How To Find Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders
Golden Retriever Education
Are you truly ready for a Golden Retriever Puppy:
Some questions to ask yourself before you consider bringing a Golden Retriever puppy into your family:
Golden Retriever puppies are hard to resist but they may not be the right breed for you. There are some questions you may want to ask yourself when considering adding a Golden to your family.
After bringing a Golden Retriever puppy home are you prepared to:
Let your puppy out first thing in the morning before you get to potty your own self 🙂
Have patience with a puppy who thinks everything in the house within its’ reach that is not nailed down is ‘fair game’ ?
Vacuum daily all the gold colored ‘tumbleweeds’ on your floors, and blankets of fur on your furniture and carpet ?
Take your puppy to Puppy Kindergarten and Basic Obedience Classes because you know there’s really no difference between a two-legged and four-legged ‘child’ when it comes to testing its ‘parents’ and they have to learn who’s the boss ?
With an adult Golden Retriever in your home are you prepared to:
Accept that dog hair may be a daily condiment on your food?
Step over, be under, or have a 60-70 lb dog leaning on you?
Wake up to a warm wet tongue or a cold nose in your face?
Understand that a Golden Retriever’s wagging tail means keeping your coffee tables clear at all time?
Always carry a lint roller in your purse or car unless you don’t mind wearing some of your dog’s coat over your clothes when you leave the house 🙂
Now… more seriously… are you and your family prepared to:
Be committed to the health and welfare of your Golden Retriever DAILY by feeding a quality food, spending quality time with, and ensuring your dog will be protected with a safe environment both inside and outside your home?
Be committed to the health and welfare of your Golden Retriever MONTHLY by ensuring that your dog will receive a dose of a Heartworm Preventative every month of the year?
Be committed to the health and welfare of your Golden Retriever YEARLY by taking your dog to a veterinarian for its annual checkup which includes at a minimum, a heartworm test, fecal analysis, and thorough physical examination?
Be committed to the health and welfare of your Golden Retriever FOR ITS LIFETIME by treating your dog as a member of your family, giving your dog unconditional love and devotion and willing to receive the same back from your Golden Retriever?
If your answer to any of the above preparatory questions for a dog to be a member of your household is “no”, then you may want to reconsider the addition of a dog to your family.
If your answer to all of the above is “yes”, please read on 🙂
Starting your search for a Golden Retriever Puppy
What To Look For In Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders:
A Reputable Golden Retriever breeder is….
One who obtains health clearances on their bitch to include but not limited to OFA and Board
Certified Heart and Eye clearances…
One who knows that the temperament of their breeding stock is such that a Golden Retriever
should have: happy, outgoing & alert with the intelligence level that a good hunting dog should
have; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg with regards to health…
One who starts out their breeding program not necessarily with the first bitch they bought/bred
but with one who SHOULD be bred… just because a dog/bitch has clearances does not mean
they should be part of a breeding program… and a breeder clearly needs to recognize that just
because it is their bitch doesn’t mean they NEED to breed it… otherwise known as ‘kennel blindness’…
one who possesses the clear vision to recognize the faults of their dogs… and to not breed ANY dog
who possesses a disqualifying fault according to the breed standard…
One who breeds solely for themselves and not for anyone else…
One who does the breeding to IMPROVE upon the breed and not take a step backwards merely to have
specific ‘names’ on their pups pedigrees as in breeding to the ‘flavor of the month’ so to speak…
One who is willing to take the time and effort to carefully select a stud dog who has the qualities that
would compliment the bitch to be bred, regardless of where they may be located in the country…
One who knows the risk that they may or may not get a litter after spending alot of money to complete
that breeding and accepts that risk but still goes ahead and does it because said pairing was done for
the betterment of the breed….
One who realizes that a successful show record does not guarantee that those particular dogs will in
essence ‘throw themselves’ in subsequent generations and one must not only look at the dogs themselves
to be bred but also to the generations behind them, also taking into consideration the health clearances
and longevity factors back there also.
