We hope you will find some information here that will help you decide if a Golden Retriever puppy is right for you.
The Golden Retriever is an athletic, strong dog, capable of carrying heavy game over land and water. For this, it needs a broad, powerful head with strong neck and well developed fore-and hindquarters. It is just slightly longer than tall. The gait is smooth and powerful. The outer coat is water-repellant, dense, can be either straight or wavy and usually needs brushing about twice a week.
Everybody’s friend, the Golden Retriever is known for its devoted and obedient nature as a family companion. It is an apt sporting retriever as well, and yearns for a day in the field. Ignoring its active nature and powerful physique can lead to behavior problems. The Golden Retriever needs daily physical and mental exercise. The Golden tends to be overly active and boisterous, and their enthusiasm for everything often distracts them during training; however, they are eager to please and enjoy learning. The Golden’s achievements in competitive obedience are remarkable. They especially enjoy games that involve retrieving and love to carry items in their mouths.
The Golden Retriever needs daily exercise and human interaction. Challenging obedience lessons, active games, or retrieving sessions are all good ways to exercise the Golden’s mind and body. The Golden Retriever is such a social dog that it is best when it shares its life with its family.
So you have decided to get a Golden Retriever Puppy
If you are considering a Golden Retriever as a family pet you have made a great choice but there are some things that you may want to think about before you make your big decision.
If this is your first dog, life as you know it, is over. As with all new puppies, they don’t come housebroken. You know all of those stories you hear about how your neighbors dog was housebroken in 1 week. Don’t believe them. This is not normal. It could take a minimum of 6 months to completely housebreak a puppy. Housebreaking means that you can leave the pup alone in the house and it won’t get into any trouble while you’re gone. How do you feel about a clean house and dog hair? Remove all expectations of a clean house, get yourself a really good vacuum cleaner and plan to use it a lot. Everyone knows the golden down the street and how smart and well trained it is, this is not an accident or a natural occurrence, it is the result of a lot of hard work. As with anything in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.
The previous information on goldens really sums it up. They are very active, energetic and lovable animals. I take in goldens from people who no longer want them. (Can you imagine?) Yes, it’s true. They wanted that adorable puppy, but when it started peeing on the carpet and chewing on the furniture and their brand new shoes it was banished to the back yard. That is where the trouble really begins. If you ignore their needs, you will pay the price. This back yard dog will ruin every flower bed you own, dig up your nicely groomed lawn and bark all hours of the day and night. (The neighbors will love you.) Not to mention the peeing and pooping all over your yard. And when you go out to scoop and groom what is left of your yard, you can expect this lovable puppy, who is now a full grown 70 lb dog, to jump all over you. And if this isn’t enough, now this dog, who is bored with the back yard, will start escaping and roaming the neighborhood getting into all kinds of trouble. It may get hit by a car or picked up by animal control. For this you will pay a fine or a huge vet bill. This is usually when people contact me to come and get the dog. You may wonder why I am telling you this. It is not to deter you from getting a dog. It is so that you know what can happen if you do not meet your dogs needs. You cannot ignore bad behavior in a dog any more than you can ignore it in a child. If you put forth the effort to train your dog and enforce good behavior as a puppy, you will be rewarded with the dog of your dreams. There are a lot of resources out there for dog training and behavioral issues. You will need to check them out to find one that suits you.
After reading this, if you are still sure that you will be able to love and care for your new family member for the rest of his/her life, please feel free to contact us. If we don’t have any puppies available, we may be able to point you in the direction of someone that we consider a reputable breeder. You can also e-mail us any time if you have any further questions.
English vs. American
I am frequently asked the questions “Which is better, the English Cream or the American Golden Retriever” and “What is the difference between the two”. There are European lines, and American lines. The European lines are commonly referred to as the English creams. As far as the difference, I have always maintained that a golden, is a golden, is a golden. As far as which is better, I like them both. I just love Golden Retrievers. I love all of the different colors from the very light to the very dark. What I don’t agree with is that the “rare” English Cream should be sold for so much more than Goldens from the American lines. I don’t think that they are all that rare. If you look around, you can find them pretty much everywhere. As a matter of fact, it has become such a craze, that it is getting difficult to find the American bred Golden Retriever anymore.
I recently came across this article and it does a great job describing the differences between the dogs bred in the U.S. and the dogs bred overseas.
