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Old 02-10-2013, 10:51 AM
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For all the breeders out there...

I'm not sure if this is the right spot for this, but someday down the road (a few years from now) I want to get into hobby breeding. I am still very new to this world and have a lot to learn so I realize its going to be a while before I am even close to ready to start breeding. Oliver and I will be taking the first steps together from showing to agility to other exciting adventures. If we do well I am hoping he will be my first stud dog (he's 5 months so very long way to go!). I was just wondering how the breeders on the GRF got started with breeding. I know many of you have been breeding for tens of years and would love to get any advice/recommendations. Oliver's breeder has offered to be a mentor to me down the road and she's helping me with showing him as well. This forum has definitely already been really helpful with giving me an idea of what goes into breeding, but I know i have barely brushed the surface. Please let me know if you know of any good resources or if you have any advice! I'm going to list a few of the questions I have below (sorry if they're stupid )

I have 2 male goldens - 1 I intend to breed once proven, 1 that will not be bred. I want to get another puppy around a year and a half from now.

Since I want to get into breeding would it be better to look for a girl or a boy?
Can I even get a girl if I'm going to have an intact male?
Usually when getting a puppy with full registration you have to sign some sort of co-ownership contact. Are these good/bad?
When is a good time to start doing clearances? (Oliver had his eyes done in Jan).
What's your story - success and mistakes?
Is it possible to breed and work full time?
Once I start "assembling my breeding team" (didn't know how to put that?) would there have to be a division of my males - for example would they get hostile towards each other?
Are there tests or some sort of checklist you go through before deciding if a dog will be good to breed?
I know usually people don't start breeding until the dogs are 2 years of age - how long can you continue to breed for?
What is the typical age to start breeding your dog (males vs females)?

I'm sure there are a million of other questions, but these are the only ones I can think of right now. Thank you for your insight!
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:29 AM
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We have some very knowledgeable people here, I hope you will take their input to heart.
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:26 PM
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jFirst, if you are going to consider becoming a hobby breeder .. the most important things to do is to research and find yourself a really good mentor ~ do not try to do this on your own.

To answer your first question .. girl or a boy? That depends on how much time, effort and money you are willing to expend. Owning the breeding bitch is a LOT more time consuming and costly than owning the stud dog (IMO). With a bitch you run the chance of needing an emergency c-section, which can be pretty expensive; you've also got progresteron testing, pre-natal care, extra food requirements and the list goes on.

I know plenty of breeders who have both intact males and females in their home, just know that if the bitch is in heat and you don't want to breed her during that particular season, that you will HAVE to keep both dogs separated at all times until she finishes her heat (just to be sure you don't have an "accident").

As to co-ownership .. that entirely depends on the contract agreement you come to with the breeder.

You can't do hips or elbows before 24 months with OFA, but you could clear your dogs eyes and heart earlier than that if you'd like.

I know of a number of hobby breeders that work full time, but I would strongly suggest that you arrange to get at least 2-1/2 to 3 weeks off work starting just before your bitch whelps and until the pups are well established. After that you could arrange to have someone come in to feed mom (and pups, depending on whether or not they are being weaned) let mom out and clean the whelping box, make sure there is water available, etc, etc ... all this is also dependant upon how good a mother mom is.

As to whether your dog is suitable to be bred .. it should meet the breed standard in all aspects ~ both physical and temperment. Any reputable breeder will also look at the pedigree for longevity, health, etc. Again, as a reputable breeder your dog needs all it's clearances (heart, eyes, hips and elbows as a minimum). Seeing as you can't get hip and elbow clearances from OFA until the dog is 24 months, they should not be bred until that time. IMO you should not breed your bitch after she is 5 years old, but I know a lot of stud dogs that go a lot longer than that.

