Is a Golden for you?

Please read the below article from the GRCNSW.

An Introduction To The Golden Retriever

Published
by The Golden Retriever Club of NSW Inc.

This
information is intended for prospective owners of Golden Retrievers.  Its
purpose is to help you determine if the Golden Retriever is the right breed
for you, and if it is, how to select one. 

THE GOLDEN
RETRIEVER

You may be
interested in a Golden Retriever for a variety of reasons:

1.   A
family pet.

2. A
hunting dog.

3.An
obedience competitor.

4.  A show dog.

5.A combination of all the above.

Whatever your
objective, YOU, as the dog owner, will be responsible for the care and
training that will enable your Golden to fulfill its potential.

If you just
want a watchdog, you should not get a Golden Retriever.  Although its size
and initial barking might deter an intruder, the typical Golden is
adaptable, friendly to everyone, gentle (although physically active), and
committed to carry things around in its mouth …… including the
intruder’s flashlight.

If you are a
fastidious housekeeper (or live with one), you shouldn’t get a Golden.  Most
Goldens shed their coat throughout the year, and quite profusely in the
spring, in spite of diligent daily brushing.  Also most Goldens love to get
wet.  If there is water on your property your Golden will be wet, and
possibly muddy, a frustrating amount of the time.

If you want a
one man dog, prefer cats to dogs, or aren’t home much, you shouldn’t get a
Golden Retriever.  Goldens are very people orientated, and aren’t happy as
kennel dogs.

Most people
prefer to get a young puppy and raise it themselves.  This can be very
rewarding, but also time consuming and sometimes frustrating.  Other people
prefer a dog that is out of its puppy hood and has already been
“civilized”.  This booklet will discuss the pros and cons of both, and how
to select a Golden Retriever of any age.

Our hope is
that this booklet will help you understand the Golden Retriever, and decide
if this is the breed for you.

WHAT IS A
GOLDEN RETRIEVER

The Golden
Retriever was developed in Scotland and England in the late 19th Century for
the purpose of retrieving wild fowl on land or water.  It’s physical
characteristics and its willing, adaptable, trainable nature make it
suitable for many purposes. 

The Golden
Retriever is a “natural” dog needing no surgical alterations to ears or
tails, and no exotic grooming (as opposed to some terriers, poodles, etc.).
Basic grooming for a Golden should take no more than 20 to 30 minutes a
week.

The mature
male Golden is ideally 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder, and weighs 32 to 37
kgs.    Bitches, 20 to 22 inches, and weight 27 to 32 kgs.  The Golden has a
normal canine structure without distortions of leg, jaw or tail.  The build
is sturdy and muscular, but neither massive like a Newfoundland, nor refined
like a setter.  The temperament should be steady, adaptable and kind. The
head is broad, with well proportioned, well set on ears, and a kind
expression.  The coat, which is one of the hallmarks of the breed, is a
“double coat” with a thick, weather proof top coat, and a dense, soft
undercoat.  There are featherings of longer hair on the backs of the legs,
on the front of the neck and chest, and on the tail.  The adult coat may
range in colour from a cream to dark gold, and the darker Golden can have a
lighter feathering.  A predominate colour of either white or setter red, or
white markings on the head, feet or chest, are not desirable, but will have
no affect on the dog’s usefulness for work or companionship.  The physical
characteristics of the Golden Retriever are described fully in the breed
standard, “Appendix B”.

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
Obedience worker

There are
Goldens that fit each description, and some that fit all of the
descriptions.  THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER CLUB OF NSW INC has members whose
interest in the breed has led them to develop the potential of the Golden in
each of these areas.

Goldens also
work as “Pets as Therapy”, appear in many commercials and advertisements,
and are one of the preferred breeds of veterinarians.  There is no question
that the Golden is a versatile and remarkable breed.

