GENERAL QUESTIONS (Last updated March 2022)
- When do you expect to have another litter?
- We anticipate our next litter(s) could be in the Fall/Winter of 2022/23, as we are planning to take the Spring & Summer 2022 off for (long overdue!) family travel. Of course, this is all assuming that Mother Nature is aligned with our plan - as there are a lot of variables which are in her hands. We hope to have more news to share soon and will be excited to update our Puppies page and Facebook/Instagram with any news on upcoming litters :).
- How much do you charge for your puppies?
- Because our dogs have extensive health testing (e.g., hips, elbows, heart, eyes, genetics, etc) and investment in Avidog puppy rearing methods, our typical fees are around $3,500 (pricing may vary). We determine the fees when we announce each litter.
- How big will the puppies get when they are full grown?
- Golden retrievers range from 55lbs up to 80lbs. The size of the parents will typically give you are good indication of how big the puppies will get - although every now and then nature has a surprise! For more on the breed, you can find info at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/golden-retriever/.
- Are there any special care or grooming requirements for golden retrievers?
- In general, the care and grooming requirements for goldens are very similar to most large breed dogs. I won't lie -- goldens do shed. Some shed a lot and others less so. Personally, I brush mine weekly to keep stray hair under control. With several goldens in the house, I will also tell you I invested in an iRobot Rumba (automatic vacuum cleaner).
- Will the puppies see a vet before they come home? Which vet do you see?
- Yes, they have an initial wellness check at 3-4 weeks old and also at 7 weeks they receive their initial vaccinations before they go home. They will have veterinary check-ups will be up to date on vaccinations and deworming. Because we have unique canine reproductive care needs, our goldens receive routine vet care from Pilchuck Veterinary in Snohomish or The Pet Doctor in Lakewood.
- Where do your puppies live once they are born?
- We firmly believe that dogs should primarily live INDOORS with their families, so our puppies will be raised in our home. Once they are old enough, they will have supervised outdoor playtime too.
- How do you socialize the puppies?
- One of the good things about having 3 kids is that the puppies will get socialized in a real family environment. We will also practice ENS (Early Neurological Stimulation) to help them develop and follow Avidog puppy rearing methods - including litter box training, 'adventure box' and 'bottle pool' sensory experiences, desensitization to household noises, and exposure to our older dogs and lots of people! Avidog (now owned by Good Dog) has a week by week schedule of development activities.
- Are your puppies good candidates for Therapy work?
- In general, we think so! We have had puppies go through training and become certified Therapy dogs. However, I would also point out that each dog is an individual - some more energetic and others more mellow - and so the amount of time it takes and/or how old the puppy will need to successfully complete training is variable.
- What type of AKC registration do you offer?
- We offer a "limited" AKC registration which documents the dogs' pedigree, lineage, and allows them to participate in most AKC benefits and events. The only things that the "limited" registration restricts are breeding rights and participation in conformation events & judging.
- So what is your story? How long have you been breeding?
- We are a family of five in Sammamish and moving into breeding is a new step for us -- we had our first litter in the summer of 2017! We are passionate about goldens and care deeply about their health and temperament, so our interest grew out of a desire to help others similarly adopt great family pets (with potential for therapy/service work).
This is why we take the health care of our goldens seriously with genetic and health screenings (including Pennhip or OFA certifications on hips, elbows, eyes, heart, and genetic tests for PRA & ICH). Our dogs and the puppies live inside our home and are a daily part of our family -- they are adorable :) and help provide so many life lessons for our kids.
As further background, I volunteered (for the better part of a decade) at the Seattle King County Humane Society as a dog trainer working with rescue dogs. We do this as a "hobby" and passion - as we both have full time corporate/technology jobs which we really enjoy, so this is not a primary means of income for us -- and we can be committed to raising healthy, strong companions.
- We aren't sure if we are ready for a puppy yet. Will you be having any litters in the future?
- Because we are a family breeder and our dogs are first our pets - we only plan for a very limited number of litters when our gals are the right age, have had the appropriate medical checks and recuperation time. Unfortunately, we cannot offer reservations for future litters.
