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Hey everyone,

as I mentioned in a post in "Member Introductions", I recently lost my 14 months old puppy to lymphoma. Since he was such a joy in our lives, we are looking to get a new puppy. But the more research I do and the more I look around me, I feel like I'm losing faith in the reasons to buy from a reputable breeder.

I got my Brady from a reputable breeder from Barrie, and I know she dotted all her i's and crossed all her t's. The parents had wonderful pedigrees, they were both certified for hips, eyes, and elbows. The breeder also said she had never produced a puppy with cancer. After we got Brady, we fed him only grain-free food, made sure he got just the right amount of exercise, and he also took daily vitamin supplements that was suggested by our breeder. After all that, I feel incredibly cheated by fate to have our little boy taken away so young.

Now, we've started to look into getting another puppy, and I'm doing a more thorough search than I did before. I've been reading articles about cancer in the breed and the prospects appear poor. According to the article below, 66% of all male golden retrievers will die from cancer:
http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/CCAH/local-assets/pdfs/UnderstandingCancerinGoldenRetrievers2.pdf

And after talking to multiple vets and reading extensively on the topic of cancer, the research seems to suggest that breeders current do not have the tools to avoid cancer in their puppies through careful breeding. The article above even suggest that breeders can't breed for longevity. So, what's the point of going to a reputable breeder?

Now, don't get me wrong, I will concede to the fact that reputable breeders will normally raise their puppies in better conditions, hips, elbows and eyes will be guaranteed, and perhaps temperaments can be greatly controlled. But if the statistic (66% of all male goldens will die from cancer) is correct, and cancer is NOT guaranteed and CAN'T be controlled by careful breeding, then I find it little comfort to have hips/elbows/eyes guaranteed. Because even if there is a guarantee in place, I would not send my puppy back just because I found out he has those problems, because I would rather spend the extra money to try to save the life of the dog I've already developed relationship with, than to trade him in for a newer model. And many of my friends have adopted dogs from shelters who had many behavioural problems that were corrected or managed by training and (a lot of) patience.

On the other hand, although I don't condone the practice of BYBreeding and I do think that it is a systemic problem that leads to many dogs ending up in shelters or worse, I personally know many people who got their dogs from BYB (either directly or from a shelter) who had led long, happy and healthy lives. At the end of the day, it just seems to be the luck of the draw for any personal dog owner. I know this is a personal opinion and many of you will disagree, and perhaps this is just my grief talking but I'm hoping to hear from some of you out there who might feel very strongly about going to a reputable breeder and your reasons.
 

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Kate
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I can't comprehend buying a byb after having the joy of owning a well-bred golden. Our first golden was a byb. He died when he was 6 from renal failure - likely due to a genetic issue. He was symptomatic all his life. The loss ripped our hearts out, and the result is we smack anyone upside the head who would suggest buying a backyard bred dog. That dog had issues all his life, he had a funny temperament that we learned to deal with, and he had cataracts.

My feelings too is there is a world of difference between a well-bred dog and a backyard bred dog - looks and temperament, as well as health.

Talk to breeders about cancer. Don't buy it when they claim they never produced a dog without cancer. There is no such thing as a cancer free line. My opinion is I'm less concerned about cancers that take the dogs in old age than I am cancers like lymphoma which take young dogs.
 

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It is my preference to support breeders who do their very best to produce healthy pups by completing clearances. I have accepted that cancer will take the lives of most golden retrievers. Even if they live until old age, it will probably be cancer that takes them. I will not believe any breeder who claims they have never produced a dog who got cancer and would not buy from them. But don't you think it's important that healthy hips, eyes, heart, and elbows are necessary for a dog's quality of life? Dogs could go blind with PU (eyes) and drop dead at a very young age from SAS (heart), both of which could be inherited. So it isn't just cancer that can take the life of a golden.

Breeders do try to breed for longevity but it does seem to be luck of the draw. Buying from a reputable breeder usually means the dogs in your pup's pedigree is on k9data, which shows cause and date of death of ancestors. Before purchasing, you can stay away from pedigrees with early cancer deaths if you are not comfortable with that. However, there are so many factors that determine longevity (diet, environment, genetics) and breeders cannot control them all. They can only try their best by breeding dogs with proven longevity in their lines.

