cats even though he wasn't raised with them. He will chase squirrels and would chase a wild rabbit for sure. Because it's outside. He wouldn't want to kill it but chasing is his game. If our rabbit runs he will chase him too. But the rabbit has plenty of safe spaces to retreat where Misha knows he is not allowed. A breeder should know if their lines are killers like terriers, but they may also think it won't work if dogs chase rabbits. Not entirely true. Chasing animals is not as bad. You can work with that if your rabbit is confident and has safe spaces. I think there is some variation among minis in terms of chase and kill drives. Misha's breeder keeps chickens. Some of her dogs like to chase them. Misha probably would chase too! But he is not a killer.

Separation anxiety is common in the breed because they bond very close to people. It must be avoided with training and you can still have some issues even with good training. Misha's is not severe like one of our past family dogs was. But it is definitely something to train against as it is a common issue. Some people seem prone to having dogs with SA more than others. I think it has to do with a person's chemistry with dogs as well as the dogs. More velcro dogs may be more likely to develop it. But I like velcro dogs so 🤷‍♀️
 

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I had seriously considered a bichon and Havanese as well as a poodle. In the end I decided on a miniature poodle.

I too had read of toilet training problems which was a big reason I went with a poodle.

When my kids were young we had a tpoo and temporarily rescued a bunny. The bun would walk around the house with the tpoo following him.

My current minipoo rarely barks. She doesn’t even bark when someone rings the door bell. She gets along well with cats. I had 3 when I brought her home. When we recently visited my daughter she had two new indoor kittens and an adult rescue cat she brought home the week before and was training to be her barn cat. My minipoo was thrilled to see the new cats but was fine with them, respectful, didn’t chase. I don’t know how she would react to rabbits, but I think she would respect them too....especially if she was raised with them as a puppy.

My minipoo has an off switch and is very calm and quiet in the house. I do train my dog in dog sports, obedience, rally, nose work and agility. Keeping her brain active with a few short sessions of training each day may be why she’s a couch potato and a lap poodle.
 

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What do you like about poodles?

Ultimately, I think you should be following your heart. Sure, there are some obvious deal breakers. Like if you don't want a dog that requires daily outdoor exercise, you probably don't want an athletic mini or spoo. But if your heart keeps saying "Poodle," I'd do what what you need to do to make your dream come true and get a toy.

There's a certain chemistry that exists between humans and the breeds they gravitate to. It's hard to put into words.
 

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I am actually going to vote for Havenese. Now I don't have my poodle yet, I am on a waiting list for a mini puppy. However, I did have a similar list of breeds on my short list and I eventually decided on the poodle because I wanted a small and manageable dog but one that had a little bit extra drive. I'm not looking for something insane like a border collie but also not a complete lap dog/couch potato. So I decided on the poodle.

However, having said that. Especially for the toy variety, these three breeds on your shortlist are very closely related and somewhat similar. You are likely to see a greater difference between individuals rather than between the breeds. So there definately are havanese out there that are much more energetic and driven than some toy poodles. If you are equally as happy with those three breeds I would start reaching out to responsible breeders of all three breeds and talk to them about their dogs specifically. Tell them what you are looking for. A lot of what you are asking for is more about training, but getting the right temperament from the beginning is certainly going to make that training a lot easier.

In my experience, problem barking (except from herding breeds) either comes from too much energy or too much anxiety. So I guess you need a laid back but confident dog which is the feeling I get from most of the Havenese that I have met.
 

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I went through over a year of reseaching dog breeds. At first, I did not want a poodle. Too much grooming and the cost etc, But, after much research, I realized that the toy poodle was exactly what I wanted in a dog. I could not be happier.

Poodles are more work than most dogs maintenance wise.. In my opinion, they are SO worth it. The ease of training alone and their emotional commitment to those they love is what makes me love the breed. It may just be my boy. He was the easiest puppy ever.
 