- We are trying to decide if we are ready for a puppy. Can you tell me what it is like?
- Yes, it is super rewarding and A LOT of work!!! The good news is that golden puppies are incredibly cute, cuddly, curious, and quick learners who grow into irreplaceable, loyal, and beloved family members. The rest of the news is that they can be a real handful! They like to explore the world with their mouths (read: they chew on everything they can get a hold of) and, especially retrievers, can be persistent and need a confident 'pack leader' (read: you, their human) to set clear and consistent boundaries. It's important to 'set the rules' early (for example, are they allowed on the couch or not) and owner/puppy classes with a good trainer is essential too. Please just understand that raising a puppy is a commitment that takes months and beyond. Once they get comfortable in their environment and understand your expectations, they are in good shape to grow and develop into an absolutely lovely family member!! (And yes, you can do it even if you work full-time - the good news is that there are awesome doggy daycares, pet sitting services, and/or containment strategies that will help you). For more information as you consider whether you are ready for a puppy and whether a golden retriever is the right breed, here is a podcast we love - Dog Talk with Dr. Jen: Choosing a Dog.
RESERVING A PUPPY
- What is your process for reserving a puppy?
- We just created a page with the information and steps on how we approach puppy reservations, which you can find here.
- Can I visit your goldens and/or the puppies?
- Absolutely, we offer regular visiting days for families who are confirming or have a confirmed reservation. We would be happy to have you visit our golden gal before pups are born or the puppies once they are old enough for visitors. When the puppies are very young, we will have to limit their exposure for health reasons. If you live too far away for a visit to be practical, we can certainly call, Skype or FaceTime. Please note, if we are using a visiting sire, the sire doesn't live here so you may not be able to meet him. APRIL 2020 NOTE: With the current COVID-19 (Corona Virus) situation we unfortunately must temporarily discontinue in-person puppy visits for the health and safety of both our family and yours. In order to keep you connected with the puppies, we have set up Nest cameras with live-streaming for each litter and reserved puppy families will be sent a link to watch them (nearly) 24/7!!! We are also have to connect via FaceTime - and of course, via regular emails & phone conversations.
- How do I put down a deposit or confirm a reservation?
- Once we have confirmed that we have an available boy/girl (based on your preference) spot, then you are welcome to place a non-refundable* $500 deposit to confirm your reservation via PayPal (at the bottom of the Puppies / Litter Info pages). I ask for the remainder of the puppy price 2 days prior to pickup at 8 weeks (or at their 8 week birthday if they are staying here longer). While we prefer PayPal as it offers buyer protection, we also accept cash - however please no checks as we prefer not to see any personal banking/financial information for your privacy. *We will refund deposits if we do not have enough puppies of your chosen gender in the selected litter -- or if any unexpected serious health issues arise with your puppy before he/she goes home at 8 weeks of age.
- Will I know which puppy is mine when I make a reservation?
- We start our puppy picking when they are 5-6 weeks, once they are old enough to become active and their little personalities start to shine through. Puppy picking is done in order of deposit received. So it is likely when placing a deposit that you may not know exactly which puppy will be yours, and we would ask that you be open minded and consider the litter as a whole - and please rest assured that any puppy we accept a deposit/reservation on has passed an initial veterinary screening and is being raised to foster their wellbeing and stable temperament. Also, if there is a color range (light to medium to dark golden) within the litter please understand that we cannot guarantee a certain color. If we have a 'runt' in the litter or a pup with special needs, we would manage that adoption separately on a one-off basis.
- Do you accept advance reservations (aka reservations before a litter is born)?
- We appreciate that many families plan ahead and contact us weeks or months in advance, even before we are expecting or a litter is born. In order to help in planning, with select litters, we may offer advance reservations of up to two or three puppies per gender (we put families in order of deposit and ask that you indicate your preferred gender – and whether you are open to the opposite gender as well). Once the puppies are born, if we do not have enough puppies in your preferred litter and/or gender – we will offer you the choice to receive a refund of your deposit or to shift your reservation to another planned litter.