At the top of page 3 is “Rockhaven’s Raynard of Fo Go Ta”. He is my boy Nick’s15x great grandpa. Nick is a descendent of the first golden retriever that my father got in 1952. Tigathoe’s Fireball.
Guidelines that I use when choosing my golden companions
1. Be wary of anyone who is letting puppies go before 7 or 8 weeks old. I know that everyone wants to get their puppy as soon as they can, but everything that I have read, and every vet I have spoken to, suggests that you leave the puppies with their mom and littermates for at least 7 to 8 weeks to ensure that they are properly socialized. Trust me when I say that taking care of the puppies those extra 1 or 2 weeks can be difficult at best, but we do it because we feel that it is in the best interest of the puppy.
2. Make sure that the breeder that you choose has had the appropriate tests done. The tests that are important to the breed are hips, elbows, heart and eyes.
3. Be wary of breeders that breed a female before that age of 2. They can’t even be tested for their OFA hip and elbow clearance before they are 2. Any dog being bred before the age of 2 has not passed their hips or elbows yet. Prelims don’t count as they are not always the same when redone at the age of 2.
4. Be aware that some breeders claim to test all of their dogs but don’t. Check out the OFA website. If the breeding pair have passed the hips and elbows they WILL be posted on the OFA website. If the hips and elbows are not on the OFA website, they have not passed, or they only recently passed and have not been posted yet. Eyes and heart may have passed but may not be posted. There are a lot of breeders that don’t turn in the paperwork for eyes and heart to OFA. You can ask to see those. If a breeder refuses, walk away.
5. Be very wary of the bargain dog advertised in your local newspaper. To purchase from them is just encouraging them to continue to breed without any concern for the health of the breed. Most breeders don’t have to advertise in the newspaper and you may have to get on a waiting list with a reputable breeder. There is a reason that a reputable breeder charges more for their puppies. It is expensive to have all of the testing done and if the dog doesn’t pass their tests, they can’t be bred. This can be very expensive and heartbreaking. I have had many clients that come to me only after a heartbreaking experience with a backyard breeder. Just remember that you get what you pay for. When I look for a puppy to add to my family, the health of the parents is my #1 concern. I won’t even go to see a litter until I have reviewed the certifications of the parents.
6. Lots of breeders do their own vaccinations. If you find a breeder that does their own vaccinations, make sure that the pups are also seen by a vet. All puppies should be vet checked, have their 6 week shots and wormed at least twice. My vet has never found any serious problems, but she was able to detect undescended testicles in one of my males and a slight heart murmur in another. These two incidents were minor. The testicles descended by themselves in another week and the slight heart murmur, I was told, was normal, and usually seen in about 50% of puppies. My point is, that I could not have detected these things myself. If it were a more serious problem, I wouldn’t want to pass that on to an unsuspecting new family.
These are just some of my suggestions. There are other guidelines suggested by the Golden Retriever Club Of America that you might find helpful.
Getting ready for your new puppy
Bringing a new puppy into your home is a very exciting time. Whether you have had a dog previously or this is your first experience, you will want to get ready for the big day. Below you will find a list of things that you may want to consider before bringing your new friend home.
Training classes or instructors – While you are waiting for your pup to come home, take some time to check out the training classes and instructors in your area. Find a couple that you like and sit in on some classes. You may not agree with all of their methods but you will be able get something out of each one. I have never met a trainer that I completely agreed with, or completely disagreed with, and I have also never met a trainer that I didn’t learn something from. You have to find out what works for you and your pup and the more access you have to different methods, the better armed you will be to deal with some of the issues that may arise. There is no “one size fits all” for training pups. What worked for your last dog may not work at all on your new puppy. Every puppy is different and unique. If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else. You know the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Don’t make that mistake with your pup. It will drive both of you insane. If you are in a training class, and they are doing something that you are uncomfortable with, let them know that you will just skip that part. Get what you can out of the class and sign up for a different trainer the next time. NEVER let anyone pressure you to do something with your pup that you are uncomfortable with whether it is a trainer or a vet or a family member. This is your dog, your responsibility, so only do what YOU think is best.
Some of the supplies that you may find helpful are:
•36″ or 42″ crate – I use midwest, life stages, double door. I always get the adult size crate, even for the puppies. It comes with a divider so that you can make it smaller for the pup.
