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Thinking of Adding a Golden to Your Family?

Adding a new dog to the family is a very big responsibility. Unfortunately, there are many people who do more research on what type of vacuum cleaner or couch they want to purchase than they do about the next dog they bring into their home. The truth is that wherever you source your dog from, you're making an investment into the next 10+ years of your life, so it's always good to make an informed and educated decision about where to go to set you and your family up for success with your new furry friend. The fact that you're here, reading this page, says a lot about how important that is to you. So good on you!

Here are some things to consider when trying to find an ethical and responsible breeder:

What are Ethical Breeding Practices?

When researching a breeder, there are a few things of equal importance that you should look out for:


Proving Their Breeding Dogs

This means that any dogs your breeder is considering breeding, they should be active in competing with and titling in Conformation (Dog Shows), performance sports (Agility, Obedience, etc.), field trials/hunting tests, or any combination of the three.  Why is this important? Because everybody says that their dog is awesome (which they are), but when dogs are titled by means of competitions, there are multiple third parties that confirm that these dogs possess the structure, temperament, and ability to perform the job they were bred to do, deeming them worthy of carrying on the next generation. This means that any puppies that are produced will be sound in body and stable in temperament, which is what you deserve to have in your next companion.

Health & Genetic Clearances

This is more than a veterinary checkup. Every breed has certain health issues that they may be prone to. The good thing about this is that we know how to stack the odds in our favor in making sure the dogs we produce don't develop these problems, at least not for a very long time. This is done by completing all the required health and genetic testing as outlined by the breed's parent club or OFA. For more information on the required health testing for Golden Retrievers, click here. Only dogs who have their physical and genetic health confirmed to be in good shape by the appropriate veterinary specialists/geneticists should be bred. While nothing can be guaranteed 100%, by purchasing a puppy born from fully health tested parents, you're setting yourself up with the best chance of your pet having a wonderful quality of life for a long time (which is great news for your pocketbook, too!). Always ask your breeder for proof of health testing, and a responsible breeder will always be happy to provide you with that information.


An ethical breeder will always have a contract. ALWAYS. Included in said contract will always be a term called "first right of refusal". This means that if, for any reason, at ANY point in your dog's life, something happens where you are no longer able to keep the dog in your possession, the breeder is to be informed FIRST. The breeder will then either take the dog back themselves, or work along with you to find a good home for them. This keeps ethically bred dogs from contributing to the shelter population, because they will always have a home. This also means that occasionally, breeders may have older puppies or adult dogs they are looking for homes for.
Your breeder should also give you a window of time shortly after the puppy goes home to have them examined by your vet to confirm that they left the breeder in excellent health, and an agreement for what the next steps are if they aren't. There may also be a warranty against hereditary problems or show-ring disqualifications (in case the animal is intended for showing or breeding). Any and all of these should be in writing in the contract that is to be signed and dated by both parties. Other terms in the contract will vary from breeder to breeder, so if there is a breeder you are considering buying a pup from, it's always a good idea to ask to review the contract ahead of time to make sure you both are on the same page. 

