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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
https://www.syrahgoldens.com/

My husband and I are looking at this breeder to purchase a puppy from and I was just hoping for another opinion on them as this is our first time dealing with dog breeders.

They exclusively work with English Cream Golden Retrievers. I've done some research on this type and, apparently, they're less prone to cancer than the American Golden? Something like 61% of American Goldens die of cancer but I guess 31% of English Creams do...?

I did reach out to them via email and got a very prompt response. The breeder, Mary, has answered all of my questions and has been very prompt with her replies. She has provided me a blank copy of a contract to look at prior to putting a deposit down. My husband is in law school and he read the contract and said it was pretty good except for a few things.

1. The contract is voided if we rehome the dog.
- We don't plan to rehome.
2. If we breed the dog, we owe Syrah Goldens $4000.
- We will be spay/neutering our dog.
3. If we need to rehome the dog, Syrah Goldens gets first dibs to reclaim it.
- Again, we don't plan to rehome.
4. The health guarantee is pretty much a sham.
- It essentially states that, while all breeding dogs are certified heart/hip/eye, this is not a guarantee for the offspring.
5. The contract is void if we do not have a vet assess the puppy within 72 hours of purchase.
- We would schedule a vet appointment prior to picking up the puppy so the puppy would be vetted within that time frame.

They provided me with contacts of previous buyers whom I have reached out to and gotten good responses. I know it's not necessarily anything, but there are like 51 5-star reviews on Google about them. All other breeders in the area have one or two reviews.

They host an annual Syrah Golden Day where they invite all owners of their puppies to come hang out and bring their dog....implying that they maintain connections and interest in their animals after they're sold.

Also one of the contacts I spoke to was a 60 year old woman who has had goldens and bred them herself for 40 years. She no longer breeds, but she did speak very highly of this breeder, her program, facility, and the general demeanor of the animals.

All of this sounds really good. I just don't want to get swept away by how good it sounds and end up with a diseased dog or something, ya know?

If someone could give 'em a once-over and let me know your thoughts, I'd really appreciate it.
 

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I'm not a good resource for this as I've never bought a dog from a breeder (all either rescues or muts) - However, have obsessed over breeder purchases many times only to end up rescuing the dog that gave me the best "I love you" eyes at a shelter... and I HAVE bought one cat from a breeder (A Siamese kitten no going on 13 years old and in perfect health).

For starters, I've never seen a more convincing breeder website than that one. Love the foster home concept for the breeding dogs. I think a personal visit with your spine fully intact never hurts though.

All that said, I got my cat (who I absolutely think is the best cat EVAH!) was bought from a relatively crappy "breeder". The breeder, upon arrival, turned out to be a stay at home mom who happened to get hold of a male and female siamese cat intact and with papers and let them have several litters. But, you know, my cat looked like she needed me.. so I did it anyway, no regrets. She had fleas out the wazoo and tape worms. Got everything under control, and she turned into a healthy wonderful cat.

So, I'd advise getting a closer personal view despite the great website. But on first glance, I give them high hopes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can schedule a visit to the facility - something she immediately offered to set up for me when I reached out to her. My husband is leery of going just because he has no ability to say no to puppies and is concerned that we'd go for the visit and come home with all the puppies lol
 

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My vote is "nay", for reasons that include:

For starters, the whole "European Light Cream" thing.

Seven "sires", with no mention of how many bitches.

No mention of registered names for any of said seven males.

No mention of any title in any organization. Alternatively, no mention of the fact that they are active hunting dogs, or working dogs.

They claim health testing, but don't mention results, and with no registered names, no way to look them up on the OFA website.

"Foster homes" for bitches, in which "The dog will come back to me every time she is in heat." That right there smacks of a lerge scale breeding program. (Kimbertal, the largest Doberman and Rottweiler puppy mill in the US, is the first kennel I ever saw use that scheme.)

Two litters on the ground at once with a third due any day is not a "small scale" breeder IMO.

The "buy now" button. Puppies are not a pair of shoes, where you just pick out the one you like the looks of. A good breeder will match puppies to families based on things like activity level, prior experience, and what they plan on doing with their puppies.
 

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Agree with nay. It gives off the feeling of "for profit" breeder. No puppy should be able to be picked out at birth. Good breeders usually choose them for you around 7-8 weeks based on your needs. Even breeders that let you choose shouldn't do it until at least six weeks when a personality shows up.

Also I don't know how much of this is anecdotal but if your heart is on a Golden Retriever because of Goldens you have met.. English Creams are not the same temperament in my experience. Although I've met a lot of nasty ones even the sweet more "golden-like" ones still just.. aren't like American Goldens. I don't know how to describe it. Maybe all the ones I know are from the same lines. Haha. I like breeders that have crossed in their heavy American show lines with English to help with longevity but maintain the temperaments and style of the American. I do believe they have less cancer but they are not cancer free. They definitely aren't allergy free and other issues.

