We feel that responsible & reputable breeders put the well being of the dogs first & foremost. They will be ethical, moral, & take on a positive attitude in their interactions with their dogs and the people they meet both in business & their personal life. They will adopt & follow the rules set down by AKC for their breed to the best of their ability. They will set up a partnership between themselves & the families who adopt their 4 legged children. For that is what these puppies should be - a part of the family!
We feel breeders should belong to at least one National or local dog club or organization. The main one for Golden Retrievers is the Golden Retriever Club of America (www.grca.org) of which we belong. Their breeding dogs will be registered. (usually with the American Kennel Club), & they should be able to supply anyone adopting a pup with copies of the pedigree (3 generations minimum) plus all medical clearances for both parents (&/or ancestors). Beware of any saying they will send paperwork later, if that is the case make sure it is fully documented in your contract as to what you will be receiving & when.
A responsible breeder will try to be involved in your dogs full life cycle (without being invasive). Contacting you periodically to find out the well being of your dog, tracking any health issues. A responsible breeder will be motivated solely because and by the love they have for their animals not money. Dogs have been a part of our family's life as far back as I can remember, on the ranch at my Grandparents place, my fathers hunting dogs (where I experienced holding my first "minutes old" pup), our daughter growing up with the Goldens and now in passing this love to our Grandkids Zachary, Matthew & Elivia.
Request a visit to the kennel, you should be allowed reasonable viewing of the parents (Insurance carriers are now limiting coverage for visitors going INTO kennels & getting hurt, so understand if a Breeder asks you to view the dogs thru a fence instead and do not put your hand thru the fence, as that type of injury is also not covered by insurance ). Please remember a good breeder will also be very protective of her babies, especially new ones. There are lots of things out there that can harm a young pup, you may be limited access or required to scrub &/or wear protective covers to help in protecting them, this is a reasonable request. We prefer at a minimum, that the pups have their eyes open before viewing and we supply shoe covers and lots of soap. This visit is a time for you to screen the owners and for them to screen you, ask for a copy of their written agreement and go over it with them carefully. Responsible breeders require a Spay/Neuter contract and/or a Limited registration. Make sure you understand it fully. Lastly, if you are not comfortable tell them why (so they can correct their situation) and leave or if you find animals being hurt/neglected don't try to save them by purchasing, it only supports & encourages more of the same behavior, call the authorities, they will stop the situation hopefully saving them all.