Where Is The Best Place To Get A Golden Retriever?

Updated: June 30th, 2022

where is the best place to get a golden retriever? A pic of a litter of GR puppies

Now that’s a truck load of cute!

The decision to bring a dog into your family is one of the most life changing and important decisions you can ever make. It will have a major effect on your life for a decade or more.

Hopefully you’ve already thoroughly researched whether a Golden Retriever is the right dog for you… and just as importantly whether you’re the right family for them!

But having decided, choosing where to get one from is a tough and daunting decision with so many options available.

There’s breeders, pet shops, rescue centers, classified ads in newspapers and pros and cons to each to consider. So where is the best place to get a Golden retriever?

This article will take you through some of the important information related to each option so you’re well-informed before making this all important decision.

What Are The Different Places You Can Get A Golden Retriever Puppy From?

There are a few places you can look to get yourself a puppy, or indeed a more mature dog. But not all options are created equal and there are some places I would advise against.

The various options are:

  • A respected, professional breeder
  • A ‘backyard breeder’
  • A friend who’s just had puppies
  • A rescue center
  • A pet store or a puppy mill

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each so you can make a better-informed decision.

Buying A Golden Retriever From A Respectable, Professional Breeder

Purchasing a Golden retriever Puppy from a respected, responsible professional breeder is by far the best option when it comes to getting yourself a good quality, healthy puppy given the best start in life.

A responsible professional breeder:

  • Cares greatly about the overall quality and welfare of the breed and selectively breeds for the betterment of the Golden Retriever population as a whole.
  • Guarantee a purebred GR so you can be sure of what you’re really getting.
  • Screen sire and dam for health issues in trying to breed puppies with the lowest possible chance of inherited disease.
  • Will help you to select the right puppy for you from the many different personalities in their litter. Not all dogs are created equal! Some are more energetic, more headstrong, more confident, others less so. They will match you to the perfect puppy for your hopes and lifestyle.
  • They handle, care for, and socialize puppies in such an expert way that the puppies have had the best possible start in life and the greatest chance of growing up a confident, happy dog of good temperament.
  • They provide some of the best advice and support that can be given about how you should care for your new family member, from the moment you make the decision right through your Goldens entire life.

So as you can see, there are many benefits to buying from a professional breeder. But surely there must be some cons you may be thinking? Well it depends how you look at it, but:

  • A professional breeder will ask you many questions to be sure you are a good fit and have the right lifestyle that fits in with owning a Golden Retriever. They won’t just give their puppies to anyone, they will want to know they’re going to a very good home where they will have a good life.
  • You could have a long wait. Good breeders are popular and do not breed excessively, so you may have to wait a year or more before a puppy becomes available. But a benefit to this is that it weeds out the impulse buyers which cuts down on puppies that are given up after rushed decisions.
  • Compared to some other options, you will pay quite a high price. I say a high price but what I mean is a fair price really. A fair price for a good quality, healthy puppy. It’s more some of the other options are low in price because you get what you pay for.

So there isn’t really a downside when you consider their actions are for the betterment of the breed and the quality of service and dog that you receive.

It’s my and most people’s opinion that when choosing a place where to buy a puppy, you’re the best option is in finding a responsible breeder.

Buying A Golden Retriever From A ‘Backyard Breeder’

The term ‘backyard breeder‘ is mostly used in a derogatory way to describe unprofessional and unethical breeders, considered to breed only for a profit with little care for the welfare and health of their puppies or the breed in general.

But it’s also used to describe amateur breeders who may only breed their dogs once or twice in a lifetime. They may have nothing but good intentions and not be seeking profit, but aren’t knowledgeable on best breeding practices and what ethical and responsible breeding properly entails.

But mostly backyard breeders are the unscrupulous types. They fill the classified sections of papers, put almost any two dogs together for breeding with no care for health screening or temperament, breed many litters per year and care little for their dog’s welfare.

You usually will not be able to see the premises on which the puppies are bred, they will not ask any questions of prospective owners and there will be no commitment or offer of help and advice for the future of the puppies they breed.

Because these breeders don’t health screen dogs before breeding, and their puppies don’t receive proper veterinary care, they often develop many health problems later in life. This results in a poorer quality of life for the animals, and expensive vet bills for the owners.

One positive of backyard breeders though is the price. Yes, they are considerably cheaper than professional breeders. But as you can see, sourcing a puppy from a ‘backyard breeder’ is a bit of a mine field. You never really know what you’re going to get. And the savings you make up front are more than lost for extra vet bills down the road.

Taking A Puppy From A Friend Who’s Just Had Puppies

It sometimes happens that a friend or work colleague has a bitch that ‘accidentally’ becomes pregnant. Or they decide to breed their bitch ‘just once before spaying’.

And it’s quite usual for a friend to offer a puppy at a very reduced price or more usually for free, so it can be very tempting when the cost of a dog from a professional breeder may seem so high.

But where you may avoid ‘backyard breeders’ for their reputation and the warnings you’ll have heard, it’s very likely that acquiring a puppy from your friend is just as problematic.

It’s unlikely they will have health screened their dog, matched it to another taking their health and temperament into account and doing everything possible to make sure their litter is as healthy, good-tempered and as high quality as possible.

