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Q & A


How can I tell the difference between and Reputable breeder and a Puppy Mill?



A Reputable breeder: is a breeder that might have a couple of litters at one time. They may have 20+ dogs on their property. Not all of which are in the breeding program. Some are actively being shown, some are too young to be bred Or too old to be bred. Their dogs will be well kept and in good weight without visible matts. Note** In Oregon and Washington the dogs may be a little wet and muddy this does not mean they are not well cared for. It meant they are getting out and exercised. ** Their yards will be clean without excrement all over. Some is fine but it should not smell like poo though there may be a urine smell but should not be overpowering. 


There puppies will be raised for a time in the house then may be moved to an out building. They will have toys and things to play with. The breeder will know each puppy and be able to tell you things about That puppy's personality. The play yard will be clean the puppies will not smell like poo or pee. They will have clear eyes, and be active.   


They are active with their dogs by earning AKC Championships, Grand Championships and/or other titles with their dogs. They will screen prospective puppy homes and will be an active member of their local breed club as well as being a member of the national club.  They have all of the clearances set forth by the parent club. For goldens. For goldens that would be annual Eye clearance, a Heart clearance after the age of one, Hips and Elbows clearance after the age of two (Penn Hip or OFA are acceptable clearances for hips).   


They are knowledgeable about their breeding program and can tell you about dogs within that pedigree.  They will know of issues within their breeding program. They will be honest and upfront about those issues. They keep up on new information and studies that may affect the breed. 


The breeder will have a kennel license and have annual unannounced kennel inspections and be able to provide them to you .

My last unannounced visit from my county sheriff office was August 27, 2018 


 The point I am trying to make is that is it not the number of litters that a breeder has in a year or at one time. It is the time and care put into each litter that is the key. Animal rights activists have portrayed anyone who has more them 2 litters a year as a puppy mill this is in no way true.  


A Puppy Mill is an establishment that will have up multiply puppies well over 20 puppies for sail at one time. They will have multiple breeding dogs some as many as 100 breeding dogs on their property. Their dogs will not be well kept some may be thin with visible matts.  Their yards will have days old excrement all over and will have a strong smell of poo and urine. They do not want you to see this so they will meet you in a parking lot.    


There puppies will be raised outside of the house. They will not have any toys or things to play with. The breeder will not know any of the puppy or their personalities. Their play yard will be unclean the puppies will smell like poo or pee and be in need of a bath. They may have goopy eyes, and be lethargic, or nervous.   


They are not active with those dogs and do not AKC, Championships, Grand Championships  and/or other  titles with those dogs. They may or may not have all of the clearances set forth by the parent club.  


They are not knowledgeable about their breeding program and can't tell you about dogs within that pedigree.  They do not know of issues within their breeding program. They will not be honest and upfront about those issues. They do not keep up on new information and studies that may affect the breed. 



 How can I tell the difference between a Responsible Breeder and a BYB?


A reputable breeder feels responsibility towards the breed, towards the dogs he or she breeds and to the families who choose to live with dogs from their kennel. Support after placement is an investment of the heart, and provides personal gain through satisfaction of knowing that dogs from their kennel are placed in loving homes as family members, not just animals. A responsible breeder is motivated to create perfection in the breed of his or her choice.

             A reputable breeder will hold membership with the national breed club, in this breed the affiliation is; The Golden Retriever Club of America . In addition they may belong to their local breed club and one or more performance club/All Breed Kennel Clubs.  A reputable breeder proudly displays in plain sight plaques, trophies, even ribbons their dogs have won.

             Reputable breeders will carefully screen potential new owners, most sell with a written agreement, that provides for the dog and they will ALWAYS take a dog back at any time for ANY reason, regardless of age or health. States or puts it in writing, that they must be consulted regarding the re-homing of a dog from their kennel, insisting that they approve the new home.

             A reputable breeder will give you the pedigree and appropriate clearances for both the sire and dam. As well as ancestors, explain the bloodlines, heritable traits etc. They will openly discuss health problems in general regarding the breed as well as their own dogs.


