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I had a relative contact me about getting a new Golden. Their sugar faced girl died in February, and they're starting to think about looking for a new dog. I have no idea where they got their last dog (it was 13 years ago), but they know I'm in contact with all kinds of Golden Retriever people in our area, so they asked me if I "had a line" on a Golden.

I was wondering how other people helped steer their friends and relatives towards a good breeding. I have no idea if these folks will think recognize that $1200+ for a well bred Golden is actually a good deal or if they'll think it's a crazy amount to spend on a dog. So what tactics would you all take to gently educate people about what to look for and the realistic costs of getting a Golden with the best possible shot at health?

I'm including my first response below, but any advice anybody has would be greatly appreciated, as I imagine there will be more back-and-forth about a puppy in the coming weeks. I also thought it would be helpful for all the suggestions to be collected in a thread, since I'm guessing lots of us get asked to help our friends and relatives find a Golden.

We do know lots and lots of tip-top Golden breeders at this point, so let us know what kind of dog you're looking for. The people we know are all very serious about health, so the dogs tend to be a little more expensive, but they come from long pedigrees of dogs who've gotten tests to ensure lower chances of passing along the common problems in Golden Retrievers.

Basically, a good Golden breeding these days comes from parents who've had certified exams of hips, elbows, hearts, and eyes. Those certifications drive up the cost of the puppy a bit, but they dramatically cut the risk of things like hip dysplasia. Since joint surgeries run upwards of $5000 these days, I think of the certs as prepaid insurance. I think it's a great deal financially, and much more importantly, it reduces the chances that the pup will suffer down the road some day.

Comet and Ajax are both from that kind of breeding. You can read more about how to evaluate a good breeder at the Golden Retriever Club of America's website. I linked to their page that talks about how to evaluate breeders.

I say all that because sometimes the price of a dog bred in this fashion causes a bit of sticker shock (often $1200+). Since you can get a backyard bred pup for around $300 sometimes, so it can seem like a lot more to buy from one of these hobby breeders. But I really do think that extra investment in getting a dog from fully health-cleared parents and grandparents is worth the upfront investment. It gives the dog a much better shot at a long, healthy life.

All that said, what kind of dog are you looking for? A more get-up-and go hiking companion or a more laid back dog? All well-bred Goldies are good active companions, but some have more drive than others. Are you looking to rescue? Do you want a pup or are you interested in a dog who might be a year or two old?

I know lots of great breeders who do one or two beautiful litters a year, but I also sometimes hear about dogs who need to be placed out for some reason when the family situation isn't working out. So if you're interested in an older girl, I can keep my ear to the ground.

Puppy hunting is so exciting! Keep me posted. If you find a litter you think might be good, I can help you figure out if the parents' health clearances are all in order.
 

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My neighbors lost their 11 year old golden boy very suddenly last fall. The wife called me one day and said she had found some puppies advertised on a local yard sale website-I litterally cringed and advised her not to buy one of these pups and told her that I would send her information about buying a puppy from a breeder and as much info I could find about Golden Breeders from the GR Forum I belonged to.

I spent several days providing links not only to the GRCA Puppy Referral Website, but links to information here on the forum such as the Puppy finder check list, info on how to choose a breeder, what questions to ask, info on health clearances, how to read breeder websites etc.

Basically I gave them as much information as I could find, more or less provided them with the necessary tools and let them make their own decision.

They contacted the GRCA and got several referrals and started talking to different breeders in the state. They were given a referral from one breeder for another breeder in a neigbhoring state and ended up buying a pup from this breeder.

He's a beautiful pup and they seem to be very happy with their choice of breeder they went with.
 

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Been there-- and sometimes it goes very well & they are receptive and other times people are just "in the moment" and want a puppy NOW and go and do the opposite of what you tell them to do.

I always tell them a good breeder will want to know as much about you as you want to know about them. The breeder should commit to their puppies with either a guarantee or want first right of refusal if you can no longer care for the puppies. I also tell them that if you love this breed, you should only support the breeders that love it too because they will do right by the dog/breed rather than have a financial gain.
 

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Brian, this is always a very tough topic. It can just as hard as talking politics and religion. I bite my tongue quite often.

I did not tell my husband even how much we paid for Brady until he was three years old and saw the difference between him and his brother-in-law's three year old golden from a BYB for $700. The difference came in looks, temperment and health.

Maybe the best thing would be to direct them to certain threads on this forum.
 

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Ella's dad
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I agree with directing them to specific threads on the forum. I asked a question a while back about clearances versus puppy health - http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...health-clearances-versus-health-outcomes.html

The big takeaway for me was that a puppy who was born from parents who had hip clearances are 50% less likely to develop dysplasia. That's huge, and in my mind, the financial benefit is an argument in itself.

So, if a friend were to ask me why I would recommend Breeder A over Breeder B, I would first approach it from a financial perspective: for a breed that is so prone to cancer, heart, hip, elbow, eye, and thyroid problems, "hedging your bets" is often worthwhile.

I'd then build a bridge between the financial argument and the ethical one. A breeder who doesn't do health clearances is ripping you off, and ultimately producing dogs that will likely have health problems greater than those who did have clearances (consider an example of 5 generations of dogs that did not have health clearances, and compare to 5 generations of dogs that did have health clearances - which dogs will likely be healthier?). Is it really ethical for a breeder to be so disregarding of the health of their puppies? And then there are the ethics of a breeder's role in the advancement of the breed in general. The breeder's goal should be to produce a healthier, longer living golden retriever (among other things). A breeder who is not mindful of that is, by definition, unethical.

I don't mean to come off preachy, because I'm sure you know all these arguments...I was just trying to demonstrate how I would build the argument.


Brian, this is always a very tough topic. It can just as hard as talking politics and religion. I bite my tongue quite often.

I did not tell my husband even how much we paid for Brady until he was three years old and saw the difference between him and his brother-in-law's three year old golden from a BYB for $700. The difference came in looks, temperment and health.

Maybe the best thing would be to direct them to certain threads on this forum.
 

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Wyatt Earp
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Personally I stay out of it if people ask me. I learned my lesson when I lectured my friend who purchased her dog the same time I did from a byb that she should have went to a reputable breeder who had all the clearances etc. like I did. Well it backfired and I feel like a fool. However she is sweet and never brings it up. Her dog is going on 13 with no issues what so ever, while Cody (my heart dog) had issues pretty much all of his 10 years. :(
 

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Kate
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I think people generally look for referrals when they like the looks and temperament of your dog. My friends have advised their friends to get dogs through the local club referrals based on our goldens.

If they are looking for something different, then obviously they are NOT going to be convinced and what can you say?
 
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