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Finding A Breeder

You can acquire Golden Retriever puppies from people like us, who are for some reason called hobby breeders. We are the people who are also usually the "show" people and who usually have just a litter or two a year, if that. There are also Commercial Breeders, folks who do a lot of breeding and sell a lot of dogs, but who care about clearances and customer support. And finally there are puppy mills and backyard breeders or pet stores (where puppy mills ship the dogs they breed.)

Many people who are getting their second Golden obtained their first dog from a pet store or a backyard breeder and, while they cherished their dog, over the years they have educated themselves and are now looking for dogs where they can know more about temperaments and health issues, going back for several generations.

This web site describes the various types of breeders so you can make up your mind from whom you want to buy your puppy. And, assuming no one wants to buy from a puppy mill, we have tried to paint a picture so you can tell when one of these internet or magazine ads will take you right to those folks.
There is only one standard (and you should read it - go to but there are many styles of Goldens. One way to determine which breeders have the "look" you want , is to go to some dog shows and watch the dogs. Even though you may be looking for "just a pet", you'll find watching people with their dogs, how they treat them and how they show them, to be very informative.
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Responsible Hobby Breeders

We think the best place to get a Golden Retriever is from people are very involved with their dogs which may mean they who compete in some facet of the sport. For some reason, we are called hobby breeders. I guess getting a puppy from a passionate breeders has the wrong connotation.

Golden Retrievers are active in conformation, hunting, obedience, agility, and tracking. If the breeder is competing and involved in one of these areas, it is more likely that he or she is breeding to produce dogs that will perform well in these areas; in other words, breeding better Golden Retrievers. And these people are spending a great deal of time with their dogs so temperaments and longevity are important to them.

And you should expect that good breeders will have some accomplishments to point to. Don't be fooled by the people who talk 'Championship lines'. Ask how many of their dogs have earned titles in the last 12 or 24 months at AKC or UKC sanctioned events; 'international titles' don't count.

Be concerned if your Breeder does not plan to keep a puppy out of the litter. When you find a person breeding dogs but selling every puppy, it may be a red flag they may be doing the breeding just to make money. If this is the case you need to be concerned about where they invested the time and money in making sure it was the best breeding they could possibly do. If the breeder is keeping a puppy, you can be more certain that they will have done their best.

Potter Bedtime Story
There are times a breeder cannot keep a puppy. But when you talk to them about this you'll probably find it very easy to tell those that are just trying to make money from the responsible breeders who want to improve the breed.

Be alert if the breeder owns both the brood bitch and the stud dog. In breeding good dogs, it is extremely common to either ship the mother (dam) or to have semen from the father (sire) shipped to the breeder. There are hundreds of stud dogs in the country. If, with all those choices available, the breeder chooses to only consider their own dogs, you may want to ask why.

Be worried if they say they are a breeder of "rare English creams" or special dogs from Europe. This is a marketing ploy as there is no such thing.

What types of guarantees and contracts do they have? Most reputable breeders will use a written contract and they will include in that contract that they will take a dog back at any age for any reason. This is not to say that they will refund your money. But they will provide or find a home (in other words be responsible for) any dog that they have bred for the life of that dog.
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Commercial Breeders

Commercial breeders are people/companies that have more than just a couple litters a year and may have many litters annually year in and year out. While they might not breed dogs if they could not make money, that is often not the only consideration. We have acquired dogs from commercial breeders and would do so again under the right circumstances.

Some of these breeders go back to a time when many of the best kennels developed impactful breeding programs because they were able to support large numbers of dogs. Indeed some of these people started with some of the foundation dogs of our breed. Others started as hobby breeders having occasional litters, and now have four to ten litters a year, which certainly moves them into the commercial breeder category. Some of them like to be able to constantly show their own dogs and that means they need to breed often.

Some see Goldens as pets and companions, house dogs in living rooms and on the beds, and are distressed by large numbers of dogs spending most of their hours in kennels or crates. Some commercial breeders have been involved with Goldens for many years. Some have their best dogs exhibited by top handlers with a view toward achieving their Championships and more, and of course the monies from their puppy sales goes to fund this activity. Some of the dogs from these kennels have won top honors at dog shows.

Since commercial breeders do treat this as a business (they will always have business cards available), consumers are usually protected in dealing with them. These people would not be successful without good customer service and customer relations. Some of the larger operations employ a staff of people to care for the dogs. And even those who don't have paid help, do not stint on care. These dogs are their assets and their livelihood.

Commercial breeders typically get all the necessary eye, hip, elbow and heart clearances that are recommended by the Golden Retriever Club of America. Many of these breeders are active in the National and local Golden Retriever Clubs and some are AKC judges.

In reality, small scale breeders - hobby breeders - breed for themselves. So serious hobby breeders will never produce enough dogs to meet the requirements of those who want Goldens. And these commercial operations are far superior, for dogs and people, than the puppy mills and backyard breeders.
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Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders

The difference between puppy mills and commercial breeders is not in the number of litters they have or the dogs they own. It is in their motivation, how they interact with dogs and their commitment and responsibility to the purebred dog community and the health and care they provide to dogs.

Puppy mills and Backyard Breeders have the same motivation; making money by selling dogs. If Tupperware were more profitable, they would be doing that. They breed multiple litters a year, have no involvement with their dogs other than breeding them, are not part of the purebred dog community and may or may not be selling the dogs with appropriate paperwork or contracts. It's hard to say whether these dogs have clearances or not; it's easy to falsify clearances when you are not in the mainstream. Most of these people operate from home and cut costs whenever possible to increase profit. Some have fancy kennel names and advertise their puppies on the AKC website. The key is they do nothing with their dogs other than breeding to make money. These are the people who will not talk to you about contracts and guarantees or send you paperwork on just an inquiry. Their goal is to get you to their establishment, hoping you will fall in love with the puppies. Think of them as farmers; and their product is dogs.

We've had reports that some of these people are actually abusive to potential customers who visit and then do not agree to buy on the spot, following up with phone calls and threats. A number of them offer “trained puppies” for a couple thousand extra dollars. These puppies are “trained” with shock collars and cattle prods.

You'll find that these people almost always have puppies, have a presence on every web site that lists breeders, probably have a great web site of their own. They typically advertise in the newspaper as well as the low-end consumer dog magazines such as Dog Fancy. These people are typically not eligible, as a result of their breeding practices, to belong to local Golden Retriever Clubs. They will tell you that they don't belong because people are jealous of them and their dogs. Their dogs from untitled parents usually cost significantly more than quality dogs from a hobby or commercial breeder. These are the people selling the special European dogs and those "rare English creams".

Backyard breeders are the people who have Muffy or Tex and think it would be nice to have that yearly litter, often starting at about a year of age to make the extra money. They are often uneducated about pedigrees, clearances or health issues. Again, you'll find these people advertising in the local paper.