Thank you for your interest in adopting a puppy from GRR. Note that we do not adopt out puppies to families with children under the age of eight, or to homes where all the adults work long hours.
To be sure that puppies are right for your family, please take some time to read the information below. You will also find it extremely helpful to review the puppy-care information from Dr Ian Dunbar’s website; go to this website, click on “free downloads,” and review “Before You Get Your Puppy” and “After You Get Your Puppy.”
Puppyhood: Myth vs. Fact
We are often contacted by families wanting to adopt young puppies. While we do occasionally get pups aged 8 to 12 weeks or so, most of our young dogs come in at 6 months or older. We tend to get them after the novelty wears off and the reality of bringing up a boisterous large-breed youngster sets in. It’s often the case that new owners acquire their pups from backyard breeders and pet stores who do not take the time to educate them on the realities of Golden ownership. Getting a Golden pup means dealing with a couple of years at least of “puppy” behavior—and, of course, making a commitment to 12 to 15 years of conscientious care. “We didn’t know he’d get so big and active and need so much attention,” “He’s too wild to do anything with,” “He jumps all over the kids” —these are comments we hear all the time. As a responsible rescue organization, we'd like to make you aware of some of the myths involving Golden puppy ownership—and then give you the actual facts.
Myth: “They are so little and easy to care for at that age.”
Fact: Pups, just like human infants, require more attention (and time, and care) than they reciprocate for at least a year. Puppies under 6 months of age require an average of 5 hours of care per day (in at least 20-minute increments) to raise, socialize and train properly. The reality is that a puppy is a peeing, pooping, chewing and shredding machine with a very limited attention span for nearly the first year of its life. At about age 1, given adequate training and socialization, he’ll begin to interact more with humans, play ball, understand not to jump on the kids, and be able to understand (sometimes!) what’s an appropriate chew toy and what isn’t, etc. But even at age 1, Goldens are still puppies, with loads of energy, curiosity, and mischief-making ability.
These normal phases require a lot of time, patience and training to get through. Most people with busy families and lives do not have that kind of time. If you work full time, who will take care of a small pup during the day when it needs to go outside, eat, play, etc.? If the family has numerous outside activities and commitments that take them away from home for much of the day, how will a small puppy or energetic young dog fit in to that?
Myth: “The kids need a puppy to grow up with.”
Fact: Small kids and small puppies are often not a good combination. GRs do not mature emotionally until 2 to 3 years of age, but physically they mature very early. That cute fluffy puppy rapidly grows into a big hairy handful of dog, and the newness/novelty of pup ownership wears off quickly. It is not uncommon for a 6-month-old Golden to weigh 40 to 70 pounds, and most have the energy level of a rocket. Small children do not do well with a bounding, bouncy puppy who knocks them over frequently. Add to that the teething and chewing phases, and the fact that puppies usually don’t know the difference between human skin & toys and chew bones, and the children quickly tire of the dog—and may even be frightened by her rowdy antics. And of course, it can be very hard for parents to look after tearaway toddlers and a wild & mischievous puppy at the same time. For these reasons, GRR as a general rule does not adopt out Goldens younger than age 2 to families with children under age 8.
Some parents also think that getting a puppy for the kids is a great way to teach the child responsibility. No! No child, no matter how mature for his age, should be made responsible for the care of a pet—and especially not a demanding small puppy. The children can and should help, but it is the adults’ job to make sure the dog is trained, socialized, exercised, given regular medical care, fed on schedule, given monthly heartworm preventive, and so on. If even one of the adults in the family doesn’t want a Golden and is not willing to put in the time to help care for the dog, DON’T get one. It’s not fair to the dog.
Myth: “Puppies are easier to train.”
Fact: It takes about 3 or 4 obedience classes to begin making a puppy a good canine citizen. This translates to you taking the dog to 1 hour of class every week for 6 to 8 weeks, PLUS spending about 1 hour EACH day working on what you learned in class to reinforce the behaviors. Puppies are very distractable! In comparison, adult dogs may require only 1 or 2 classes and less at-home work, because they have a longer attention span and can get the training down pat more quickly.
Myth: “It’s better to buy a puppy so you know what you are getting and how it’s been raised.”
Fact: Puppies are an unknown entity no matter where you get them. Of course, buying from a reputable breeder gives you the a much better chance for a healthy, stable dog (see the puppy referral info at the bottom of the page for information on locating a reputable breeder), but all purebred Goldens have a number of inherent health problems and risks, many of which may not be evident until the pup is older. GRs are prone to hip dysplasia, heart and eye problems, and skin and allergy problems as well as thyroid and kidney diseases and, occasionally, behavioral problems. A puppy can seem fine for his first 6 to18 months, then develop hip dysplasia or other health problems. As far as health goes, adult dogs are much closer to “what you see is what you get.” Bear in mind, also, that the mere fact that a puppy has AKC papers doesn’t guarantee anything as far as his ultimate health and overall personality is concerned. It simply means that the pup’s mom and dad were of the same breed.
Myth: “Puppies make a great gift.”
Fact: Dogs are living, sentient beings, not objects to be given away. Pups are a 12- to 15-year commitment, so acquiring one should be a carefully thought-out decision on the part of the potential owner. It may be the case that the person you present with a darling puppy does not want the responsibility, or he would have gotten a dog himself. What kind of a life will the puppy have with someone who doesn’t really want him? Such “gift pups” often wind up ignored in the backyard, bored and unhappy. Responsible gift givers choose to wrap up a collar, leash, bowls, etc. and enclose a note saying they will pay the adoption/purchase price after the potential owner has a chance to decide if he even wants a dog—and if he does, he should choose it on his own.
We also encourage you to read "Is a Golden Right for Me?" for more information. In addition, please read “All about Goldens” on the Golden Retriever Club of America’s website, http://www.grca.org/. You’ll find information on getting a pup at www.grca.org/allabout/index.html, and information on finding a reputable breeder at www.grca.org/allabout/puppyreferrals.html.
Thank you for your interest and for carefully reading this information. By making an educated and informed choice, you’ll avoid becoming one of the surrendering owners of the future. If you have further questions, please contact us at 512-659-4653.
Austin Golden Retriever Club: www.austingoldenretrieverclub.com/
Greater Houston Golden Retriever Club: www.ghgrc.org/puppy.htm
DFW Metro Golden Retriever Club: www.dfwmgrc.org/Links.htm