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How To Find a Golden Retriever Puppy

Updated September 6, 2022
How To Find a Golden Retriever Puppy

Having the money and desire isn’t sufficient to buy a dog. You should know how to find a golden retriever puppy that will be healthy and loving.

You can find puppies in professional kennels, shelters, rescue organizations, or on Craigslist.

Unfortunately, not all golden retriever puppies are the same, and not all places are safe for buying a new family member.

A puppy’s temperament, look, and health largely depend on genetics, living conditions, and the owner’s effort, so you should know how to find a reputable golden retriever breeder.

Of course, an adoption is always an option. It isn’t risk-free, but it’s a chance to gift an abandoned puppy a new, happy life.

Why Buy a Puppy From a Kennel

Among people considering getting a golden retriever puppy, buying from a professional breeder is the most popular option, and it’s easy to see why. Firstly, health and temperament are inherited.

When you buy a golden retriever puppy from a reputable breeder, you can see the puppy’s parents and understand how the puppy will look and behave in the future. Professional breeders also place great importance on veterinary check-ups.

A breeder can tell which health conditions are common in the puppy’s breed line.

Furthermore, responsible breeders take steps to prevent the development of certain health conditions in their dogs by avoiding inbreeding and making genetic lab tests.

Secondly, trustworthy breeders take responsibility for their puppies. If anything goes wrong, a good breeder will advise the owners on solutions to the problem, provide a refund, or replace the puppy.

Lastly, socialization is vital for golden retriever temperament.

Sure, friendliness and devotion are rooted in golden retriever genetics, but a dog may be afraid of people or aggressive without socialization. The right time to socialize golden retrievers is when they’re still puppies.

How To Find Local Breeders

Now, the question is how to find a golden retriever breeder in your area. The best option is to check the Golden Retriever Club of America website for golden retriever clubs in your state.

From there, you can find local breeder lists or ask the club directly for a breeder referral – usually, they know which breeders have the best dogs.

Alternatively, you may search for “golden retriever puppies in (your state)” on Google or social media. However, be careful because the first breeders you find online aren’t necessarily the most trustworthy.

You may also visit local dog shows and talk with golden retriever breeders. Compare how different goldens look and behave and which win the show.

Consider Foreign Breeders

Golden retriever breeders live not solely in the U.S. Importing a dog from another country can be complicated, but it sometimes makes more sense than buying one in the U.S.

Golden retrievers come in three types: Canadian, American, and English. You can find each of these types in the U.S., but English retrievers aren’t as widespread here because judges at local dog shows prefer the American type.

So, if you’re sure that you want an English golden retriever, especially a light cream one, you may want to research international breeders for more options.

Professional breeders also often import animals from abroad because they may need specific breed lines that can’t be found in the U.S. to avoid inbreeding or get particular physical traits.

You can find international golden retriever breeders the same way as local – through kennel club websites or social media.

However, be aware of the risks of buying a puppy abroad. You won’t be able to see the puppy’s parents and meet the breeder in person unless you travel. You also won’t know the puppy’s living conditions.

Transportation can be tricky and expensive. You will either have to travel to take the puppy yourself or find a reputable carrier who will bring it.

You may also have to get additional documents to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), and your state’s local regulations.

Things To Ask The Breeder

Before you start visiting kennels searching for your perfect puppy, make a list of questions to ask a golden retriever breeder to ensure they are reputable. You should ask questions about the breeder themselves, the sire and dam, and the puppy.

Find out why they decided to breed golden retrievers. You want to find someone who’s genuinely passionate about dogs and doesn’t breed them just for the money.

Ask how long they have been breeding dogs because you want to find an experienced breeder. Find out at what age they start breeding their dogs.

Watch out for people who start breeding golden retrievers before they reach the age of two years because goldens can only get final clearances for hip and elbow dysplasia at two years old.

Ask whether the breeder provides registration papers, pedigree, vaccination passport, and whether the puppy will be microchipped. A reputable breeder should provide you with a contract outlining their and your responsibilities and rights.

The contract should cover your options if something goes wrong. For example, if the puppy dies or gets severely sick due to a breeding fault, the breeder should provide you with a refund or replacement. Unfortunately, such things happen even with reputable breeders.

Good dog breeders typically participate in dog shows and sports activities, so ask the breeder whether they can prove the quality of their dogs with competition results.

Find out why the breeder decided to mix the two particular dogs – a person who knows their job will happily explain to you which parents’ traits they wanted to see in puppies.

Ask the breeder to provide health clearance proof for the puppy’s parents and ask how often the dam has puppies. Good breeders don’t breed their dams more often than once a year. Find out whether the sire and dam have any titles.

Finally, ask whether the puppies must be neutered or spayed and whether the breeder will perform a complete health check-up before puppies go to new owners.

The breeder should also ask you questions about your experience, lifestyle, plans for the dog, and living conditions. Be suspicious of breeders who don’t care who their future puppy owners will be.

How To Know a Breeder is Trustworthy

You can find clues to the kennel’s quality even without asking questions. Pay attention to where the puppies are raised – in a shed, at home, or in a cage.

Buy a puppy that was raised as a real family member, in a comfortable home, surrounded with love. Breeders should invest effort in socializing puppies rather than keep them in the backyard and do nothing apart from feeding them.

The home should be neat and spacious enough for such large dogs. It doesn’t have to be spotless because, frankly, that’s impossible with puppies, but it shouldn’t be horribly messy either.

Ask to see the puppy’s parents and pay attention to how they look and behave. Each puppy is unique, but they inevitably inherit parent traits.

Perhaps, you could find former customer reviews or ask the breeder directly for referrals. Good breeders will be happy to share the experiences of their puppy owners with prospective buyers.

How To Spot a “Backyard Breeder”

Be aware of warning signs when choosing a puppy. There are nine unmistakable ways how to spot a “backyard breeder.” First, such breeders tend to be too salesy, perceiving dogs as a business rather than living creatures.

The breeder may say they have the best goldens in the world (use your judgment – they may genuinely think so!) or that their goldens have a “rare, exclusive color.”

Second, backyard breeders always have puppies available. Third, they sell puppies on Craiglist, eBay, and similar marketplaces. Responsible breeders get their customers through kennel clubs, personal websites, or referrals.

Third, they don’t ask you questions and seem to not care about the puppy’s well-being. Fourth, they don’t provide you with a contract, documents, and health clearances of the puppy’s parents.

Fifth, they don’t let you see the sire and dam and the puppy’s living conditions. A refusal to show the premises may indicate that the puppies are raised in inhumane conditions.

Sixth, they never participate in dog shows or sports competitions. Seventh, they prioritize the look over temperament and health. Eighth, they specialize in multiple breeds – this isn’t necessarily a red flag but worth looking into.

Lastly, they sell puppies for a too low or too high price. If the puppies cost $500 or over $3,000, ask the breeder why. Breeders selling puppies too low may be sparing on documents and health checks.

A high price doesn’t always indicate high quality either. Maybe the breeder takes extra time to care for the puppies properly, or the puppy has champion bloodlines, but there’s always a chance that the breeder is just a good salesperson.

Consider Adopting

People can be cruel – otherwise, animal shelters and rescue organizations wouldn’t exist. If you want to help a puppy in need or don’t have money to buy one from a breeder, consider adoption.

Research your local shelters and rescue organizations and ask them whether they have golden retriever puppies available. Even if they don’t, they may add you to the waiting list and inform you when they get one.

Unfortunately, with adoption, you can’t be sure the puppy is perfectly healthy and will have a good temperament. Some dogs ending up in shelters were abused or abandoned, which permanently affects their physical and mental health.

Image credit: Pixabay