It is also rather rare that your first dog will actually be a dog that you wind up using in a breeding program. People usually purchase a dog and then build from there with the knowledge that they learned with that first dog.
This is definitely the truth for me. I tried with dogs from vastly different breeders and backgrounds but none passed all clearances though all their parents did. Ironically, my pet dogs are hips good, elbows normal, heart and eyes cleared without exception.
Because I had never lived a day of my life without goldens, even taking mine to college with me and negotiating my English teaching contracts so my dog could come to class while I taught, I looked up to breeders very much. In 2005, I thought I would like to breed a small gem of a line under the prefix PoeticGold (English teacher!). Well, now it is 2013, and that first litter is hopefully going to be born in May. In between, I learned, set goals for myself, found two mentors I trust, and had heartbreaks and setbacks, epiphanies and triumphs with three dogs who ultimately could not found the breeding program to which I aspired.
This is what I wanted before I bred a first dog under my own name and on my own conscience:
1) All four health clearances
2) Longevity in pedigree
3) American Championship, no excuses
4) A sensational temperament
5) a sensible pedigree that was not so outcrossed as to be unpredictable nor with a COI so high as to be a worry to me
It took me from 2005 to 2013 to reach and exceed these goals, and I am proud I did not give into temptations along the way to compromise these goals bc there were MANY. The main thing I see is that people get wedded to the dog they have bc they have invested in him or her and cannot bear to begin again, or people become kennel blind and imbue a wonderful dog with quality they just do not objectively possess, or people do not take the time to nurture relationships with people who have known many dogs in their dog's pedigree in real life, so the information is all there for good and bad about health and temperament. These are some dangers to be aware of, and then avoid, avoid, avoid.
My long term goals for 25 years from now: lol, who knows if I will meet them or if they will change
1) to keep temperament a "clearance": as important as hips, heart, eyes, and elbows.
2) to breed a recognizable style of dog that reflects my truest interpretation of the standard as it is written
3) to include CH/MH or CH/UD dogs every other generation at least to keep the working ability high
4) to continue to have fun and bond with each dog by doing CGC TDI RAE and CD at home
5) to keep my personal number of dogs to 6 or under
6) to place puppies wisely with people I trust
7) to win a BISS some day
8) to never get so focused on dog shows that the goldens can't swim in the ocean
9) to devote lots of resources to junior handlers like Keller and the next generation
10)to be thankful for mentors, vets, and handlers for all they do, and never lose sight of that.