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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Puppy search - you have the questions to ask but what are the "right" answers? - long

So in your research to find a reputable Golden Retriever breeder, you found a list of questions to ask prospective breeders. If not, here's one for you from the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA): http://www.grca.org/pdf/all_about/PuppyQuestionsFlyer_Rev2.pdf Now you have a list of questions but what are the "right" answers? Hopefully, this post will help you determine if the breeder that you are looking at is doing things the right way. I have chosen a few of the most important questions to try and answer here.

Are the parents of these puppies (at least) two years old?

The answer to this question should be yes and the reason comes directly from the GRCA Code of Ethics (COE):
Generally, a Golden Retriever is not physically and mentally mature until the age of 2 years; an individual dog’s suitability as a breeding animal is difficult to assess until that time.
In addition, dogs cannot receive their final clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) until they are 2 years old. Which leads us to...

Do the parents have their final health clearances?

The answer to this is yes but this can be a tricky answer. Please notice that this question asks about FINAL health clearances. A Preliminary Consultation (Prelim) is not a final clearance. Why? Because it is just that, a preliminary consultation. Prelim x-rays are looked at by a single veterinary radiologist and given a prelim reading. You can tell a prelim from a final clearance by looking at it. A Prelim is printed on an 8.5 x 11" piece of white paper with the words Preliminary Consultation on the top:http://offa.org/img/office/prelimcert.jpg. A final certification is on a half sheet of colored paper.
Examples: Hips - http://offa.org/img/office/hipcert.jpg; Elbows - http://offa.org/img/office/elbowcert.jpg; Heart - http://offa.org/img/office/cardcert.jpg

A dog is not OFA Hip and/or Elbow certified until the hip/elbow x-rays are sent to the OFA and a reading is returned via the OFA certificate. Excellent, Good, and Fair are all passing ratings. Borderline is questionable. Mild, Moderate, and Severe are all failing ratings and should not be bred. Hips and elbows are only certified once during a dogs lifetime.

Eyes should be checked by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist (AVCO) and the results should be submitted to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). It is possible that a dog can have its eyes cleared but not have the results sent to CERF. In that case, you will need to see the CERF form or bubble sheet from the dogs examination and check to see that the "Normal" bubbles are filled in. A dog is not "CERF'd" if the results of the exam are not sent to CERF - they are "eyes cleared by AVCO". Eyes should be checked every year!

Hearts should be preferably be checked by an ACVIM Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist and the results submitted to OFA. If the results are not submitted to OFA, you will need to see the form that states that the heart is clear of congenital heart disease. The OFA form looks like this: http://offa.org/pdf/cardappbw.pdf. Heart certification is only done once during a dogs lifetime.

Ask the breeder for the sire and dam's names and registration numbers. You can use these to verify for yourself that the clearances have been done. OFA clearances can be verified here: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and CERF clearances can be verified here: CERF - CERF Certification Online Verification. Just type in the dogs name or registration number. If there is no record of the dog, a screen like this will come up: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. For CERF, a screen will pop up with no information on it. If you can't verify the clearances online, question the breeder and ask to see the paper copies of the results.

Note, some breeders are now using Pennhip for their hip certifications. This is acceptable under the GRCA COE. If they do use this, look for low distraction index (DI) numbers for both hips, the word 'None' in the space next to the words 'Degenerative Joint Disease' and 'Cavitation' and a high percentile in the Laxity Profile section. Here's an example: PennHIP Laxity Report. You want the laxity profile rating to be higher than the median Distraction Index for the breed. Pennhip does not give a Passing or Failing score for hips.

Red flags: If the breeder will not provide you with the parents identifying information (name, registration number) or if you are unable to verify the information online using the registered name/number or if the breeder will not provide copies of the certifications. If a breeder is breeding a dog with only preliminary clearances or incomplete clearances. You should ask the breeder why the clearances are not done. "We've never seen any problems", "they had their clearances done before they were shipped here"** or "they were vet-checked and the vet ok'd them to breed" are not legitimate reasons to breed.