Before you
start looking at litters of puppies, take time to learn about the breed.
Attend dog shows, obedience trials or field trials, Golden Retriever Club of
NSW Inc meetings (held monthly, on the first Tuesday, at 7.30pm) and talk
with and question Golden owners.  They are proud of their dogs and are happy
to share their enthusiasm.

Look around.
It’s much easier to find the “puppy farm” or “backyard” breeder, who knows
and cares little about the welfare of the breed, than it is to find a
reputable breeders.  Have patience and never buy on impulse …. all puppies
are cute.  The Golden Retriever Club Of NSW Inc, and other interstate breed
club members can supply you with a list of conscientious breeders who either
have, or about to have puppies.

Read and
re-read the section of this booklet on hereditary problems.  You want 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 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 10 to 15 years.

PRICE

A poorly bred
6 week old puppy selling for $400 to $600 is NO BARGAIN!  The
chances are that the parents were not tested for hereditary defects, that
the puppies had little, if any, veterinary care, and that they were not
given the proper socialisation and the TLC that is needed to raise a healthy
litter of Golden Retriever puppies.  The litter is probably not registered
with the Royal NSW Canine Council, so you have no guarantee that the puppy
you are thinking of buying is even a purebred golden retriever.

You should
expect to pay $800-$1000 for a sound, healthy, properly raised puppy from
good parentage with ANKC (RNSWCC) Registration Papers, Vaccination
Certificate, Microchipped and including copies of the parents clear Eye
Certificates, Hip and Elbow Scoring Certificates and Heart Certificates.

SEX


Temperamentally, there is very little difference between the male and female
Golden Retriever.  Neither is harder to house train, 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
behaviour 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 at
stud.  Neutering a male before one (1) year of age will not only help to
alleviate these problems, but will eliminate the risk of testicular cancer,
and lower the risk of prostate cancer.  Since there is no responsible reason
not to spay a bitch unless she was bought specifically for showing or
breeding, the oestrus cycle in the female need not be a consideration.

CHOOSING A
REPUTABLE BREEDER

Choosing a
reputable breeder is very important.  Since it is almost impossible for you
to know what the puppy you are buying will grow to be physically and
emotionally, you must put your faith in the person from whom you are
purchasing your puppy.  There are three (3) options open to you in choosing
this person.

1.    Pet Shop or Dealer

The worst
possible choice.  It is against the RNSW Canine Council’s and the Club’s
Codes of Ethics to sell puppies to pet shops or dealers.  As a consequence,
puppies sold through such outlets are likely to be poorly bred and raised.
They are merchandise to be sold for a high profit.  The high profit is the
result of little thought being given to the breeding or the care of the
puppies.  Some may be sickly.  Pet shops rely heavily on impulse buying.
This is not the way to choose an addition to your family.

2.Backyard Breeder

Also a poor
choice.  This is the person who owns a pet Golden and thinks it would be
“fun” to have puppies, that it would be a great experience for the children,
or that the bitch should be bred once before she is spayed.  Even worse,
perhaps the breeding occurred just to make money.  Usually this breeder
knows little about the “breed standard” or history of the breed, and still
less about care.  The casual breeder does not have annual eye examinations
by a veterinary ophthalmologist, and does not submit hip and elbow x‑rays
for scoring.  The backyard breeder is not aware of breed problems, and
usually doesn’t care.  The backyard breeder’s only goal is to produce
puppies, and when the “fun” is over, sell them quickly.

3.Serious Hobby Breeder

The very
best choice.  The serious and dedicated hobby breeder regards his/her
dogs as even more than a hobby.  The true enthusiast does not expect to make
a profit.  When someone is involved in dogs for the enjoyment of each
individual animal, for participating in any of the many aspects of “dog
sports”, and for the challenge of producing the finest animals possible, the
result is superior.  These breeders acknowledge responsibility for each and
every puppy produced, and stand behind every dog they have bred.

Unequivocally, your choice should be from the ranks of the serious
hobby breeder.  It is an interesting fact that poor quality puppies
from pet shops and backyard breeders are often sold for the same price, and
sometimes even more, than those purchased from the serious hobby breeder.