Hope all this info is correct and that it's a bit of a help
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:41 PM
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I am in a similar place. Sometime down the road, I would potentially like to breed. So, here is my take. Breeding programs are built on bitches. You can choose to be a source for studs instead, but truly moving a program forward happens in the whelping box after, choosing the best match for your girl. Playing to her strengths, looking for a boy who is close to her strengths and has what she needs improved, but certainly not the same weaknesses or issues you want to fix. You also need to study pedigrees and see what is going to be a good fit there depending on your ultimate goal.
As much as I love boys and gosh do I. I am going the girl road. For me this is getting a good show prospect girls and showing them. I am doing this myself, so my girl has a UKC champion but no AKC points as of yet. Even going the show yourself road, it is not cheap to compete. I have already got her eyes done once, her heart cardiologist, and am waiting until she turns two to see if she will clear hips and elbows. Really, until that point, she is just potential. I know there is a posibility that she might not clear, I have friends and acquaintances that have had just that happen. So, I may be out my financial investment, but the experience I am gaining is well worth it because the hobby is competition and I have learned so much.
With boys, they can be a great way to break into the showing hobby and I do have friends that are comfortable house intact boys and girls. I personally don't want/need the drama. I have heard of boys who go off their food when the girls come in, add to that girls can trigger each other to come in and you could have girls in season for months at a time. It is not something I am willing to deal with at this point.
Also, for boys (I really was tempted to go the all boys route) they need to be Exceptional examples of the breed. Remember, your boy(s) will be looked to to be darn near perfect and to "fix" what is not perfect in a girl.
Also, and this is not fair since two sets of genes are needed, the stud dog almost always gets the blame when puppies show an issue of any kind and the best things about the puppies are usually credited to the mom. I sometimes wonder how stud dog owners deal with the double standard?
As far as costs, that is dependent, yes girls are pricey:
Cost of puppy
Cost of care
Cost of competing to prove worth of breeding
Cost of health testing
Cost of breeding, stud service, progesterone tests, etc.
Cost of whelping and raising puppies

Good boys will also be costly
Cost of puppy
Cost of care
Cost of completing
Cost of health testing
Cost of advertising
Cost of breeding tests, sperm evaluation, brucellosis, possibly frozen semen storage

With nice boys the cost of a competition career is normally extended. Most breeders will look for boys that have at least the same level of achievement as their girl, but really like to see more. So, boys will be out more earning either higher leaves honors or honors in multiple venues.you also want to keep them out so the don't just fade into your backyard. You want them out where they stay visible to bitch owners. This is also why advertising is important. With boys you will have the right to accept or reject bitches, but you really don't have much control beyond exposure to how many or quality of bitches that are brought to your boy. There are some very nice boys out their who have only been used a few times in their lives.

So...I would suggest really thinking about what direction you want to go.
From what you shared, if it were me, I would stick with boys.

If you do want girls, you just need to realize, your existing boy may never be what your girl(s) will need and you will have to maintain separation while they are in season.
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:03 PM
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There's a lot in the OP, but I would be really interested to hear about how breeders here got started in the breed, and how they have changed since.
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:42 PM
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I never intended to be a breeder. I still don't classify myself as a breeder most of the time... when someone asks me about the dogs and why we have so many more often than not i will say because we show and compete in obedience...

Breeding is my least favorite thing to do ... and every time I breed I am excited to start and plan the breeding but then I am a nervous wreck afterward and every time I breed I find myself asking myself what was I thinking... why did I do this...

How did I become a breeder. I had a top ranked Flat Coated Retriever... she won Breed in every show she was entered in with or without a professional handler. Flat coats have real small gene pool problems ie. cancer at young ages, there is some belief amongst some flat coat people that any dog or bitch that passes their clearances should be bred in an attempt to widen the gene pool. We typically don't do repeat breedings for just that reason. My girl was gorgeous, an Am. Can. Champion with an obedience title and structurally just lovely, biddable, and had all her clearances... her breeder said I should consider having a litter and there ya have it. I was a breeder....