One who interviews and cross checks references if they don’t personally know perspective
show/performance/field puppy buyers with regards to selling any puppies on full registration…
One who explains and is willing to educate pet buyers on why they may only buy pups on limited
registration with spay/neuter contracts and have no problem turning down a buyer who they don’t
have the ‘warm & fuzzies’ about with regards to fulfilling that obligation…
One who regardless of the fact that a buyer has the money and is willing and able to purchase the puppy,
a reputable breeder WILL turn down that buyer even if it means holding on to a pup for an undetermined
amount of time in order to find it the “right” home… and then once a buyer is determined to be a good
home for one of their pups that the breeder is willing to spend the time to answer any and all questions
that the puppy buyer may have not only before the pup leaves but especially AFTER it leaves which is
sometimes when it needs us the most to help with the transition into a new home and with situations that
a new home will need assistance and advice with, as trivial as it may seem to us, it is not to them! And again,
there is no time limit on this, as questions can come up for years from puppyhood through adulthood to their
geriatric years and a breeder should ALWAYS be willing to listen and help!
One who at ANY TIME during the lifetime of a puppy that they bred is willing to take it back if a buyer
is unable or unwilling to keep and/or care for that puppy… and who states in their contract that under
no circumstances may the ownership of that puppy change without the express written consent of the breeder
so that we know where our pups are at all times and to ensure a LONG HAPPY LIFE for them as we are
responsible for their wellbeing their entire lives…
One who knows that our first and foremost responsibility as their breeder is to ensure that the puppies
that they produce will have the quality of life and unconditional love that they deserve…
Author – Ellen Meyer
Finding reputable Golden Retrievers breeders for any breed is a difficult task but may be even harder for a breed as popular as the Golden Retriever because there are so many people out there breeding Golden Retrievers. We are here to help you find out how to determine who potentially are reputable Golden Retriever Breeder.s
In our opinion, a Pet Shop that is “Selling” dogs would not be a place to look. This does NOT include such places as PetSmart and Petco that allow rescue groups to use their facility to try to place/adopt pets. These rescue groups typically match the dogs temperament to the families. Some rescue groups will do all vetting before adopting; others don’t have the funds and will let you know what needs to be done. They will also help educate you on the dogs to determine if that breed is a match for you.
Reputable Golden Retriever breeders should always have a link from their website to a Golden Retriever Rescue organization as those Goldens need homes more than any Golden Retriever breeder’s puppies. Some benefits to adopting is that you are helping a dog in need, you get to meet the adult temperament, you can evaluate the energy level of the dog and you can get a dog beyond the puppy chewing stage. These dogs are not always abused dogs as some think. Some are from homes who have lost jobs, moving, kids activities keep them to busy, or they have to move to a retirement home. Some simply can’t afford the medical needs of the dog. A reputable breeder can help give back to the breed that they love and care for so much by referring you to a local rescue group, especially when 1) they have sold all their puppies 2) you can’t afford a breeder’s fees and 3) an adult dog with some training would better fit into your household. Please ask a Golden breeder if they are a member of a Rescue organization and how they help that rescue group. If a Golden Breeder is a Golden Retriever Rescue member, it would be likely that they are also reputable Golden Retriever Breeders! It shows how much they love the breed.
We would also caution you on going to BYB’s, otherwise known as Backyard Breeders. More likely than not, these breeders will not have done health checks on their dogs and will have breeding ‘pairs’ and don’t know or care of the health issues that are in the breed. They may sell their puppies to anyone who will pay the price for them. If you cannot afford to pay the price for a puppy from a reputable breeder, please do consider a Rescue Golden as mentioned above! BYB’s typically may not care if the dog would be a good match for your family. They may not ask you questions about how you plan to care for the puppy initially when it can’t go a “work day” without a potty break. They may not care if you spay/neuter your puppy. They may simply want the puppies gone once the puppies become too much work for them. They may also sell the puppies before they are ready to leave their dam and littermates. Puppies should remain in the litter until at least 7 weeks old.