HOW DOES
ONE RECOGNISE THE SERIOUS HOBBY BREEDER?

Presented
below is a list of requirements the breeder should meet before you consider
purchasing a puppy.  Don’t be afraid to confront the breeder with these
requirements.  It is your right, and you can rest assured that the dedicated
breeder will respond positively and with pride.

The breeder
should:

Belong to a
Golden Retriever Club which are located in NSW, VIC, QLD, S.A., W.A. and
Tasmania.  The reason for this requirement is that this sort of
participation indicates depth of involvement in the breed.  This breeder is
exposed to other points of view, learns more about the breed and modern
breeding practices, and is kept up to date on Australian National Canine
Council Rules and Regulations.

Be involved
in showing his/her dogs in the breed ring, the obedience ring, retrieving
trials or in a combination of all three.  The reason for this requirement is
that it means that the breeder is not breeding in a vacuum.  The breeder who
does not participate has no idea how good his/her dogs really are, and is
deprived of the opportunity to share information and ideas with others.
Showing dogs provides the competition which encourages breeders to produce
better dogs.  The breeder who competes wants to prove how good his/her dogs
are and is putting his/her breeding program on the line.  This breeder is
not relying on just a pedigree to indicate quality. 

Even if you
do not want a competition animal, you deserve a pet that is the end result
of a carefully planned litter, a puppy which received the same care as a
potential champion.  The breeder who competes in organised activities is
known by others, and has a reputation to uphold.  This breeder will be as
careful and honest in selling you your pet puppy as in selling show stock.

Ask you what
kind of dogs you have had in the past, and what happened to them; whether or
not you have fenced yard; if the dog will be allowed to be a member of the
family.  Sincere breeders will be a bit hesitant to sell you a puppy until
they know more about you,  what you are looking for in a dog, and what “life
style” you have in mind for your dog.  They have the best interests of the
puppy at heart, to say nothing of yours.  Reputable breeders will take great
pains to place puppies properly the first time round.  A returned puppy is a
traumatic experience for all concerned, so the breeder who is always willing
to accept a puppy back will try to make certain that a Golden Retriever is
the breed for you.

Be able to
give you references; names of people who have purchased puppies in the past,
names of other breeders, name of the veterinarian who provides care for the
breeder’s dogs.

Be able to
show you proof that both the sire and dam of the litter have had their eyes
examined by a ophthalmologist within the last twelve (12) months, have had
their hips and elbows x-rayed and scored and have their hearts examined by
an experienced specialist veterinarian.  The breeder should also be willing
to answer your questions about any other possible hereditary problems.

Be able to
show you a clean environment, healthy, well socialised puppies, and a dam
with a good temperament. 

Provide you with a
record of the dates and types of vaccinations, microchipping documentation
and worming medication, a copy of a three (3) to five (5) generation
pedigree, and ANKC registration papers.  Most breeders register puppies on
the ANKC’s Limit Register unless you, as the new owner have negotiated the
purchase of the puppy for exhibition and/or breeding.  The breeder should
explain the different categories of registration and how to register the
puppy in your name.

Provide you
with written instructions on feeding, training and care.  Both the pedigree
and registration document are provided by reputable breeders at NO extra
charge for show and trial dogs. 

Give you a
period of time in which to allow you to have the puppy examined by a
veterinarian to determine its state of health, so that both of you are
assured as to the condition of the puppy at the time of sale.  If a problem
should arise, it can then be quickly resolved.

Make it clear
that his/her responsibility continues long after you have taken your puppy
home and in fact as long as the dog is alive.  Many dedicated breeders will
ask that the dog be returned to them, or placed with new owners who meet
their approval if for any reason you are unable to keep the dog.  They’ll
cheerfully be available for advice whenever needed, and can ease your way
over many rough spots.

If your
breeder meets all these requirements, you are in good hands.  If you find
yourself with a negative response to any of these requirements, think twice
and discuss the situation with someone else.  DON’ T be impulsive and
DO ask questions.

