What Makes a "Good" Breeder?
You're looking for a Golden Retriever puppy and you're wondering how to get a quality puppy. You want one that's healthy, has a stable temperament and is also beautiful. Breeders are charging a lot. Will you get what you're paying for?
This list may seem unrealistic, but good breeders really do test for all these things. This is why your puppy costs so much. If you buy from a breeder that doesn't do these tests, you're not getting what you're paying for.
These are the health testing standards according to the Golden Retriever Club of America.
Hip Dysplasia (One of the following) OFA Evaluation -xray PennHIP Evaluation
Elbow Dysplasia OFA Evaluation -xray
Eye Examination (evaluations annually for the dog's lifetime) Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist
Cardiac Evaluation (One of the following) Congenital Cardiac Exam at 12 months or older, with exam by cardiologist Advanced Cardiac Exam Basic Cardiac Exam at 12 months or older, with exam by cardiologist
These can been researched by dam and sire name at https://www.ofa.org/advanced-search?search=advanced
In addition a DNA test can help us to screen our breeding dogs to see if they're carriers or affected by many diseases common to a particular breed. If one parent is a carrier, but the other parent is clear, no puppies will have the condition. If both parents are carriers, 25% of the puppies will have the condition.
These are the ones that are currently considered the standard, but more are being added all the time.
There's a wonderful website used by Golden Retriever Breeders that lists both OFA and DNA information on dogs. https://www.k9data.com/default.asp
A "reputable" breeder will make it easy for you to access their dogs health test results. After all, they've put a lot of time and money into it, and are proud of their dogs. They've made
the sometimes difficult decision to breed only their dogs that pass all of the tests.
What about after the puppies are born? How are they raised? There are many styles but this is how I do it:
My dogs are my pets and live in my home. They have rich lives full of hiking, training and love. I believe that this makes for happier, more stable puppies.
The puppies are born and raised in the home. They have lots and lots of enrichment opportunities and play obstacles. They run outside to grow strong and agile. Their play areas are kept meticulously clean and they're provided a litter box. Why? As early as 3 weeks puppies instinctively know to keep their bed area clean. If they're shown where the potty area is, they'll be much, much easier to housebreak. If they learn to live in filth, your job of showing them where to go will be very difficult. I expose the puppies to concepts and objects that will be part of their lives. They become comfortable with crates and learn the concept of a treat reward for an action.
Be sure to visit your breeder at some time before you've committed to a puppy. That's the only way that you'll be able to know how your puppy will be raised. Those first 8 weeks are critical to puppy development.
What about contracts and requirements from a good breeder? A good breeder will:
Care about the type of home that you will provide. Yes, the application will probably look ridiculous to you.
Want to educate you on all aspects of puppy rearing
Have taken the puppy to a vet for vaccination and health checks prior to their going home
Microchip the puppy
Take the puppy back if necessary
Want to stay in touch with you throughout the life of the puppy
Be aware that many breeders prefer owners that intend to train and show their puppy
So where do you find this breeder? Here are a couple of websites that are a good place to start:
Gooddog.com and Avidog.com. If you want a really nice companion, be prepared to wait. Good breeders are breeding for quality, not quantity. I recommend applying and getting on several breeders lists. Reproduction is uncertain, and especially in the case of small breeders, there may not be another litter anytime soon.
Be willing to research, be patient, and hopefully you'll have puppy breath in your life soon.