- Do you accept advance reservations and/or waitlists for all of your litters?
- Actually, we only accept advance reservations for select litters. Because we want to be a bit conservative and don’t want to overset expectations, we choose only to offer advance reservations when we have an experienced dam (golden mamma) with a history of regular cycles and appropriate veterinary clearance. We still want to note that a lot is in Mother Nature’s hands and things aren’t always predictable! If we are not accepting advance reservations, we may offer the opportunity to be on a "waitlist" for the litter ($250 fee, applied toward the reservation deposit and is refundable only if we are not able to offer you a puppy of your preferred gender in your preferred litter(s)). Once the litter is born and we confirm that we can offer you a puppy, we will ask for the remainder of the deposit within a certain timeframe to confirm the reservation.
- How do you determine the puppy picking order?
- We determine our picking order based on timing of deposit receipt. We recognize that making the decision to add a puppy to the family is a big one – and we want families to take the time they need to make a good decision! However, because the decision-making timeline for each family is different – from minutes to months 😊 – we do not ‘hold’ reservations or spots open. We will work to keep our reservations list updated on our website so that generally you may know what availability and pick order looks like. The only time we may vary from that is when we have a published ‘Waitlist’ for a litter – this occasionally happens just prior to birth when we will not accept any more advance reservations -- we may instead offer the opportunity to Waitlist and to confirm your reservation within a set period of time following birth (typically a couple of days). If you have questions about the reservations process or pick order for a particular litter, please just contact us.
- I would like to reserve a puppy from a current/upcoming litter, however I have vacation/travel/personal plans shortly after the puppies are scheduled to go home at 8 weeks old. Can you help? Can you provide boarding for our puppy? Can I pick him/her up later than 8 weeks?
- This is really common - and yes, we can likely help you out! We often help out with boarding or back-up care for our puppy families, particularly before the puppy is fully vaccinated (at 16 weeks) and they cannot go to a boarding facility. We will hold onto a puppy until he/she turns 9 weeks (included in the puppy price) - if you need him/her to stay longer or come back to board with us we ask $50 per day. As long as we aren't away on vacation ourselves, we can likely work it out - just ask 😊!
PREPARING TO BRING HOME PUPPY
- What type of food are the puppies eating?
- The puppies are starting to eat Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains Lamb & Blueberry Puppy and Dr. Gary's Best Breed Puppy. Because of the FDA studies over the past 18 months detailing new information about dog foods, we are continuously evaluating so that we consistently feed our puppies the best. When your puppy is going home, I will send you an email with a complete list of what they have been eating so that you can help them transition home. You can find these foods for sale online at Chewy.com.
- What do I need to know to begin preparing for my puppy to come home?
The puppies will each go home with a 5-day supply of food (we will be rotating between Farmina N&D Ancestral Grains Lamb & Blueberry Puppy and Dr. Gary's Best Breed Puppy from Chewy.com). With the recent FDA study on grain-free dog foods, a lot of folks are re-evaluating their pets' diets and reconsidering recommendations by the various food rating systems (such as Dog Food Advisor). If you decide to switch them onto another food, you can simply mix it together for a few days to reduce the chance of an upset tummy. The puppies will be on a 4x day eating schedule, I will let you know more about timing/volumes as they get closer to their homecoming.
The puppies will also go home with one of their litter blankets that smells like their litter and momma (ok, they are a little gross...but comforting to the pups). You can put this to bed with them on the first few nights to help them transition. That said, please keep in mind that this will be the pup's first time sleeping alone so the first weeks can be a little rough. They do get used to it, though - I promise! Some folks also get a Snuggle Puppy - which I think couldn't hurt, but I also cannot vouch for their effectiveness either :).
The puppies will also go home with their AKC registration paperwork (unless I have communicated another timeline - as we may be in process transferring registrations from FCI or a European Kennel to the AKC). The AKC offers different membership levels and you can register them online. The litter information is pre-printed on the form and you have up to one year to register them. Along with registration, the AKC offers 30 days of free trial pet insurance and a complimentary vet visit through VCA.