You should
avoid
:

shy,
whimpering, tearful puppies.

puppies with
dull coats, crusty or running eyes, signs of diarrhea, rashes or sores on
their abdomen.

signs of
neglect, such as lack of water, pans of uneaten food, and dirty conditions.

a breeder who
will sell a puppy under eight (8) weeks of age, as early separation from the
dam and litter mates can be very detrimental both psychologically and
physically.

·

a breeder who
lets you handle a very young puppy, as there is a real risk of transmitting
disease before they are vaccinated.

PICKING A
PUPPY

Once you have
found a breeder you trust, its time to think about a puppy again.  Take your
time.  You might have to wait weeks, or even months, for the “right” litter
to be whelped, and it can be well worth the wait.  If you are fortunate, and
more than one good litter is available at the same time in your area, you
can compare puppies, pedigrees and parents.  You may be asked to put a
deposit of $50.00 or more on the puppy of your choice if the puppies are not
yet eight (8) weeks old.  Good litters seldom go begging, and it is not
uncommon for a choice litter to be completely spoken for by the time the
puppies are eight (8) weeks of age, and ready to go to their new homes.
Think twice about paying a deposit if the breeder has not satisfied you on
all the issues raised above.

Be sure that
the breeder knows you want the puppy for a particular purpose other than
just a companion (such as a show prospect, obedience dog or hunting dog),
and have the breeder help with the selection of the puppy.  Very few litters
have more than a few real “show prospects” in them, but a “pet quality”
puppy from a well bred litter has all the potential for maturing into a
sturdy, healthy Golden of proper size, appearance and temperament.

Almost all
Golden puppies are appealing, but you need to look for more than
“cuteness”.  They should be sturdy in build, with straight legs.  They
should feel firm and muscular, and be squirmy and active at first when
picked up, but willing to relax and accept being held and cuddled for a
short time.  Coats should be clean and thick; eyes, nose and ears free of
discharge or irritation, and the puppies should not be pot bellied.  Gums
should be pink, not pale.  Dark pigment around the eyes, a black nose and
foot pads are preferable, although this might not be important to you in a
dog that is to be a companion only.  White markings are not correct in a
show or breeding animal, but do not affect the puppy’s potential to be a
very loving, intelligent and special companion animal. 

Golden
puppies are born much lighter in colour than their final adult colour. The
ear colour is the best indicator of the colour of a puppy’s future adult
coat.

If the
breeder offers you several puppies to choose from, take each of the puppies
you are considering away from the rest of its litter mates, and observe its
reactions to the environment and to you.  Puppies at seven (7) to
eight (8) weeks of age should be willing to explore their environment, and
although a little cautious at first, they should investigate new objects and
be fairly self assured.  Speak to the puppy and see if it will follow you as
you move away.  Roll a ball or other toy to see if it has the instinct to
watch, chase, carry and possibly even return to you with the ball.  Some
puppies are slower to develop the retrieving instinct than others, but you
should not consider a puppy which does not show some interest in or
awareness of a moving object.  See if the puppy exhibits the type of
personality you would want to live with.

Perhaps the
bold, brash puppy that never stops getting into things would be too much for
you, and the more easy going fellow who’s agreeable and a bit more receptive
to your guidance would be a better choice.

While
observing the puppies, observe the dam as well.  Any shyness or
aggressiveness on her part is indicative of a poor temperament, and the
puppies might inherit these undesirable traits.  A Golden Retriever bitch
should be watchful and patient with her puppies, and should be happy to show
them to you.  If the sire is available, ask to see him too.


