Looking For A Puppy
Before you even start looking at litters of puppies, take time to learn as much as you can about the breed. It is a sad fact that most people spend more time researching the purchase of a car than they do a puppy. Attend dog shows and field trials, Golden Retriever Club of WA information evenings, and question Golden Retriever owners and breeders. They are usually proud of their dogs and are happy to share their enthusiasm.

Dogswest registration simply means the sire and dam of your Golden Retriever are the same breed. It does NOT guarantee health, temperament, structural soundness or breeding quality. The best source of a healthy, well-socialized puppy is a conscientious breeder with a long-term commitment to the breed and a reputation to uphold. Conscientious Golden Retriever breeders accept responsibility for the living creatures they produce. They commit to being available to you for the dog's lifetime for help, information, advice and education. Most will want to interview you by phone or in person before placing a puppy in your home. Serious, conscientious breeders are aware of the health issues in their lines. They thoroughly research pedigrees, genetic forms of inheritance and the prospective breeding pair in an attempt to create well‐structured, healthy animals. Only dogs with excellent temperament and qualities should be bred.  There are unethical registered breeders in the market so it is important to only buy a puppy from responsible registered breeders and make sure your puppy’s parents have all the required hereditary certificates.

Many would agree that the golden retriever is too popular for its own good.  Because of this, the breed has not only been a favourite with genuine, reputable and responsible hobbyist breeders, but also with people who have jumped on the bandwagon of the breed’s popularity and escalating puppy prices - prices in part driven by the outrageous price of cross breeds. The reputable golden retriever breeder is obliged to screen all breeding stock for hip dysplasia (commencing January 2002) in order to register his/her litters with the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC).  Reputable/ethical breeders will also screen their breeding dogs for elbow dysplasia, and inherited conditions in the eyes and heart. 

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Look around. It is usually much easier to find a puppy mill or backyard breeder that knows and cares little about the welfare of the breed than it is to find a reputable breeder. Have patience and never buy impulsively, all puppies are cute. You want a sound, healthy puppy who will grow up to be a sound, healthy representative of the breed. Careful selection now will save heartache and money later. Think ahead 10-15 years of veterinary bills and the importance of choosing a puppy whose ancestors have been screened for common health issues which have a genetic basis. Learn about the hereditary problems in the breed, what examinations and certificates are available and what breeders are doing to minimise these diseases.  However due to the nature of genetics there can be no guarantees.  Responsible and dedicated breeders do the best they can to reduce the incidence of hereditary defects for the betterment of the whole breed.

The Golden Retriever, in common with most dog breeds, is subject to some problems that may be passed on from parent to young.  These include;  poor temperament; Hip Dysplasia, which is a poorly constructed hip joint;  Elbow Dysplasia, caused by the incorrect growth of the elbow joint, several eye problems including cataracts and a heart condition called Subaortic Stenosis. Before you select a puppy you should make sure that both the sire and dam have been x-rayed and their hips and elbows have been graded by an accredited hip scoring scheme.  The club also recommends that both the sire and dam have current clear eye certificates issued by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist.  Eye certificates are renewed each year.

Temperament:  First and foremost in any discussion amongst reputable golden retriever breeders, is the issue of temperament; and a point blank refusal to breed with poor temperament.  Dogs not properly socialised from birth, and/or, not appropriately trained can exhibit poor temperament.  Poor temperament is not a characteristic of the golden retriever and is not to be tolerated.

You have no safeguard if you purchase a puppy from a breeder who is not a member of the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), or who does not always register their litters.  In many of these situations (maybe a puppy farmer), the golden retriever is bred in large numbers, without discrimination, and is the product of a very narrow gene pool because reputable breeders deny access of their stud dogs and puppies to unethical breeders.

While you may think that buying a “show dog”
is not for you. Think again. The breeder who is involved in the “sport of dogs” is striving to maintain and improve the breed, and has access to peer support and a wide gene pool.  There is no distinction to be made between the golden retriever bred for the show ring or bred as a pet.  The “rules of breeding” apply equally to both. The puppies should come from a breeder who can demonstrate his/her knowledge of the breed and of his/her pedigree or bloodlines.  The breeder must present the characteristics, hallmarks and attributes of the breed in an open, confident and honest manner.

Visit breeders, see puppies with their mother and mingle with all dogs owned by the breeder.  You should experience the breed at its best, in its own home, where all dogs welcome you with confidence and joy.  Puppies should be housed in a safe, clean environment and be confident and clean eyed.  The breeder might not own the puppies’ sire but should be able to talk about the dog with knowledge and confidence.
An ANKC registered breeder will discuss the distinction between the “Main” and “Limited” Register. Limited registered puppies are not inferior puppies, but have been placed on the Limited register in order to protect the breeder and puppy from indiscriminate breeding, etc. later on. When you pick up your puppy at eight weeks, not only should you receive written instructions on how to care for puppy and what to feed, but also an ANKC Registration certificate - either blue for “Main” or orange for “Limited” register.  If you want to become an ANKC member and get involved in its activities, then you should be up front with the breeder and discuss the possibilities of a Main registered puppy on first point of contact.  Note: that if the ANKC certificate is not available at this time, you should receive it pretty quickly after you take your puppy home.
Two important DON’Ts:  Do not pay a deposit, if requested, until the puppies are born and the breeder provides you with a guarantee in writing that there is a puppy from that litter for you.  Get a guarantee for reimbursement of deposit if things don’t work out.  And, two:  always visit the breeder’s home; never arrange to pick up your puppy “along the highway” or anywhere outside the breeder’s home.