How To Pick A Golden Retriever Puppy From The Litter (6 Helpful Tips)

Want to know how to pick the golden retriever puppy that’s right for you?

Choosing a puppy is one of the most exciting decisions of your life, but it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure!

After all, it’s a big commitment and they’ll be with you for the next 10-12 years.

However, there are several things to consider that will help you make the right decision and in this post, I’ll share with you:

  • Tips on how to choose the right puppy from the litter
  • How to choose a healthy puppy
  • What is actually more important than selecting the “right one”
  • And much more

Let’s dive in!

What Do You Want In A Dog?

pick a golden retriever dog

Before you start thinking about choosing a pup from the litter, it’s important to think about what you want from your golden retriever.

Here are some things to consider:


Do you want a big or a small golden?


Do you want a male or a female?

Many people say there’s no personality difference, but males are usually bigger than females.


Do you want a slim, athletic golden retriever?

Or a stocky, blocky-headed golden retriever?


Do you want a dark gold or red golden, a cream-colored golden, or something more in the middle?


Do you want a calm golden or more of an energetic one?

Do you want one that’s outgoing and friendly, or a little on the shyer and more reserved side?

Nobody will be able to tell you what you want out of a dog but yourself.

Consider your lifestyle, home, whether or not you have kids, what you like to do on the weekend, etc.

The Most Important Thing When It Comes To Picking A Golden Retriever Puppy

When you think about all the qualities that you want in a dog, here’s what matters most in terms of you getting those qualities: their parents.

If you want to get a good feel for what a puppy will be like, look at their parents.

Temperament and health are hereditary and no puppy test or observation will be as accurate as what their parents are like.

So that being said, pick a good breeder that is breeding dogs that resemble what you want.

How To Choose A Golden Retriever Puppy

Assuming that you’ve already chosen a breeder that breeds the kind of goldens that you want, it’s now time to choose your new best friend.

There are two important things here:

  1. Talk to the breeder and tell them what you want
  2. Observe the puppies and look for the puppy that resembles what you want

Talk To The Breeder

The breeder has spent the last eight weeks with the puppies and knows them best.

They’ll notice things like which ones are more dominant, which are shyer, which have a lot of energy, which ones are calmer, which ones bark a lot, etc.

By telling them what you want they can help you decide the right one for you.

In fact, many breeders actually don’t let you pick and instead pick for you based on what you’ve told them!

But assuming the decisions lays in your hands, this next section will help you out.

Selecting A Puppy From The Litter

pick golden retriever puppy from litter

When we went to pick our puppy from the litter we knew exactly what we wanted: a big, calm, sweet boy.

The big boy with the red collar was incredibly cute, calm and sleepy, and kept snuggling into my wife’s lap, so we knew he was the one.

What we didn’t consider was that another family had just picked up their puppy before we got there.

He had probably worn himself out trying to impress them because two days later we were wondering what happened to that calm puppy as a fluffy little tornado was tearing around our apartment!

That just goes to show that what they’re like when you meet them is not always accurate of how they will turn out to be.

This is why it’s important to talk to the breeder, but here are six tips to help you decide which puppy is right for you:

  1. Watch how your puppy reacts with their littermates. Are they submissive? Dominant? This might give you some insight into their personality.
  2. Take note of their energy levels. Obviously this didn’t work with Oliver since he was calm and sleepy, but if a dog is barking a lot and running around, that might be a warning sign if you want a calm dog. It’s at least something to talk to the breeder about.
  3. Consider how your puppy interacts with people. How are they with you, whoever is with you, and the breeder? Are they fearful? Curious? A friendly dog will be outgoing and interested in you.
  4. Toss your keys or a toy. A puppy should at least watch a toy with their eyes, if not try to go follow it, to show that they’re alert.
  5. Put the puppy on their back. Either cradle them in your arms on their back, or roll them on their back on the floor. A dominant pup may squirm a lot, but a well-adjusted pup should calm down shortly.
  6. Touch the puppy’s paws, ears, mouth and tail. They should be ok with being handled.

(Shoutout to Vet Street for a few of the tips above.)

In addition to choosing the right puppy, you also want to choose a healthy puppy.

Make sure their eyes are bright and clear, ears are clean, nose is not runny, fur is fluffy and soft, they’re a little chunky, and they walk with the typical puppy spunk and bounce (and not a limp).

Now even if you have your checklist and run each pup through these tests, it may all go out the window if a puppy picks you.

The Puppy Might Pick You

Although Oliver checked all of the boxes for us, there was another puppy that also checked all the boxes.

But as we tried to give each puppy a chance and interact with all of them, Oliver kept coming back to my wife and nuzzling his nose into her to tell her that he was the one.

He picked us and we’re so excited that he did.

And we’re not the ones with this experience.

I’ve talked to tons of people who have met with a litter of puppies and the puppy picked them.

Some come up to you sweetly and try to cuddle, some nibble at your shoes, and some even pee on you, but chances are, you’ll know the right one when you see them.


choosing golden retriever puppy from litter

When picking a puppy you first want to decide what you want.

Then pick a breeder that breeds dogs that resemble what you want.

When it comes to actually picking the puppy from the litter, talk to the breeder about it and try to see which puppies match up with what you want.

However, know that puppies may be different than how they initially appear.

And finally, you might not even need to worry about picking the right puppy because the right puppy just might pick you.

Have any questions about picking a golden retriever puppy from the litter?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who is about to pick up a puppy, please share this with them!

P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll also like The Complete Guide To Raising A Golden Retriever Puppy.

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4 thoughts on “How To Pick A Golden Retriever Puppy From The Litter (6 Helpful Tips)”

    • Yes. Always wait until atleast a minimum of 6 weeks to get the puppy. They need to spend this time with their mothers and their littermater as it is crucial for their developement. Getting a puppy too early is always bad if your breeder is giving you a 3 week old puppy – they are not a good breeder and doesn’t care about the puppies so i would even suggest getting another breeder

  1. Our daughter and partner are having a golden retriever puppy from a kennel club member breeder in Sterling. I’m sure that she has read this but I will certainly tell her how to pick one from the litter. I know when we had a cat it chose us! Thank you


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