Goldens are hard to find a good breeder for. They have a large split in type (show, working, cream, sport and even "pet/byb") and there are serious pros and cons to each. You can try the puppy Golden Puppy Referral page. I'll be the first to admit it is kind of difficult to navigate. I guess find the closest to your area and contact that person. If you share your state someone here may or may not know a breeder?

Puppy Referral: https://www.grca.org/find-a-golden/where-to-find-a-golden/grca-puppy-referral/
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My vote is "nay", for reasons that include:

For starters, the whole "European Light Cream" thing.
You raise really good points that I was aware of but - obviously - overlooked because I have puppy fever. Curious as to what you mean about this as being a negative? Can you elaborate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My vote is "nay", for reasons that include:

For starters, the whole "European Light Cream" thing.
You raise really good points that I was aware of but - obviously - overlooked because I have puppy fever. Curious as to what you mean about this as being a negative? Can you elaborate?
 

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You raise really good points that I was aware of but - obviously - overlooked because I have puppy fever. Curious as to what you mean about this as being a negative? Can you elaborate?
It's a gimmick-y thing. Along the same lines as "Warlock" Dobermans, "English Cream" Labradors, "Toy Schnauzers" and the like. People emphasizing one thing (in this case, color) over everything else, and claiming that's why their dogs are "better".

Breeding to only their own males is another red flag. Just because they own the male doesn't mean he's the best match for a particular bitch. Breeding pairs should complement each other. If a bitch is weaker in one area, then you want to breed to a male that is better in that area. By breeding exclusively to their own males, they are cutting out the cost of stud fees.

Honestly, the farming out of bitches to "foster families" is one of the biggest turn offs for me. That means that they have access to a fairly large pool of bitches that they can profit from breeding without the cost of caring for her full time. And from reading their agreement, it looks like they breed their bitches every cycle.
 

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My main issue is the lack of information about the bitches, and no mention of how each individual dog did with testing/titles.

That, and a bit too many litters... they pretty much seem to be in it for the money (especially with the 'buy now' thing)...
 

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For me, one of the main questions is "What do they DO with their dogs besides breed them?"

I don't see any mention of conformation titles. Titles where dogs are judged against the breed standard by impartial third parties.

I don't see any mention of performance titles. Titles where the dogs have to prove their trainability and adaptability in a variety of stressful situations.

I don't see any mention of field titles. Titles where dogs have proved that they can do the work they were originally bred for.

I don't see where they mention any of their dogs are actively hunted over. Again, proving that they can do what they were originally bred for.

I don't see where any of their dogs are worked in detection or SAR. Again, proving trainability and adaptability in a variety of situations.

In short, I don't see any mention of anything except producing puppies.
 

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For me, one of the main questions is "What do they DO with their dogs besides breed them?"

I don't see any mention of conformation titles. Titles where dogs are judged against the breed standard by impartial third parties.

I don't see any mention of performance titles. Titles where the dogs have to prove their trainability and adaptability in a variety of stressful situations.

I don't see any mention of field titles. Titles where dogs have proved that they can do the work they were originally bred for.

I don't see where they mention any of their dogs are actively hunted over. Again, proving that they can do what they were originally bred for.

I don't see where any of their dogs are worked in detection or SAR. Again, proving trainability and adaptability in a variety of situations.

In short, I don't see any mention of anything except producing puppies.
It's never really been a red flag for me, honestly. Most people want pets, and as long as the breeder doesn't sell the pups on a full registration, they will just be pets that won't be used to breeding anyway.
 

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I agree with what leorose has said. And I shudder when I see a buy now button on a breeder site. If its the white/cream retrievers you like, there are other breeders to consider also. I see the breeder you mentioned is in Georgia, I live in SC- have met several white retrievers here that came from a breeder in NC. Those were good dogs but I dont remember the kennel name.
 

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I do not like that "buy now" button. Mostly that. Contracts are rarely worth the paper they are written on. Try to enforce one. Most breeders cannot afford to do that.

What bothers me more is the lack of any performance titles. Conformation? Meh.. not so important as health testing and performance that tests temperament. When you breed for one thing (looks) the temperament often takes a back seat, especially in a popular breed (just look at American Show Line GSD and West German Show line GSD.. the first is so over angulated behind they can barely stand and the latter has become "banana backed" because that is what the judges pin).

I like that they claim to have hips, elbows and eyes done on the parents. I would want to see that paperwork. The rest? Not so much. It almost sounds like they will ship any puppy to anyone anywhere and the contract is almost a facade to make an alert buyer think they are doing it right?

I would be asking more questions (performance titles, working as retrievers etc.) and I would be asking the full AKC names of the sire and dam and want to see the paper work (or be able to look it up on OFA). I would be asking how many re-homes they have actually taken back.

IOW's your WORDS say "this." Do you have PROOF?
 

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I think this breeder is writing a lot of what potential buyers want to hear, but she's not actually following her own advice. This sounds like a large-ish scale operation hidden by the cute "family breeder" front. The "buy now" button is a huge red flag.

