Do you want "a dog" or "your dog"? - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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Do you want "a dog" or "your dog"?

All the discussions here revolve around clearances, and that's where they stop. But beyond that, it's important that we ask ourselves what are our needs as a buyer? Do you just get "a car," "a spouse," "a job"? Or do you look for the car/spouse/job that best meets your vision of your life and lifestyle; that best meshes with who you are and what you do; that matches your personality and makes you feel good and whole? Then why wouldn't you do the same thing when getting "a dog?"

When looking to buy a puppy, most of us just have a vague vision of getting "a dog." But dogs aren't fungible. They are all individuals. And your life with "a dog" will be better or worse depending on how well-matched the two lives are. Puppies aren't clay. You can't just mold them into what you want. They have their own inherent qualities, their own genetically determined traits and tendencies. So, try to think specifically about what you envision before you buy.

What is it you want in a dog? What traits are you looking for? And what do the breeders you're considering have to offer? What are their goals with their breedings? What are your goals with a dog? How does one breeder's puppies meet your needs compared to the other?

Close your eyes and imagine what your life is with this future puppy. What's your vision of this future puppy over the course of his/her life? What do you see the two of you doing together? What do you hope to get from this dog? What do you want for the dog and for yourself? What kind of companionship are you looking for? What traits are a no-go? Sit down and make a list. Write down things you want to do with this dog, what you imagine your future dog is like, how you want this dog to improve your life, how you would improve his/her life. Start forming a concrete vision of daily life with your future dog. Then compare that to what the breeders you are considering have to offer you. Match it as closely as you can. This is a relationship you will be in for a decade or more, and you don't get to just try the dog out. You need to make the best choice you can now. So be specific.

If you're just looking for "a dog," then you might as well go with whatever pup is cheaper and more readily available. Try Craigslist or a pet store. But if you have a vision that goes beyond "a dog," then you should start thinking about what breeders have to offer, and perhaps ask questions or check out their dogs, for starters, and get the best match you can.

So...what's your vision?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 03:31 PM
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Amen! I want health first. Then I want correct conformation and movement. (I didn’t realize how important movement was to me until my latest pup). My next requirement is confidence, this is a must for me. I tend to only buy males, and I normally pick, or have the breeder pick, the most out going adventurous one for me. I do not want a couch potato. I don’t mind them a little head strong, or their “land shark” phase. I do want intelligence and trainability. I want to know that whatever I decide to do, or wherever I decide to take them they are up for it. I love a correct Golden that can perform in the field, on the dock, wherever I take them, and also be my Grandson’s favorite dog. I want to exercise them as part of my day. I don’t consider a walk exercise. I own my own business so they are incorporated into my day. They have free roam of my home once they’ve earned it, and we travel with them in our RV. I’ve owned Golden’s for 30 years and have loved everyone I’ve ever owned although I admittedly have one that set the bar pretty high, and a 9 year old that has been my version of perfect. I do not want one with tons of undercoat, more then I consider normal, or one that is extremely light on the color scale. I think what I want is by definition a Golden, but that is subjective. I’m always willing to wait, and am fully committed to whatever I have from the moment I bring it home.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 04:36 PM
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Reading this, I immediately thought of people who do google searches for dogs looking for breeders who are closest to where they live + price shopping.

And sadly this includes people who find out how much puppies cost and back out - even though, the scary thing is they don't realize how expensive puppies are in general. Know of people who got sticker shock over $2400 puppies, even though everyone else is charging $2800-3200.

I don't have a problem when people do that and my perspective is I'd put money aside for 1-2 years building a cushion so it doesn't hurt your wallet buying a puppy when it's time.... but there are so many things that are pretty important!

I said before and will here again.

When I look for a puppy -

1. Type is very important. I don't want a field or performance style golden. I don't want an English style golden. I don't want a Malagold or Rush Hill or X or Y style golden. I don't want a very light dog. I don't want a very dark colored dog. I don't want a naked dog. I don't want one with a very doggy look (difficult to explain, but it's a thing). I don't want one that's heavily coated, and the list goes on and on.

I would absolutely recommend that people acquaint themselves with the breed. Go to dog shows. Spectate. Know more about the type of dogs that people are producing. If possible, see them in person. The different breeders are not all lock step breeding the same style dog. Different breeders and lines produce very different looking dogs.

Part of this first thingy is finding a breeder who is above board and decent. So many people out there are trying to make money off the dogs. And they are jumping in and breeding dogs first thing and it's a recipe for problems if they do not know enough about the breed, do not have mature and experienced mentorship from somebody who has been in the breed (And actively showing/competing) for ages.

