finding a good breeder

After deciding that a golden retriever is the right breed for your family, you will need to find a responsible breeder to buy a puppy from.

Finding the right breeder is important.

There are many reasons why selecting a trusted breeder is important. For one, it’s the best and easiest way to end up with a healthy golden retriever pup. That isn’t to say that a breeder is the only way to get a golden retriever – you can occasionally find golden retrievers at shelters as well, you just may need to be very patient. Placing a value on good breeders is also how you can support responsible breeding and avoid funding the cruel puppy mill industry. Good breeders are not the reason that unwanted dogs are euthanized in shelters across the country – so don’t feel bad about giving them your money.

Taking the time to find a great breeder that responsibly breeds healthy puppies will increase your chances of ending up with a happy, healthy dog that lives for a long time. 

Buying a puppy should never be quick or instant, and if it is, then you may want to ask yourself why the breeder is so keen to sell the puppies so quickly.

Not All Breeders Are Created Equal

If you think choosing a golden retriever puppy from any old breeder will result in your dream dog, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Unfortunately, there are many lousy breeders out there. They aren’t all bad, but it’s safe to say (sadly) that there are more bad breeders than good ones.

Just google “(golden retriever puppy for sale in Perth” and you’re sure to find pages upon pages of puppies. Many will come from backyard breeders who thought having puppies would be fun or be a good way to make money. Others come from accidental litters. Others come from puppy mills. Avoid them at all costs.

Then there are the gems.

A good, reputable breeder won’t just provide you with the perfect pup. They’ll provide numerous other benefits as well:

  • They’ll be a valuable source of knowledge and education about your dog’s breed.
  • They’ll help you select the right dog food and grooming supplies for your puppy.
  • They can provide a timeline for what to expect during your dog’s puppy years and may even be able to help troubleshoot training troubles.
  • They’ll help match you with the puppy that’s best suited to your household.

Finding a good breeder isn’t easy. It will likely take research, time, and communication.

Don’t write off bad websites or old photos – not all good breeders are skilled in the web design department. However, be sure to look for these 13 traits we’ve crafted as indicators of a good and reputable breeder.

One Litter At a Time

Raising a litter of puppies takes an insane amount of work.

Breeders who have more than one (or two) litter of puppies “on the ground” at once might not be giving the puppies the attention they need in this critically formative time.

While one litter at a time is ideal, In some cases, female dogs may sync when in season, leaving breeders no choice but to manage two litters, and that’s absolutely fine and normal. 

However, if breeders have multiple litters (3,4, or more) going on at once, you may want to take a pause.

Parents On SIte

Ideally, you’ll really want your pup’s parents to be on site.

It’s not uncommon for the male dog to not be around, but be sure to ask about him. The breeder should be more than willing to let you meet the parents if at all possible. The parents are the best reflections available of what the puppies will be like as adults if no older siblings are around.

Puppies Are Raised Inside

Unless you’re planning on having your dog live outside as a working dog (then a golden retriever is the wrong breed for you), avoid breeders who raise their puppies in kennel or outdoor environments.

Puppies raised inside are more likely to be exposed to kids, other animals, and normal household activities. 0 – 63 days is the most critical time in a puppy’s development. Early puppy socialisation is really important, and if your pup is spending most of their time isolated outside, the breeder isn’t making the most use of those key early months.

Don’t be shy about asking about this! Are the puppies “inside” but raised in an isolated environment? That’s a far cry from being raised in or near the living area. Bonus points for breeders that expose the puppies to kids and other animals!

Enriched Puppy Protocol

The puppies are exposed to age-appropriate stimulation and challenges to develop their minds and their bodies from a very early age. Breeders that do early stimulation are often synonymous with the crème de la crème of breeders. They socialise their puppies extremely well and appropriately from birth until they leave for their new homes.

Breeders Carefully Select the Right Puppy For A Family

Purchasing a new family member is a two-way interview. Families want to find the right breeder and by extension the right puppy. The breeder wants to find the right home for every puppy.