Nothing is guaranteed but I will never support a BYB. Also, a health guarantee from a REPUTABLE breeder means you get back the money you paid for the pup. You do not have to return the puppy but you can if you wish. Some not-so-ethical breeders will require the return of the pup because they know most owners will not want to.


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First of all, I'm SO sorry to hear of the loss of your dog. As someone plagued by my own string of "bad luck" and unfortunate circumstances over the last few years, I can certainly relate...

The reasons you mentioned above were all enough to convince me to find a reputable breeder. Based on my goals for show and performance, I decided to go that route as opposed to rescue, although I have had rescue dogs in the past that have been wonderful. There are lots of troubling health concerns in goldens...hip/elbow displaysia and SAS to name a few, and you will likely increase your odds of avoiding these conditions by finding a reputable breeder. I chose my breeder based on involvement in and commitment to the breed and, strange as it may sound, good vibes...we're good friends now, two years later, and she's the first one I call when I have a question about my pup. I wouldn't have it any other way, she's truly a wealth of knowledge and has done a great job of getting me plugged in with the dog community since I'm still sort of new to the area.

There are certainly many breeders out there who prioritize health and longevity, but to guarantee no cancer is a tough one...if you want to avoid cancer altogether, you might want to consider another breed. I found it helpful in my own research to go to k9data.com and look at the parents of the pups I was considering. You can pull up a vertical longevity pedigree that will let you see age and cause of death. I wouldn't get too concerned about cancer unless I saw patterns of young deaths from cancer in the pedigree, as in, younger than 6 or 7 years. Obviously a dog that dies at 13 years from cancer is less concerning than 14 months.

I'd personally go through a rescue before keeping a backyard breeder, or worse yet, a puppy mill, in business. There have been some recent threads on here with links to websites of these kinds of "breeders", and one must wonder what happens to the money they make from selling puppies. It's certainly not being invested into caring for the dogs. Very sad.
 

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It is my preference to support breeders who do their very best to produce healthy pups by completing clearances. I have accepted that cancer will take the lives of most golden retrievers. Even if they live until old age, it will probably be cancer that takes them. I will not believe any breeder who claims they have never produced a dog who got cancer and would not buy from them. But don't you think it's important that healthy hips, eyes, heart, and elbows are necessary for a dog's quality of life? Dogs could go blind with PU (eyes) and drop dead at a very young age from SAS (heart), both of which could be inherited. So it isn't just cancer that can take the life of a golden.

Breeders do try to breed for longevity but it does seem to be luck of the draw. Buying from a reputable breeder usually means the dogs in your pup's pedigree is on k9data, which shows cause and date of death of ancestors. Before purchasing, you can stay away from pedigrees with early cancer deaths if you are not comfortable with that. However, there are so many factors that determine longevity (diet, environment, genetics) and breeders cannot control them all. They can only try their best by breeding dogs with proven longevity in their lines.

Nothing is guaranteed but I will never support a BYB. Also, a health guarantee from a REPUTABLE breeder means you get back the money you paid for the pup. You do not have to return the puppy but you can if you wish. Some not-so-ethical breeders will require the return of the pup because they know most owners will not want to.


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We were apparently on the same page here and typing the same things at the same time :) Great minds think alike, no?
 

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I have had both. BaWaaJige is the first dog I bought from a breeder. I found her on a gun dog site. I talked to her liked her and I got one of her puppies. I couldnt be happier do I worry he might have health issues..well yes i do. I have had a run of bad luck with my dogs. A few years ago I had 19yr old yellow lab. Then I lost Mikado a shelter dog at 6yrs, Vendetta a BYB dog at 4yrs, DaVince a road side dumpee at 3yrs. But then we have Rasta 12 yr old Malamut rescue and Mari 8yr old lab rescue. So yes it can be the luck of the draw. It is a chance we take when we bring a living being into our hearts and home.
I hope that you find yourself a new pup and he/she lives a long joyful life.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't think I would ever buy from a BYB that is obviously doing it for the money, and would never ever go to a pet store for a my puppy (I was thinking more like an accidental breeding or from a shelter), but this is more because of a moral objection rather than any fears I have about the quality of the puppy.

Thanks for all your replies. I guess it never occurred to me to come to terms with the fact that this awesome breed is just going to be plagued with these issues and the best we can do is eliminate the risks. And I think I am just throwing myself a pity party today because I spent the day with my friend's wonderful BY puppy and wondering why she got so lucky.