CONSIDERING THE OLDER DOG

If you aren’t
prepared to go through the trials and training a baby puppy, an older puppy,
or even a mature dog, can be a good alternative, especially in households in
which the family pet may have to spend much of the day unsupervised.
Goldens are very adaptable, and a Golden of any age with a good temperament
can become a member of the family in a very short time.  There are many
reasons for older dogs becoming available:

§

breeders
often hold a puppy until it is old enough to determine its show or breeding
potential;

§

a brood bitch
that has been bred once or twice and is to be retired;

§

circumstances
change and the breeder/owner is placing a much loved pet they have to part
with;

§

the dog has
been rescued from a dog pound or other similar situation.

Usually these
dogs are house broken, know many commands, and have formed many behaviour
patterns.  If the dog has been loved and well cared for, he/she will
continue to give love and devotion to his/her new owners because a
properly raised Golden loves and needs People.  Never be hesitant to
take a good natured older dog into your home.  Although it may be confused
at first and cause a few problems, patience, consistency and reassurance are
the key words.  The dog’s self confidence will return, and it will adapt
readily to your routine.

Try to find
out all that you can about the older dog that you are considering, so that
you can determine if his/her temperament is compatible with yours.  Learn as
much as possible about his/her habits, daily routine, likes and dislikes,
diet and past history.  It is important that all family members meet the dog
before its adoption, and agree that this is the dog they want.

It is best to
acquire the dog when the household member with primary responsibility for
the dog’s care and training will be at home full time for the first few
days.  Time must be taken to make clear to the dog where it is to sleep,
relieve itself, where and when it will eat, and what it can and cannot do in
the house.  In short, it has to learn the routine it will be following and
what is expected of it.

Give the dog
a month or so to settle into its new environment, and gain confidence in its
new owners before beginning formal obedience training.  Even if the dog has
had some obedience training, attending class is an excellent way of brushing
up on its training and will help you to understand its responses and
personality more completely.  You’ll enjoy working together.

If you rescue
a mistreated or abandoned Golden Retriever through a Golden Retriever Club
rescue service or a Humane Society, and give it your affection.  It will
reward you with eternal love and gratitude.  These dogs may well be of
unknown background, and bring you a few more problems than those with a more
favorable history, but the rewards can be great.

HEREDITARY
PROBLEMS

The vast
majority of dogs of all breeds (as well as mixed breeds) can live, long
healthy lives if given proper care and routine veterinary attention.
However, any dog can fall victim to a wide range of acquired problems, just
as humans can.  Each pure breed of dog has its own particular hereditary
problems, some minor, some impairing, and some possibly fatal.

The Golden
Retriever is no exception and unfortunately, the problems multiply with
indiscriminate breeding.  Failure to screen for hereditary problems before
breeding often results in the “doubling up” of unfavourable genes, and the
results are distressing for the buyer and dog alike.  The following, while
not all inclusive, are some of the more common hereditary problems that may
be encountered in Goldens.

HIP
DYSPLASIA

The term hip
dysplasia means poor development in the formation of the hip joint, and
describes a developmental disease in young dogs of many breeds.  Unsound hip
joints are a common problem in the larger breeds, and hip dysplasia can be a
serious problem in any dog.

Hip dysplasia
is an inherited defect with a polygenic (many genes) mode of inheritance.
The degree of hereditability is moderate in nature, meaning that the
formation of the hip joints can also be modified by environmental factors
such as poor nutrition, excessively rapid growth, and certain traumas during
the growth period of the skeleton.  As with any quantitative trait, hip
joint conformation can range from good to bad, with all shades in between.

Signs of hip
dysplasia cannot be detected in the newborn puppy, but usually appear in the
rapid growth period between four (4) and nine (9) months of age.  Signs of
the disease can vary widely from slight irregularities of gait, to crippling
lameness.

Improvement
or even apparent disappearance of lameness can occur as the dog matures, as
a result of the joint stabilising, inflammation subsiding, and muscular
strengthening.  However, the dysplastic dog will usually develop arthritis
in later life.

The only
accurate means of determining the condition of the hip joint is by x-ray
examination.  Sedation will be needed to restrain the dog so that a
diagnostic film can be made, as positioning of the hips is of great
importance.  Signs of hip dysplasia found on x-ray include shallow sockets,
irregular shape of the femoral heads, looseness of the joint, and
degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis.