•A portable fence or dog exercise pen – I actually have several of these. One of the ones that I have is very heavy duty. It is the Precision Pet Courtyard Kennel Exercise Pen. It is also a little pricey. I use this because I have more than one puppy jumping up on it and it stands up very well to the abuse of 10 or more pups. I also have some of the foldable midwest ones. Some of them have the doors in the center so that the dog can get in and out. I searched for one that had a door that I could walk through. It attaches to the crate and can be used if you have to leave your pet alone for any length of time. You can put newspaper down in the fenced area and the pup can sleep comfortably in the crate. Don’t make the puppy sleep where they pee or pee where they sleep. There will be no need to worry if you are stuck in traffic or have to stay a little late at work. The pup will be safe and secure. This can also fold up when not in use and can be used outdoors. I know some people who have taken it camping with them. It is pretty versatile and well worth having.
•Lots of toys – I like the kong for durability but I have found other toys that are cheaper and almost as good. I like to get toys that I can put treats in and let them figure out how to get the treats out. I also get some that I can fill with dog food, and put peanut butter in the end and then freeze it. They love to work at that. They love the string toys but have to be watched very carefully with them because what goes in, must come out and the string could cause problems if ingested. Once they start to fray, throw them away. The puppies love the stuffed toys but they may outgrow these also. Once they start destroying a toy, it needs to be thrown away. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find out what a puppy likes and that may change as the pup gets older. I have quite a variety of puppy toys here and they play with all of them but they tend to like the ones that make noise.
•Food and Water Bowls – Two metal bowls should be sufficient. I use and recommend metal because they are more likely to chew on plastic or ceramic than metal. If they do chew on the metal they don’t destroy it like they would the plastic or ceramic. I also get the heavier ones that have a rubber ring on the bottom. It keeps the bowl in place on floors so that it doesn’t slide across the floor. The metal dishes also hold less bacteria than the ceramic or plastic. If your pup has a habit of playing in the water dish, as so many of the goldens do, raise it up off the floor. That works most of the time.
•Leash and collar – This is one thing that you may have to purchase more than one of. They will probably outgrow the collar that you bring them home in. As far as the leash is concerned, just find one that is right for you. I personally do not like retractable leashes. It gives dogs too much freedom. I like leashes that give me more control than the dog. One thing that I would like to say about dog collars, whether or not you let your dog wear a collar is a personal choice. My dogs don’t wear collars unless I am walking them or training them. When they play together, they tend to grab the collars and I always worry about them getting caught on something when I am not watching. When we are at home, my dogs are naked. They only wear their collars when we go out. I have heard of some instances where dogs were killed because their collars got caught on something when no one was watching and they choked to death.
•Dog Tags – Our puppies all have microchips but I think that it is a good idea to put a tag with your contact information on it on the puppies collar. If your puppy is lost they will be returned more quickly with a tag. The reason for the microchip is that if your puppy is stolen it will eventually be taken to a vet and once the microchip is detected it will be returned to you, as long as you have registered your microchip. If you choose for your pup to go naked, it is wise to get a tag anyway to attach to the collar that your dog wears when they go out. Our dogs wear collars with tags when they go on vacation with us.
•Brushes – You will need more than one. The golden retriever needs to be brushed at least twice a week. For my dogs, I use a rake and a slicker.
•Puppy Shampoo – I don’t bathe the dogs very often, and the puppies, I try not to, because you want them to learn to clean themselves. If they get muddy, it is fine just to hose them off and let them lick themselves dry. Bathing the dog too much can take away the natural oils on their skin. It may be necessary to bathe them on occasion, but I wouldn’t do it more than once a month and only when absolutely necessary. Also, dilute the shampoo before you put it on the dog. Pour a capful into a large container of water and mix, then use that on the dog so that you are not putting the shampoo directly on the dog. (You will also use less shampoo this way) When looking for a dog shampoo, I try to find one that is unscented. If I try to put any scent on my dogs they tend to immediately try to find the most disgusting thing that they can to roll in. They have very sensitive noses and anything that is heavily perfumed can be irritating to the pups.
•Bitter Apple – I bought a gallon of this stuff for raising my pups. It works on most puppies and is a great deterrant for chewing. You can spray it on their leash if they are leash biters, your hands if they are biting you, woodwork, furniture, or anything else that is inappropriate for them to chew on. The trick is to catch the behavior immediately. The spray only works when it is wet.
