How to Get a Golden Retriever Puppy

Getting a Golden Retriever puppy doesn’t just mean getting the first puppy you come across, it also means asking all the right questions (like asking about their health checks and vaccinations), purchasing essentials for your home, and learning about how to best care for them.

You’ve done your research and decided that a Golden Retriever will be the perfect addition to your family. You won’t regret it, they’re wonderful family pets! But now you need to find out everything you need to know about getting a Golden Retriever puppy so you can be as prepared as possible.

Read on to find out all you need to know about finding your perfect pup, what equipment you’ll need to raise them, what questions you should be asking the breeder (if you get them from a breeder), and more!

Where to Get Your Golden Retriever From

When deciding where to get your new Golden Retriever from, you’ll first need to decide if you want to get a puppy from a reputable breeder or if you’d consider taking in a rescue. There are many Golden Retriever-specific rescues around the UK.

You may also find a Golden in one of your local animal rescues but in my experience, they’re pretty few and far between and the odd one that does show up probably already has a brigade of eager adopters raring to offer them a home.

If you’ve decided on a puppy you’ll probably have to add your name to a breeders’ waiting list. Especially since they’re currently in such high demand, it’s now more important than ever that you are careful to avoid being scammed. 

Here’s what you need to know and look for when looking for a Golden pup:

  • What questions to ask the breeder.
  • How much you should expect to spend.
  • How to avoid being scammed.
  • How to check if the parent dog/bitch is Kennel Club Registered (and what this means).
  • What health checks should the parents both have?
  • What to buy ready for your new puppy.

How to Locate a Responsible Breeder

The key here is to locate a responsible breeder while avoiding puppy mills and backyard breeders.

Puppy mills are unethical breeders that aim to produce as many puppies as often as possible to earn money. They generally don’t have the dog’s best interest at heart and will breed back-to-back without allowing the poor mama dog to rest between litters. You may find that these poor souls don’t receive much love, attention, or exercise and may not be dewormed/deflead or have any relevant health testing. 

Health testing is a vital part of breeding to improve the breed. As Goldens are prone to so many health issues it is important to only breed dogs which are not affected by some of these genetic diseases. If everyone only bred healthy dogs, we could eradicate some of the genetically passed down problems.

A backyard breeder is a breeder who may have decided to breed their dog for fun, or maybe their dog was accidentally bred. It usually means the dog won’t have been health checked with hip/elbow scoring, eye testing, or the relatively new testing for ichthyosis which can commonly be passed down to their puppies. They often won’t realise how a huge a task it is to raise a healthy litter of puppies. 

If you’re in the UK your first steps for finding a responsible breeder should be to check out any of the following websites:

If you’re in touch with a breeder that doesn’t have a current litter or any planned litters, you can always ask for recommendations. You’ll find a lot of responsible breeders are often involved with showing their Golden Retrievers and will have a good connection with other breeders.

Some breeders will have a website or a Facebook page representing themselves. Have a good search through – sometimes you can see pictures of previous litters and the parents. 

For my first Golden, I searched Champdogs, and found a well-reviewed breeder. I scoured their website and fell in love with the colouring of one of their stud dogs. I contacted them to see if he had any recent/planned litters and was given the name of another breeder who had recently used him for stud for their next litter. That’s how we found our beautiful girl. 

Don’t be afraid to speak with a handful of breeders. You should also be prepared to travel to find a well-bred pup, don’t just check locally. 

Responsible stud dog owners will have had their own dog health tested and will only allow matings with bitches with relevant health testing – make sure you check this!

What Questions to Ask the Breeder

If you think you have selected a responsible breeder then ask away! Any legit breeder will welcome questions, they might even ask you some back. Check out some of these useful questions you can take with you when speaking to the breeder.

