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Choosing A Golden Retriever
What are you looking for in a Golden Retriever? A beautiful animal? A good family pet? A good hunting dog? A good performance worker? There are Golden Retrievers that fit each description, and some that fit all of these descriptions. The Golden Retriever Club of America has hundreds of members whose interest in the breed has led them to develop the potential of the Golden Retriever in each of these areas. Goldens also work as guide dogs for the blind, as narcotics detection dogs, as tracking dogs, appear in commercials and advertisements, and are one of the "preferred" breeds of veterinarians. There is no question that the Golden Retriever is a versatile and remarkable breed.
Before you even start looking at litters of puppies, take time to learn about the breed. Attend dog shows and field trials, Golden Retriever club meetings, and local kennel club meetings, and talk with and question Golden owners. They are proud of their dogs and are happy to share their enthusiasm.
Look around. It is much easier to find a "puppy mill" or "backyard breeder" that knows and cares little about the welfare of the breed than it is to find a reputable breeder. Have patience and never buy impulsively . . . all puppies are cute. The Golden Retriever Club of America and many of its local member clubs can supply you with a list of conscientious breeders in your area who will help you in your search even though they may not have anything for sale themselves.
Read and REREAD the sections written on health and hereditary problems. You want a sound, healthy puppy who will grow up to be a sound, healthy representative of the breed. Careful selection now will save heartache and money later. Poor quality puppies are produced by people who breed their pets just to have a litter, or by profit seekers who give little thought to quality, looks or temperament in the puppies they produce. Many of these indiscriminately-bred puppies have health problems, poor temperaments, and/or breed disqualifications. Remember, you are choosing a companion for the next ten to fifteen years.
A poorly-bred, badly-raised puppy, no matter how cheap, is NO BARGAIN! Chances are that the parents were not screened appropriately for hereditary defects, that the puppies have had little, if any, veterinary care, and that the pups were not given the proper socialization and TLC that is needed to raise a healthy litter of Golden puppies. You should expect to pay a reasonable price for a sound, healthy, properly raised pet from good parentage sold on a spay/neuter contract and/or AKC Limited Registration. Show and breeding prospects may well be more expensive. Specific prices vary depending on the area of the country.
Temperamentally, there is little difference between the sexes in Goldens. Neither sex is harder to housetrain, and both are equally intelligent and affectionate. Both are excellent with children, and both make excellent companions. Problems of aggressiveness, which males of other breeds may exhibit, rarely occur in the Golden. Sex-related behavior such as mounting and marking may be exhibited by some male Goldens, particularly if other males are present or if the male has been used for breeding. Neutering a male before a year of age will not only help to alleviate these problems, but will also eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Since there is no responsible reason NOT to neuter a bitch (unless she was bought from a serious hobby breeder specifically for showing or breeding), the estrous cycle in the female need not be a consideration.