So the risk is your puppy has a higher chance of inherited disease and behavior problems than the general population.

Also, without proper papers, and particularly with ‘accidental pregnancies’, you can never really be sure exactly what type (or mix) of dog you’ll be getting. There will be no true guarantee of pedigree.

Of course you’d be giving a puppy a good home, doing your friend a favor and perhaps even saving a puppy from a rescue center.

And let’s be honest, the majority of such dogs do go on to be healthy and make absolutely fantastic pets. But the chances of achieving this aren’t as high when dealing with the unknown and compared to a professional breeder.

But if your friend has taken steps to get veterinary advice and care for the puppies, has looked after and socialized them well, maybe even knows the father of the puppies and can prove he is of good health and pedigree then this option may not be so bad.

Adopting From A Rescue Center

It’s a sad fact of life that many puppies are born without a good home to go to, countless others are given up, and more still are abandoned and taken into rescue centers.

However they got into the situation, there are way too many homeless dogs in the world.

It’s another sad fact that a large number that find themselves in rescue centers never make it to a new home and family. Lack of space and insufficient funding inevitably means that many dogs each year are euthanized.

Maybe you could give a second chance at life to such a dog?

Most rescue centers are staffed by extremely knowledgeable people and the dogs are accurately tested for temperament and health so you will know exactly what you’re getting.

An adopted dog will already be house trained, most likely grown out of the destructive chewing stage, be trained in basic obedience and if an adult dog, inherited disease will already have surfaced so you’ll know what you’re letting yourself in for.

But you should also be aware that some rescued dogs will have behavioral issues, though the center staff will inform you of this.

They may also have suffered some level of abuse and have psychological issues, phobias or anxieties that may not be evident until a certain situation arises.

However, in all but the most extreme cases, a dog that’s shown love, given guidance, patience and understanding will become a very loving pet if only given the chance.

It’s worth pointing out that most (but not all) rescue centers also have a screening process where they will interview prospective owners, asking lots of questions and matching them only to dogs in their care that suit their lifestyle and hopes.

So there is some due diligence and this greatly increases the success rate of finding happy homes for dogs that suit their new human family. This is obviously a good thing for both the dogs and hopeful owners too!

Buying From A Pet Store Or A Puppy Mill

A litter of puppies in a cage on displayA large number of dogs bought from pet stores originate from puppy farms, also known as puppy mills, which are profit driven businesses that mass-produce dogs and sell through pet stores and classifieds.

In puppy mills, dogs are bred in appalling conditions, kept in overcrowded small wire cages, given little exercise or socialization, enjoy no human contact and receive nothing in the way of veterinary care.

The bitches are bred way too often, usually until they can no longer do so, and at which point they’re destroyed.

The puppies are usually taken away from their mothers and litter-mates at such a young age that behavioral issues in the adult dog are extremely common.

The dogs in puppy mills are no more than a commodity, a cash crop to be produced and harvested while spending as little as possible to maximize profits as far as possible.

Yes, many people have been lucky enough to have purchased the most glorious of family pets from a pet store, but for each one a lot of suffering has occurred for countless more.

I strongly advise that you do not support the puppy mill industry and never buy a dog from a puppy mill or pet store. The risks of not getting a quality, healthy dog are too high, and the ethics of the industry are shocking with many dogs suffering at their hands. Everybody should work to eradicate the entire industry and the first step is by not supporting them financially.

So Where is The Best Place To Get A Golden Retriever Puppy?

There are many places and options available to get a Golden Retriever puppy, some good, some bad, and puppy mills and pet stores just an appalling option to be avoided.

In my opinion your 2 best options are to source a puppy from a professional breeder or to adopt from a rescue center.

In both cases there will be a vetting process and you’ll only be given a puppy or dog if you and they are well suited.

But there are other options available and I hope this article has given you some information to help you in your decision.

Please let us know about your experiences of getting a GR from any of the sources above, or even one I may have forgotten. We’d love to hear your story. Thank you.


Written By

Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two, life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves - writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.

Show CommentsClose Comments


  • John cirelli
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 7:10 pm 0Likes

    Is there a place were I can adopt a 1 year old golden. Or buy thanx

    • Wendy
      Posted November 2, 2015 at 1:29 am 0Likes

      Hi John,

      Google for your local rescue center(s) or reputable breeders that are in or near to your city.

  • Pam
    Posted December 14, 2017 at 7:03 pm 0Likes

    Your article is very good but the links to finding a puppy take you to some unscrupulous sites for Goldens. I would recommend adding in a link to the Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA.org), they have a search engine to find Golden Retriever clubs and breeders all over the United States that adhere to their ethics policy regarding breeding dogs.

  • gisele giroux
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 2:30 pm 0Likes

    i am wanting a golden retriever that has been in sportman show that is champion and having puppies
    wanting pup toward jan feb my golden guy appollo passed last year nov 29 it is very hurtful still
    am looking for a champion pedegree if you have been in a sportman show please call me we talk about me having on of your pups
    they are best breed in the world i miss my appollo his dad was show dog his mother was champion
    must be not far to travel medium golden perfer

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