You have to remember that every time you breed you put the health of your girl at risk. Just last night a friend posted a picture of a xray of a bitch who was headed into surgery for an emergency c section - a puppy had gotten twisted around and was folded in half and stuck... that puppy and another died in utero... the girl had emergency surgery 3 puppies survived. I have had to make a decision to euthanize a puppy at birth... I have had two die in my arms... and then we have Bing .... I have had two friends recently who had to wean week old puppies due to mastitis in the mom and then bottle feed (doesn't work if you work full time) I had a friend watch an entire litter of labs die one at a time over a week... every day she came home from work to find another puppy dead... nothing she could do. A friend with a litter of 17 watched 9 puppies die and another person I know lost a Borzoi bitch in whelp...and not hte first time folks have lost bitches in whelp. Breeding is not for the faint of heart... it is scary as hell.... I had my furnace die when Connie and Bing were babies ... a litter of 8 and no heat in the house... I had a space heater cranked... replaced the furnace 4 days later... it was mid january... puppies need to be kept warm. Lets not even talk about singletons or moms who reject their puppies a friend of mine had to muzzle nd force her bitch to feed the puppies... When Bing was fading I was up every two hours giving Sub Q fluids and tube feeding which is honestly the scariest thing I have ever done in my life.

Since I want to get into breeding would it be better to look for a girl or a boy?

Well you can't be a breeder without a girl .... and there is a saying "the best dog ain't necessarily the one ya got" so you can have boys but that doesn't mean that your boys will be a good match with your girl. If you only have boys you have to wait for people to come to you and want to use your boys.

Can I even get a girl if I'm going to have an intact male?

Yes but you better be careful... its a big pain in the neck...


Usually when getting a puppy with full registration you have to sign some sort of co-ownership contact. Are these good/bad?

I do not have co ownerships on any of my dogs even those I got from breeders. Co ownerships can be great if you have a good relationship with your breeder, they can be awful if you don't... with my first litter I did put a lease on her with her breeder so that her breeder would be considered a co owner and co breeder for that litter. With it being my first litter I wanted to have a respected person on the registrations to give me some credibility

When is a good time to start doing clearances? (Oliver had his eyes done in Jan).

Heart over a year old
Hips and elbows after age 2
eyes yearly
genetics whenever but before you breed
some will say do your clearances before you put any money into showing your dog or competing

What's your story - success and mistakes?

I told it up there... my mistakes are few luckily... I have had some great mentors who I LISTEN TO ... my mistakes usually have to do with puppy people... placing a puppy and then recognizing that I probably should have held out for another home... not that their home is bad but they aren't in contact with me as muhc as I would like...

another question that i am always asking is when to treat a puppy medically and when not to. This is a personal decision but I can say that I am not sure that saving Bing (as much as I love him) was the right thing to do.

Is it possible to breed and work full time?

Yes but it is not easy and hope you don't have any problems... that first couple of weeks is really hard as the babies are fragile and mom can kill them by sitting on them (I lost a puppy that way and I was standing right there, I mean right there and before I could stop her she had sat on a puppy, he died a day later)... you have to make sure everyone gets to the bar .... I know folks that work full time, I dont know how they do it.


Once I start "assemblng my breeding team" (didn't know how to put that?) would there have to be a division of my males - for example would they get hostile towards each other?

some do some don't it depends on your boys...

Are there tests or some sort of checklist you go through before deciding if a dog will be good to breed?

Each of my dogs has to prove them are worth breeding... they have to achieve something. A championship, obedience titles, clearances... being a good girl or boy in my house is expected but not enough with rare exception. They have to show me that they have something special that makes it worth adding their genes to the gene pool. I have a boy here who I adore ... I LOVE HIM and it hurts me to think that I will not have his puppy someday... but this is NOT about ME.... this is about the breed and as much as I adore him, he will not add anything to the gene pool that I think is good or special enough to add. And honestly there are aspects of his temperament that I think will harm the gene pool... REGARDLESS of how much I love him... Breeding decisions need to be unemotional... they need to be based on what is best for the breed... not on how cute puppies are or how much you love your dog...


I know usually people don't start breeding until the dogs are 2 years of age - how long can you continue to breed for?

this is an interesting question and makes me wonder why you want to breed? and I think that is a question for you to answer. I have never bred a girl at two, my girls at two are competing and being busy ... of my recent girls, Meghan was bred at 5 after retiring and attending westminster she had one litter Shalva was 3 almost 4, she had 1 litter. Kaelyn was 4 for her first litter and 6 for her second .... Connie will be 4 for her first litter and if she has another will remain to be seen. Theoretically you can start at two and go until 9 if you plan on making money off the backs of your girls and being a irresponsible breeder. Realistically other than waiting until final clearances at two the decisions about the upper end of the age spectrum depend on how well your girl does whelping and recovering... is she is good shape, how big were her previous litters, how does she act. I have seen girls at 7 who were young and healthy and active and in great shape and I have seen girls at 7 who were old girls. I know of a girl who was bred at 9 and did fantastic... I would not do that to my kaelyn who at 9 is starting to act a bit older.


