The most important thing to talk to a breeder
about before you buy a puppy are health issues.
The breeder should give you copies of the health
certificates or written reports from the
specialists listed below on BOTH parents. NEVER
accept “my vet checked out the parents and they
are healthy” or anything along those lines. You
should not accept any excuses for not providing
clearances – THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!
GRCA recommends both parents of the litter
should possess the following examination reports
in order to verify status concerning possible
hip dysplasia, hereditary eye or cardiovascular
disease, and elbow dysplasia:
a. Hips — appropriate report from Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals; PennHip; Ontario
Veterinary College; BVA/KC Hip Score (Great
Britain) or at least a written report from a
board-certified veterinary radiologist (Diplomate
of the American College of Veterinary
Radiologists). Do not accept a report from
a veterinarian who is not an orthopedic
b. Eyes — appropriate report from a Diplomate of
the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology
(ACVO) or from a BVA/KCapproved ophthalmologist
(Great Britain). A certificate from the
Canine Eye Registry Foundation is preferred.
c. Hearts — appropriate report from the
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals; appropriate
report from a Diplomate of the American College
of Veterinary Medicine, Cardiology Specialty.
DO NOT accept a report from a veterinarian who
is not a Board Certified Canine
d. Elbows — appropriate report from Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals; Institute for Genetic
Disease Control in Animals; or at minimum a
written report from a board-certified veterinary
radiologist (Diplomate of the American College
of Veterinary Radiologists). Do not accept
a report from a veterinarian who is not an
Only reports from certified specialists as
listed above should be accepted. Puppy buyers
should not accept reports from veterinarians who
are not specialists.
PUPPIES AND THE DAM:
a) It is best if the puppies are being
raised in the family home, being exposed to a
lot of handling and loving. Puppies should be
adjusted to regular household sounds… vacuum
cleaner, dishwasher, TV, telephone ringing,
b) The puppies and the dam should be in a
clean environment with fresh water, toys to play
with to help them learn to interact with each
other and learn problem solving.
c) The mom and the puppies should appear
to be healthy – clean ears that aren’t red and
smelly, eyes clear without discharge,
healthy-appearing skin and coat, keeping in mind
that the mom may not look wonderful when nursing
puppies, especially a large litter of 8 to 10+
puppies, but she should be free of allergies,
have clean, clear ears and eyes, and generally
look and act healthy.
d) The puppies should be
well-socialized, friendly, playful, and alert.
e) The dam should have a good temperament
and readily accept and be friendly with people.
She should also let people gently handle the
puppies without objection.
a) Shy, whimpering, fearful puppies;
b) Puppies with dull coats, crusty or
running eyes, signs of diarrhea, rashes or sores
on their abdomens;
c) Signs of neglect, such as lack of
water, pans of uneaten food, and dirty
d) A breeder who will sell a puppy under
seven weeks of age, as early separation from the
dam and littermates can be very detrimental both
psychologically and physically.
Breeders who won't let you interact with the
puppies AND the mom. It is essential for
you to watch the puppies play and see how the
LOOK FOR IN A GOLDEN RETRIEVER BREEDER:
You should use your good judgment when you visit
a breeder. If you don't feel good
about the conditions the puppies are in,
beware. If a litter is 3 weeks old or
older and the breeder won’t let you interact
with the litter and the mom, that should be a
ALWAYS ask to
interact with the mom. Is she friendly or
scared? Is she outgoing and loving?
Does she look healthy (giving credit for having
just whelped and nursed a litter)? If not, find
If you don't
like the breeder for some reason, you should
consider whether you want to have a long-term
relationship with them. A reputable
breeder will want to know about their puppies
for the lifetime of the dog. Find someone
you like and someone you believe you can trust.
Use your "gut" feelings about it.
a) Belong to the Golden Retriever Club of
America, a local Golden Retriever club, an
all-breed club, or all three.
b) Be involved in showing his/her dogs in
the breed ring, the obedience ring, in hunting
tests/field trials, agility, tracking, or in a
combination of any of these. You should
ask for proof of current participation.
What a breeder did 5 or 10 years ago should not
be considered unless they continue to
c) Provide you with a record of the dates
and types of vaccinations and de-worming done,
feeding instructions, a 3-to 5-generation
pedigree, and an AKC registration application to
apply for registration of the puppy in your own
name with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Both
pedigree and registration papers are provided by
reputable breeders at NO extra charge. The
practice of charging extra for papers is
forbidden by the AKC, and should be reported.
d) Give you written instructions on
feeding, training and care.
e) Provide some sort of written contract
and/or conditions of sale. Puppy buyers should
be encouraged to read the contract thoroughly.
f) Insist that the puppy be spayed or
neutered no earlier than one year of age. This
provision should be in the puppy contract.
f) Ask a potential puppy buyer questions
about previous dogs, and what happened to them;
whether or not you have a fenced yard; and
whether or not the dog will be allowed to be a
house dog and a member of the family. Sincere
breeders will be a bit hesitant to sell you a
puppy until they know more about you, what you
are looking for in a dog, and what lifestyle you
have in mind for your dog.
g) Be able to give you references: the
names of people who have purchased puppies in
the past, the names of other breeders, and the
veterinarian who provides care for the breeder's
h) Make it clear that his/her
responsibility continues long after you have
taken your puppy home, in fact as long as the
dog is alive.