A back-yard breeder (BYB) may talk as though they are responsible but there will be a difference in how they interact with you, their over all education level will be lacking. They will know little more than what you read here on this site and be unable to elaborate further on some of the finer points.   

A BYB will not hold these affiliations, beyond possibly being a ghost member, non-active, or no longer a member. They will not have shown their dogs in conformation or other venues such as obedience, agility, tracking, hunt tests, field trials etc. Though they may have attended some classes and done some training.


They will not be able to show you awards their dogs or they have received for notable achievements. Passion and responsibility is what set’s apart a true responsible breeder from someone that just raises dogs. Puppy raisers and dog dealers are motivated to make a profit only.

         Often the dogs that BYB’s have are of a lesser quality, the grooming will be poor or nonexistent. They will rarely talk about conformation beyond bragging about how big the sire is and how sweet the dam is. Their motivation to make a profit will be obvious often by how the dogs are kept. 

        Rarely will a BYB be willing to simply take back a dog nor will they insist upon being involved in the re-homing of a pet that cannot be kept. These are the people that keep the breed rescue organizations and the city shelters packed to the brim.        These breeders will often have contracts but rarely do they uphold what they say the will, and often the contracts are meaningless even in the wording and place unreasonable demands and requirements to avoid having to deal with a dog or you after the sale. 

        A BYB’s clearances may be lacking, they may have some of the clearances but not all. Often, they will have just prelims on dogs that are old enough to hold finals and eye clearances may be out of date. Remember hips and elbows are cleared for finals after age 2 (24 mos.) heart clearance is final only after 1 year of age (12  mos.) and eyes are recommended to be done every 12 to 18 months while a dog is in the breeding program and should be done of retired dogs as well.       

        They may not even have a pedigree on their dogs. They will have little to no information available regarding ancestors beyond the dogs they have owned. Normally they will have little information they can share even on dogs they have produced.


In closing, check the breeder out; ask to see membership documentation of affiliations. 

        Ask for references and check out the references too. Talk to other area breeders, responsible breeders do not compete for puppy placements and will only show a concern for you. 

        Ask for references from veterinarians or happy puppy purchasers. Check for health testing results and even search the net. Many breeders have websites now and it will be apparent from their websites how much breeding they do and whether or not they have a “track record” for breeding good quality and healthy dogs for themselves as well as other people. Be aware though that just because a breeder may breed a lot of litters, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a BYB – a     

      BYB breeds a lot and sells them ALL to pet homes where some responsible breeders may breed a lot of litters but will usually retain at least one either on their own premises or co-owned with other parties which is intended to be shown and/or added to their breeding program at some point.



 How much should I expect to pay for a dog? 



This will depend on the breeder and the part of the country in which you live. Here in the Pacific North West. You should expect to pay between $3000.00 and $4000.00 for a quality pet from a responsible breeder depending on your location.



 I only want to pay $1000.00 for a dog, is this possible?



 There is more than just the initial cost to consider. A puppy from a responsible breeder could end up saving you thousands of dollars in vet bills over the life of the dog. While the initial purchase price may seem formidable. You should take into consideration that these breeders have screened their adult dogs for the major hereditary problems known to the breed. These include orthopedic problems of the hips and elbows, as well as eye and heart screening. Some of these disorders can result in early death of the dog or expensive surgical repair. Hip surgery for example can costs at minimum $6000.00 per hip. Because these diseases can be the result of complex genetic and in most cases environmental components, no breeder can guarantee you that a dog they’ve bred will not develop a hereditary disorder. However, a responsible breeder will have some type of sales contract with a written agreement as to what they will do in the event despite their best efforts a pup they’ve produced develops a hereditary disorder. The extra money you spend in the beginning by purchasing from a responsible breeder can be the best insurance policy you could buy for your pet. It is not possible to find a well-bred Golden Retriever for $1000.00 from a breeder that is responsibly breeding. Anyone offering puppies at such a price is probably not doing clearances, and does not warrant their dogs. I always refer to the saying, “you get what you pay for” this includes the support that you will receive from a knowledgeable breeder, one that takes the time to educate not only themselves, but you as the potential new owner. Responsible breeders screen each potential new home, some use written applications and contracts, spelling out each parties responsibilities.