What is the typical age to start breeding your dog (males vs females)?

Dogs need clearances so they can theoretically be bred at age 2 and beyond

I will admit that some of your questions made me go hmmmmm (as the song goes). I never understand why people want to breed. Most if not all of the responsible breeders that I know came to breeding much the same way that I did... they started off showing and competing and doing things with their dogs and they wanted the next generation for themselves... but the result is that you have 5 or 6 other puppies that come along with the next pup that you are keeping. Honestly I can't imagine putting the girl that i love at risk if I am not keeping a puppy or contributing something to the breed as a whole. Breeding is scary ... I think that anyone who breeds and does it right and loves their dogs will tell you it is scary...
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Old 02-10-2013, 05:19 PM
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Like, Shalva, it was my interest in showing in obedience with my first two Goldens, that opened the door for me. By showing I was serious about competing with my dogs, I was trusted enough to get a bitch with breeding potential.

I cannot imagine if you do not have a kennel situation keeping intact girls and boys. My neutered boys are a handful when the girls are in heat. I can only imagine how tough they would be intact...

Then there are the risks for the bitch. I have had a bitch reabsorb all her pups and have only one pup left at the due date.. Only to find that one died in utero and my husband had to do a c-section to remove it. I was easily out $1000 between progesterone testing and part of the stud fee... And the c-section was free. Two years ago, Tiki who had no problems with her first litter needed an emergency c-section... She was carrying five pups, two were dead. Again, my husband did the c-section... And this past summer, Basil got mastitis in various glands and would spike fevers...and it was so scary, because you don't want to use meds that will hurt the pups, you don't want your bitch to be sick and in pain, you are hoping you won't have to bottle feed a litter of nine pups...

And when you produce these pups, you have to be prepared to take them back...it has happened to me three times. Fortunately, I have network of help and connections.. But I got a pup returned at 10 months, was neutered one week before, and I had three bitches in standing heat... I have friends with a kennel who took him and found a home that night.

And what if there are health issues with the pups? Like Shalva's Bing?

As far as stud dogs, I am always looking for a sire with titles... And of course, requisite clearances. My set up, no physical fences, would not allow for intact Goldens of the opposite sex in the same house.

I work full time, but between my husband's schedule and mine, there is rarely not someone around.... I take time off at the due date...
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalva View Post
....... [/SIZE][/FONT]
Are there tests or some sort of checklist you go through before deciding if a dog will be good to breed?

Each of my dogs has to prove them are worth breeding... they have to achieve something. A championship, obedience titles, clearances... being a good girl or boy in my house is expected but not enough with rare exception. They have to show me that they have something special that makes it worth adding their genes to the gene pool. I have a boy here who I adore ... I LOVE HIM and it hurts me to think that I will not have his puppy someday... but this is NOT about ME.... this is about the breed and as much as I adore him, he will not add anything to the gene pool that I think is good or special enough to add. And honestly there are aspects of his temperament that I think will harm the gene pool... REGARDLESS of how much I love him... Breeding decisions need to be unemotional... they need to be based on what is best for the breed... not on how cute puppies are or how much you love your dog...


..... Honestly I can't imagine putting the girl that i love at risk if I am not keeping a puppy or contributing something to the breed as a whole. Breeding is scary ... I think that anyone who breeds and does it right and loves their dogs will tell you it is scary...
This is so well put... A huge thanks to you and Sally's Mom for being so conscientious and ethical and being so open here, what a great education for all of us (both the people who might like to breed someday and those of us who will only ever be puppy-buyers.)
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalva View Post
I know usually people don't start breeding until the dogs are 2 years of age - how long can you continue to breed for?