2. Health clearances, not just on the current generation - but going back 10+ generations. They need to all be there.


^^^^^ Knowing who is all out there, I'm amazed at the numbers of unknown and basically byb breeders that people ask about or look into purchasing a golden from... it's like people are feeling around in the dark.


**** Also. The above is something I would have posted years ago before I got the show bug and before I was fairly serious about upper level obedience (must need a dog who can jump). If you are spending a lot of money on a dog and deliberately purchasing a purebred puppy from a breeder, there's nothing wrong with getting a dog that looks close to what you love in the breed.


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 07:13 PM
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But most breeders I’ve talked to are those people matching dogs to people who specify a). What they’re looking to do with the dog b). What their lifestyle is like c). environment/living/familial makeup. Health and clearances were of utmost importance but the puppy applications all asked questions for individuals on what they were looking for etc. I don’t think just because folks on here are asking about clearances doesn’t mean they aren’t telling those folks they ultimately do reach out to what they’re looking for. And I imagine any breeder who gets applications from folks not willing or not doing those questions just toss them anyway.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaRuns View Post
....When looking to buy a puppy, most of us just have a vague vision of getting "a dog.".... try to think specifically about what you envision before you buy.

What is it you want in a dog? What traits are you looking for? And what do the breeders you're considering have to offer? What are their goals with their breedings? What are your goals with a dog? ...if you have a vision that goes beyond "a dog," then you should start thinking about what breeders have to offer, and perhaps ask questions or check out their dogs, for starters, and get the best match you can.

So...what's your vision?
Unfortunately, I suspect you spent more time putting this post together than most people spend thinking about what the reality of life with a dog will actually be like. I'd say that those who do put the thought into it imagine it will be like they remember a family dog from their childhood: when their parents did all the work and cleaning up and it seemed like dogs were just part of the fabric of existence.

Either that or they assume that the dog will be a Disney character and simply morph from the cute, fluffy puppy stage straight to the wise, dignified adult lying under the kitchen table, emerging only to eat and go on an occasional walk at the convenience of the owner. No matter how many books you read, the reality of your first Golden puppy can be a real wake up call

I know I thought I understood what I was getting into, I was familiar with how inbred instincts work since i grew up with herding dogs - how strong they can be. I didn't understand how much the classic Golden traits would be so different to live with. How different a hunting dog/sporting dog would be. I continue to be awed and amazed by those traits in my dogs. As long as I am physically able to properly care for a dog, I will have a Golden in my home.

Before I bought my first Golden, I thought a Golden was a Golden was a Golden. I wanted a friendly, fun, up-for-anything family dog. I completely stumbled onto my fantastic first dog through the Atlanta GRC puppy referral person. The litter was from someone who trained gun dogs and she had a litter which was Conformation (Pekay)/Field- (the first 3 generations has 2 master hunters and 3 field trial champions) - I learned what a phenomenal Golden results from good genetics and (by trial and error ) a little effort with obedience training and exercise. I will be forever grateful for my first Golden boy, Baxter.

I continue to learn and am SO grateful for continuing education from people who have incredible dedication to preserving both instinct AND correct structure in the breed. Like DblTrbl, I have a love for good movement. I believe big time in the idea that efficient movement is a thing of beauty. My Ellie girl doesn't have the structure to win in the ring but there isn't a day we aren't hiking in the woods that she doesn't stop me in my tracks with her gorgeous, effortless trot. I love moderate build and bone and especially moderate coat, correct for the field, not the show ring. I care about an attractive dog, form following function.

I definitely am interested in a Golden who wants to work with people and doesn't require a pro to train, a dog who wants to play any game, so long as it's with me. I strongly believe that the original traits that were in place when the breed was developed to be a nice hunting dog are what made the breed so popular. I want a breeder who thinks it's crucial to retain prey drive, retrieving instinct, love of water, temperament that welcomes strangers and tolerates other dogs with no aggression.

When I considering Goldens 20-something years ago, I never imagined I'd end up with such a detailed wish list for my Goldens and for the breeders I want to support. Thanks for bringing up this subject Dana. It's definitely fun to think about and it's so important.


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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For those who like movement, I'm with you. I'm a movement nut. I get a huge rush when watching a Golden with correct gait. In analyzing gait there are all sorts of tutorials and videos out there, showing Goldens with proper and improper movement. But when I consider movement, I always look to the wolf. Look at the wolf in this video. She can go all day long with this trot. It's beautiful and effortless.


I'll admit that in my boys I like to see a more powerful, ground-covering gait. But that's just aesthetics. IMHO, this is how a dog should move: like a wolf.

