The following "red flags" will help you distinguish a reputable and ethical breeder
from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.
This includes people who got "into" breeding just to make money.
- Beware of breeders advertising "Rare", "White", "British Whites", "Platinum Blondes", "Ultra Lights" etc. Many breeders are exploiting their dogs for a profit. The Golden Retriever Club of America deems the very light color "undesirable" so most American breeders only breed shades of gold in order to be competitive in AKC shows. Outside of this country, the "cream" color (the term for what looks white or off-white) is acceptable in the show ring and VERY common. Breeders of the "English-style" goldens that are very light (cream), can show in other venues in the states (i.e. IABCA, UKC).
- Beware of breeders charging exorbitant prices for their puppies. The price for an AKC registered "English style" golden retriever with hip, elbow, heart, eye and DNA clearances as well as Champion bloodlines from a reputable breeder is now typically $2300-3000. You are not getting anything better by paying more!
- Beware of breeders that do NOT have pictures of their dogs with all of the dog's information listed on their website. This includes REGISTERED NAMES!! Pedigree information should be included and/or a link to K9 Data - The open database for Retriever pedigrees.
- Beware of breeders who do not list or provide links to ALL of their dog's clearances or say that these clearances are not necessary! 1 in 5 golden retrievers is diagnosed with hip dysplasia. 1 in 10 are diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. Although not as common, eye and heart problems also occur in this breed. If this information is not listed, ask for it. You need to see the paperwork if the dog is not listed in the OFA database. THERE ARE MANY BREEDERS OUT THERE BEING LESS THAN HONEST ABOUT THEIR DOGS HAVING THE PROPER HEALTH CLEARANCES! Also, a veterinarian is NOT qualified to score hips or elbows. They must be submitted to OFA or PennHIP and you need to see that certificate yourself. And heart clearances need to be done by a VET CARDIOLOGIST - not a general practice vet.
- Beware of breeders who advertise "unlimited registration available". Many now advertise unlimited/full registration as a sales tactic to make more money. Most reputable breeders will sell a show quality puppy with full registration - but only to someone they feel is ethical and trustworthy - someone who wants to improve the breed. Most of these GOOD breeders will charge the same or only slightly more for a show quality puppy - not thousands of dollars more!
- Beware of breeders who do not invite you to their home to meet them, their dogs and to see the environment where the dogs are living.
- Beware of breeders who ask for a deposit that is completely nonrefundable - especially if the litter is not even born!