The puppies will receive two veterinary examinations and their initial round of DHPP vaccination from Pilchuck Veterinary. They will need to see your vet for 3 more rounds of vaccinations - most vets do them at 9-10week, 12-14 weeks, and 16 weeks (rabies) - but you should ask your vet what they recommend (most have 'puppy packages' that are more cost effective). I will send home the veterinary records with the puppies so you can just hand them to your vet and he/she will know what has been done.
A lot of families ask about pet insurance, as the unexpected costs of veterinary care can run high…for example we’ve had puppy families pay $1800 for a Veterinary ER visit for puppy diarrhea or $4500 for endoscopic surgery when their puppy swallowed a small fabric toy. Here is an article in Canine Journal which outlines the basics about pet insurance and compares insurance companies. As a Good Dog breeder, we are glad to be able to offer Trupanion pet insurance to our puppy families (please note, we do not receive any compensation for this – it is solely a benefit to families if they choose to sign up). Trupanion will offer first day coverage as long as the policy is activated within 24 hours of your puppy going home.
The puppies will be wearing X-Small whelping collars, which they will quickly outgrow. I recommend that you get the next size up - a Small. Here is a basic collar we like by Blueberry Pet that comes in many colors and can be customized with a name and phone number. Also, if you choose to invest in a harness they would wear a Small right now, but once full grown (in about a year) they will likely wear a Large. If you are looking for a harness recommendation, many folks really like the Wonder Walker which can hook the leash in front of the chest (it reduces pulling because the dog will turn him/herself around when they pull). They sell this at Pet Pros, Mud Bay and I'm sure many other pet stores. We also like these ones which have a front-clip as well.
CRATES & PLAYPENS
We do recommend the use of crates for puppies as it provides them a safe place to 'get away from it all' and helps in housebreaking :). We have introduced the pups to crates by putting treats in them and creating a positive connection. When goldens are full grown they will likely need a 42 inch crate and some (like this one) have dividers so that your pup can grow into them. Also, for times that you are away from home longer than a few hours, you could consider using a playpen (like this one) to give them a bit more space while keeping them contained within your home.
A few folks have asked about the litter box setup, as you've seen the puppies using them. I think it's a reasonable 'backup' solution for times that he/she is in a playpen when you cannot take them out every couple of hours. For example, if you are going to be away from the house for half a day, kind of thing... Otherwise, I recommend trying to just be consistent about taking them outside every 2 hours or just after he/she has napped or eaten. They key is, you don't want to make it too easy for them to 'go' inside, but you also don't want to stress him/her out if the time period is too long to reasonably 'hold it'. If you would like a litter box setup, the pellets we use are walnut pellets which you can pick up at Mud Bay or Petco. You can also use wood stove pellets (Douglas fir only, not pine) but those are a bit dustier and less odor absorbent. Please note, do NOT use any other type kitty litter, especially with a clumping agent, as it is toxic to puppies. For a tray, you can use a kitty litter bin with low sides or a Puppy Go Here pan (in a playpen) or a larger utility tray for larger spaces (by the door). However, I would suggest even when using a litter box on the needed occasions, it remains important to start early on house training. For more information on how to do this, here are a few resources we love:
There are many dog trainers and/or training facilities in the local area - such as DogSmart Seattle and RiverDog (both are in Issaquah). We've had a great experience training with John at DogSmart, as have many of our puppy families - so he is our top recommendation for local families. Also, a number of our puppy families have also been happy with group classes at RiverDog. Additionally, there are a number of reputable training organizations around the Puget Sound - we encourage you to find one which offers positive/reward-based training (aka "fear-free" training) and is in a convenient location for you. We believe that Puppy Kindergarten is critical to helping socialize puppies in their 'sensitive period' up to 16 weeks. So I would encourage you to make plans ahead of bringing your puppy home. Along with Puppy Kindergarten (which socializes them with other puppies), puppy obedience training can help them learn basic commands such as 'sit', 'down', 'come', 'off', 'drop it' and 'leave it'. Please note, these classes are even more helpful to their humans to learn how to teach and work with their golden family members! If in-person training is not an option, the AKC offers videos on how to instruct the basics (sit, down, wait, etc) at home as well as there are high quality online training program options such as Baxter and Bella. Additionally, we are huge fans of Avidog (now owned by Good Dog) who offers a course on Savvy Socialization for New Puppy Owners.
