Dog breeder recommendation for good family dogs

We have checked and are continuing to check rescue organizations but have so far not found a dog that we liked and that met our requirements, so we decided to look into breeders in parallel as well while continuing to check the rescue organization's websites and attending meets and greets.  Any recommendation for breeders of golden retriever, lab, or golden or lab mixes who breed medium sized dogs with good, chill temperament who will make for a good family pet in a family with very young kids.  And what is the average cost for a puppy from such a breeder for that type of dog?  We have started looking around and have been quoted anywhere from $600-3000 and it will be helpful to know what a reasonable amount is.  We were also advised that dogs of those type are sometimes bred/trained as guide dogs or other service animal type and that getting a dog from such breeder or a guide dog school drop out might be a good way to increase the odds of a well behaved and chill dog.  Any advice for those type of breeders or training places in the area?  We prefer in northern CA so we can visit the dog and see the parents, but will be ok with out of state and getting the dog shipped here if the breeder is recommended. Thanks. 

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

I suggest that you consider adopting a labordoodle or a cockapoo. Check out It is located in Brentwood, east of Antioch. Malinda, the owner is a highly ethical breeder and has wonderful family dogs. I have a 12-year-old cockapoo that I got from her when he was 8 weeks old. Any of the dogs with poodle in their breeding shed very little or not at all, as is the case with my dog. They are generally very smart dogs and easy to train. They are gentle and are great with children. You may be able to find a dog with similar breeding from one of the rescue groups, however they usually get adopted very quickly. I wish you and your family good luck in finding the right dog for your family.

Both Goldens and Labs are very popular which means that there are also a large number of unscrupulous breeders that are just in it for the money. 

Here’s a great article that lays out some of the basics things to consider:

I also encourage people to look at the websites for AKC parent clubs to understand required health testing:

For example, Golden Retrievers should have had an OFA evaluation of hips and elbows and Have has a CERF or OFA eye exam to look for the possibility of hereditary cataracts.

Both websites will also have listings for local clubs like the Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Club:  

I have paid about $1,000 each for my past two dogs.

That being said – I really encourage families with young children to take the time to reflect on is they have the time and attention to bring a dog into the family. Puppies, and sporting dog breeds in general, are a ton of work. For a family that is already feeling like their life is full, it can tip them over to feeling like they are drowning.    I have a young child and a young dog right now and despite over a decade of experience in training dogs, it's a difficult balancing act.

No sporting or working breed, heck no puppy, is going to be chill. They have a ton of smarts and energy that will need to be focused into something good.  Many of my clients are well meaning families who overestimated the time and attention they would have for their dog. These dogs stay young, fit, and busy for most of their lives. So what I usually find is a bored dog who digs, barks, counter surfs, and destroys couches just to get some stimulus in their life.

You may want to look into adopting a career change greyhound. They are really generally easy keepers and what you see is what you are going to get – the world’s fastest couch potato.

This is not really about breeders, but wanted to share what I've learned about finding a puppy through a rescue organization.  We started volunteering as a foster family for puppies that were too young to be adopted.  Basically, you care for a litter of puppies in your home and often you get first pick when they are old enough to be adopted.  The SPCA breaks the litters up into groups of two or three so it is not as much work for the foster families.  Some other organizations may ask you to care for four or five at a time.  We have cared for four litters of puppies in our home over the years, and every time it was a really great experience.  The kids loved it, it was better for the dogs, and when we were finally ready to keep one forever, we picked the puppy that had the best temperament ever.  That puppy is now seven years old, and I can tell you that he is one of the best dogs I know.  Even if you don't find your dog this way, I highly recommend the experience.  

I'm sure you'll get other feedback on this as well, but just a note that getting a puppy from a breeder is not a great way to guarantee temperament. If a chill dog is the goal, you're far better off adopting a year-old dog where you can observe the dog's temperament. Whether the dog is well-behaved rests more on you than on anything else, though. You'll need to train your new dog wherever you get it from, and then you'll need to be consistent in sticking to that training in the years to come. Also know that goldens and labs are not generally medium-sized (our lab is 100 pounds, though that's on the high end of normal!) so if you want a medium-sized dog, you'll probably need to look at mixes. You can also try breed rescues, which focus on particular breeds of dogs (and often pull those dogs from shelters). The last caveat is that you ask about dogs that are good with very young kids. How young is young? We are dog people and our current aging dog predates our kids, but we do not plan to get a new dog until the kids are in early elementary school because of the enormous time commitment that training a new dog entails. If your kids are younger than three, I'd think seriously about waiting until they are a little older unless you have a parent who is home at least part-time who intends to commit some of that time to caring for and training your new pup. It is a big time commitment in the early weeks and months, and would (at least for us) have been challenging to juggle with caring for a baby or toddler.

Labs and golden retrievers are not usually chill dogs. Labs especially. They can be trained to be so, but it is a heck of a lot of work and that's why only a small percentage of Labs make it through the training to become guide dogs. I've met "guide dog dropouts" and chill is not a word I would use to describe them ;)

Please, please make sure you understand the needs of the breeds you are looking at. Labs need lots of exercise to be happy, well-behaved, somewhat chill dogs.

They are great with kids usually, but so are many other breeds.

For the record, I adopted a Lab from Golden Gate Lab Rescue 8 years ago. It was a lot of work to train him, and he needs a ton of exercise, but he is the best dog I've ever known. That said, friends have looked at what we've committed to in terms of training and exercise and often commented "I could never do that" while also acknowledging that he is the best behaved dog they know.

All of this is to say that if you are willing to put in the time and effort and commitment, a Lab might be a great choice for you. But be sure you know what you are getting into.

There are plenty of rescue dogs if you are willing to wait for the right one for you.

Are you sure you want a lab/golden retriever? They are big, excitable, extremely active dogs. They do settle down and chill when they are elderly, but for most of their lives they want to be active. So they may be not the best choice for an urban family with little kids and already-overextended parents.

My friend got a lab puppy, based on a vision of a big friendly protective family dog for the kids.  She learned the hard way that the dog needed to run every morning and every evening.  Not just taken for a walk; it needed to run, HARD. It's more than five years old now, and shows no signs of calming down. She has to get up an hour early every day before work to take the dog to Point Isabel to run.  Otherwise the dog will shred the household furnishings trying to exercise itself.  When it came over to my house, which it doesn't do anymore at my request, it would race around the house alarming my dog and cats, play leapfrog with the sofa, knock things over including toddlers, and cruise the dining room table looking for an opening to grab food. Not a good houseguest. It wasn't the dog's fault - it just was not suited to the urban lifestyle.

These dogs are very loyal, which is why they make good family dogs, but they do need a lot of exercise, and you will need to accommodate that in your daily schedule. Do you have an extra hour or two every day for the dog, on top of what you're already doing?

Here is what I would recommend instead. Sign up with your local humane society. They have a questionnaire they'll give you where you detail what you're looking for in a dog, and what your family set-up is. You can specify what age of dog you are looking for, what size, what level of activity, shedding vs. non-shedding, drooling vs. non-drooling, etc. They will recommend a general type of dog for you to be thinking about, and they will let you know when they get a dog that fits your needs. Then you can visit the dog and see its temperament for yourself, instead of being handed a puppy that you THINK might have the temperament you're looking for. My dog, which is a perfect dog of course :), is now 14-ish and came from the Humane Society when she was 3 or 4 years old. She is the best dog ever. Good luck!!