**this mainly applies to foreign dogs - if the dog was shipped as a puppy, this is not a legitimate reason. If the dog was shipped as an adult, ask why they didn't go ahead and do the clearances here as well so that there would be a record.

***Please Note***
There are rare times when a reputable breeder might go against the COE when it comes to a breeding. These breedings are usually done by experienced breeders who have an extensive knowledge of their lines and are fully aware of what the consequences of such a breeding might be. Please do not confuse these breeders with others who routinely ignore the COE because it's easier to do so. The easiest way to tell the difference is to ask them why they did the breeding. A reputable breeder should be able to explain how they came to the decision to breed in detail.

Are your puppies sold with a written contract?

Answer: Yes. Why: Most reputable breeders will not sell a puppy without a contract that protects the best interests of the puppy. The contract usually has a stipulation that the puppy be returned to the breeder if the new owners can no longer keep it. However, most reputable breeders will not require that the puppy be returned to them if something goes wrong.

Red flag: If the breeder requires the return of the puppy in order to honor their contract. By requiring the return of the puppy, irresponsible breeders basically insure that they will not have to honor their contract. Why? Because most people are not going to return a puppy who has become a beloved part of their family and that refusal voids the contract. A reputable breeder may offer some of the purchase price back or offer to help pay medical bills and should put that into the contract.

Are you willing to take the puppy back for any reason?

Answer: Yes. Why: Most reputable breeders will take a puppy back for any reason if the owners no longer want it or cannot take care of it because they do not want to see the puppy end up in a shelter or worse. Note that this is different than requiring the return of an unhealthy dog in order to honor their contract.
Red flag: If a breeder refuses to take a puppy/dog back for any reason.

Do you sell your puppies on AKC limited registrations, if they will not be shown in conformation event?

Answer: Yes. Why: Limited registration means that a dog can still compete in companion events like Obedience, Agility, Field etc but if they are bred, their puppies can not be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Reputable breeders usually require Limited Registrations for pet puppies because there is a legitimate reason why those puppies should not be bred.

Red flag:Any breeder who offers full registration on a puppy they have said was being sold on a Limited Registration for additional cost - this is against AKC rules.

Why did you choose to breed this particular pair of dogs?

"They make pretty/smart/lovable puppies" is not an acceptable answer. A reputable breeder spends a lot of time trying to find a dog who's attributes will complement and/or improve their bitches attributes. 95% of the time, that dog is not one that they own. Also, because all bitches are different, the same stud dog may not be suitable for all of the bitches they own.

Red flag: If a breeder only ever uses their own stud dog(s) and/or uses those same dog(s) on all of their females.

How much do you charge for your puppies?

The answer to this will vary widely depending on where you are and can also vary depending on the pedigree of the dogs involved.

Red flag: Pricing based strictly on coat color and/or where the dogs came from.

Do you compete with your dogs in AKC, GRCA, or other organized competitions? and Do you belong to the GRCA, a specialty Golden Retriever Club or an all-breed club?

Answer: Yes. Why: A breeder that competes with their dogs is better able to determine whether or not a particular dog has virtues that are worth reproducing. Not every dog should be bred, regardless of its pedigree. Having "champion lines" does not insure that a dog will produce champions. The only way to determine if a dog is a champion or competitive material is to compete with that dog and actually finish a championship or other title.

Also, a breeder who belongs to a club shows a willingness to be involved with others who share their passion and to be kept informed of the issues that may affect them and their dogs.

Red flag: Breeders who use an ancestor of their dogs accomplishments to prove that their dog has the same abilities.

These are not all of the questions that you should ask a prospective breeder - for that, please print/read the brochure I linked to at the top of this post. I choose these particular questions because these are the questions that I have seen many irresponsible breeders either twisting to suit their breeding practices or avoiding altogether.

I hope this helps you in your search for a puppy - good luck!!
 