Also, why do the reviews say that the owner's name is Hollie? Didn't you say it was Mary? There is also mention of someone named Brittany who trained someone's puppy.

Christmas surprise puppies? Oh good lord, any good breeder would NEVER mention anything like that on their website!

More than one litter per year is another red flag. I mean, two sometimes happens, but never at the same time, either! Saying that the dogs are bred every heat cycle is a very, very large red flag, meaning that they are, in fact, puppy machines, which this breeder claims she is not. "New puppies planned throughout the year." Good grief.

I saw that the breeder claims to have AKC certification or IKC certification. Have you asked her for proof of the registrations? Pedigrees? The OFA health certificates? Any titles? Any proof that she does anything with her dogs? I mean, yes, the dog will most likely be a pet, but if I"m going to be paying thousands of dollars for a dog, I better have proof that it's worth it!

Personally, I would pass on this breeder.
 

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It's never really been a red flag for me, honestly. Most people want pets, and as long as the breeder doesn't sell the pups on a full registration, they will just be pets that won't be used to breeding anyway.
There are usually more pet puppies in a litter than show or performance prospects.

Selling puppies on limited registration has never stopped people from breeding them. Their offspring just can't be AKC registered. Which is why you have organizations like the Continental Kennel Club, American Canine Association, and the American Pet Registry, Inc.. Those are all "industry" registries, aimed at large scale commercial breeders and/or back yard breeders as ways of getting around the AKC's limited registration and frequently used sires program requirements.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So this morning I called the breeder. My husband and I are going to go scope out the establishment on Friday. No money has been promised or exchanged at this point.

I spoke with Mary. Mary and Hollie are mother and daughter. They co-own this establishment. Mary explained to me that they own/have connections in Ireland and that's why they have so many puppies available throughout the year. They can import puppies from litters born in Ireland. Mary did ask me what kind of home environment we had/any children/pets. She did say that it was important that the puppy's personality fits in with our lifestyle. There are no female puppies currently available at her facility (our gender preference). She stated that her program breeds first for temperament/health and lastly for appearances. It seems to be that they're a pretty exclusive family-pet producer, rather than a show animal.

Registration and titles aren't really important to us as we're not looking to show or breed our dog. She did stress to us the importance of amending our activity to the needs of the puppy. We're a very active couple and a puppy wouldn't be able to keep up for the first year or so. We're willing to do this. We're just concerned with getting a healthy animal that fits with our lifestyle.

Also, I did ask about the "buy now" button on the website and she said that it's to put a transferable deposit down to get your name on a waiting list. She said that getting your name on the waiting list does not guarantee you a puppy anytime soon.

Mary also told me that their females are bred a maximum of 3 times (most only twice) and they're retired from breeding at age 4 when they then go to live exclusively with the foster families that care for them throughout the year.

When we go on Friday I will ask about papers and lineage on the breeding stock and try to get definitive answers.
 

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I secretly hope the breeder is a member here. :D (well, it was a secret a minute ago anyway)

Good luck on your visit, and don't be like me... don't fall for those eyes if you smell dead fish!
 

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I'm curious... keep us posted! But I would definitely ask more information about the dams too... as there is none of the website. And ask to see health certificates (hips, elbows, eyes, whatever else golden retrievers need).
 

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Giving a major "nay".

reasons

1) No health scores listed
2) A lot of programs will import a stud or a bitch to help there program and improve the line, none import puppies to sell. (Sounds like someone trying to major mill it).
3) Nothing about any of the dog doing any sports, or showing.
4) Fostering out and breeding thing sounds like very odd. some may share ownership with someone on a dog they think will turn out to be of breeding quality, but the blanket coverage of it is weird.
5) Entirely to much information is missing.

6) Who in the word is a breeder that does not have there breeding dogs there at all? From there home page (Our dogs reside in foster homes so they get plenty of attention and socialization everyday. Our dogs live with families as their pet when they are not in season or having puppies. This enables our dogs to be both a pet and a parent.)

There so many red flag on the site it is unreal past they import there breeding stock from 6 or 7 countries and don't have them, past mating? WTF
 

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It almost sounds like a broker situation? Importing puppies from ireland to sell? What kind of breeders just hand off puppies to sell through another.. kind-of-ish breeder?

So basically.. they don't keep the moms. They have have breeders making them puppies and they are the middle man kinda thing? It sounds weird to me.

We have a broker around here that might do something similar. They take in registered litters from other breeders.. "raise them indoors" and resell them trying to look reputable with all their cleanliness and health guarantees. The puppies still come from questionable sources but it doesn't seem like it because the one who is the broker appears more responsible than normal. Still not good to support by any means.

Still sounds very much for profit breeding, brokering, whatever they are doing. I wouldn't even visit.

I mean, I would rather buy a Golden from someone who bred their indoor well cared for pets with no testing before any kind of large scale situation.
 
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