this is an interesting question and makes me wonder why you want to breed? and I think that is a question for you to answer. I have never bred a girl at two, my girls at two are competing and being busy ... of my recent girls, Meghan was bred at 5 after retiring and attending westminster she had one litter Shalva was 3 almost 4, she had 1 litter. Kaelyn was 4 for her first litter and 6 for her second .... Connie will be 4 for her first litter and if she has another will remain to be seen. Theoretically you can start at two and go until 9 if you plan on making money off the backs of your girls and being a irresponsible breeder. Realistically other than waiting until final clearances at two the decisions about the upper end of the age spectrum depend on how well your girl does whelping and recovering... is she is good shape, how big were her previous litters, how does she act. I have seen girls at 7 who were young and healthy and active and in great shape and I have seen girls at 7 who were old girls. I know of a girl who was bred at 9 and did fantastic... I would not do that to my kaelyn who at 9 is starting to act a bit older.
.
I guess I was asking because I wasn't sure if you bred a dog too late it could be bad for their health - and kinda same reason I asked what age to start breeding. I've read that 2 is the typical age because of clearances and physical maturity. I've heard that there can be genetic issues and its harmful for the dog if you breed too early? Another reason I asked it because I want to show and compete with my dogs; I feel like I'd very rarely get to breed one's I considered worthy at 2. I'd probably just be getting on my feet with titling them. So then I guess I'd want to make sure that my breeding prospects would actually be young enough to still have a litter. Thank you for sharing this info. I feel like you see very often breeders having multiple litters a year and bitches having multiple litters (sometimes in the same year). From what you've said I'm gathering its probably best for bitches to have a minimal number of litters in their lifetime. I didn't know this (well I didn't really know anything up until this point - all of your responses are very helpful!)

Thank you all for your responses - and thank you for being so honest. I never thought about all the harsh realities that come with breeding - with putting puppies down and all the health issues, etc listed above. I think its a real eye opener and am happy you guys have shared this with me. I think me ending up a breeder will be contingent upon my financial situation years down the road. I don't think I would be able to have a good peace of mind working full time while breeding - it really is a full time job itself. So if I can afford to be a stay at home "mom" maybe this will be a possibility.

The information you all are providing is invaluable, thank you and I look forward to hearing all of your stories.
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:38 AM
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I got started in goldens doing competitive obedience. We did very well and I wanted to continue down that path. So, along came the next obedience prospect who also happened to be the breeder's "pick of the litter". At that point, I really had no interest in showing in comformation and was happily doing my obedience thing. However, I did promise the breeder that if he continued to show the promise he did as a young puppy, we would try showing him. I am a person of my word, so when he was little, we took him to some puppy matches and had some fun with him. At 9 months old, we found he was dyslastic so we stopped showing him in both venues-conformation and obedience as his hips were pretty bad. However, I was being bitten by the show bug

I then subsribed to the GRNews and saw the most beautiful dog that I had ever seen. I just knew I had to have one of his puppies. My frist obedience dog was getting older and the second was not a dog who I could ask to show beyond novice level, so I was looking for another puppy. So, I called the breeder and as luck would have it, she had a female(I had only ever owned males at this point and still had no interest in breeding) from him that she was looking for a home for. She sent photos and I was beyond smitten. That was 16 years ago. That girl went on to become the foundation bitch of our breeding program.

I got her and went to puppy matches again and again, I was very lucky. A person who was judging the sporting breeds at a match saw my girl, Bailey and told me what a nice puppy she was. She took me under her wing(she was a handler and also bred labs and GWPs) and showed me how to groom and present a dog and I thank Bailey every day for the patience she had with me learning all these things on her!!!!!!! Goodness knows, my grooming wasn't always the greatest and sometimes I would stack her and her feet wouldn't be just right-but she would fix them and put them where they belonged. I could not have asked for a better dog to learn with.

The breeder was a big help as far as pedigrees go and things like that but she lived 5 hours away from me so she wasn't someone that I could travel to see to get help with grooming and such.

I listened to her about what she said about breeding. I was happily showing away in conformation as an owner handler learning the ropes and she told me one day she thought it was time to think about breeding her. I was in shock as I still wasn't really contemplating breeding much at that time. But, I listened to what she had to say and we found a dog that we thought complemented her and from that litter, we had our first owner/breeder/handled AKC champion who also had group placements. It was quite a ride and then I was hooked-BIG TIME!!!! That boy is still with me-he is now 13.5 and he stood at stud until he was about 12. However, I think the thing I am most proud about is when he earned his GRCA Oustanding Sire Award.