The best place to find reputable Golden Retriever breeders would be by finding a serious hobby breeder. This would typically be a breeder who participates in dog events and competitions such as AKC conformation, obedience, field, or other performance events such as agility and rally. Most reputable Golden Retriever breeders will ask you lots of questions before they consider selling you a puppy. They will be able to explain why they produced this litter (not just my kids wanted to see puppies born). They will be able to tell you what health issues are found in their pedigree (there are NO pedigrees that are completely free of health issues.) The task is to minimize and create the best odds of a healthy puppy with a great temperament. Many reputable Golden Retriever breeders also have dogs that have come from their breeding program who are certified therapy dogs. These reputable Golden Retriever breeders will have at minimum, health clearances by the OFA for Hips & Elbows (after dog reaches the age of 2) , Board Certified Cardiologist clearances for Heart (after dog is 1 year old) and Board Certified Ophthalmologist clearance for Eyes. Their puppies should be raised in their homes and well socialized.
Puppies should be sold with AKC Limited Registration, preventing them from being used in a breeding program unless you are a vested breeder, looking towards a great future for the breed. It’s easy to think two dogs should be bred just because they have their clearances, but a lot of research should be done to see if those lines are compatible — have those lines already produced problems or have they already proven to produce good results? Sometimes, an experienced breeder will cross lines that are totally unrelated and unproven together but they will have looked at what the individual lines produced and not doubled up on health problems.
Reputable Golden Retriever breeders should ask what you expect from your new dog. Do you want to hunt, do therapy work, take the dog to dog parks, or sit on the couch and go for quiet, short walks? A breeding done for high drive hunting dogs could produce puppies too energetic for you. A very alpha temperament puppy wouldn’t be good for a household with young children. Is the breeder experienced enough to know the difference?
Finding Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders:
What To Initially Look For In A Reputable Golden Retriever Breeder
Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders should be open to any questions you may have with regards to Golden Retrievers, their breeding program and their puppies. Do not hesitate to have a list of questions to ask that will require the breeder to take some time out of their busy day to answer for you. A breeder should be just as committed to finding a good home for their puppies are you are to find a reputable breeder to purchase your puppy from.
What should be the first thing you ask the breeder? You may want to start with what organizations the breeder is associated with. Most reputable Golden Retriever breeders are members of the Golden Retriever Club Of America (GRCA). They may also be associated with local Golden clubs, kennel clubs or competition clubs. More important next to being a GRCA member would be is if the breeder also is or has been a member and volunteer of their local Golden Retriever Rescue.
Is or has the Breeder active in showing their dogs in conformation, obedience, field, agility, rally or any other AKC competitions? A Breeder who is not active in any of these venues will not have the opportunity to compare their dogs to others out there and know if the dogs they are breeding are competitive. Most reputable Golden Retriever Breeders are only breeding for themselves in order to compete in these areas and strives with each breeding to improve upon the qualities that their dogs have and need to be competitive in those rings. Breeders cannot rely on pedigrees alone, what looks good on paper won’t necessarily produce what they want in the whelping box.
If a Breeder is not a member of either the Golden Retriever Club Of America, a local Golden Retriever Club or Golden Retriever Rescue, and has not been active in AKC competition events, you may want to look elsewhere at that point.
Finding A Serious Hobby Golden Retriever Breeder
Where To Look For A Serious Golden Retriever Hobby Breeder
As discussed above, a serious hobby breeder is one who participates in AKC competitions with their dogs. If you are doing your initial breeder search online, bookmark those websites for Golden breeders who state that they compete in those events and have produced Goldens who have titles in those events. The more venues their offspring have titles in, the better, as the Golden Retriever is an intelligent dog and has the potential to excel in all of the AKC Conformation and Performance events. Look at the pictures of the dogs on those websites and see if that is the ‘look’ you wish to wake up to every morning. While every Golden Retriever should meet the AKC breed standard, there are different ‘types’ of Goldens. Some Goldens who are conformation champions may also have performance titles and may have a different ‘look’ than strictly performance titled Goldens.
