“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” —Roger Caras, photographer and writer
I am a serious hobby breeder of Golden Retrievers, and I run my kennel out of my home in Northern Virginia. My goal is to have two litters each year, raised in my home and well socialized by exposure to adults, children, other dogs, and cats. I have had as many as three litters in the same year due to unusual circumstances, but have had several years with no litters at all due to show or training schedules or my personal schedule. My foundation bitch is a GRCA Outstanding Dam, having produced a number of accomplished kids.
My pups are wonderful companions, and some are being shown successfully in the conformation ring. Two of the pups from my 2012 litter are AKC Grand Champions. Another pup from a repeat of that breeding is an AKC Champion. He is a proven stud, available to approved bitches. All three of those pups have other titles in Rally and/or Dock Diving, and have all their medical clearances - hips, elbows, eyes, and hearts have tested normal. Please feel free to look at the health clearances for Eta D'Oro Goldens dogs and their parents or others in their pedigrees at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website: http://offa.org.
In the two generations of dogs I have produced, you will find titled dogs excelling in conformation, agility, nose work, tracking, and obedience, and I have produced certified therapy dogs and active gun dogs. And, of course, they are much loved by their people! I breed for intelligence and that correct golden temperament as well as the breed standard, so these are smart, biddable, and beautiful golden retrievers, who can do it all. For information on my upcoming or most recent litter, please use the button on top of this page to inquire about a puppy.
“Golden retrievers are not bred to be guard dogs, and considering the size of their hearts and their irrepressible joy in life, they are less likely to bite than to bark, less likely to bark than to lick a hand in greeting. In spite of their size, they think they are lap dogs, and in spite of being dogs, they think they are also human, and nearly every human they meet is judged to have the potential to be a boon companion who might, at many moment, cry, "Let's go!" and lead them on a great adventure.” ― Dean Koontz
FAQs ABOUT MY BREEDING PROGRAM AND HOW I PLACE MY GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPPIES
Do you have a wait list?
I do not have a wait list. Because I breed infrequently, I can not guarantee I will have a puppy that meets your needs by any set time. After a litter arrives and I know what I have in terms of numbers and gender, then I can get serious about reviewing questionnaires submitted by interested families, and I contact people to discuss the specifics once the pups are a few weeks old. The pups require a great deal of time and attention, so it can take me a little while after a litter arrives to get to this part of the placement process.
Do I get to pick which pup I want?
I place the pups based on the pups' individual characteristics and each family's specific requirements. I obviously take your preferences into consideration, but your puppy's personality should fit the lifestyle you'll have with him for the next 12 or so years. I raise the pups in my home. For their first few weeks the pups are in my family room with my family, other dogs, and cats, and, after they are old enough and need more room to move freely, the pups move to a large pen in my basement with access to an outdoor pen. All of my dogs are house dogs; the pups are not raised in a kennel. As the pups mature, I spend a great deal of time with them, getting to know their individual personalities. I also watch how they move and determine which have the best conformation. As they get older, they are exposed to many different sounds, textures, flooring and ground surfaces, environments, and people.
During this socialization process, I learn which pups would be best suited to which types of homes, and I place them accordingly. Show, performance and working homes take priority, and homes who already have an Eta D'Oro dog generally also take priority. I get frequent inquiries regarding my pups, and I do save those questionnaires as they come in. However, I find most people are not willing to wait the several months, or longer, it may take before I actually have pups available to go to their homes. Accordingly, I do not have extensive contact with most potential buyers until I have pups that are several weeks old. I don't want to waste anyone's time until I know I have a puppy available.
That being said, I like to get to know my puppy buyers as much as I can before they take their new puppy home. I often have folks come to visit the pups when they are old enough, and our initial phone conversation(s) often take a little time so you can learn about me and my dogs, and so I can learn as much as I can about the type of dog that fits into your family. A laid-back dog might be better suited to a less active family, and a higher energy dog would be better suited to an active family.
Why health testing?
All my dogs are health tested prior to breeding. By testing for things like eye, cardiac, and joint issues and by DNA testing for several common genetic conditions common to golden retrievers, I can ensure I am doing all I can to produce healthy puppies that grow into long-lived, healthy dogs. I test for all the things the GRCA wants its breeders to test for, and do additional testing, as well. For example, all my current breeding animals get heart clearances by echocardiogram, not only by auscultation. While there is no way to guarantee nothing bad will ever happen, I want to do everything I can to reduce or in some cases even eliminate the risk.
How do you choose to do a particular breeding?