I have a question though: a few of you mentioned that I shouldn't trust a breeder that said they never produced a puppy with cancer, is this limited to the puppies that the breeder produced and subsequently included in her breeding program? Or should I ask for information about every puppy (even the ones that had been sold as pets)? How much are breeders are suppose to follow up on the health of their puppies after they've been sold to families as pets?
 

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I have a question though: a few of you mentioned that I shouldn't trust a breeder that said they never produced a puppy with cancer, is this limited to the puppies that the breeder produced and subsequently included in her breeding program? Or should I ask for information about every puppy (even the ones that had been sold as pets)? How much are breeders are suppose to follow up on the health of their puppies after they've been sold to families as pets?
I think cancer is just so common in goldens that if you have produced even one average sized litter, you will have produced goldens with cancer. If a breeder says they haven't, either their pups are not old enough and haven't passed yet, or they haven't produced enough puppies, or they're lying..

Definitely ask about the puppies sold as pets. If the breeder meant that none of the dogs they had produced used in their breeding program had cancer, that is still a bit far fetched since the parents and grandparents are usually still around when puppies are born.

That's what *I* think anyway. I could be very wrong.

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Kristy
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I am so sorry for your loss and your heartache. You've been through a lot. I can't imagine the devastation of losing a dog you love at such a young age.

Your question, in various forms, has been addressed on this forum many times. In my opinion there is simply no excuse for supporting a backyard breeder who is doing nothing to produce healthy and mentally sound puppies. Purchasing a puppy from a BYB encourages them to continue producing more puppies without using every tool possible to improve their chances of a long healthy life because you've shown them their is a market for their dogs.

I believe part of the statistics associated with cancer and goldens is that the breed is so popular and so loved - we are people who move heaven and earth to have our dogs diagnosed and treated when they have a health issue. Many other breeds probably have cancer that aren't diagnosed. Everyone who lives long enough, person or dog, will have a very good chance of eventually having a cancer. It is typically a disease of old age and if your dog lives long enough they will have it. I'll be honest, I'd rather have a Golden who I adore live to the age of 10 and die of cancer than have just about any other breed live to 14 and die in his sleep. Bigger dogs typically do not live as long. It's part of the risk we take. I'd rather have a shorter time with a Golden than 16 years with a Chihuahua.

Screening parents for hips and elbows greatly increases the statistical chances of a healthy puppy by a very good amount. Ask anyone who has gone through the pain of watching a beloved dog suffer from one of those debilitating conditions, possibly leading to being euthanized at an early age and they will tell you that it broke their hearts in the end as badly as cancer.

The risk of joint problems is reduced by going with a reputable breeder. Maybe someday, with enough research and money invested, our breeders will have the tools needed to greatly reduce the risk of cancers that strike young dogs so heartbreakingly early. I prefer to spend my puppy $ supporting people like that rather than a BYB who produce puppies will-nilly with no eye to the future of the breed.

Temperament is another trait that is very heritable. Dogs have a greater risk of being euthanized early for temperament issues than most other health issues. For that reason alone, I would support a reputable breeder who competes in a venue with her dogs like obedience or agility or field. I want my dog to be bright and highly trainable and to carry the genes of parents who are friendly and live well with people and other dogs.

A reputable breeder who cares enough to spend the money on health clearances will generally care enough to research all other aspects of raising puppies to their best advantage. THey will be well socialized before they leave the breeder and will have met lots of people old and young. Hopefully they will have been on some car rides and been exposed to different stimuli that helps develop their brains. There is a lot of research on how to give puppies a head start in life. How many BYBs do you really think put a lot of thought, time and effort into this?

At her breeder's home, my puppy had tunnels and slides to play on and tons of stimulation from children visiting and went swimming and went on car trips and none of those things will protect her from cancer, but they all contribute to her wonderful temperament and the fact that she is bright and loves to learn.

You've had a terrible experience with cancer, but it's not the only risk factor to consider with the health, both physical and mental, of your next dog. Your heart will be just as broken if your next dog is diagnosed before age two with the worst level of hip dysplasia or drops dead one day while you're playing ball because he had SAS (heart issue) and you didn't know it.