A breeder should know each individual pup and helps pick out the most suitable puppy for that families lifestyle.

The breeder should take the time to get to know the family’s needs, and the family should be able to trust the breeder to pick the best puppy for them.

When you’re working with a breeder who insists on meeting every family member before helping you pick a pup, you know you’re working with a breeder who cares and wants their dogs in only the best homes.

Parents Over Two years of Age

Research supports breeding dogs a bit later in life in order to keep the mother healthy and emotionally mature to appropriately raise puppies; so, look for doggy parents who are at least two years old.  It’s also not possible to get realistic health assessments of the parents until the parents are done growing and maturing.

If you want a happy, healthy adult dog, you need to be sure that her parents are happy and healthy adult dogs. That means waiting until the parents have both physically and mentally matured prior to having puppies. Waiting until two isn’t always a hard and fast rule though – some breeds mature a lot quicker than others; it is recommended that goldens are at least 18 months old before they are bred. 

Puppies Unavailable Until They Are At Least 8 Weeks Old

Studies show that puppies removed from their parents and litter-mates too young are more likely to exhibit problem behaviours like fear or aggression towards other dogs.

Responsible breeders know this and won’t separate puppies from parents until the appropriate time. Don’t just pay attention to when puppies can eat solids – there are other milestones that are harder to see. 6-week old puppies soon become 8-week old puppies, and it’s just not worth the potential long-term behaviour issues to risk it.

Health Testing & Screening

Golden Retrievers are generally a very healthy breed; however, like all breeds, they are subject to some genetic disorders and health problems. The risks for many significant health issues can be greatly reduced through careful breeding practices, beginning with screening examinations of the parents of a litter. Each breed (and mixed-bred dogs too) has its own particular hereditary problems and Golden Retrievers are no exception. Failure to screen for these conditions before breeding results in taking unnecessary risks for genetic disease and frequently leads to distress for the buyer and dog alike. Good breeders are expected to conduct screening examinations for these diseases on the parents of a litter and show copy of the health certificates to prospective puppy buyers.

A brief outline of diseases that are health tested in the Golden are below: If you would like further information about these and other health matters of the breed please check out the following Fact Sheets

Don’t forget to ask about vaccination records for the puppies! The breeder should absolutely be able to show you documented evidence of vet visits and provide a clean bill of health. 

Waiting Lists & Deposits

It sounds weird, I know. But I like to see breeders that don’t have puppies available right now. Since a good breeder only has one litter at a time, they also will likely have more customers than they have puppies.

Good breeders won’t take a deposit until they have personally met you and have a puppy physically available.

They Aren't Afraid of Questions

A good breeder should not be afraid to answer any and all of your questions.

Ask breeders how long they’ve been in the business, how often do they feed, clean, and play with the dogs, and if they can provide references from past adopters.

Good breeders won’t have an issue with questions – in fact, they’ll likely be encouraged by your due diligence.

They Only breed 1 or 2 breeds

Most responsible breeders specialise in one, maybe two breeds. If your breeder offers dogs of many various breeds and mixed breeds, turn tail and run.

Willing To Take A Puppy Back (if need be)

Good breeders recognise that things happen.

A family unexpectedly goes overseas. A family member falls ill, and the family cannot responsibly keep the dog due to financial and time constraints. The dog is not the right fit for the family. Of course, you never want to have this happen, and hopefully you’ll never need to return your puppy. However, a good breeder will be willing to take the puppy back – look for that promise as yet another litmus test of quality.

Eager to Provide Help

A knowledgeable breeder will be happy to sit down with you and discuss what you can expect in the breed, including any issues that might crop up later in life (all dogs, even well-bred ones, can be susceptible to certain diseases or health problems). A good breeder will be happy to support you throughout the whole lifespan of your puppy.

Avoid Puppy Mills, Pet Shops, Backyard Breeders

GRCWA knows that when it comes to finding a new puppy, the only places you should consider are good registered breeders, rescues, and shelter organisations. Discover how to distinguish between responsible breeders and puppy mills by examining six crucial factors.