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I have been fortunate to share parts of my childhood and young adulthood with incredibly sweet, healthy and intelligent goldens, but I consider my family to have had "dumb luck" in stumbling upon great dogs with no serious health issues-- my family never really knew what we were doing when it came to picking out a puppy.

My fiance has a german shepherd, but I am considering adding a golden back into the mix, and I would like to go about the process the "right" way this time. By that I mean, making a sober and patient decision about what breeder to go with, rather than an impulse buy (gamble) from a backyard breeder who may be less-than-reputable. My parents actually currently have a golden they got from "MOA's Goldens" in Sparta, NJ, and she is a delightful and healthy girl, but does not have the "textbook" golden look I would prefer in my own dog. She actually has a very wavy coat that is rather unruly, and she has a partly black tongue!

I've read some threads where you all chime in with breeder recommendations, and that would be extremely helpful to me. As I've been starting my search online, I find that it is difficult to tell much about the different breeders. I know a little about what certifications to look for, but I could use some guidance about where you all would go to find a high pet quality golden retriever in Southeastern PA. I actually live in a Philadelphia suburb, but a couple of hours in any direction is no issue.

I am certainly not looking to show a golden, but I would like a higher pet quality than what I've seen in my parents' dogs. I am willing to spend money on a high quality golden.

Thank you in advance for any guidance you can give me. When I've attempted asking around within my circles of family and friends, it feels a little like "the blind leading the blind."
 

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It can be hard to tell from websites what kind of operation a breeder is running. If you have a specific litter in mind and registered names of parents, that's a good starting off point. With that information you can at least look up pedigree on k9data.com and can verify clearances on offa.org. Beyond that, things I wanted to know about specific breeders I could only figure out by calling and speaking to them. I wanted to know how many dogs they owned, how the dogs were cared for, were they house dogs or were they all living in kennels outside, what venue(s) the dogs were competitive and successful in, how many litters the breeder had on average each year, why the breeder was breeding this particular litter and how the stud was chosen to compliment the dam. Other things I asked about:
- had the breeder ever had a dog returned to her and, if so, why,
- would she chose my pup for me or let me choose (or at least choose a gender)
- would she require me to neuter/spay by a certain age
- what vaccine protocol she used on her dogs and recommended for her pups
- how were pups socialized
- what were pups fed

I had more questions than that but this seemed like enough to get you started. ;)

Contact your local Golden Retriever Club and they can point you in the direction of some good breeders. In PA, I liked the looks of the program Marcy at Ruffwater has going. I know there were a few others but of course I can't think of any names at the moment. My favorite Golden ever came from Stonecroft which is also in PA but I don't think she breeds that often any more.
 
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