There is only one puppy left in the litter. Is there something wrong with it?



Often the breeder will be interested in keeping a puppy out of a litter therefore the breeder may hold back a puppy or two for themselves, a co-owner, or show home.

After the litter is evaluated at around 8 weeks of age it is acceptable for the breeder to place the puppy or puppies that were held back, if the litter does not have what the breeder is looking to keep for their purposes, hence an available at the last-minute puppy. Much of the time those puppies are the best of the litter.



 My last dog died of cancer I don't want Cancer in the line I get my new puppy from.



Sadly, Cancer is the leading cause of death in Golden's. There are no lines that are cancer free. What I look at when considering  a breeding is

1) The occurrences (amount) of cancer in a 12-generation pedigree.


2) The age of the dog that passed from Cancer. I like to see older dogs not young dogs passing from cancer. most of my lines are fairly healthy with our average puppy passing around 10 to 12 years.    With that said yes, we have had younger dogs pass from cancer. To the best of my knowledge we have had 9 juvenile cancers reported back to me over the past 35 years. 


Even with the most careful breeding nothing is 100% when it comes to cancer. If you are looking for a dog that does not have cancer in its background I'm sorry to say that does not exist.  





 I don’t care about papers, are the dogs cheaper without papers?




AKC rules prohibit charging extra for the papers. That does not prevent a breeder from charging different fees depending on what they believe the quality of the dog to be, but the papers themselves cannot be charged for with an additional fee or the reverse, reducing the price by withholding papers. Dogs cost the same to breed, love and rear whether they have papers or not. Papers are not an indication of the price of the dog, more the quality of its heritage.



 I want to be sure that I buy a dog with AKC papers so I can be sure the dog is healthy.



AKC papers do not ensure a healthy dog. All AKC papers do is tell you that the parents of the dog were both registered with AKC as being pure bred and of the same breed as well as the linage. Healthy dogs come from careful responsible breeding, you will be much more likely to get a healthy dog from a responsible breeder than from a pet store or what are commonly referred to as a back-yard breeder.



 Who should pick out the puppy me or the breeder?



It’s nice to get to choose and in most cases we let people pick from a few puppies. However, the breeder has had the litter for 8+ weeks and knows each puppy individually especially the puppies temperament. The responsible breeder has gotten to know the life-style and make-up of the adopting family as well, and so, is in a better position to make the match between puppy and home. We Set up a facebook page for you to observe the puppies over the 8 weeks in our care We will have a zoom meeting at about 6 weeks where I will chat with you about what your are looking for in your puppy in regards to temperament, looks and what you are planning to do with your puppy. at 7.5 weeks we to a Temperament tested and based on that test we  make our recommendations as to which puppy we think is the best fit for your family.





How specific can we be as potential new owners – gender, color, etc.



You are always more than welcome to have some idea of gender, color etc. in mind as your preference. You need to understand however, that you are not ordering and purchasing a new car. Mother Nature will provide whatever she wishes to in the litter. If you reject whichever puppy you may be offered by the breeder on grounds of color, gender etc…You may be passing up the opportunity of meeting the best friend you will ever have. You may also be passing up the opportunity of EVER getting a puppy that fits your “requirements” because it has been my experience that if you have orders for a bitch of a specific color, litter after litter after litter your litters will consist of bitches of a different color and dogs of the color asked for. Murphy’s Law prevails in dog breeding!

And lastly – some breeds have certain “character traits” and “personality traits” which are particular to specific bloodlines and individual colors or color patterning – after exhaustive consultation with the breeder of your choice, it may well be that your lifestyle or personality doesn’t “fit” your color preference.


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