Your First Visit to the Breeder

david - Posted on 02 December 2010

The first time you visit the breeder before getting a golden retriever puppy, you want to establish in your mind what kind of person you are about to deal with and what their attitude towards the dogs in their keeping may be. All breeders, of course, are trying to make a profit – to support themselves and their families. Many of them are honest and conscientious, but unfortunately, some are not so scrupulous.

The breeder should give you a tour of their facilities – it doesn’t need to be a grand affair with wine and cheese samples and a brass band playing in the background, but they should let you see the general conditions the dogs are kept in.

The dogs should have adequate living space and a minimum level of comfort, including pads to sleep on, warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer, and adequate food, water, and other necessities of life. Try to imagine what you would need to be comfortable as a dog, and make sure that the conditions meet these specifications. Most of the time, they will, but there are unfortunate exceptions.

Cleanliness is another extremely important sign of how well the dogs have been treated – remember that if a breeder cannot take the trouble to let his or her dogs outside four times a day to do their business, and they are wallowing in hills of feces, then he or she is hardly likely to have gone to the much greater effort of ensuring they all have their vaccines or checking for hip dysplasia in new puppies.

If the conditions are truly ghastly – dogs kept in bathtubs, small cages or crates, or filthy pits in the ground, then you should not only leave, but should call the local Animal Welfare and Rescue organizations immediately, to shut down a puppy mill which harms dogs and damages reputable breeders.

Once you’ve seen that conditions are normal, check the general physical conformation of the dogs. Remember that pet dogs and hunting dogs do not need the “movie star” perfection of show dogs, and that many wonderful dogs are slightly off form. What you are looking for is sign of poor care – shabby coats, emaciated dogs, or untreated minor injuries. You are likely not to see these, but it is best to check.

Finally, you can ask area veterinarians about the breeder, as well – they are likely to know a good deal about the quality of dogs produced and how much the breeder cares about both their animals and their customers.