Buying a Puppy – what you should know

Buying a Puppy


The following is a guide to assist you in your purchase of your puppy.
There are many people who breed Golden Retrievers – many are reputable and responsible; others simply see breeding a litter as a way of making money. It is unwise to purchase a dog from a pet shop or from an advertisement in the newspaper. The best option is to contact your local Golden Retriever Club ( or the Canine Control Council (, to find the names of registered breeders and then to investigate them fully before proceeding to purchase your puppy. Each breeder should be a member of the Canine Control Council in their respective state and should be registered as a breeder with them.
View verification that the breeder is registered with their local council/shire as a breeder. All local authorities will have specific requirements for dog breeders. You may wish to check with the local council about the breeder to ensure they are registered.
The parents and puppies – their condition and behaviour
Any responsible breeder will be only too pleased to let you see not only the particular puppy in which you may be interested, but the whole litter, as well as the parents. In every case you should be able to see the mother, and you should insist on being able to do so. The breeder may have used a stud dog which they do not own, so you may not always be able to see the sire. The purpose of seeing the dam (and if possible sire) of the litter is principally to enable you to observe their nature/behaviour and their condition. You will also be able to see the physical condition of the mother and pups. If the bitch has not been well nourished and cared for throughout pregnancy and after the birth of the pups, this impacts on the health of the litter, and the pups may not be as strong or healthy as they would be if the bitch had been better cared for.
Golden Retrievers should be confident, out-going dogs. You therefore need to be able to observe and interact with the mother of the puppies, and to see the litter and how the puppies behave in their interactions with each other and with people. If you are not allowed to see the mother and other puppies in the litter (if there was more than one), alarm bells should ring.
The puppies should be clean as should their living area. Common sense should tell you if this is the case. They should also be outgoing and happy. Be wary of puppies that are very timid or cringe away from you. This is not typical of the breed. DO NOT accept picking the puppy up from anyone but the breeder. Insist on seeing their living environment – this should give you insight into how the puppies are housed and raised.
Do not accept a puppy who is on medication. There is no reason why a puppy should go to a new home unless it is fit and well. There should be no sign of diarrhoea or vomiting.
Genetic diseases