The best place to find a serious hobby breeder would be an AKC dog show. You could then see what ‘look’ each breeder has in the rings and perhaps have a brief meeting with the breeders after they are done competing. Please do not be put off if the breeder cannot speak with you while they are either grooming or preparing their dog for their ring competition. Watch the rings you are interested in and then afterward go up to the breeder and ask if they have the time to speak with you. If they don’t, ask for their business card and when it would be convenient time for you to call them. Dog shows are usually at least two days, try and get there on the first day and if the breeder doesn’t have time the first day, ask if they can make time for you on the second day.
If the breeder is rude or doesn’t seem interested in speaking with you, that is obviously not a breeder that you would want to consider interviewing or buying a puppy from.
Now That You’ve Found A Serious Golden Retriever Hobby Breeder
Questions To Ask The Breeder – Health Clearances
Whether you’ve found the serious hobby breeder on the internet or at a dog show, you will want to ask the same questions to each. It is much more personable to ask questions via telephone rather than email with a breeder you have found on the internet. A brief introduction via email is fine, then ask the breeder when it would be convenient for you to call them to ask questions.
Some questions to initially ask about clearances would be:
Do you have current health clearances on your dogs?
Which health clearances do you do?
Where do you get your hip and elbow x-rays done?
Do you have OFA certificates for both hips and elbows?
Where do you get your heart and eye examinations done?
Do you have Board Certified certificates of examination for Heart and Eyes?
When looking for reputable Golden Retriever Breeder,s please be sure to ask for ‘health clearances’ on both the sire and dam of the litter. These clearances should include but are not limited to an OFA Hip rating of ‘Fair’, ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’; an OFA Elbow rating of ‘normal’ ; an eye report from a Board Certified Canine Ophthalmologist indicating ‘normal’ in both eyes or with a possible notation of ‘other’ which will indicate that it is not an inheritable issue or condition; and a heart clearance from a Board Certified Canine Cardiologist indicating ‘normal’. Do not accept any reports that are not on authentic OFA or CERF forms.
Samples of OFA Certificates:
Hips – http://www.offa.org/samplecerts.html#hiprpt
Elbows – http://www.offa.org/samplecerts.html#elrpt
Cardiac – http://www.offa.org/samplecerts.html#cardrpt
Cardiac Application Form: http://www.offa.org/cardappbw.pdf
GRCA Update on the big four health clearances (Hips, Elbows, Eyes, Heart) http://www.grca.org/health/bigfour.html
Please understand there is no such thing as a ‘perfect dog’. Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders should do their best to reduce the risk of genetic defects but there is always a risk when breeding that one can produce such defects. It is simply impossible to avoid all genetic problems in a breeding program. If any breeder tells you otherwise, they are not being truthful with you. Reputable Golden Retriever breeders should be able to produce OFA certificates for Hips and Elbows, Board Certified examination reports for Eyes and Heart. Accept no excuse for a breeding not having those reports!
Why do Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders get ‘Clearances’
The Golden Retriever Club Of America (GRCA) requires that any member of the GRCA use the GRCA Code Of Ethics as a guideline for breeding. A ‘reputable’ Golden Retriever Breeder should not only use the GRCA Code Of Ethics as a ‘guideline’ but should ‘strictly adhere’ to the recommendations of the Golden Retriever Club Of America for breeding. Why would a ‘reputable breeder’ *not* strictly adhere? Perhaps because their dog failed a health clearance!!!
Before You Visit The Breeder
Rules Of The Visit
At this point you have spoken with the breeder, so far they appear to meet your requirements and it’s time to go out and visit the breeder in person. The breeder should allot a sufficient amount of time for your visit and let you know what to expect when you arrive at their property.
Reputable Golden Retriever Breeders *MAY*…
Advise you that in order to qualify for one of their puppies that they must meet the entire family that lives in your household so they can see the interaction between your family and their dogs in order to determine if you are the right family for one of their puppies. Families with children who are not well behaved or supervised at a breeder visit most likely will not qualify for a puppy from a reputable breeder.
