but I've also seen people who say if the breeder isn't showing their dogs they aren't a "reputable" breeder
Small warning - I'm very plugged up from allergies (my head sounds like an echo chamber when I breathe or say anything LOL), so I might be way off base here with how I phrase this, but...
My gut feeling is there's some people who truly have the opinion that anything less than a breeder who is actively putting titles on their dogs is an undesirable breeder. They literally are preaching advice that they take themselves. <= There's nothing wrong with that. But it is a little political if based solely on titles (pedigree behind the parents) or the names of the breeders (who's who).
There's political people out there who ABSOLUTELY do not regard a person or their dogs as deserving of attention unless they are big stuff. Big breeders and big handlers have their groupies (LOL). And you see those same people who basically like dogs because of who owns them. They don't actually know a THING about what makes a dog good or not! <= That kind of stuff makes me frustrated. Especially if you see somebody stating an opinion, but when you quiz them on WHY they have that opinion they don't have anything to say at all!
^^ Anyway, that's a couple different groups of people out there.
1. Very straight up and up about what they'd want in a dog and when giving advice, they do not offer any advice they would not personally take. IE, they would not recommend a good breeder if that breeder's producing dogs that do not fit a niche or level of quality.
2. Political groupie type people who I swear are completely vapid when it comes to dogs. >.< And these people support dogs because they know the owners/breeders or somebody they respect supports those dogs so they must be OK...
But then there's a 3rd type -
3. Other people have jumped on the "must compete" bit as a codebreaker or key to finding reputable breeders beyond making sure full clearances are there. And this is the route they took for themselves... Which is fine, except they are missing the "point" as far as WHY it's preferable for breeders to be active in the breed in order to be considered reputable (will explain my view below).
And then there is a 4th which is the bare min required for advertising a litter with breed referrals at clubs -
4. The clearances have to all be there. Period.
My simple take is if you are looking for a breeder, you should know what you want in a dog.
Not every dog is alike. Not every breeder is producing puppies for the same purpose
I'm SORTA on the #4 bandwagon when it comes to this forum, just because so many people ask about breeders who do ZERO clearances. You feel like you have to support breeders doing a small bit of what they should be doing!
But recognize that clearances by themselves are NOT the only necessity in a pair of breeding dogs before you throw them together and hope for puppies?
Personally speaking, I believe the reason behind the "reputable breeders must be actively competing" bit is those breeders are more likely to be breeding for purpose and type. And those are qualities which get lost very quickly with indiscriminate breeding. That's when you start getting goldens who look more like mixes because of all the faults they have.
Breeders who are very disassociated with the breed in general - while still breeding the dogs (!) - they are less likely to have the same predictability in everything they produce.
That's the biggest argument against the "english creme" breeders out there. Even if they DO get full clearances (which sometimes happens and we're all amazed), there's still concern about type. Are they breeding for "type"? Or are they just breeding for coloring and access? Might add to that, there's studs out there who are wonderful themselves, but their kids are full of all kinds of crazy faults. It's a shame.
Other breeders - like BYB's... might be buying dogs off hoobly or craigslist strictly for breeding... and even if they get full clearances on the breeding dogs, that doesn't fix the problem if the dogs themselves are really poor quality.
I had this comment before, but I know somebody who had a nice stud dog and she let him be used by somebody with a very poor quality golden.
The bitch owner's perspective was she had a purebred golden who got all her clearances - but was very far off the beaten trail as far as overall look. <= So she chose a boy who had both sides covered. Very handsome boy with a loaded pedigree behind him. And this boy is doing great in both obedience and agility (dog jumps like a gazelle, it's just a beautiful thing).
This was a very good breeding choice for her. And I have no doubts whatsoever that the puppies were nice enough.
But there's people out there who would not have agreed to the breeding because there was nothing in it for their dog - and too much chance of their dog producing a lot of ugly ducklings that would have reflected on him.
^^^ I really don't know what the answer would be in that case? Because I do appreciate the efforts on the breeder's part to improve what she had????
But that litter was not one that most people with better quality dogs or accustomed to having better quality dogs would have had any interest in getting a puppy from.
Me personally, that was a reputable breeder (clearances all there and demonstrated desire to improve on what she had)... but meh as far as me getting a puppy from her. But would I have recommended her? ABSOLUTELY.
I do think that if you are spending thousands on a puppy - the very least is you should expect -
1. The adult dog you own should be healthy and LOOK like golden retriever.
2. Full clearances need to be in place before the breeding.
A reputable breeder to ME is somebody who has a demonstrated track record of being selective and careful about what they breed and successful in what they produce.
There's a whole other conversation to be had about people using the "reputable" label to prop up some breeders or injure others.
A good example was the other day I had a very depressingly eye opening conversation with somebody about 3 different breeders who I have always regarded as reputable. I'm not going into detail about what I heard, but it bothered me because I do think somewhat that if a breeder is
1. Getting full clearances
2. Actively competing and very active in the breed
3. Long established name - connected with quality
You would think that breeder would be an easy decision for somebody looking for a puppy. But based on the conversation I had... there's a lot of muddy water.