Like all breeds of dogs, Golden Retrievers as a breed are disposed to certain genetic diseases. Responsible breeders, breed clubs, the Australian National Kennel Association and Canine Control Council (Queensland) (and parallel bodies interstate) have been endeavouring to eliminate or at least reduce the incidence of the most common hereditary diseases by screening breeding stock.
The diseases for which such screening is required in Golden Retrievers are –
(a) hip dysplasia;
(b) OCD (osteochondritis dissecans);
(c) Eye diseases;
(d) Aortic Stenosis (SAS) (heart disease).
Insist on seeing all breeding certification. All Goldens born after 1 January 2002, must have hip certificates prior to being bred. These certificates are to indicate how close to perfect the parents are with regards to hip formation. Canine Hip Dysplasia is a malformation or abnormal looseness of the hip joint. In a mild form, it does not pose any difficulty to your dog. If it is severe however, it can require extensive and expensive surgery. For more information, please go to
You are entitled to view the certificates of the parents. The lower the score the better. Most breeders only breed with dogs with a total score of 20 or under (possible maximum 106). Accept no excuses for these certificates not being shown to you. It is not a privacy breach for you to view these!!!!!!! (certification is compulsory for the litter to be registered if the parents are born after 1 January 2002) .
Check the name of the dog on the certificate to ensure it matches the name of the parents of the litter. Take details to ensure you are being shown the correct certification. Further details are available from the Australian National Kennel Club web site
Golden Retrievers are also prone to OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans). Dogs affected with elbow dysplasia (or OCD) may be so severely affected they need surgery. This is why all breeding stock should be checked. Again, check for certification. The lower the score the better with 0 in each elbow being most desired. However most breeders would not breed with dogs with a total score higher then 2 and no more then 1 per elbow. (OCD certification is not compulsory for registration of the litter).
Golden Retrievers also suffer for a number of eye diseases. These diseases can lead to blindness or may be malformed eyelids which require extensive surgery. These problems are few and far between. Most breeders do check breeding stock and only breed with dogs who are clear from all disease. Certificates should be renewed annually. Please check these as with all certificates. (eye certification is not compulsory for registration of the litter)
Golden Retrievers can suffer from inherited heart disease. The breed’s primary heart problem is Subarterial Aortic Stenosis (SAS). This disease can be fatal from an early age. Again, breeders should be checking for the presence of disease in breeding stock. Certificates should be checked to ensure the dog is clear from any disease and they should hold a clearance AFTER the age of 12 months. A puppy clearance is not a clearance to verify suitability for breeding. (Heart certification is not compulsory for the registration of the litter). For more information on this disease please go to
For further details of genetic problems which can effect Golden Retrievers, please follow this link:-
Purchase price
You will be making a significant financial, as well as emotional, investment in purchasing any puppy. There will be variation in the prices being charged even by reputable breeders, who will take a variety of factors into account in setting their sale price. You may find that ‘back yard’ or ‘puppy farm’ breeders may sell their puppies slightly more cheaply. But remember that the purchase price is just a very small portion of the total outlay on your puppy, and that veterinary bills are likely to be far greater for a less sound or less robust puppy than one whose parents, as well as themselves, have always had optimal care and nutrition and are demonstrated to be sound.
Registered breeders in Queensland are required to register all puppies in a litter, so there can be no possibility that they may quote you one price for a registered pup and another price if the pup is not registered or on the limited register.
It is likely that the breeder will require you to pay a percentage of the total purchase price as a deposit, at the time you commit to purchasing the puppy. It would be at the discretion of the breeder whether to return the deposit, in whole or in part, if you subsequently did not proceed with the purchase.
Contract or terms of purchase
In most cases, you will not receive a ‘contract’ as such, but there are certain implied terms on which the purchase will occur. These include –
(a )   that the puppy is the progeny of the sire and dam as represented to you and for whom you have been provided with relevant documentation as to disease status (see above);
(b) that the puppy has received vaccinations as represented in the documentation or information provided to you
(c) that the puppy’s registration papers will be transferred to you within 14 days of date of purchase
For your part, there is an implied contract that you will provide and care for the puppy in accordance with the advice given to you by the breeder; that includes seeking veterinary advice and taking action as advised by your veterinarian, if the circumstances require.
Some breeders will suggest or require that you enter into the purchase ‘on breeder’s terms’. NEVER accept breeder’s terms. Your puppy should be just that. Breeder’s terms usually mean you are tied down to a contract giving the breeder your Golden for litters. You have no control over how your bitch is treated or cared for during the time it is with the breeder. All financial gain goes to the breeder who will usually expect you to care for the bitch right up to whelping. This financial cost is enormous. This is without taking into account how your family will feel about their dog being taken from them for weeks at a time and the emotional and physical damage and wear to your dog.
Taking possession of your puppy
Prior to taking your puppy home, you will be required to pay the balance of the purchase price, as previously agreed with the breeder.
You should be provided with –
A receipt that outlines exactly what you have bought. It should state that this is a registered, pedigree dog, list the date of birth, and what type of register the dog will be placed on. Most reputable breeders will expect pet puppies are registered on the Limited Register. This is to ensure the puppy is going to a loving family home and is not going to be bred from or exported. You will be required to sign a Limited Register Agreement form at the time of purchase. Details are available on the CCCQ website A puppy can not be registered on the Limited Register without your signature.
(a) copies of the hip, elbow, eye and heart certificates of both parents;
(b) the puppy’s vaccination card. Check that the dates on the card match the date of birth etc of the puppy. You need to be confident that the certificate is for the puppy you are buying.
(c) details of the pup’s worming history . This should include the dates and products used as well as when the next treatment is due.
(d) a detailed diet chart. This should include what food/products the puppy has been raised on and the feeding schedule the puppy is used to. This should assist you to make the puppy’s transition into your family a smooth one. Whilst puppies can have minor upsets with a change of environment, they should readily adapt if weaned fully BEFORE leaving the breeder. Another reason to check the mother before taking your puppy. She should NOT be feeding puppies at 8 weeks of age!!!!
Registration papers
If the breeder has sufficient notification of your intention to purchase a puppy, they may be able to have the transfer documentation completed with the Canine Control Council (or similar bodies in other states) and available to hand to you when you take delivery of your puppy. In many cases, however, this is not possible. In Queensland, it is the breeder’s responsibility to transfer the puppy to the new owner and is responsible for all charges in relation to this transfer. The transfer should take place within 14 days of the date of purchase. Do not agree to keep the papers in partnership with the breeder. This is your puppy – papers included!!!
When you collect your puppy it should be happy, clean and robust. Breeders can’t guarantee your puppy will be perfect but SHOULD give a health guarantee for 48 hours after you take your puppy home. During this time you SHOULD take your puppy to an independent Veterinarian to have it health checked. If not found to be 100% fit and well, return it to the breeder for a full refund. Ensure you are given this undertaken in writing by the breeder before you take delivery of your puppy.
If you select carefully, your Golden will be with you for many happy years. So please do not let your heart rule your head!!!!! You are better to wait for the right puppy then to buy from the wrong person…………


We recommend you contact the Golden Retriever Club in your state for a list of ethical breeders.  In Queensland    click here