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We have had shih tzu as a 2nd dog for over 30 years. Recently my daughter got a pup, he is now about 5 months old and is housebroken and rarely barks. He is totally trustworthy yet but does very well and rarely has an accident. Now he will bark when she leaves her room for a bit as she has spoiled him to be like her baby but for me he is quiet all day while she is t work, I take him out about every 4 hours while she is gone and it works well. My neighbor also has one and last year she got a house bunny. the two get along fine. Shih tzu don't require very much exercise though they enjoy a short walk and play. I am very pleased with this lil guy and am thinking of getting a 2nd one, though I think my standard poodle would be jealous as he thinks he is a lap dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I don't have much experience with Havanese. As for barking and prey drive, I think Poodles and Bichons are pretty similar. Some bark and chase more than others, and training also helps.
I think that’s why I’m struggling. I think I could get what I want from any of them but also know I could get things I don’t want. It will all depend on the individual.
 

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I contacted two miniature breeders. Both seemed to feel that it would be alright with a rabbit. The standard breeders were less sure it would work. My dog's breeder said she would be cautious but not concerned. I had a tricky time because I wanted a higher drive dog and high prey drive tends to be a given in high drive dogs. But luckily Misha has none of the terrier type of murder lust. He does enjoy a chase but if an animal doesn't run he is less interested. The two mini breeders I talked to were eaglehill-south and Danube. Both are very good. And both for sure match based on temperament. I would not go with a breeder that does not match mainly by temperament. It just isn't worth chancing a bad match. Misha was clearly a little monster as a puppy, fearless and people oriented and driven. But would have been a terrible match for a home wanting a calm puppy. Some of his littermates were much easier going, and his mother is a relatively calm mini.

I think a mini or toy puppy raised with rabbits will do ok if the rabbits are very confident. Shy flighty rabbits would be tough. A puppy raised with an animal sees it as a pack member rather than food. But Misha is also fairly ok with cats even though he wasn't raised with them. He will chase squirrels and would chase a wild rabbit for sure. Because it's outside. He wouldn't want to kill it but chasing is his game. If our rabbit runs he will chase him too. But the rabbit has plenty of safe spaces to retreat where Misha knows he is not allowed. A breeder should know if their lines are killers like terriers, but they may also think it won't work if dogs chase rabbits. Not entirely true. Chasing animals is not as bad. You can work with that if your rabbit is confident and has safe spaces. I think there is some variation among minis in terms of chase and kill drives. Misha's breeder keeps chickens. Some of her dogs like to chase them. Misha probably would chase too! But he is not a killer.

Separation anxiety is common in the breed because they bond very close to people. It must be avoided with training and you can still have some issues even with good training. Misha's is not severe like one of our past family dogs was. But it is definitely something to train against as it is a common issue. Some people seem prone to having dogs with SA more than others. I think it has to do with a person's chemistry with dogs as well as the dogs. More velcro dogs may be more likely to develop it. But I like velcro dogs so 🤷‍♀️
Thanks for the breeder mentions! I’ll look them up. I also like velcro dogs. Some just take it to the extreme. I mean I would take it as a compliment if I had a dog with separation anxiety but it’s still not something I want to deal with.

My one bunny is not very confident. I’d describe him more as a sensitive soul. With that said he had no problem chasing my female when we were going through the bonding process. He has also showed he can box with the best of them so if I take things carefully and slowly I think he’ll be ok as long as the dog is. They do have their own room so they will always have a safe space.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I had seriously considered a bichon and Havanese as well as a poodle. In the end I decided on a miniature poodle.

I too had read of toilet training problems which was a big reason I went with a poodle.

When my kids were young we had a tpoo and temporarily rescued a bunny. The bun would walk around the house with the tpoo following him.

My current minipoo rarely barks. She doesn’t even bark when someone rings the door bell. She gets along well with cats. I had 3 when I brought her home. When we recently visited my daughter she had two new indoor kittens and an adult rescue cat she brought home the week before and was training to be her barn cat. My minipoo was thrilled to see the new cats but was fine with them, respectful, didn’t chase. I don’t know how she would react to rabbits, but I think she would respect them too....especially if she was raised with them as a puppy.

My minipoo has an off switch and is very calm and quiet in the house. I do train my dog in dog sports, obedience, rally, nose work and agility. Keeping her brain active with a few short sessions of training each day may be why she’s a couch potato and a lap poodle.
I love hearing what the deciding factors were when people selected their breed. I have a feeling a lot of people might have considered these breeds at the same time. Your mini sounds exactly like what I want!
 

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What do you like about poodles?

Ultimately, I think you should be following your heart. Sure, there are some obvious deal breakers. Like if you don't want a dog that requires daily outdoor exercise, you probably don't want an athletic mini or spoo. But if your heart keeps saying "Poodle," I'd do what what you need to do to make your dream come true and get a toy.

