Picking by Breed
Too many people buy the type of dog that was originally created to have a purpose such as the Golden Retriever to hunt, or the Border Collie to herd without fully understanding the temperament, energy level or needs of an active breed. These types of dogs were developed to use their minds and their bodies as well as to be very active. Families wish to buy a Golden Retriever because these dogs are also athletic, beautiful, intelligent, sensitive, loyal and attentive however in the hands of an irresponsible owner the quality of life for a dog from this active breed could very well become a nightmare. Far too often rash, foolish owners take them home for the sole purpose of being a child's pet, give them very little basic training, stick them in the back yard, rarely interact with them on a regular basis and give them absolutely nothing to do. These dogs in such an unhappy position will create something to do, and it will be loud, destructive and difficult to live with. Golden Retrievers do make great family pets however they must belong to fair owners who will meet the demand for an active lifestyle in ways that will stimulate both their mental and physical needs. All dogs need on-going interaction with the family and regular training. Once these needs are meet then and only then are they the wonderful pet you've earned that is both welcome in the home and in society.
Picking for Sex
Golden Retriever females tend to be smaller than males. Females can damage the grass, males can damage your trees. Males say "I love you, I love you, I love you". Females tend to say " Love me, Love me, Love me". Other then that males and females can be both either submissive or dominate, active or quiet. Although some males may take slightly longer to mature then females it is the individual dogs temperament and proper training that will determine whether he or she will make a suitable pet for your home in the long run. Sex is really just a personal preference usually based on looks and size. Consider what you want your dog to look like 2 years down the road, a strong masculine look or soft feminine features? In the past have you always had a certain sex? Do you feel comfortable with that or do you want a change? If your family companion recently pass away do you want a puppy who when grows to be an adult dog is similar or completely different? Are you flexible in this?
Spaying in females can be a bit more expensive as it is a major operation however it nullifies the chances of the dog suffering mammary or uterine cancer and pyometra, an infection of the uterus. Neutering cost slightly less as it usually is a simple procedure that also eliminates the chances of testicular cancer. Both of these will not change the dogs temperament however it will prevent unwanted litters of puppies.
Picking for Temperament
Determine if a quiet submissive puppy, or a more dominant one is more suited to your family situation ie do you have young children? What expectations do you have ie agility, tracking prospect or perhaps a jogging partner? What is your overall activity level? What is your own personal experience with dogs. Even though temperament, size, and activity level is fairly predicable within a breed there is a range of degrees in their individual differences.
Dominance and aggression are not the same thing. When referring to being dominate or submissive we are referring to the confidence level and ability to exert their influence. Dominant puppies can be a handful for inexperienced owners but can be perfect for active homes and for on-the-go owners who want their pet to fully accompany them in their social life or for large families who are consistent in their expectations and training. Submissive puppies are shy and likely to need special handling, not the perfect choice for families with young rambunctious children who may overwhelm the puppy but perfect for families who use positive training methods and like to take their pet with them on personal errands and family vacations to ensure proper socialization. An all round, middle of the line, bomb-proof puppy is the preferred temperament for families with very young children or who have members of the family with a disability but this puppy may not have the extra spark needed for that agility or obedience prospect. All types of temperaments can have both positive and negative associations. Training, socialization and complete family interaction is what will ultimately make any dog one that is a welcome member both in your home and in today's society but starting out with the right temperament and energy level for your situation gives you a solid foundation to work with.
Picking for Colour
This should be one of your very last criteria and should be a flexible preference. Picking a puppy by colour only is the biggest gamble ever. Although we are given clues to what colour the puppy might eventually grow to be quite often surprises are in store for us as the pup grows into his adult coat. As well, many internet sites may attempt to mislead you into falsely believing that one colour or style means a healthier, superior, rare or even a whole separate breed of Golden Retriever however these claims are completely unfounded. Unfortunately there are even some who are actually charging more for specific colours. For more information on this please visit the English Cream Golden Retriever page.
We all have in our minds eye what our perfect dog looks like but our main priority should always be that the dogs underlying temperament matches our family's needs and lifestyle.
Picking The First Puppy To Come To You.
This is not the wisest way to pick a puppy to become your next family member as there are too many outside influences that can affect a puppies behavior at any given time. That quiet, cuddly puppy crawling into your lap may have been the most rambunctious one just prior to your visit or that puppy making a mess of your shoelaces may have just woken up from a nap and is looking for some playtime. Age of the puppies and the critical development stage that the puppies are in can have a profound effect on their behaviour on any given day. Pictures, videos and occasional visits are of limited value when compared to the experience of the breeder.
Picking An Eden Puppy
With seventeen years experience of trail and error I have learned that not all puppies are born equal. This applies to puppies within different breeds as well as within a litter. Just because they share the same sire and dam they are not all equal in energy level, confidence, prey drive, sociability, work ethic etc. Just as brother and sister can differ greatly in families, so do puppies. In each litter we may see individual puppies that I term bombproof with a happy-go-lucky attitude and a people orientated, biddable, sociable puppy with a forgiving nature. These puppies can be placed in the majority of homes in general. Then there are pups who may be borderline. This is where the nature vs nurture factors takes on real meaning. A borderline or middle of the road puppy is one whose initial reactions (nature) can be enhanced or diminished through exposure, socialization, training or other types of behaviour modification. These are the puppies that can shine the most in experienced homes. Then there is the exceptional puppy. An exceptual puppy is one whose behaviour can be more inclined in either direction. A puppy who has a high prey or retrieve drive placed in the right hands, one who has the ability to work with the puppy’s true nature will allow that puppy to live up to his full potential as a working, performance or field dog. Placing such a puppy in home that doesn't fully understand and can’t properly channel the behaviours associated with a high drive dog would be a disaster for all involved. The same could also be said for placing an insecure or reactive puppy into a large, rambunctious home, an inexperienced home or in one that uses a correction based training method rather then gearing the training to the puppies individual needs as they arise. These are the types of situations that ends up with the puppy being returned, discarded or reactive to an unacceptable degree.
I have put a lot of time and effort into the breeding and raising of my puppies and my first responsibility is to them. My next responsibility is to the people who picked me to be the breeder of their next family member. I do my best to identify the needs of each individual puppy and work hard to bring out the best in each one (nurture) however underlying all that there is still the basic temperament (nature) of the puppy as this does not change. Finding out what kind of temperament each puppy has is the best way to determine which puppy should go where. This of course also means I need to learn about the lifestyle, individual needs, experience level, training styles, desires and flexibilities of the individuals and families who want my puppies. I do this through phone calls, emails, visits and of course with the puppy application form. Once all of the above is given comprehensive consideration I then make every effort to match each puppy's energy level, temperament and training needs to the owner or family that best suits them. Having raised puppies for over a decade I am well aware that sometimes a puppy can just speak to a persons heart so with all things being equal this too will be given serious consideration however if price, colour or being permitted to pick just any puppy out of the litter is your primary consideration, I am probably not the breeder for you.