- Do you have any other recommendations for puppy supplies or things to buy?
- There are lots of things we have tried over the years and a few that we tend to buy over and over again (because they work for us!). I've started a list of our Favorites that you can check out!
GOTCHA DAY: BRINGING PUPPY HOME
- Do you have any tips for successfully transitioning my puppy home?
Bringing puppy home is a super exciting time! However, the first couple of weeks can be a bit rough or a honeymoon period - or both! It's your pup's first time in their new home with their forever family, sleeping without their fur-siblings, and they are settling into a new routine with new 'house rules'...these articles contain a few tips that new puppy families may find helpful..
Some of the most common questions I receive include...
- My puppy is not eating well, what should I do?
- It's a big change and please feel free to give them a few days to get their appetite back! It's a lot to take in. If your pup starts losing weight or you are worried, you can certainly try some canned pumpkin and/or homemade chicken & rice, as that smells so good and is so tempting to eat :).
- My puppy has an upset tummy and/or diarrhea, what should I do?
- It may be due to a change in food or water, homecoming nervousness, or potentially other causes. You could try to slowly change foods by mixing in their current foods (listed above) for a few days - or try a very bland chicken & rice recipe made at home or canned veterinary blend. Probiotics, such as Fortiflora (available from Chewy.com), can also help a lot to settle a tummy. If they are still not solid after a few days, it could be due to a flare up of bacteria or other (typical but kinda yucky) intestinal stuff - you can ask your vet for a fecal test and they may recommend Pyrantel Pamoate or Panacur (Fenbendazole). FYI, your pup has been receiving a dose of Pyrantel or another dewormer every two weeks since they were born. We love the Avidog deworming protocol which includes parasites and other common issues which may arise. If you need to take him/her to the vet, please ask them to do a fecal test FIRST (we’ve never had a puppy who couldn’t be diagnosed this way!).
- I would like my puppy to sleep in a crate, but they don't seem to like it and cry a lot, what do I do?
- We do believe in crate training - as most dogs love having their own 'room' in the long term. However, it can be a slow process to help them get used to their crate and grow to love it. What we do is leave the door open and put treats in there (mysteriously!) so that our dogs want to check the crate out for surprise treasures. Then we close them in there for 5-10 minutes, with lots of treats, and slowly expand that time. During the initial couple of weeks at home, I don't really worry about where they sleep and/or creating bad habits, as they are just getting to know their new home and becoming comfortable. If you want to go faster, you can have them sleep in their crate starting the first night, please just know they will likely cry for 30-90 minutes before they settle down to sleep (it's a bit like crib training an infant). If you are consistent, they will get used to it as a part of their routine. Here are some excellent resources that will help you in crate training:
- My puppy is acting like a Piranha (or Baby Shark) and won't stop chewing or biting me/my kids/my other dog/my stuff/etc? :)
- So the good news about puppies is that they are super cute...the rest of the news is that they are full of energy, have little impulse control, and can often act like unruly toddlers. They do need boundaries - and especially when they are first coming home, as they are trying to figure out the new 'pack order' (aka: who's in charge here? is it me?!?). I promise -- with love and coaching, they will settle down! They are teething in the first couple of months and want to chew on everything (like socks, shoes, furniture, cabinets, other things they really shouldn't chew on...). For this, I recommend Bitter Apple Spray and consistency in trading-up or 'drop it' for things they shouldn't have in their mouths. This includes your fingers, arms, etc - at first it may seem a little cute that they will chew on your hands, however their sharp little puppy teeth only get bigger & stronger, so good to nip that early on. If they are getting over-exciting a biting - then I recommend making a big, dramatic production of how much it hurts (cry out loudly!), and then put them away and stop playing (immediately). Here are a few resources which I like on this topic...