There's a certain chemistry that exists between humans and the breeds they gravitate to. It's hard to put into words.
I just love their personality, intelligence and looks. The lack of shedding is also a big plus. I definitely have enough fur in my house from my bunnies.

I totally understand what you mean about humans and breeds. My last dog was a Pug. I know some people are Pug crazy while some can’t stand them and think they are just ugly. I had never considered one until I met one at the pet store I worked at and she changed my world. Ever since then I will say Pugs are my heart breed. It might sound strange but even with that I don’t think I could ever get another. Thank you!
 

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I just love their personality, intelligence and looks. The lack of shedding is also a big plus. I definitely have enough fur in my house from my bunnies.

I totally understand what you mean about humans and breeds. My last dog was a Pug. I know some people are Pug crazy while some can’t stand them and think they are just ugly. I had never considered one until I met one at the pet store I worked at and she changed my world. Ever since then I will say Pugs are my heart breed. It might sound strange but even with that I don’t think I could ever get another. Thank you!
If pugs were my heart breed, but I wanted a low shedding version, I'd probably get a shih-tzu.
 

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I am actually going to vote for Havenese. Now I don't have my poodle yet, I am on a waiting list for a mini puppy. However, I did have a similar list of breeds on my short list and I eventually decided on the poodle because I wanted a small and manageable dog but one that had a little bit extra drive. I'm not looking for something insane like a border collie but also not a complete lap dog/couch potato. So I decided on the poodle.

However, having said that. Especially for the toy variety, these three breeds on your shortlist are very closely related and somewhat similar. You are likely to see a greater difference between individuals rather than between the breeds. So there definately are havanese out there that are much more energetic and driven than some toy poodles. If you are equally as happy with those three breeds I would start reaching out to responsible breeders of all three breeds and talk to them about their dogs specifically. Tell them what you are looking for. A lot of what you are asking for is more about training, but getting the right temperament from the beginning is certainly going to make that training a lot easier.

In my experience, problem barking (except from herding breeds) either comes from too much energy or too much anxiety. So I guess you need a laid back but confident dog which is the feeling I get from most of the Havenese that I have met.
Thank you for the vote and reasoning! I must say a Havanese was my first selection but then I started having concerns and second thoughts. I know people love their Havs. I am just not 100% sure about their looks. I wish their colors didn’t change for one. I also wish they didn’t look so much like a Lhasa because I’m not a huge fan.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I went through over a year of reseaching dog breeds. At first, I did not want a poodle. Too much grooming and the cost etc, But, after much research, I realized that the toy poodle was exactly what I wanted in a dog. I could not be happier.

Poodles are more work than most dogs maintenance wise.. In my opinion, they are SO worth it. The ease of training alone and their emotional commitment to those they love is what makes me love the breed. It may just be my boy. He was the easiest puppy ever.
I am glad I’m not the only one that takes this long to pick a dog. I actually look forward to the maintenance and even want to learn to groom myself. Some of these comments are really making me start to think I need to give more consideration to a toy even though they are smaller than I really wanted.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
We have had shih tzu as a 2nd dog for over 30 years. Recently my daughter got a pup, he is now about 5 months old and is housebroken and rarely barks. He is totally trustworthy yet but does very well and rarely has an accident. Now he will bark when she leaves her room for a bit as she has spoiled him to be like her baby but for me he is quiet all day while she is t work, I take him out about every 4 hours while she is gone and it works well. My neighbor also has one and last year she got a house bunny. the two get along fine. Shih tzu don't require very much exercise though they enjoy a short walk and play. I am very pleased with this lil guy and am thinking of getting a 2nd one, though I think my standard poodle would be jealous as he thinks he is a lap dog.
Shih Tzu’s have definitely been on my list. My main problem with them is that I have some of the similar concerns plus a couple more. Although I find them adorable I want to try and stay away from brachycephalic breeds. I also know some can be very vocal and actually pretty nasty. Of course I would find a breeder that breeds for temperament so the meanness would not be a concern but I have hesitation about their intelligence level. I’m looking for a breed that tends to be a little sharper. They seem to be comparable to pugs in that regard and I think it would be fun to have something different, even though they are very lovable. It’s possible with how this is going they can always be added back to my list.
 
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