Did you breed the puppies yourself? This may seem silly but you want to make sure that the puppies are coming directly from the breeder as they will have all the relevant information about the puppies. (parents/health checks/vaccinations etc).
Are you able to meet the Mum and Dad if they own them?Puppies need to be with/near their mum (for the majority of their time) up until they reach 8 weeks. Their mum will teach them a lot during those first few weeks and she will need to be feeding them. If you’re not able to meet Mum and see her with her pups then I’d be wary.
How old is Mum? There is a lot of debate regarding safe ages to breed a dam. A general rule is she should be older than one and should have had one normal heat cycle before she has her first litter but there are a lot of breeders who won’t breed them under 18-24 months. On the other end of the scale, once a dog reaches 8, she is considered a senior dog. There are breeders around that breed their 7 or 8-year-olds (sometimes with guidance from a vet if the bitch is still in great shape for her age) The UK Kennel Club website says that a mother is no older than 8.
How many previous litters has Mum had? The UK Kennel Club advises that dams have no more than 4 litters during their life. This is to avoid the dam from being solely used as a puppy-making machine. 
What health checks have both parents had? Both the sire and the dam should have been tested for the following at a minimum: Hip scores, Elbow scores, and BVA/KC Eye Scheme. Under the eye scheme the dogs are recommended to be screened for: Progressive Retinal Atrophy – GR-PRA1 & GR-PRA2 Hereditary Cataracts (HC) Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) Primary Glaucoma.You can also test for a genetic skin condition called ichthyosis, ICT-A. And also Muscular Dystrophy. 
Can you see the registration details of both parents? Both the sire and dam should be health checked and registered with the Kennel Club. This helps us to track the breed and ensure that puppies are responsibly bred to maintain healthy genetics in the breed. Once you have both parents’ Kennel Club names you can use this page on their website to view their health test results (and to make sure it matches what the breeder told you). You will also be able to check for previous litters for both.
Will the puppies all be vaccinated, wormed, and microchipped when they come home?By law all puppies must now be microchipped before they come home to you – you should receive details of this from the breeder and you should contact the service to update the details to your own as soon as possible.All pups should have started their vaccination process before you collect them.All pups should already have had 3 doses of worming medicine which you will continue when you bring them home.
Can you view all of the puppies?You should be able to see all of the puppies together. You’ll want to see how they all interact together. This will help you decide which puppy would be best suited to you/your family.
What socialisation/household objects have the puppies experienced so far?Part of rearing a healthy, happy puppy means exposing them to common household noises and different people. If they are familiar with these from a young age they are less likely to be scared when they’re older. If possible they should be exposed to men/women/teenagers/children, people with hats on, people with a walking stick, a wheelchair, or a pram – it may sound daft but I remember the first time my dog came close to a bicycle – she had no idea what it was and was really taken by surprise as it zoomed up behind us. They should ideally be aware of common household noises such as the vacuum cleaner, the TV, the phone ringing, the washing machine or dryer, the kettle, and so on. They should also have been exposed to different experiences such as walking on grass, concrete, carpet, laminate, in rain, etc.Leaving Mum, their siblings, and everything they’ve ever known to come to a strange new place with new people is probably frightening enough without all of these new scary noises too. You want them to be relaxed in their new home.See if the breeder is following a plan for this – there are some available online to tell you what they should experience during each week of their development before they come to you (weeks 1-8)
Has the puppy met children or other animals yet?This is especially important if you have children at home already or may be starting a family soon (remember dogs live for 10-12 years so this needs to be taken into consideration).Check to ensure that the puppies have met and been handled by children. Learn more here.
Will the breeder provide a contract for you both to sign?A good breeder will have a contract for you and them to sign. This is important as it lays out their responsibilities as the breeder and yours as the owner. Most of it should be straightforward. Ask your breeder if you are unsure about what something means.You may see either of the following clauses: Progeny not eligible for registration, Export pedigree not allowed.The first means that if you breed from your puppy (once it is grown up) you will not be able to register the litter with the Kennel Club unless you have the endorsement lifted by the breeder – you will need to speak to them directly about this.The second means that if you send the pup abroad, they will not be able to register with an overseas Kennel Club. Again – you’ll need to speak to the breeder about this being lifted if needed.
Will the breeder be available for advice if needed once the puppy has left them?Any responsible breeder will want the best for all of the puppies. They will be happy to give you any advice if you seek it once your puppy has left them – although sometimes, the best advice is to seek veterinary advice. This is not them fobbing you off, it just means that they may be experienced with the breed but they are not medically trained to help with some issues.
Can the puppy be returned to them if there are any problems?This is usually part of the contract. Some breeders insist that if you can no longer take care of the dog for whatever reason, you must return it to the breeder who will decide what is best for the dog. It’s best to confirm this with them before you purchase your puppy.
What is their current diet?I recall our breeder including some puppy food in the puppy pack we brought home with us. It’s a good idea to find out what their diet is – which brand, how they’ve been eating – solid or with water mixed in, at set times? How often? In the kitchen or their crate? So you can minimise any drastic changes to the pup’s routine. If you are planning on swapping them onto another brand of food, this should be done gradually so as to not shock their system – seek advice from the breeder regarding this. Also, you may benefit from recommendations for food brands if you are unsure. I used this website: All About Dog Food to do my own research. I was really surprised by the variation of good vs bad fillers in some common brands.
At what age they will let you bring the puppy home?The puppies should not leave their mother before 8 weeks of age. This is the most common age for them to come home to you. When we wanted to bring our pup home I couldn’t get that week off work – I wanted to spend a solid week at home with her to get the groundwork on training done. After speaking with our breeder we decided to collect her a week later (at 9 weeks) instead which the breeder was happy to accommodate. 

How Much You Should Expect to Spend

This is likely to vary a fair bit over time. See the section below for how Covid-19 has affected prices. Even since writing this article, the prices could’ve increased.

