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Hi everyone,

Ive been looking at getting a Golden for a couple years now and am finally in a place where i feel i can happily and contently find one (big yard, house, time, etc). Ive started searching but its a bit overwhelming so any help would be much appreciated. How should i search for breeders in my area, how much am i looking at spending, is there anything i need to know about Goldens or any tips before getting one? Im hoping to find one in the next few months. Thanks in advance for any help, and feel free to ask questions!
 

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Welcome to the forum. I would suggest search thru the forum you will probably find lots of useful information. I just could tell you goldens are amazing dogs and you will be happy to have one.
 

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You will never find a better breed (in my opinion). I would suggest reading the book "A Big Little Life" by Dean Koontz. He explains the behaviors and loyalties of the breed quite well. Are you looking specifically for a puppy or are you open to adopting an older golden? You can always look in your area for golden retriever rescues and also retired service dogs. I personally know two breeders who I know very well and trust but we all live in Michigan.
 

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A few good breeders in Tennessee: cobblestone goldens (lynn briggs), passion goldens(heike stroup), and heartland goldens (Nancy sullenger). If they do not have litters on the ground, they might know someone that does. Not sure which part of TN u live in, but I know of a litter in Mississippi. She just bred her female to a dog in California.

Make sure u ask to see all clearances (hips, elbows, eye, and cardiac. I would expect to pay around 1500....just depends.
 
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Step one: read the GRCA's guide to choosing a breeder.

Step two: find your closest GR club and ask for referrals.

Step three: check to see that the breeders and litters you found in step two meet the ethical standards outlined in step one. We can help you with this part. You can check clearances at the OFA website and the CERF verification site. You can also look up pedigrees on k9data.com, which is a voluntary, user-edited database of Golden Retriever pedigrees. So don't be alarmed if there's missing info.

Step four: be prepared to answer lots of questions. A great breeder cares about her dogs from the whelping box to the grave, and she's not going to let them go to just anybody. If a breeder only cares that you can write the check, chances are that the breeder has not done everything possible to ensure the health, soundness, temperament, intelligence, and ability that define a well bred Golden Retriever. If your breeder grills you a bit on your free time, home setup, yard, training plans, exercise plans, feeding philosophy, etc., that's a good thing. That means she's probably put that level of care and thought into breeding and raising her dogs.

Step five: be prepared to pay for what you're getting. A well bred pet dog, depending on your area, typically goes for $1000-$1800. That might seem steep when you can get a backyard bred Golden (including AKC papers!) for $250. So why pay $1000 more when you want "just" a pet?

Glad you asked! When a breeder puts together two Goldens from a long pedigree of dogs with health clearances and demonstrated longevity, soundness, and proper temperament, she greatly increases the odds that every puppy in the litter will carry those qualities. For example, breeding two dogs that both have hip clearances cuts the risk of hip dysplasia by about half. That's a $5000 surgery and years of suffering, and the breeder can cut it in half by doing a simple test (OFA or PennHIP clearance, done after 24 months of age) on both of the breeding dogs. Now imagine how much she can cut the odds by having those hip clearances for the last five generations of dogs!

There's a similar reduction in risk for eye diseases (CERF clearance, which must be done every year), elbow dysplasia (OFA clearance, done once after 24 months), and heart conditions (done once by a cardiologist after a year of age, usually registered with the OFA).

That extra $1000 is like insurance for the common health problems in this breed, and the breeder has to charge it because the clearances cost money. A backyard bred dog or a brokered dog from a puppy mill (the dog is produced in a mill but then shipped to an individual who looks like a small breeder and sells it under that pretense) may cost less up front, but he comes with hidden costs far in excess of $1000. When I do the probability math out in my head, I think it's a $1000 investment that buys about $5000 worth of risk reduction.

And that's just the benefit of clearances. There are less tangible ways that great breeder lowers the risk of health problems and improves temperament. By titling their dogs in the show ring or in a sport like agility, field trialing, or competition obedience, the breeder is able to demonstrate much more complex factors of health and intelligence. You can clear the hips with OFA and cut the risk of HD in half, but if the dog is also a proven agility or field competitor, you know that he has to be sound throughout his body. That means his offspring should have lower risks of less common joint problems and even arthritis. If he can win in the show ring, you know he's put together well from toes to withers. If all the great grandparents lived over 13 years old, you know your chances of a long-lived dog are higher.

So be aware, right from the getgo, that a $250 dog is probably the most expensive option. A $1500 dog with multigenerational clearances, parents and grandparents proven in competition, and a careful breeder who slaves over every detail is the cheapest dog out there and the one least likely to suffer unnecessarily in his life. He's also the most likely dog to carry the true Golden Retriever athleticism, intelligence, and temperament that brought you to the breed in the first place.

There are no guarantees, of course, but proper breeding practices cut your risks so far down that it's a no brainer when you see it all laid out in front of you. The only reason people buy the $250 dogs is that they don't know better or they don't realize that they're spending money they don't have.

If $1500 seems like a lot to spend up front, try socking away typical dog medical and food costs for a few months. I save about $100/month/dog for dog expenses. If you save what the dog would cost you anyway, you'll have the $1000 difference between the BYB dog and the well bred dog in less than a year.

Sorry for the long post, but I think it's helpful to lay these issues out from the get go for people new to the breeding world. It's taken me fifteen years and four Golden Retrievers to understand all this stuff, so I end up with a lot to say. ;)
 

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Wow, Thanks everyone for the feed back. I've found a breeder and am supposed to be going to meet my pup this coming week! If all goes well ill be bringing him home in 3 weeks. I cant begin to express how excited i am. However i am a little concerned, my roommate also has dogs, they're good dogs and behave well for the most part, but one in particular is a bit on the yappy side. Do i need to worry about my golden picking up any habits of the others? I plan to go take classes with my golden for training/behavior etc. Just trying to make sure i do everything i possibly can to make us both happy.
 

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Puppy's First Steps by Dr. Nicholas Dodman is awesome.
 
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