As someone else had said, girls look to the boys to improve upon what the girls have so they do need to be very good examples of the breed. But, the big thing is can they reproduce those good qualities that they have? Not all of them can.

So we have continued on from there and are now 5 generations out from where we started with our breeding program.

I do have males and females that live in my house as a pack and I do not have kennels. We have one kennel run in our garage that is attached to our house(which is also where I groom that we use for when visiting girls come to be bred) We do have a spare bedroom that we use as the "puppy room" when we have puppies and we also use it when we have girls in season to keep them separated from the boys. I do not have boys that howl and go off their food, but there are certainly a lot of them that do. I love my boys and couldn't imagine life without them. Yes, I am a breeder, but we do have 5 intact male dogs-13.5 yo, almost 9 yo, 3 yo, 1 yo and an 8 month old puppy. They are all fine with one another and live very peacablly with each other.

As others have said, you MUST have a good mentor who has had success in the breed themselves to teach you and help you learn. Breeding is not for the faint of heart, whether it be a stud dog or a brood bitch. As a stud dog owner, I have dropped everything to run to the repro vet which is 2 hrs away one way to ship semen out because someone's girl was ready to be bred. I have also had girls in to be bred on every major holiday and when they need bred, they need bred. It isn't something that can wait until it is more convenient.

As a bitch owner, I have sat up for days with my girls from the time the temperature drops until they are done delivering puppies. I do not leave puppies alone-ever-until they are 2 weeks old and their eyes are open and they are up on their feet. So, this means I don't get much sleep when we have a litter. I nap during the day when someone else is at home and can keep an eye on mom and babies. Mastitis, metritis, hydrops, retained puppies, emergency c-sections-we have been there and done it all. Unfortunately, I have also had friends lose their girls to complications of pregnancy or labor. I agree with others that have said it is very hard to work full time outside the home(at a job that doesn't have some degree of flexibility) as you will need to take time off for litters and other things that come up.

I have also had girls have their puppies a day or two early and so I have had to move back birthday parties, be late for family functions,etc because when it is time, it is time. If this is not something that you are prepared to do, I suggest you don't even think about breeding. I am blessed to have the support of my friends and family in this endeavor and they are helpful and supportive but not everyone has that.

We may be called "hobby breeders" but this really isn't a hobby, it is a way of life. Dogs need care 24/7 and 365 days a year. It isn't a "job" that stops when you walk out of the office. It is something that you live and breathe.

As to how to get started-go to shows, get books, learn as much as you possibly can and build a foundation of learning. Be open to people who have many more years of experience than you do. Go to shows-compete in some type of venue with your dog to prove that it is worthy of being bred and make sure that you have experienced people evaluate the dog to the Golden Retriever standard. The dog needs to fit the standard and be a good representative of the breed, it needs to have the proper temperament and it needs to have all the clearances in place. Final clearances do not happen until after a dog is 2 years old so there is no use even thinking about breeding until you have all your ducks in a row.

If you truly want to have a breeding program, yes, you must have bitches. You should get the best possible bitch that you can possibly purchase from a person who has an established reputation in the breed who produces good dogs. It is not going to be easy to get a breeder to hand over one of their girls. You have to have proven yourself that you are going to compete with this dog and do things the right way. No reputable breeder wants one of their girls to be used as a puppy producing machine. For example, I was able to get our foundation bitch from her breeder because I was actively competing in obedience and was showing our dog for his UD at the time. This told her that I was serious about my dogs and the commitment to them.

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.

I would also advise going to as many shows as possible just so you can take things in and learn and watch and study. Being a good breeder isn't something that you just decide to do one day......it takes years and years of preparation and its a long haul before you get there. We now have multiple generations of breeder/owner/handled AKC champions and many other people who have also put championships and other titles on their dogs. It is a LOT of hard work.
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Last edited by hvgoldens4; 02-11-2013 at 01:45 AM.
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