Hip dysplasia
can sometimes be diagnosed by x‑ray between six (6) and twelve (12) months
of age, but this is not entirely reliable, and dogs intended for breeding
should be x-rayed when fully mature in order to select for sound hips.
Fifteen (15) to eighteen (18) months of age is considered to be minimum age
for accurate x-ray determination of desirable conformation.

X-rays should
be submitted for scoring by the Australian Veterinary Association or other
Australian Canine Scoring Schemes.

The
dysplastic dog should not be used for breeding, but may well lead a long,
happy, useful life.  During the acute phase of the disease, your
veterinarian may suggest rest and supportive care.  Moderate and regular
exercise, control of weight, and perhaps anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful
in the older dog.  Many Goldens with hip dysplasia will show no outward
signs at all, until perhaps seven (7) or eight (8) years of age when muscle
tone decreases and arthritis and wear and tear on the joint becomes more
noticeable.

Goldens and
other breeds of retrievers often seem to have high pain thresholds, and do
not show signs of pain when other breeds might be very uncomfortable.  An
x‑ray does not always show how your dog feels, as many dysplastic Goldens
are completely unaware that they have a problem.

EYE
DISEASE

Hereditary
cataracts are a common hereditary eye problem in the Golden Retriever.
“Cataract” by definition is any opacity within the lens of the eye.  At
least one type of hereditary cataract appears at an early age in affected
Goldens, and while these may or may not interfere with the dog’s vision,
some do progress into severe or total loss of sight.  There are also
non‑hereditary cataracts which sometimes occur, and examination by a
veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary to determine if the cataract is or
is not of concern from a genetic standpoint.  If there is any question, the
dog is certainly not to be recommended for breeding.  A few families of
Goldens carry genes for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) which is
progressive deterioration of the light receptive area (retina) of the eye,
and may result in complete blindness at a fairly young age.  There are also
other eye defects, such as retinal dysplasia, that prevent consideration of
a dog as a breeding animal.

Eyelid and
eyelash problems also occur in the breed, some with an hereditary basis,
others are sometimes due to other factors.  Entropion and ectropion is the
turning in or turning out of the eyelids.  Distichiasis involves eyelashes
rubbing on, and irritating, the eye.  Surgery may be needed to correct these
problems, and while it is a fairly simple procedure, such dogs should not be
bred with.

Nuclear
sclerosis, the “bluish haze” of the eye seen in older dogs, is a normal part
of the age related change in the lens of the eye and is not a problem.
Examination of breeding stock should be done annually, until at least
eight (8) years of age and preferably longer, as hereditary eye problems can
develop at varying ages.  The examination should be conducted by a
veterinary ophthalmologist, who has the special equipment and training
needed to properly examine the dog’s eyes.

OTHER
ORTHOPAEDIC PROBLEMS INCLUDING ELBOW DYSPLASIA

There a
number of orthopeadic problems besides hip dysplasia which may also occur in
the growing dog.  Among these are panosteitis, osteochondritis dissecans,
luxated patella, and other problems.  It is suspected that there may well be
some hereditary disposition to such conditions, so even though surgery may
correct some of these problems, there is some question whether dogs affected
with any of these conditions should be considered for breeding.

Nevertheless,
when purchasing puppy, it is important to ensure that the parents have been
screened by x-ray for elbow dysplasia.

HEART
CONDITIONS:  SUB-AORTIC STENOSIS

Like humans,
dogs can and do suffer from heart problems.  Of particular concern in the
golden retriever is Sub-Aortic Stenosis (SAS), a condition basically caused
by a faulty valve in the aorta.  At this point in time SAS is regarded as an
hereditary condition.  Dogs severely affected by this condition may not
survive puppyhood, or, if they survive early life, may suddenly collapse and
die prematurely.   When choosing a puppy it is important for you to know
that its parents have been screened by a specialist veterinary practitioner
for hereditary heart conditions.

