Unfortunately, there are many different types of breeders and reasons for having puppies... puppy mills, backyard breeders, the owner who thinks Goldie needs to have a litter before she is spayed, the family who wants their children to experience this miracle, accidental breedings, the man who thinks he can earn some extra cash by selling puppies, etc. etc.

However, the breeder you should be searching out is the breeder with a lifelong commitment to the breed; the breeder who strives to improve the breed with each breeding; the breeder who puts his dogs' welfare first; the breeder who will be there for you throughout your dogs' life; and the breeder who follows the life of every puppy produced in his breeding program.

How do you find such a breeder?  Educate yourself by knowing what questions to ask and what warning signs to look for.  Research.  Talk to as many breeders as you can, visit dog shows, obedience trials, talk to clients who have bought dogs from a particular breeder, contact the National Breed Club for the country in which you live.  Links to the Golden Retriever Clubs of Canada and America can be found on the Links page of our website.  These clubs will not only provide valuable information on purchasing a puppy, but a listing of breeders in your area for you to contact.

Following is a list of questions you should ask breeders.  If you're going to visit breeders, be prepared to be asked a lot of questions by the breeder.  "Reputable" breeders will want to know as much about you, as you will about them.

Does the breeder require you to come to his/her home for a personal interview?
Try to find a reputable breeder in your area, at least one that is within a reasonable travelling distance from your home.  It's vital to meet the breeder and dogs in person, see their home and kennel, and find out as much about them as you can first-hand.  A breeder that truly cares about the placement of his puppies will want to meet you in person as well.  Unbelievably, there are actually breeders websites where you can fill out an application online, and when a puppy becomes available, they will be shipped to you.  You never have to meet the breeder or go to their home.   I strongly advise against these types of arrangements.

Do the parents AND grandparents have certified hips, elbows, eyes & hearts?
Ask to see copies of the actual clearance certificates from accredited organizations (OFA, OVC, board certified opthamologists & cardiologists).  Having a breeder respond "my vet says they're okay" is not acceptable. 

Are both parents at least 18 months old, preferably 2 years old?
In order to receive an OVC (Ontario Veterinary College) hip & elbow clearances, dogs  must be at least 18 months old.  In the United States, OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals), requires they be 2 years old to receive a certified clearance.  We also feel that females should not be used for breeding before the age of 2 years, nor males before they turn 18 months old.

How many litters has the mom had, and what were the dates she had them?
We feel that more than 4 litters for a female is excessive.  If the breeder breeds the female every heat, or in successive heats more than once, this is too much.

How many different breeds of dogs does the breeder have?
More than 2... is too much.

How many of the breeders bitches currently have puppies or are expecting puppies?
More than 3... is too much.

How many dogs does the breeder have, and how many litters a year do they have?
We feel more than 12 dogs are too many to properly care for, and more than 5 litters a year is excessive.

Where has the litter been born and raised?
Make sure they are born and raised in the home, well socialized and well cared for.  Having puppies in a kennel, barn, or worse, is not an ideal situation.

Can you meet the parents of the puppies?
You should at the very least, be able to personally meet "mom", not just see photos of her.  Dad may be available as well, but many times breeders use males own by other breeders.  So ask to see photos of dad, as well as copies of his health clearances (hips, elbows, eyes, heart).  Ask for contact info for the owner of this dog, and call them to enquire about the health and temperament of the dog.

Why did the breeder choose to breed these 2 dogs together? 
Preferably you will hear about pedigrees, genetics, structure, temperament, workability, etc.  Not because they wanted to have a litter, and so-and-so down the road had a male.

Who chooses the puppy?
Many breeders do "temperament testing", and will have spent a great deal of time with these puppies over the first 7 to 8 weeks of their life.  These breeders are the ones to know which puppy is right for you and your situation.  Allowing clients to choose their own puppies does not always ensure you will have received the puppy that is best for you and your lifestyle.

Does the breeder CKC or AKC register ALL his puppies?
This is a MUST!  Do not buy a puppy from someone unless they register all puppies in each litter with the National Breed Club organization of their country.  And never buy a puppy from someone who sells registered puppies for one price, and non-registered puppies at a discount price.  In Canada, all dogs being advertised as purebred, must be registerable with the Canadian Kennel Club, otherwise it's against the law!

Is this puppy being sold on a CKC Non-Breeding Agreement or AKC Limited Registration?
All reputable breeders will take steps to prevent dogs being sold as pets from being bred.  As well, many breeders will ask you to sign a spay/neuter agreement.  This is the breeders way of protecting the breed, protecting the dog from being bred, and preventing indiscriminate breeding and the overpopulation of Golden Retrievers in society.  There are over 50 Golden Retriever Rescue Groups in North America, and thousands of rescue Goldens coming and going through these organizations.

Does the breeder belong to his National Breed Club?
Most reputable breeders will belong to the National Breed Club of their country.  In our case, it's the Golden Retriever Club of Canada.  If they don't belong, ask why not.  It's also permissable to contact the National Club and enquire about the breeder.

Does the breeder compete in dog shows, obedience/agility trials, hunt tests, etc?
Competing in any of these venues shows a desire on the part of the breeder to improve not only his own dogs, but the breed as a whole.

Does the pedigree for this litter contain a long history of titled dogs?
The advertising term "Champion lines" means nothing to you, if these titles are buried 4 or 5 generations back.  And even worse, many puppy mills and backyard breeders have been able to get into "Championship" lines becauseof puppies not sold on "Non-Breeding Agreements".

Is there a written Sales Contract and/or Guarantee with your puppy?
A 30-day warrantee is not acceptable.  Read the contract carefully, see what is guaranteed and what is expected of you.  Many breeders have buy-back clauses, penalty clauses if the dog is ever bred, health care requirements, etc.

Will the breeder provide you with information on raising your puppy?
Most reputable breeders will send you home with a ton of reading material on raising your new puppy.  Some like us have created their own "Puppy Package" booklet of information.  Unfortunately, there are a number of breeders who have simply copied our Package (without our permission) and are using it as their own, but if it helps new owners raise a happy, healthy, sound puppy, it's worth it.

Will the puppies be examined by a veterinarian before leaving for their new homes?
Our puppies are seen by our vet at 6 to 7 weeks of age.  They are given a thorough examination from head to tail, and their first set of vaccinations as well.  Each puppy goes home with a Veterinary Certificate of Health.

Will the breeder be available to answer any questions  you may have once the puppy goes home?
Making sure that the breeder is knowledgeable about puppies, nutrition, health, socializing, training, etc etc is vital.

Will the breeder buy/take the dog back at any point in it's life for any reason?
This is the key to a good breeder... being responsible for a dog they have produced for the rest of it's life.  It's discouraging to realize, that if ALL breeders did this, we would have very little need for Golden Retriever Rescue organizations.

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