Finding A Golden
It is getting ever more difficult to find a quality breeder of Golden Retrievers due to the plethora of puppy mills and backyard breeders offering this breed for sale to make a quick profit. There are quite a number of listings in the dogs annuals by people who fall into this category. So how can you tell the good from the bad?
Good breeders do not breed just to have pups to sell. They breed because they hope to accomplish something through the combination of a particular male and female. A good breeder will be able to explain clearly their goals with the litter.
A good breeder will abide by the code of ethics of the national or regional breed club. With the GRCC, this means doing testing for heritable conditions including hip dysplasia, and cataracts, as well as heart conditions and elbow dysplasia, through qualified veterinary specialists in orthopedics (OFA, PennHip, etc), ophthamology (CERF in the past, now OFA Eye), and cardiology (OFA). DNA test results or proof of clear-by-parentage will be available for NCL, prcd-PRA, PRA1, PRA2, and Ichthyosis. All of these are recessive conditions which means at least one parent must be clear for offspring not to be at risk of inheriting and developing the condition. This is especially crucial with NCL which is a devastating neurological metabolic storage disease which fatal before the dog is 3 years old. There will be certificates to prove these clearances. Since final OFA orthopedic clearances are not available until dogs are 24months old at minimum, reputable breeders will not have parent animals who were under two at the time they were bred. Dogs will live in clean, sanitary conditions, and be fed nutritious food. Good breeders screen buyers carefully, and being willing to take puppies back if things don't work out. They do not send puppies to their new homes before they are 8 weeks old. All puppies will be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club, and there will be no extra cost for the papers.
If someone asks you to pay one price registered and another unregistered they are breaking the law. In Canada, the Animal Pedigree Act requires that any animal represented as purebred be sold with its registration papers.
Good breeders do not sell pups through pet stores or raffles. Pet store puppies are of questionable quality, often more expensive than pups from a reputable breeder, and are most certainly coming from puppy mills or substandard facilities.
Beware of anyone using phrases like "rare" or "white" or "extra-big and blocky" or "rustic" or who describes their breeding stock as if they were a distinct breed. At their palest, Goldens are cream, and this English-style characteristic is by no means rare. If the dogs are extra big, or white, they do not fall within the breed standard, and therefore should not be bred! Darker reddish dogs are not some sort of rustic throwback to the original breed specimens either, but simply another normal variant of breed colouration commonly seen in many field, and some show pedigrees.
Also beware of anyone offering mixes for sale alongside purebreds. This is a violation resulting in loss of membership in the CKC, and therefore, reputable breeders will not be doing this!