EPILEPSY

Seizure
disorders may arise from a variety of environmental factors including viral
infections, other diseases, and trauma.  In some cases, there is no
ascertainable cause other than perhaps some inherent factor resulting in a
low threshold to the stimuli setting off the seizures.  One or perhaps two
isolated seizures do not necessarily constitute a problem, but dogs subject
to recurring seizures should not be bred.  Often the veterinarian can
recommend medication which will control the seizures, although medication is
not always effective, and many dog owners are not always willing to try and
live with this problem.

BREEDING
YOUR GOLDEN RETRIEVER

Breeding is
not for beginners.  It is as hard to do well as it is easy to
do. UNTIL you can satisfy the requirements that the serious
hobby breeder should meet, (see the section of this booklet entitled
“Choosing a Reputable Breeder”), you will be doing the breed an injustice if
you have a litter of puppies.


Consider Your Motives

If you think
that:

1.
Having Puppies Would Be Fun

It is also
very time consuming and demanding.  By four (4) weeks of age a Golden litter
of eight is active, dirty, noisy and potentially destructive.  Illness or
death of the dam or puppies can be expensive, emotional ….. and no fun at
all.

2.
It Would Be Educational For The Children

So would a
litter of mice.  Bitches do not whelp at your convenience, and the children
are often in school, or in bed at the time of delivery.  Care of the
pregnant bitch, and properly raising and socialising puppies is work for a
responsible adult.

3.
It Would Help Us Get Back Our Investment

You may find
that the rate of return is very low.  Stud fee, veterinary fees,
advertising, and the daily care and feeding of a litter is very expensive.
You may be able to sell three (3) or four (4) puppies out of a litter of
ten (10).  Even experienced breeders sometimes have difficulty selling
puppies.

4.
It Would Help Fulfill The Dogs Needs

You are
anthropomorphising.  While the instinct for procreation is strong, the dog
has no conscious knowledge of what it is missing, no regrets and no guilt
feelings.  Spaying or neutering will remove the instinct and the problems
often associated with the desire to mate, such as wandering and marking.
Pregnancy not only contributes nothing to a bitch’s health, but sometimes
causes problems.  A spayed bitch cannot be accidentally bred, and will not
be subject to the uterine infections that can affect older, intact females.

5.
It Will Improve The Bitches Temperament If She Is Bred

You are
wrong.  No animal whose temperament needs improving should be bred in the
first place, since temperament is most often the result of hereditary
factors.  And while raising a litter will not only not make an improvement
in the dam’s temperament, it will also probably result in a litter of
unsatisfactory puppies who will be imprinted by their unstable dam.  There
is also the possibility that the bitch will be an unsatisfactory mother,
necessitating much more work on your part.


Consider Your Resources

Raising a
litter is a demanding project.  Do you:

1.
Have The Facilities For Whelping And Raising A Litter Properly?

You need a
warm, quiet, secure area, easily cleaned, to properly confine and care for a
litter of eight (8) fast growing puppies while they are with their mother,
and a similar larger area for use after weaning.

2.
Have The Time To Devote To This Project?

Time to take
or send a bitch for breeding, sit up for hours during whelping, and hand
raise the litter if the bitch is unable to.  Time to buy and prepare food,
feed and clean up four (4) to five (5) times daily.  Time to go to the
veterinarian for check ups, inoculations, or with a sick dam or puppy.  Time
to individually socialise each puppy daily.  Time to answer phone calls,
talk with prospective buyers, and answer the same questions over and over
again.  Time for all the paper work required, including typing accurate
pedigrees, health records, care instructions, records of sale, and so on.

3.
Have The Money To Put Into The Project?

Can you
afford to pay the stud fee, inoculations and veterinary care for the bitch
and puppies, as well as other expenses.  What if the bitch has problems
which necessitate a Caesarean section?  What if the puppies die?  What if
the bitch dies, or cannot raise the puppies?  Can you afford to feed and
provide veterinary care for 2 or 3 four (4) month old puppies that didn’t
sell?  Can you afford to refund the purchase price on a puppy that proves to
be unsound or unsuitable?