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Ragtym, I like this. I have found even some of the breeders on this forum do not adhere to these questions. Good job! I am at odds with websites here in New England saying parents have their OFA clearances when in fact they are prelims. Then they find me on this forum angry that I pointed it out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sally's mom:

I debated about whether or not to add a caveat to that paragraph about breeding on prelims.

Personally, I think that there is a difference between a reputable breeder who makes an informed decision about breeding a dog that may go against what is written in the COE and a breeder who does it because they don't care and/or because it's easier/cheaper/more profitable etc.

However, I think that most prospective owners would have a hard time knowing which is which so I decided to leave that part out. However, now I think I will add that caveat to the original post.
 

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Ragtym, I like this. I have found even some of the breeders on this forum do not adhere to these questions. Good job! I am at odds with websites here in New England saying parents have their OFA clearances when in fact they are prelims. Then they find me on this forum angry that I pointed it out!
While some argue that you can, in special situations, make an exception and breed a male on prelims, nobody says it's OK to claim that prelims are real clearances, nor that it's an acceptable practice to breed on prelims as a standard practice.
 

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I think this should be the top sticky under finding a breeder. It's the best explanation of the issues I've seen so far on the forum.
 

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Great questions and answers.

Unfortunately, you can still end up like me, having asked all of those quesitons and more and gotten all the right answers and get a dog with major medical issues and the breeder doesn't care :(
 

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Animalhouse, you mentioned in another thread where your dog came from. I think if you went back and checked, many of her dogs do not have clearances that you can verify on OFA. I have friends who got a dog from there whose clearances were misrepresented. They told me that they think they are the only people to have ever gotten money back form that breeder!!
 

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Really? That is interesting. How were they misrepresented? I did check the OFA on both my dogs parents before purchasing him and their clearances were there. Did she lie to the OFA or submit xrays for a different dog?? It wouldn't surprise me. The sad part is her partner is a well respected veterinarian. I am abo****ely amazed that anybody got a penny out of her!!
 

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It happened many years back, but they told me that the paperwork was not in order on the dog. You were able to find OFA heart, hip, elbow clearances and CERF on both parents as well as grandparents?
 

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I think other than one grandparent not having a heart cert yes I was able to find all the health clearances on the OFA website. I don't have his papers with me here at work but I will go look it up again when I get home. He was out of one of her very well known studs. I got him a day before their lab went BOB at Wesminster. I was on cloud nine that I was lucky enough to get a dog from them. Facing a vet bill of around $10,000 worth of surgery needed i'm not feeling as lucky right now. We won't even go into the thyroid and skin issues the poor thing has .....
Do I sound bitter??? I had always rescued dogs prior to Rex. The local golden rescue won't adopt to people with children under 5 so here we are. I wouldn't trade him for anything though. He is a sweet and happy boy :) I just feel horrible for him that he has to go through this.
 

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I wish you good fortune in getting him healthy.
 

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Thanks! We will get Rexie healthy one way or another. He's not going to be happy with all the crate rest but i'll find some good bones and toys to keep him busy.
 

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Great questions and answers.

Unfortunately, you can still end up like me, having asked all of those quesitons and more and gotten all the right answers and get a dog with major medical issues and the breeder doesn't care :(
I am so sorry you are going through this... I would be interested to know your dogs pedigree... could you post it, or send it privately?

Hugs to Rex - he's lucky to have you.
 

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Hi SunGold

Rex's sire is Nautilus Joe Millionaire and his mothers name is Teaser but I don't remember her registered name. I will have to look for his papers later tonight but she is also a Nautilus golden.
 

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Animalhouse,
Both of your dog's parents have hip/elbow clearances on the OFA site. However Joseph's sire has only an OFA hip clearance and Joseph's dam has only an OFA hip clearance. Teaser's sire has OFA hips/elbows and her dam is OFA hips only. Some have OFA heart clearances and there is not a CERF to be found.
 
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