Advise you in advance that you must visit their property first before any other location on that day so that you will not potentially bring any disease or parasites from another breeder’s property.
Advise you that before you get into the area where their puppies or dogs are located that you will need to spray the bottom of your shoes with a bleach solution as to not bring in any potential life threatening diseases to their property. Parvovirus and other viral or bacterial infections can be carried in on on your shoes and are invisible to the eye.
Advise you that you may not handle the puppies until they reach a specific age, breeders may vary on the age range that they allow visitors to handle their puppies. Some breeders will not allow visitors to handle the puppies at younger ages until after multiple visits and/or have reserved one of the puppies.
Advise you that if the puppies have not been whelped yet or the puppies are too young that they will be able to interact with their other dogs of different ages so that you can get an idea of what to expect when the puppies are older. Young puppies are hard to resist but you need to know what to expect when the puppies are full grown in terms of height and weight and overall size not to mention their adult coats which means ALOT of Golden hair everywhere!
Please keep in mind that every reputable Golden Retriever breeder has their own comfort level with regards to people visiting their property and litters and please remember that any requests the breeder makes of you are in the best interest of the puppies with regards to the health and safety of their puppies.
Your First Impression Of A Golden Retriever Breeder
First impressions can be everything when you first arrive at the breeder’s property. Here are two scenarios:
First scenario… is it just an empty lot with puppies in a pen or is there a building structure? Is it a run down mobile home with outdoor kennels or pens of which look like they’re going to fall down any minute? Are there fleas jumping around in the grass? If so, is that where you would want to get your puppy from? Remember, a breeder is not reputable just because they have health clearances on their dogs or impressive pedigrees.
Second scenario… is it a ‘home’… a place when you drive up that says “come on over and sit a spell”… It can be immaculate and elegant or it can looked well lived in and comfortable.
The property should be one where the dogs and puppies appear happy, clean and healthy!
Meeting The Dam and/or The Puppies
What You Should See
Some breeders will start interviewing while the bitch is pregnant and you can meet with the breeder before the litter is whelped. This would usually be done after the breeder has confirmed that a litter is expected and the bitch is definitely pregnant. Some breeders will wait until after the litter is whelped so they will know what potentially will be available and if they will have any pet puppies available. Typically breeders keep the best prospects for themselves and sell the others to companion homes.
If the breeder is interviewing before the puppies are whelped you should see a healthy dam. Do not be alarmed if she has a large litter and has a little bit of trouble getting up and down, that would be normal. Ever see a pregnant women with twins or triplets!!! Ask the breeder where the whelping box will be set up if it isn’t already and where the puppies will be raised. Some breeders use a plastic kiddy pool to whelp the litter in and then move the puppies to the whelping box soon afterward. Pools are sometime used because they are easy to quickly wipe down and disinfect during whelping.
If the breeder starts interviewing after the litter is whelped, it is possible and actually probable that you will not have access to the puppies and have to look at them from afar. Some breeders will not let you into their home when the puppies are just recently whelped. A reputable breeder is more concerned about the health and safety of their puppies than just to make a sale. Please do not be insulted if you are asked to look in through a front door or window. Newborn puppies only have antibodies through their dam at birth and are extremely susceptible to virus’ such as Parvovirus.
The breeder may bring the dam outside for you to meet the dam if she is not nursing at that time. If the puppies are very young, the dam may be more interested in going back inside to her puppies, that is also normal. If the puppies are a little older, she may welcome the excuse to go outside and meet you! A dam with a large litter may not look her best, her teats may be hanging down, she may be tired. A dam with a small litter may look and act like she never had puppies!
Again, please keep in mind that every reputable breeder has their own comfort level with regards to people visiting their property and litters and please remember that any requests the breeder makes of you are in the best interest of the puppies with regards to the health and safety of their puppies.
Questions To Ask The Breeder About The Litter
Why This Particular Sire?
