In this post, I’m going to show you how to find a good golden retriever breeder.
If you want to have a healthy and sweet golden, you want to carefully choose your dog’s parents and who’s taking care of them the first eight weeks of their lives.
I’ve heard way too many horror stories about people having anxious or unhealthy dogs even though they did everything right.
Often, the reason this happened is because of irresponsible breeding.
To increase your chances of having a happy, healthy, good-natured dog, you want to choose a reputable breeder.
But how do you find one?
Keep on reading to learn how!
5 Reasons To Choose A Reputable Breeder
I touched on this in the intro, but here are five reasons to choose a reputable breeder:
- Health is inherited. If you have two healthy parents (as well as healthy grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, previous litters from these parents, etc.), the puppies are likely to be healthy as well.
- Temperament is inherited. Everything that was said about health also goes for temperament.
- Inbreeding is a major problem with golden retrievers where dogs that are too closely related can produce unhealthy puppies. Responsible breeders will know and take steps to prevent this.
- Socialization is important to raising healthy puppies and it’s the breeder’s job to socialize them at first.
- If anything were to go wrong, you would want a breeder with integrity to help navigate the problems, whether that ends up in a refund, a replacement puppy, etc.
How Do You Know If A Breeder Is Reputable?
For a new and inexperienced puppy buyer, it can be hard to distinguish a good breeder from an irresponsible one.
The easiest way is to find a good one is to go to your local golden retriever club’s website (here’s a list of them), give them a call, and ask for a referral to a breeder.
They’ll be able to refer you to a reputable breeder, but you should also do some investigating of your own.
For one, the mom and dad will have received OFA clearances for their hips, elbows, and heart, as well as clearances for their eyes, which is a yearly exam.
You can look up the dogs’ registered names at www.ofa.org and see proof of their clearances for yourself.
They’ll also have pedigrees for a few generations prior to the two dogs they’re breeding now.
What Good Breeders Prioritize
Reputable breeders breeding companion (pet) dogs have two priorities:
If a breeder seems to prioritize any other quality above that (looks, a certain color, size, “rarity” etc.) then they might not be what you’re looking for.
Reputable breeders care a lot about their dogs so they’ll be asking you a ton of questions.
To help further decide on whether or not a breeder is reputable, the next section covers a big list of questions for you to ask a breeder.
What Questions To Ask A Breeder
This section is broken down into questions to ask about the breeder themselves, questions to ask about the sire and dam, and questions to ask about the puppies.
Questions to ask about the breeder themselves
Why did you choose to breed golden retrievers?
You want a breeder that truly has a passion for the golden retriever breed.
How long have you been breeding golden retrievers?
At what age do you start to breed your dogs?
Goldens must be two years old to receive final clearances on their hips and elbows, so if a breeder tells you they start to breed their dogs before two years old, watch out.
Do you provide registration papers?
They should provide AKC registration papers for you.
Do you participate in any dog sport or activities?
Most good breeders are involved in something other than just breeding.
Their dogs participate in sports, shows, or are even therapy dogs.
Is there a contract when I buy the puppy?
There should be a contract that covers costs, refunds, responsibilities, etc.
Do you require the puppies to get spayed/neutered?
If they do, this will be in the contract.
What happens in case something goes wrong? (i.e. unexpected death, cancer, or other health issues)
See if there’s some sort of health guarantee as part of the contract.
This is also a good time to feel them out and see if this has ever happened before.
Do you have any references I can talk to?
Good breeders will have previous happy customers.
Are you a member of the Golden Retriever Club of America or any local golden retriever clubs?
Questions to ask about the puppy’s parents
Why did you decide to breed these two dogs in particular?
Most breeders have a specific reason they were excited to breed two dogs together.
How many litters has this mom had? And how old is she?
Most good breeders don’t breed their females more than once a year.
Can you provide proof of the health clearances for these two dogs?
You’ll want elbow, hip, heart, and eye clearances, and you can verify these clearances on www.ofa.org.
Do these dogs have any titles?
If a dog has a title it means that they’ve shown some aptitude for sport, conformation (show), or obedience.
