How we breed and raise our Goldens.
Both our males and our females get their OFA or OFA preliminary before breeding. NO female is ever bred before her 2nd birthday. We want our mommy dogs to be fully matured, emotionally and physically before becoming a mommy. They are vaccinated if needed, wormed, and put on an increased diet before we breed them. Once bred they remain active and go out daily to run and enjoy plenty of sunshine and fresh air. A week before the female's due date we move them to quiet whelping areas in the house to sleep so that it become "their" area. By now they are having free access to all the dry food they can eat and are receiving a helping of fresh meat and veg in the evenings.
Once the puppies are born the females continue with free feeding with the dry food that we put a generous amount of puppy replacement milk powder over. This gives the female that extra help in producing milk and in getting all the nutrition needed. The puppies are handled daily and the puppies started on puppy acclimation* lessons at 21 days. Puppies do not have socialization problems when handled daily and given household exposure.
They listen to the Puppy Party hits during the day, a computer playing sound effects at a low sound so they can hear things they would not hear on our quiet farm. Jack hammers, buses, loud conversations, emergency sirens, trains, 3 albums worth of every sound effect found in the city, including some zoo animal sounds. They are visited by the cats, sometimes scolded by the macaw and always spoiled by the senior dogs who act as babysitters when "mom" steps out for a break.
As stated above at 21 days daily cuddling developes a new twist. Puppies are gently postioned into sit and down positions as they are softly told to sit and to down. Feet are handled with soft give me paw instructions and tiny mouths are opened to show me teeth. All of this puppy acclimination instruction helps you the new owner and your DVM when it comes to medical visits. At 5 weeks collar and lead are introduced and puppies begin to learn walking on lead manners. All of this combined with play retrieve lessons, exposure to pheasant wings and the odd cap pistal going off let the puppy learn that life is fun and challenging and gets him interested in learning new things. It is a foundation that many owners find to be more than a little helpful when they take their puppy home. Puppies are brushed daily, their little nails trimmed weekly and they turn into regular little TV addicts cuddled in our media room watching Dr Who and The Big Bang Theory.
As a general rule of thumb our puppies are wormed at 2, 4,and 6, weeks of age. At 8 weeks they are given a heartworm preventative called Interceptor Plus that also treats and prevents internal parasites for 30 days. At 8 or 9 weeks of age they are given a 5 way multi vaccine. Before then they have mommy's immunity and vaccinating too soon can end up canceling out both the immunity passed on from mom, and the immunity that the vaccination was supposed to give. Puppies are given Frontline Plus to insure a flea free puppy. We STRONGLY suggest new owners talk to their DVM about continuing flea and heart worm monthly prevention on a year round basis.
Our puppies are naturally weaned, that is we don't force a seperation between mom and pups. Instead we insure there is always dry food avialable and in reach of puppies and mommy. Starting at about 3 weeks the puppies will curiously play and nibble with the food and as they grow nibble more than play. They are offered goats milk and freshly cooked goat meat in the evening with their mom and between 7 and 9 weeks they are fully weaned and ready to go to their new homes. By allowing natural weaning we insure the puppies have the best immunity and body development. It also allows the puppy to develop a normal give and take relationship with other dogs through their litter mates and mom. Puppies seperated too early often develop aggression problems with other dogs. The extra time spent with mom and siblings pays off in the long run.
We send the puppies home with enough dry kibble to allow you to switch the pup over to a feed of your choice without undue stress on the puppy. You will also get a history of vaccination, worming etc so you and your DVM know what was given, when it was given, and how much was given.
Now for a word about genetics. We go over and beyond what the AKC requires for health requirements of breedable dogs. While we insure Hips and Elbows are sound through the OFA and have our DVM check for health problems every year including checking their hearts. We also run a DNA panel on our breeding dogs through Opti Gen lab or Paw Prints lab both recognized DNA labs.They test for Degenerative Myelopathy, Ichthyosis, Progressive Retinal Atrophy,
Progressive retinal Atrophy 2 and progressive Retinal Atrophy, Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration.
Why do we test? Because we would rather KNOW what is going on inside our dogs genetic make up then find out through a phone call by you our customer that a puppy is going blind or itching and scratching itself bloody.
So here is what you need to know whether you buy from us or someone else. If you breed girl dog to boy dog and both are Normal(Clear) Then all the resulting puppies will be Normal "clear"
If you breed a girl dog who is normal to a boy dog who has a "Carrier" status on one or any of the checked for genetics. Then NONE of the puppies will be affected by said carried disorder. Some will be normal and some will be carriers. But none will develop the disorder. So carrier status is not a problem provided you do the DNA testing on all breeding dogs to insure that the carrier be it the girl or the boy is only bred with a dog who is Normal "clear" This is why we test. And why you should test BOTH male and female before you breed your pet to insure its a good match.
If you just pitch 2 dogs together and both are untested you could be breeding positive affected dogs to carrier dogs or even if one is normal if the other is positive you will end up with affected puppies. Basically you are rolling the dice every time you breed untested dogs hoping because they look healthy nothing is lurking and waiting to show up later.
A dog who tests Positive for any disorder is actively affected by that disorder and should never be bred. A dog who tests positive will pass that disorder on to the puppies and that is something you as a customer don't want and I as a breeder certainly don't with the certainty of creating sickly pups.
While genetics have come a long way there is still no way to predict cancer in humans or canines. It is the number one killer of Golden Retrievers. Also affected at a higher rate than other breeds are Rottweilers, The Bernese Mountain dog, Bouvier des Flandres, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Bichon Frise, and the Boxer.
Please do your research on the breed and all the pros and cons both health wise and as a breed with distinct breed traits. Remember you are taking on a life time commitment to another living being.
* puppy acclimination = the gentle introduction of hearing a cue word or phrase and having
it associated with an action. This is NOT obedience training but is instead a foundation that training can be built on.