Other Things to Consider:
  • Do they microchip their puppies?​​
Many ethical breeders microchip their puppies with their contact information listed as an alternate contact permanently. This is a safety measure put forth by your breeder, because accidents happen, sometimes dogs escape or get lost, and in the event someone finds your dog, a veterinarian or a shelter employee can reach out to your breeder if they can't get ahold of you first. Whether or not a breeder microchips their puppies does not mean that the breeder you're considering is or is not ethical. Both are common practices among responsible breeders.
  • What is their interview process like?​​
A responsible breeder will always have some sort of interview process in place. They may ask you about dogs you've owned previously, if you have kids living in the house, what type of living situation you're in, and they may even ask to visit your home either in person or via video call. This is because they want to get to know you, so they can be sure that (a) you're the perfect person for one of their puppies, and (b) that they have the perfect puppy for you. 
  • Do they pick your puppy for you?
Another mark of a good breeder is that they select your puppy for you. They'll ask you whether you have a gender or color/shade preference and take that into consideration, but since they've spent the last 8+ weeks watching the puppies grow into their different personalities, they're the best ones to make the call of which puppy gets to go home with you. Their goal is always to place their puppies in the perfect home the first time around.
  • Do the interactions you've had with your breeder feel personal, or transactional?
A breeder worth buying a puppy from should make it abundantly clear that they are with you for the lifetime (and beyond) of your puppy. Each and every one of the puppies they produce is an extension of their heart, and they will be there to support you through the good, the bad, and the ugly for the lifetime of your puppy, and even beyond. 
  • Do they have a socialization program for their puppies?
Part of responsibly raising a litter of puppies is socialization. Contrary to popular belief, socialization does not necessarily mean doing puppy meet and greets all the time. Rather, it's exposing the puppies to external stimuli in order to help them build confidence when it comes to facing a new or scary circumstance.  Many breeders utilize programs such as Puppy Culture or Avidog, and others create their own program.  In any case, they should be introducing new smells, textures, sounds, puzzles, etc., on a near daily basis during the first 8-12 weeks before puppies are placed in their new homes. Ask your breeder what kind of socialization they provide during puppy raising.
  • What's included in their puppy go-home packs?
Responsible breeders want to set you and your new puppy up for success from day 1. Most breeders will send your new puppy home with a go home bag with some items to start you off on the right foot.
This should include:
  • Health records that include the date of last vaccinations and deworming
  • a 3-5 generation pedigree along with an AKC registration form (unless there is a written agreement that the breeder will register the puppy for you and send you the completed document at a later date)
  • Copy of the contract both of you signed
  • Guidelines for feeding, training, and general care.
Red Flags
Here are some things to avoid when looking at breeders:
  • English Cream Golden Retrievers
This is a term that backyard breeders use to sell puppies who are very light in color, because they want you to think that the puppies they're selling are rare. The truth is that Goldens come in a variety of shades, from very light blonde (almost white) to a deep red color, but it's all Golden. There are no other varieties, no shade is rarer than others. 
  • Charging extra for pedigree or registration papers.
While many responsible breeders may withhold a puppy's AKC registration papers until they are spayed or neutered, none of them will charge extra for papers. This is forbidden by the AKC and should be reported to them.
  • You don't get to see the puppies' living conditions.
Because of concerns of the health of puppies at home who aren't old enough to be vaccinated or older dogs who may have a compromised immune system, some breeders may not allow home visits. However, they should be willing to show you a video or do a video call so you can see where the puppies and their older dogs live. In either case, all dogs in the home should be happy and of healthy weight, with shiny coats. If there are signs of neglect such as fearful puppies, a dirty environment, matted or dull coats, etc., RUN. 
  • Placing puppies under 8 weeks of age.
Puppies should never be placed before they are 8 weeks old. Even though puppies are usually weaned at around 3-4 weeks of age, they're still learning social and behavioral cues from their mother and siblings over the next several weeks after weaning, such as bite inhibition, potty training, body language, etc, much more effectively than they learn those things from people. Removing a puppy from their mother and siblings too young has adverse effects on them psychologically as well.

PRGRCO Breeder Referral

All the breeders on this list have signed and adhere to the Code of Ethics as established by the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA).
They follow additional requirements as set forth by the PRGRCO, including active participation in meetings and committees, breeder education seminars, or volunteering at events sponsored by the PRGRCO in support of our breed. 

Below is a list of breeders in the PRGRCO who may or may not have dogs or puppies available. 

The Pacific Rim Golden Retriever Club of Oregon assumes no responsibility for any of the breeders on the referral list, nor for any puppies or dogs they may produce or sell, nor for any dogs placed by members for adoption.

Sunshine Goldens

Debra Berry

Sweet Home, OR


Whiskey Creek Goldens

Christa Thompson

Scappoose, OR


Alchemy Golden Retrievers

Jeanie Schuldt

Wilsonville, OR


Heaven Scent Golden Retrievers

Dawn Clausen

Molalla, OR


Browns Golden Delights on Gold Pond

Alice Brown

Amboy, WA


LOL Goldens

Kelli McCulloch

Ridgefield, WA


To request a referral for breeders who may not be on this list, feel free to reach out to

Kathy Thurman at (503)357-3212


The GRCA provides puppy referral as a convenience to puppy buyers to find out about breeders who are GRCA members and their litters. GRCA takes no responsibility whatsoever for any puppies/dogs that you may acquire through GRCA puppy referral. GRCA is not responsible for any breeder’s sale practices and sales contracts, nor will GRCA be involved in any manner in contract disputes between puppy buyers and breeders. Availability of puppies and conditions of sale are at the sole discretion of the individual breeder. Buyers are encouraged to read ACQUIRING A GOLDEN RETRIEVER, as found on the web-site, for general information about obtaining a puppy, to take as much time as necessary to locate a reputable breeder from whom they feel comfortable purchasing a puppy, and to investigate breeders and their puppies thoroughly before committing to a purchase. You are not obligated to purchase a puppy from the breeders whose names you obtain from GRCA puppy referral.

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