Even if you don’t plan on doing any of these activities with your dog, it’s good to get a dog with good genetics that shows they are trainable and can work well with humans.
Can I meet the parents?
Meeting the parents is the best way for you to get a feel for their puppies’ personalities, size, etc.
The parents should be friendly and outgoing to you and any other dogs around.
Questions to ask about the puppies
How do you socialize the puppies?
There’s a lot of handling and exposure to different things in the world that breeders can do to help raise a well-socialized puppy. A good breeder will be able to talk to you about this.
Where are the puppies born and raised?
Are they raised in the home, or out back in the shed?
Will they be examined by a vet before they go home?
The answer should be yes.
What are the puppies bred for?
This may include being bred for companions (pets), or show, sport, or hunting.
What Questions A Breeder Should Ask You
In addition to all of the questions that you’ll have for a breeder, they should have a lot of questions for you, too.
Reputable breeders care about their puppies and they’ll be quizzing you to see if you’ll provide a good home for them.
They may ask you:
- Have you owned a dog before?
- Do you currently have a dog?
- What pets do you currently have
- Do you know that it’s going to take a lot of work?
- What type of lifestyle are you expecting with your new golden?
- Why do you want a golden retriever?
- Do you have children?
- What kind of home do you live in?
- How much time will you be able to spend with the puppy? And with the dog when they’re an adult?
10 Warning Signs Of An Irresponsible Golden Retriever Breeder
Here are ten warning signs of an irresponsible (also called “backyard”) breeder:
- They’re too salesy (i.e. talking about “rare” goldens, “their goldens are the best in world,” etc.)
- They always have puppies available (this may show that they’re overbreeding and don’t have time to properly care for all the puppies)
- They don’t ask you questions (and therefore show that they don’t care about their pups)
- There is no contract
- They have no references
- They don’t allow you to visit their premises or meet the parents or other dogs they own
- They don’t health clearances on their dogs
- They don’t participate in dog sports, shows or other activities
- They prioritize other elements over health and temperament (this may be size, color, etc.)
- They specialize in more than one breed (this may not be a red flag in and of itself, but it’s worth looking into)
What You Should Expect To Pay For A Golden Retriever
The price of a golden retriever varies depending on where you live, what the dogs are bred for, and other factors.
Most golden retriever puppies go for $500-3,000.
If a puppy is close to either of those end ranges, you’ll definitely want to ask why.
For instance, why are the puppies $500?
Is it because the breeder is inexperienced and just trying to get started?
Are they skimping out on vet bills or feeding their dogs’ cheap food?
Or why are the puppies $3,000?
Is it because they come from champion bloodlines?
Is the breeder is experienced and takes their time to properly care for the mother, socialize and stimulate the puppies, feed them the best food, and take them to the best veterinarian?
Or is it because the breeder is a good salesman and can charge a premium for their puppies?
No matter what the price is, it’s a good idea to understand why the puppies are priced the way they are.
Check out this article to learn more about how much golden retrievers cost.
How To Find A Reputable Breeder
Now that you’re prepared with all of this knowledge on how to spot a good breeder, how do you actually find them?
One of the best ways is to go to a local club (check out this list of them by location), email or call them, and ask them to refer you to a good breeder.
Another way is to ask your friends who have golden retrievers where they got them.
This is how we found our golden, Oliver.
A friend from church had a golden and we went over to their house and met him.
We instantly fell in love and decided we needed to get his brother.
You can also find breeders on Google, Facebook, or Instagram.
Obviously, you’ll want to thoroughly vet these breeders since you heard about them through their marketing efforts and not their breeding achievements.
To find a good breeder ask about health clearances, pedigree, temperament, ask to meet the parents and try to get a referral.
Have any other questions about choosing a golden retriever breeder?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you know someone who’s looking to get a golden retriever puppy, please share this with them!
P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love our Complete Guide To Raising A Golden Retriever Puppy.
- How Much Do Golden Retrievers Cost? (Initial Price & Yearly Costs)
- Puppy Starter Kit: 17 Essentials For Your New Puppy
- How To Potty Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy (In Just 2 Weeks)
- 295 Golden Retriever Names For Your New Puppy