The most wonderful thing about breeding in this day and age is that breeders have options that they didn’t have years ago. Breeders can do natural breedings, artificial insemination, fresh chilled semen or a ‘blast from the past’ using frozen semen. It used to be that if you wanted to breed to a dog in a different part of the country, you had to ship your bitch to that stud dog wherever he was located. Typically you will not find the sire of the litter at the breeder’s home. Now when we say ‘typically’, that does not hold true in every circumstance. Sometimes breeders purchase male puppies from outside of their own breeding program in the hopes that he turns out to be what they were looking for and can then use him for that breeding program in the future. Some breeders start out with a male puppy and then purchase a female puppy that they believe will be a good match for that male puppy later on. It is not always a ‘red flag’ if both sire and dam are on the premises.
Some questions to ask the breeder about the litter:
Why did the breeder choose this particular stud dog?
What research tools did the breeder use?
What was the breeder trying to achieve through this breeding?
What are the strengths and weaknesses in both sire and dam?
Did the breeder achieve the goals they were hoping for through this breeding?
What can the breeder tell you about the sire’s temperament and longevity history in his background?
What can the breeder tell you about the dam’s temperament and longevity history in her background?
Health Issues in the Golden Retriever
Now that you have found a particular Golden Retriever breeder that you are comfortable with and are seriously thinking about purchasing a puppy from, let’s talk about health issues in the Golden Retriever that cannot be screened for through ‘clearances’. Some of The diseases that Golden Retriever breeders are very concerned about do not have screening tests available but reputable breeders are both aware of them and should do the most they can to minimize environmental contributions to those issues. The environment in which a Golden Retriever is raised and lives within can be a contributing factor to canine cancer and other diseases such as dysplasia and diabetes.
Reputable Golden Retriever breeders should not use herbicides, pesticides, or any chemical means know to cause Cancer in the areas that their dogs reside in. Ask your potential breeder about how they maintain their property and what chemicals they use both inside and outside their home or kennel. They also should be feeding a quality dog food of which the ingredients do not contain by-products, chemical additives or chemical preservatives. This usually cannot be be accomplished by the breeder without extensive cost to the breeder be it financial or time consuming or both. Indoors we use the VX-5000 Vapor Cleaner which only uses pure hot steam to clean made from distilled water. It is the best investment we ever made for a cleaning tool. Please visit our links page to find out more about this product. We are not associated in any way with this product but we did a lot of research before buying it for ourselves and it does a fantastic job!
Cancer is running rampant in so many living creatures and it is unfortunate that we have no way of isolating a genetic marker in canines but there is current research ongoing to do so. We cannot say if it is genetic or environmental, if either of those two. What we do at our house is we do not use pesticides, herbicides or harmful chemicals in and outside our home where our family and our dogs frequent to reduce the possibility of environmental cancers. We feed holistic type foods to our dogs which contain no by-products or chemical additives. We do the best we can with our own foods also.
With regards to doing our best with projected longevity, unfortunately there’s nothing that can truly predict what a puppy’s lifespan will be. Golden Retriever life spans are now averaging approximately 10 1/2 years. The oldest litter we have was whelped 4/97 which would make the survivors almost 12. 3 of that litter passed away last year. One of them passed away at 7. The sire of that litter lived to just over 10, the dam of that litter lived to just short of 10. That is just one example
Now… the grandparents of that same litter have one still alive at 13, the others passed at 14, 11 and just short of 10. You can have litter mates where one can pass at 4 and others pass at 10-14 yrs old. There are many factors that may play into longevity. Unfortunately, no breeder can make the prediction that your puppy will live a long healthy life. What a reputable breeder should do is look at the pedigree of the dam and the pedigree of a potential stud dog and do research to find out where the various ‘weaknesses’ are in that pedigree which would include cancer and longevity.
Ask the breeder of your potential puppy to give you a breakdown of what I just did above with longevity. Ask them for the puppy’s 5 generation longevity pedigree which they can give you the link to view from the k9data website.
For information on Golden Retriever Health, please visit our Health page
Brooke, Nugget (Cassie’s son) & Brooke’s daughter Dazzle
Robert and Ranger nap time
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This page is for Health and Education as a reflection of our dedication to the Golden Retriever Breed