So You Want
a Golden Retriever Puppy?
Congratulations. Few things in life are more satisfying than giving a good home
to a cuddly, loving and ravenous ball of joy - otherwise known as a puppy. But
right now, before you start your search, a little research will go a long way to
ensure that the puppy you take home is likely to be just the companion you hope
it will be, and nothing less.
following is a list of questions adapted from the Delaware Valley Golden
Retriever Rescue. Before you even go look at that fluffy golden litter, take the
time to do an initial phone call to ask these questions. If you receive more
than two negative responses to these questions, consider another breeder.
REMEMBER you are adding a new member to your family for the next 10-15
years. "You may have known someone who has (or you may yourself have purchased)
a 'backyard' bred dog, a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success.
However, the growing incidence of serious problems in the breed makes it prudent
to be on guard. Among the undesirable traits are temperament problems including
aggression, shyness or hyperactivity. Hip dysplasia, eye problems causing early
blindness, heart defects that can severely shorten life span and auto immune
disorders such as thyroid disease and cancer are also becoming prevalent.
Responsible breeders do all they can to avoid these problems by researching
pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems before breeding."
Where did you find out
about this breeder? Responsible breeders are expected to produce Goldens that
meet the breed standard in both conformation and temperament. They usually
don't find it necessary to advertise in newspapers or with a sign out in the
front yard. To assist you in locating a breeder that as obtained all the
necessary clearances before breeding, the Golden Retriever Club of America
maintains a breeder/puppy referral network for the entire U.S.
Do both parents (the sire
and dam) have hip and elbow clearances from the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for
www.offa.org )? Ask to see the certificates. "My vet okayed the x-ray" is
not a valid clearance.
Do both parents have
current eye clearances? This must be performed every year. Ask to see the
Do both parents have a
Cardiac clearance, preferably with ultrasound by a canine cardiologist, on the
hearts of both parents? Ask to see the certificates. (www.offa.org
Are both parents at least
2 years old? OFA hip clearances cannot be obtained before that age.
How often is the dam
breed? Breeding every heat cycle IS TOO OFTEN and may indicate that profit is
the primary motive for the breeding.
Do all four grandparents,
siblings of the parents and any other puppies that they may have produced have
these clearances? A responsible breeder will keep track of these statistics
and honestly discuss any problems that have occurred in the lines and what has
been done to prevent them from recurring.
Are both parents free of
allergies of epilepsy?
Is the breeder willing to
provide you with references and telephone numbers of other people who have
purchased puppies from him/her?
Will the puppy have
limited registration (which means if the dog is bred, the puppies cannot be
AKC registered) with a mandatory spay/neuter contract? A breeder who cares
enough about the breed to insist on these is probably a responsible breeder.
On what basis was the sire
chosen? If the answer is "because he lives right down the street" or "because
he is really sweet", it may be that sufficient thought was put into the
WILL THE BREEDER TAKE THE
DOG BACK AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON, IF YOU CANNOT KEEP IT?!! This is the
hallmark of responsible breeding (and the quickest, best way to make rescue
Will the breeder be
available for the life of the dog to answer any questions you might have? Is
this someone you would feel comfortable asking any type of question?
Is the breeder
knowledgeable about the breed? Is he or she involved in competition with their
dogs (field, obedience or conformation)?
Are there a majority of
titled dogs (the initials CH, OTCH, CD, JH, WC... before or after the names)
in the first two generations? The term "champion lines" means nothing if those
titles are back three or more generations or there are only one or two in the
Are the puppy's sire and
dam available for you to meet? If the sire is unavailable can you call his
owners or people who have his puppies to ask about temperament or health
problems? You should also be provided with pictures or videos.
Have the puppies been
raised in the home - not in a kennel, barn or the backyard?
Is the breeder
knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal periods, proper
socialization techniques? Puppies that are raised without high exposure to
gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety of noises and experience OR
are removed from their dam or litter mates before at least 7 weeks may exhibit
a wide variety of behavioral problems! Temperament, a genetic trait carried
over from the parents, still needs development from the early beginnings of a
puppy's life. The breeder should provide extensive socialization and human
interaction to the puppies in the litter.
Does the breed provide a
3-5 generation pedigree, copies of all clearances, the guarantee, health
records and material to help you with feeding, training and housebreaking?
Have the puppies'
temperament been evaluated and can the breeder guide you to the puppy that
will best suit your lifestyle? A very shy puppy will not do well in a noisy
household with small children, just as a very dominate puppy won't flourish in
a sedate, senior citizen household. A caring breeder will know the puppies and
will be able to show you how to test them so that good matches can be made.
Do the puppies seem
healthy, with no discharge from the eyes or nose, no loose stools, no foul
smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do they have plenty of
energy when awake, yet calm down easily when gently stroked?
Do the puppies have their
first shots and have they been wormed?
Does the breeder have only
1 or at the most 2 breeds of dogs and only 1 litter at a time? If there are
several breeds of dogs, chances are the breeder cannot devote the time it
takes to become really knowledgeable about the breed. If there is more than
one litter at a time, it is very difficult to give the puppies the attention
they need and may indicate that the primary purpose for breeding is for
profit, rather than a sincere desire to sustain and improve the breed.
Does the breeder belong to
the Golden Retriever Club of American and/or a local Golden Club and has
he/she signed a breeder's "Code of Ethics"?
Do you feel comfortable
with this person? Keep in mind that you are entering into a decade long
relationship. If you feel intimidated or pressured, keep looking! It's worth
preceding questions when talking to breeders about their litters.
REMEMBER THE RIGHT PUPPY IS WORTH WAITING FOR!!!!!