Please allow yourself to grieve and when the time is right, adopt from a shelter if you want to save a life or give your money to a reputable breeder. But please don't support the people who continue to contribute to the completely avoidable health issues that Goldens have when you could support a breeder who is doing everything in his power to use the tools we have available today to reduce the chances of health issues for Goldens down the road.
 

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Kate
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I don't think I would ever buy from a BYB that is obviously doing it for the money, and would never ever go to a pet store for a my puppy (I was thinking more like an accidental breeding or from a shelter), but this is more because of a moral objection rather than any fears I have about the quality of the puppy.
Just keep in mind that it is VERY hard adopting a nice golden from a shelter, outside of dealing with rescues. On facebook I follow a couple of groups that keep track of lost/found dogs that people pick up or who show up at shelters. And one thing I see a lot is as soon as a healthy golden is listed, there are people fighting each other tooth and nail over who gets to be first in line to adopt the dogs.

The other thing too is that with accidental breedings or even some of the dogs that land in shelters - they are not technically purebred. Which means that they will have other traits or turn out funky looking.

A friend of mine got VERY lucky in that she couldn't afford to purchase another golden or even go through a golden rescue... so she went the shelter/humane society route. And she found a golden mix (golden/collie/Samoyed or husky?) who is an absolute treasure.

So if money is an issue and or you are too weary to go the breeder route again, there are great dogs in rescues and shelters. May not be purebred, but if you don't care about any of that, it would be the way to go.

And I think I am just throwing myself a pity party today because I spent the day with my friend's wonderful BY puppy and wondering why she got so lucky.
Puppies are always cute and sweet. As they grow up, you tend to see various things - health, behavior, looks, etc...

I have a question though: a few of you mentioned that I shouldn't trust a breeder that said they never produced a puppy with cancer, is this limited to the puppies that the breeder produced and subsequently included in her breeding program? Or should I ask for information about every puppy (even the ones that had been sold as pets)?
I think you accept that with every dog out there, even mixed breeds, there is a chance of cancer. Not all cancers will be as horrible and.... unfair.... as lymphoma taking a young dog. You should be able to have your dog for at least 8 years before ever thinking about the C word. And my opinion, after 10 years - every year is a gift.
 

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As with others, I pass onto you our condolences regarding your recent loss. Most if not all of us know the pain of losing a loved pet who has become a loving family member; losing one so young is very sad indeed.

I believe your post is a reasonable one. You've worded it carefully and you seem both unsure and possibly even betrayed. I don't blame you for that. However, I have to agree with everyone regarding the BYB choice. There was a ton of research that preceded our choice of this breed, and the breeder we wound up with. And, that was done even after we had lost our 10-year old lab from an extremely aggressive cancer.

I will offer to you what others have suggested: Consider getting a mixed breed from a rescue shelter. Perhaps one that is even smaller than goldens or labs. I imagine you understand those risks - unknown or unreliable health history, guesswork at temperment, and so on. But a huge number of sensibly informed and prepared families adopt dogs from these places every day. If you feel you have a 2/3 chance of seeing your GR die from cancer (and that is probably not unrealistic) and that is something you just can't bear to have hanging over you for any number of years, then your own mental health and even devotion to your pet will suffer. The other option is to not only not get a larger breed, but consider smaller purebred dogs that tend to live longer (but be sure to research health and temperment of course).

Good luck to you - and your family in choosing your next dog.

Doug & Linda
 

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Mercy Miracle (M&M)
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No doubt that there many BYB Goldens that live long healthy lives with their owners. 66% percent is a horrible statistic! There is a study currently being done to improve longevity in Goldens. This study is expected to provide valuable information into prevention strategies, early diagnosis and new treatments for cancer and other canine diseases and help improve health for all future generations. Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

You were right getting your first puppy from a reputable breeder. Your puppy dying at 14 months was an extreme unusual circumstance. You might as well have won the lottery. I know this is a heartbreaking ordeal that most of us will not understand since most Goldens that get cancer are over two years of age.