Here's a short wolf "tutorial" on movement. The same principles apply to Goldens.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 01:16 AM
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Having owned a cocker spaniel that was a biter and having been bitten by someone else's cocker spaniel, the one trait I always look for is a dog that doesn't instantly turn to biting out of fear or aggression. People may laugh or scoff that I fixate on such a basic trait, but owning a biter was incredibly stressful and traumatic. It is an experience I never wish to repeat because you are left with some fairly difficult choices once you identify that the dog is a biter and will always turn to biting in certain situations. Thus, my questions are often focused around any knowledge of aggression history in the lines.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDude View Post
Having owned a cocker spaniel that was a biter and having been bitten by someone else's cocker spaniel, the one trait I always look for is a dog that doesn't instantly turn to biting out of fear or aggression. People may laugh or scoff that I fixate on such a basic trait, but owning a biter was incredibly stressful and traumatic. It is an experience I never wish to repeat because you are left with some fairly difficult choices once you identify that the dog is a biter and will always turn to biting in certain situations. Thus, my questions are often focused around any knowledge of aggression history in the lines.
Yeah, that's super important. And you're absolutely right, when you have a biter you are faced with difficult choices, none of which are "enjoy your dog, care free." Of course genetics has huge influence in who a dog is. And Cockers are known biters. But fear biting is actually a trait that is very controllable early in a puppy's development. This is where your breeder comes in.

Most breeders don't, but they can nip the problem in the bud before it occurs. It might seem counter-intuitive but, in part, putting puppies in scary/stressful (safe) situations early in their lives makes them more confident and less prone to fear (or biting) later on. It gives them confidence so that they aren't fearful, and they develop a process and a way out of stressful situations for when they do have fear. Plus they develop socially appropriate responses, so that biting isn't the first recourse when they do become fearful or startled. A confident pup with an appropriate reaction process doesn't "fear bite." Breeders can set the stage for this before the pups go home at 8 weeks. It's something to put on your list of things to ask breeders about.

And don't worry, the stress little puppies are put under isn't mean. It's as benign as holding them in a face down position for five seconds when they are 3 days old, or making them figure out on their own how to get through a creek or over a log to keep up with their human when they are 7 weeks old. The point is that a little stress early on results in a lot of confidence and fearlessness later.

Last edited by DanaRuns; 07-08-2019 at 06:27 AM.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 06:30 AM
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Clearances aside, these sorts of things w puppies are SO crucial to a well-developed adult. And almost more than clearances (tho not really MORE) it is the stressors good breeders put on their litters that makes a huge difference in the way a pup turns out. I've had puppy people question me about being 'mean' to puppies from holding them down for 5 seconds, making for a struggle, to putting the food dish on the other side of a maze -they have to figure out how to get to it- controlled stressors are good things.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 09:16 AM
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You ask the best questions!

I want "my" dog. I'm a pet person that enjoys the process of training and like my dog to be focused on me. I want to take the pup everywhere I go and trust it's so devoted to me I never have to be concerned it will wander off or cause a ruckus in the stores.
Of course this means I always have a dog at my feet, a dog that helps me take out the trash, that never runs off and ALWAYS comes when she is called... with gusto! She helps with the laundry, bringing groceries in and helps me find my glasses... even when I'm not looking for them :-) She LOVES kids and babies, never knocks them down and lays next to the great grand baby while in the carrier and tolerates a few nose squeezes. She is good with the autistic grand kids and knows what they need to be comfortable around her or go to a cheer competition with loud noise and hundreds of screaming little girls and lays at my feet without having to be told.
For me it's not just owning and achieving titles, although we have them. I want a partner to learn with and one that looks to me for direction if she gets confused... when we try something new. Breeder bombed on the health stuff which was very disappointing but Sips is my constant companion, night or day. Perfect retirement buddy and willing to try anything or go anywhere with me, even the canoe, that was comical :-)
It's more than just having a well trained dog, it's a bond that goes deeper than just training. Training is just an activity to do together. Neurotic? Maybe but I can live with that

So finding a good breeder is paramount! Do the research, know the breed, understand what it means to own a hunting breed. Make sure this breed will fit into your lifestyle... as well as will your lifestyle fit a golden and be happy. You must be honest with what you are looking for in a dog/breed, there is so much more than picking a cute puppy.

Footnote: Don't forget the hair! Shaving a golden is heartbreaking to see. If you want a spotless house with no hair, this is not the breed for you. As exileing your golden to the yard to achieve a perfect house is missing the best this breed has to offer.
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