My dogs are purposefully bred, versatile golden retrievers. I have kept or co-own at least one dog from almost every breeding I have done. One of my goals with all of my breedings is to produce pups I would want to keep for myself, and that I will be proud to have in the various competition venues representing my kennel. I also want them to be much loved companion golden retrievers. To meet those goals, I need to produce long-lived, healthy, correct, versatile dogs that can do all the things a golden is supposed to be able to do. I look for health and longevity when picking a sire, and I look for dogs that are physically correct (meet the breed standard), have the correct golden disposition, and will be a good match for my girls. Many of the sires of my litters have produced well in the past, which is a good indicator of what they'll produce with my girls. For some breedings, I am looking for dogs with certain skills or capabilities prominent in the pedigrees. In others I am looking to improve upon what I have, to better some area I feel could be improved in my dogs on the whole. I am also careful not to lose the features I particularly like and that are correct in my dogs. I spend many, many hours reviewing pedigrees, observing dogs and talking to breeders and owners about their dogs, as well as others who may be familiar with their pedigrees from before I started watching those things.
What will our relationship be after one of your pups comes home with me?
I usually set up closed Facebook groups for each litter so puppy buyers can stay in touch with each other, ask questions of me or each other, and so folks can share pictures, triumphs, and news. I have found it a great way to stay in touch, but not everyone is on Facebook, and those who are may not be frequent Facebook users. Be assured I am always accessible to answer your questions, and will always be happy to take your dog back and find him or her a great new home in the event you are no longer able to care for your pup due to health, personal, financial, or any other reasons. None of my dogs need ever become rescue dogs. I love these pups from a time before they are even born, and will always do what is best for them. I even have buyers that have put it in their wills that their dogs come back to me when the time comes, because they know I will put the dogs first.
What are your requirements in terms of spay or neuter?
For a good number of years, peer reviewed studies and vets and breeders whom I trust have agreed that early spay or neuter is very dangerous to the short- and long-term health of dogs. Everything from orthopedic issues, cancers, and fear of storms can be blamed in part on early spay and neuter. Studies have shown it can increase the chances of a golden getting certain forms of cancer by in excess of 400%. At the very least, I want my dogs to remain intact (not spayed or neutered) for long enough for the hormones to do their job getting the pups' bones and bodies to maturity. For girls, they should remain intact for at least two heat cycles, and for boys ideally until at least 2 years. I can tell you my boys do not reach full physical maturity until around three, so for their bones, joints, and skulls (and other things less obvious) to fully mature, I'd prefer they not be neutered ever, but at least not until they are three. Neutering a dog does not affect his instinct to mark. Training affects that. Neutering does not affect his instinct to mount other dogs as a dominance play. Training does. Neutering an aggressive dog does not alleviate his aggressiveness. Neutering a dog does greatly increase his risk of cancers common in goldens. You can often identify a dog spayed or neutered young by its disproportionately long, gangly legs. Those growth plates in the legs were still open when the hormones were removed from the dog, and growth no longer could continue in a balanced way. Buyers are often looking for good bone and big heads on their goldens, particularly the boys. Those things come with maturity while the hormones are intact.
What is your guidance on vaccination?
My general rule is to keep vaccinations to a minimum. I am not an antivaxer; vaccinations are vital to our dogs' health. For example, without vaccination, parvo kills puppies. I know breeders and dog owners who have lost puppies to parvo. These diseases we vaccinate against are serious. However, I believe in limiting vaccinations to the ones required, at the frequency required. My puppies will have their first round of puppy vaccinations before they go to their homes. I then expect buyers to complete the series of puppy vaccinations, and meet their jurisdiction’s requirements for rabies vaccinations. After that, vaccinations need only be done if the dog needs additional protection. Titer testing will tell you if that is the case. My foundation bitch received puppy shots and then no further vaccinations other than periodic 3-year rabies as required by law where I live. At her last senior physical at age 9, she was found by titer testing to still be fully protected against those things she was vaccinated against as a pup. Research what vaccinations are recommended where you live. Leptospirosis is common in some areas, very rare in others. The various dog influenza vaccines do not protect against all strains of flu, do not last long, and are not fully effective. Balancing the risk of infection (essentially a contagious cough) against the effectiveness of the vaccine, consider if it is really worth putting those chemicals into your dog's body. Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccination is required by some boarding facilities, so you may feel forced to get that. However, it also does not protect against all strains, is not fully effective, and does not last long. I do not vaccinate for Bordetella. It is a cough that lasts several days, and can be treated if it is bacterial. In addition, I recommend vaccinating smartly - the fewer vaccinations given at a time, the less risk for complications. Vaccinating a dog weakened by some other condition or illness, for example an infection, can also lead to complications or reactions. Don't let a vet pressure you into doing anything unsafe for your dog. Your puppy can't advocate for him- or herself, and needs you to look out for him or her.