Getting a puppy from a reputable breeder is still the best way to go. I'll bet the 66% includes both reputably bred and BYB dogs together. Reputable breeders are still working hard to improve the health of the Golden Retriever breed including reducing cancer rates. There are no guarantees, but buying from a reputable breeder greatly reduces the chances of other health problems. I know that from your point of view it might not seem like it. The best you can do is try again from a reputable breeder to at least insure that you did your part to buy from a breeder working to improve the health of the breed, which BYBs are not doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks to everyone for all your responses. As to looking for breeders, I think I've found a good one. She's based in Woodstock and I feel very comfortable with her because she's very honest with me about all the problems that she's ever produced.
I've also looked into other breeds, but I just can't imagine loving another breed as much as I love goldens.

I would also like to apologize to anyone who had ever dealt with hip/elbow/heart issues in their goldens, I definitely did not mean to dismiss those issues as not important or not as devastating. Since I didn't personally experience it, and haven't really looked into the extent of those illnesses I was just being naive.
 

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Thanks to everyone for all your responses. As to looking for breeders, I think I've found a good one. She's based in Woodstock and I feel very comfortable with her because she's very honest with me about all the problems that she's ever produced.
I've also looked into other breeds, but I just can't imagine loving another breed as much as I love goldens.

I would also like to apologize to anyone who had ever dealt with hip/elbow/heart issues in their goldens, I definitely did not mean to dismiss those issues as not important or not as devastating. Since I didn't personally experience it, and haven't really looked into the extent of those illnesses I was just being naive.
I'm glad to hear you've made this choice.

As I read your initial post, my thought was that you really did know the appropriate thing to do, but you are still hurting from your loss and that may have been clouding things for you.

And I'm right there with you--after we lost our first Golden to cancer it took 3 years before we were ready. And then we tried to get a GSD instead because I didn't want to deal with the cancer thing again. In the end though we ended up with another Golden because simply put, there is no other breed like them out there.
 

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Some breeders keep a puppy from one of their litters to breed and for one reason or another it doesn't work out. I've seen on some breeder sites one and two year old dogs available. Just a thought
 

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One of the things about these health issues is that we deal in statistics. I believe that using healthy parents, who came from healthy grandparents, and so on - produces a greater number/percent of healthy puppies. It does not mean that every puppy will be healthy and free from any of the multitude of health problems that are in the breed. However, if your family pup develops cancer or SAS, it is 100 percent for you and your family.

It is heart breaking for everyone involved and I am so sorry for your loss.

It might be easy to say why bother, just go to the shelter or the back yard breeder. But not knowing the health history of the parents, grandparents, etc, does not mean that your puppy will be healthy - it is go for you but
 

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I've never had a well bred dog. Having said that Cheyenne my Aussie/mix lived to be 15 years old, died of a brain tumor. Jesse my Golden mix, lived to be 15 years old and died last month of complication of pancreatitis. Tayla is actually my first pure bred dog and probably from a BYB. We rescued her at 4 months. I worry about her the most because of her breed. I only do rescue dogs so I know they can be problematic, but someone has to take them and I'm happy with what we have done so far.
 

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AAARF!
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Just keep in mind that it is VERY hard adopting a nice golden from a shelter, outside of dealing with rescues. On facebook I follow a couple of groups that keep track of lost/found dogs that people pick up or who show up at shelters. And one thing I see a lot is as soon as a healthy golden is listed, there are people fighting each other tooth and nail over who gets to be first in line to adopt the dogs.
You are exactly right about this. It is very hard to adopt a golden from a shelter. When I decided to get my fourth golden I wanted to get one from a shelter so the minute I saw a golden show up on petfinder.com I would immediately call the shelter. Each time I was told the golden was already spoken for and each time it was one specific rescue. This went on for months and was quite frustrating. I finally gave up on the shelters and signed up with the rescue that kept beating me to the punch. It turned out well because that's where I got Rindy.
 

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Sometimes I think it's just luck of the draw. I got both of my dogs at so called BYB's and I think I did very well. The conditions they were raised in before I got them was very good. I wish my house was as nice as theirs

My Brandy was 12 years old when she developed a limp in her left back leg. When I took her to her doctor he gave her an injection and I wonder if that's what caused her to loose the use of both of her back legs. However, I truly believe that 12 years of the joy she gave was a good age. Of course no matter how long a dog lives, it's never long enough.

My Summer is almost 7 years old (May 28) and she is not only healthy but the joy of my life..

Looking around on this forum, I can't tell you how many dogs bought from "reputable breeders" that are sick or died young.

I still say it's "luck of the draw"
 
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