Find a vet – Finding a good vet is almost as important as finding a good pediatrician for your child or a doctor for yourself. Make sure that you find one that is open to discussion about the care of your pet and not just a dictator about what should and shouldn’t be done. You will have to trust this person with your pets life. If you don’t already have one, begin interviewing the vets in your area. Pick one that you are comfortable with and schedule an appointment for shortly after you bring your pup home. Your new pup won’t be ready for their shots if you pick them up at 8 weeks old, but should have a checkup and a “meet and greet” with the vet. The next set of shots due for your pup will be 9 weeks old. You can schedule their shots with a vet tech and not the actual vet since your pup has already seen the vet.
Please do some research on vaccinations and decide what is appropriate for your pup. There is a lot of information on over vaccinating, and over medicating our pets. Make sure that you are making the decisions and that you are not being pressured by your vet to do things that you are uncomfortable with.
Here are a couple of links to some of the information you might need to make your decisions.
•Dr. Dodds’ 2012 Canine Vaccination Protocol
•The Truth About Heartworm
Finding the Right Dog Food/Treats
•Good quality dog food – This is a highly controversial subject. What works for some, will not necessarily work for everyone. What exactly is a good quality dog food? There are so many things to consider. I am sure that for most people, price is a factor. Another factor would be if your dog has any allergies. Large breed? Puppy? Senior? Active? Special breed? There are so many dog foods out there, where do you start? Do a little research and decide what is best for you and your puppy. That doesn’t mean that you have to stick to that food forever. Switch it up and give them some variety. They don’t have to be on the same food forever. If it works and it is in your budjet, use it. If you find something better, switch. Unless your vet is a nutritionist, don’t ask them what they think because most vets try to sell you what they have in their office. Just do your research, read the ingredients and decide for yourself. Please remember that just because it is expensive, doesn’t make it a good choice. I have had people tell me that they pay a lot for dog food so it has to be good but they have no idea what is in it or what should be in it. When you go grocery shopping you read the labels on the food that you purchase for your family. Now, your dog is part of that family. Read the labels on your dogs food. Know what should and shouldn’t be in it, and decide accordingly. From the research that I have done, I have chosen to feed my dogs a raw food diet. I do not start the pups on raw because it is a commitment that most of the puppy families will not continue. When looking for a good puppy food, I follow these general guidelines.
1 – The first 3 ingredients should be protein based
2 – No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
3 – No by products, rendered animal parts or meat meals
4 – Must be made in the USA
There are several good foods that meet these guidelines and I switch between them. My favorite place to shop for food is Hollywood Feed. They are very helpful and knowledgeable.
As far as treats are concerned, I use mostly the freeze dried treats that I purchase. I also dehydrate meats and liver and use cheese on occasion. They also get bully sticks, deer antlers, and ram horns. My criteria for treats for the puppies are about the same as for food.
I will say that the one thing that I have found, is that no two dogs are the same. What works for one dog will not necessarily work for another. Sometimes it is just trial and error.
If you are interested in more information about a raw diet for your pup, here are some links that you may find helpful.
Your pup is home, now what? Socialization
I don’t recommend taking new puppies to high traffic dog areas (parks, petsmart) before they are fully vaccinated, but socializing your pup is almost as important as vaccinations. Your pup is not fully vaccinated until about 16 – 20 weeks. (depending on your vets vaccination schedule) I recommend taking them places where they can socialize but not with other dogs that you don’t know. Training classes at your local kennel club are a great place to socialize your pup and to meet others with pups about the same age. If you get to know some of the others in your class, you can arrange controlled play dates. I also take pups to home depot, lowes, starbucks, the mall, and any other place that I can think of where they will have access to lots of different sights, sounds and smells, with limited access to other dogs
Here are some links to articles on socializing your new pup
• Puppy Socialization is part of Training a Puppy
•How to Socialize Your Dog to New People, Places or Things with Michael Ellis
When to Spay/Neuter
Here are a couple of good articles to read on the big spay/neuter debate. In my opinion, based on the most recent research, I advise waiting at least 2 years before spaying or neutering your pet. This will give the hormones a chance to do their job of closing the growth plates (among other things) and reducing the risk of hip displaysia and osteosarcoma.