As of 2022 – The average price of a Golden Retriever puppy is between £2000 and £4000. As mentioned, do your homework on the breeder before you hand over any money and make sure you have evidence of payments.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

With the affects of Covid-19, there has been a dramatic increase in people wanting puppies. This has driven up demand significantly so not only has there been a shortage of pups available, there have been huge price increases! Not to mention all of the scams doing their rounds.

There are a lot of ‘backyard breeders’ cashing in on working from home by deciding to mate their dogs. Sometimes this means the dogs are not health checked, they may not have put a great deal of thought into the whelping stage and may not have the correct knowledge or experience to ensure healthy pups.

Please do your research on this before you buy – DO NOT pay any deposits before you are sure there actually is a puppy to bring home. A lot of scammers are using lockdown and isolation as a good excuse for why you can’t visit to meet the dogs. You can ask for a video chat instead.

Search for online reviews of a breeder. Have they got any previous customers willing to speak to you about their experience buying a puppy with them?

If you’re tech savvy, try reverse image searching any pictures they send you – sometimes they will steal photos from a legit breeder’s page and pass them off as their own. The reverse image search can sometimes find the source of the original photos. Be wary though, just because an image shows no results (implying it’s an original) does not mean that it hasn’t been taken from somewhere so don’t use this as solid proof either way.

How to Check if the Parent Dog/Bitch Is Kennel Club Registered

The Kennel Club aims to improve the health and welfare of dogs. One of the ways the Kennel Club can help is by keeping records of all litters born and monitoring dogs’ health scores. This provides public information about any two dogs that someone is intending to breed. 

They have some restrictions regarding specific incidences when a dog shouldn’t be bred (bad hip scores or elbow scores/genetic health testing shows they are affected by one of the conditions we’re trying to eradicate). This helps to ensure the breed stays healthy.

Ask the breeder for the Kennel Club names for both Dam and Sire – You can then check them on the Kennel Club website under the Health Test Results Finder here.

What to Buy Ready for Your New Golden Retriever Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is exciting but hard work. You’ll want to ensure you have all the correct items bought ready for your new friend. 

Here’s a list of things you should buy ready:

  • Dog bed.
  • Crate (if you’re planning on crate training).
  • Food and water bowls.
  • Food.
  • Collar and tag (with your contact information on should your pup get lost).
  • Lead (and harness if you will use one).
  • Plenty of toys to keep your pup entertained.
  • Treats for training.
  • Puppy training pads if you’re going to use them.
  • Grooming equipment (suitable for puppies).
  • Child gates if you would like to block off areas of the house.
  • Car harness, travelling crate, or dog guard for your car.
  • Poo bags.
  • Dog shampoo.
  • Dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Doggy First aid kit.

Also be prepared for ongoing costs such as vet trips, regularly buying more food, grooming (if you get them professionally groomed), and more. You can learn more here.

Glossary of Breeding Terms

Check out the glossary of any unfamiliar terms that you might’ve come across in this post:

  • Dam – the mother of the puppies.
  • Bitch – a female dog for breeding.
  • Sire – the father of the puppies.
  • Stud – a male dog for breeding. 
  • Kennel Club – a governing body overseeing everything dog-related in the UK.
  • Litter – the puppies born in one birthing.
  • Puppy mill – when people mass-produce puppies for profit, often with little regard for the dogs.
  • Backyard breeder – someone who isn’t a professional breeder, anyone can be a backyard breeder by breeding their dogs.
  • Reputable breeder – a breeder who is registered and professionally produces litters. These are the people you should be able to trust to have followed the rules.
  • Breed standard – the ideal specimen within each breed, as approved by a governing body.

For a full list of every term, you can check out the Kennel Club’s glossary.

Closing Thoughts

Buying a dog, whether it’s for the first time or the 12th time, should not be a quick process. 

Hopefully, you’ve done your research before committing to a dog but some things that should always be considered are: 

  • You need to be sure you have the time and space for them. Can you commit 10-12 good years with them? Maybe even longer if you’re lucky.
  • Are you willing to put in the time to train and walk them?
  • What if they get sick? Are you prepared to look after them and pay for vet bills?

You need to do your research on your breeder to find a healthy puppy. Please do bear in mind that even a dog from a great breeder who gives you a healthy, happy, playful puppy can still get sick. Our beautiful girl was from a great breeder with two very healthy and wonderful pets as parents, however, she still sadly died at age four from cancer – completely unexpectedly. Both parents and all six other siblings are all still thriving. It was just unlucky. 

On that note, it’s worth mentioning just how expensive vet bills can be when something goes wrong – Thank goodness for insurance! 

Now you have the basics down – good luck on your search and don’t forget to seek advice from your vet or the local Golden Retriever Breed Council if you need to.

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