Consider Your Dog’s Quality

Is your dog
or bitch truly an outstanding representative of the breed?  “Pretty,
friendly and smart” is not nearly enough.

1.
Temperament

Your
dog/bitch must be absolutely sound and stable, with a personality and
disposition appropriate for the breed.  Shyness, aggressiveness, gunshyness,
lack of retrieving ability or trainability, and hyperactivity are all
reasons not to breed, regardless of other qualities.

2.
Breed Type And Quality

Your
dog/bitch must be structurally and functionally sound, with conformation
characteristics appropriate for the breed.  An experienced, knowledgeable
exhibitor/breeder can assist in the evaluation of your dog’s adherence to
the breed standard.

3.
Soundness

Your
dog/bitch should be tested free of certain genetic defects, as should the
proposed mate.  Knowledge of the status of parents, grandparents, siblings,
etc., with regard to genetic testing is also desirable.  Hips and elbows
should be properly x‑rayed and submitted for scoring.  Eyes should be
examined annually and be free of hereditary cataracts, central progressive
retinal atrophy, and any eye anomaly.  The heart should have been examined
by a specialist veterinary practitioner and certified free of any
abnormality.

4.
Pedigree

A four (4) or
five (5) generation pedigree on the proposed litter should be read and
interpreted by a person with extensive knowledge of the breed, and of the
dogs involved.  Titles alone are no guarantee of genetic value.

5.
Health

A breeding
animal must be fully mature, in the prime of health, and in lean muscular
condition.  All inoculations should be up to date, and the animal should be
free of both internal and external parasites.  Acquired problems such as a
narrow birth canal from previous injury, transmissible venereal tumour,
anaemia, any disease or infection of the reproductive organs, concurrent
diseases of other organ systems, or any contagious diseases are all reasons
not to be bred.


Considerations for The Stud Dog Owner

If you are
thinking of using your male at stud, you are no less responsible for the
quality of the litter than the owner of the brood bitch.  You have an
obligation to thoroughly screen every owner that inquires for stud service,
and the bitch to be bred, the boarding and caring for the bitch in your
care, of effecting the mating, of supplying pedigrees, photos and
examination reports, and of keeping meticulous records.  This is all done as
circumstances dictate, and not at your convenience – the weekend away you
had planned may well be spent at home looking after a visiting bitch
instead.


Consider The Current Dog Population

If at this
point, you are still considering breeding your dog, visit the local dog
pound.  Ask how many dogs are put down monthly, and how many put down in the
last month were Golden Retrievers.

THE CASE
FOR SPAYING AND NEUTERING

Many
reputable breeders sell their “pet quality” puppies with the agreement that
the animal will be spayed or neutered.  These puppies are usually sold with
limited registration papers.

The basic
disposition and temperament of your dog will not be changed by removing his
or her reproductive capability.  Neutering a male can make him more tolerant
of other males, but neither neutering or spaying him will by itself turn
your Golden into an obese, lazy animal …… that it is the result of
excess food and insufficient exercise.

Benefits
of spaying include not having to worry about accidental breeding, the stress
and inconvenience of confining the bitch in season, risky “mismating shots”
and unwanted puppies.  The spayed bitch will not develop uterine infections
or tumours of the reproductive system as many older, unspayed bitches may
do.

Neutered
males will not be stressed and upset by the scent of bitches in season, and
are less tempted to wander or be distracted from their work.  The neutered
male will not develop testicle cancer, and the risk of prostate cancer is
lowered.

Most
veterinarians like to do the spaying or neutering at a fairly young age
(approximately six (6) months).  It is recommended that a bitch be spayed
before her first season, usually at 7-9 months. 

A male
neutered before he learns to lift his leg, probably will not do so later,
and will not “mark” his territory.