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Finding a Golden Retriever Puppy

If you are searching for a breeder and you really want to find one that "does it right", we can help. Natural State Golden Retriever Club does not currently provide referrals for breeders or litters. Our mission statement says that education is our number one priority, and we want to help you learn what to look for in an ethical breeder. We fervently believe in the conservation and preservation of the Golden Retriever for the future. Every puppy deserves its best chance at a healthy, quality life - and health testing is how we stack the deck in our dogs' favor.

Health Testing for Golden Retrievers

When you are looking for a breeder that is passionate about Golden Retrievers in the same way that we are, look for breeders that do all of the health testing required by the Golden Retriever Club of America Code of Ethics. Every breeding pair should have the following health testing completed: 

  • heart exam by veterinary cardiologist after 12 months of age, 

  • annual eye exams by veterinary ophthalmologist, and 

  • hip and elbow evaluations at or after 24 months. 

  • GRCA does not "require" or "recommend" DNA testing, however it is generally considered an ethical practice by the Golden Retriever community in order to prevent producing dogs genetically affected with the diseases for which we have tests available (prcd-PRA, GR-PRA1, GR-PRA2, GR-ICH1, GR-ICH2, NCL, etc.), some of which are deadly.

How to Verify Health Testing

Typically, breeders that do health testing per the GRCA Code of Ethics will proudly disclose the AKC (or Canadian Kennel Club) registration names and/or numbers of the breeding pair so that you can verify the health testing yourself on (OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). All you have to do is type the dog's registered name or registration number into the search box at the top of the OFA home page. If the dog has health testing, their registered name will show up. Click on the name and the dog's full OFA profile will be there. A typical OFA profile will have the dog's name at the top followed by a list of the dog's health testing with results, and below that, the dog's relatives that have health testing recorded with OFA. OFA issues a number for each passing result or breeder option (eyes only). 


Many Golden Retriever breeders also utilize for their pedigrees and dogs' records. K9data is a great resource for both buyers and breeders. OFA health testing can also be linked to a dog's pedigree page, so don't be alarmed if a breeder shares k9data links as opposed to direct OFA links. But, please verify that the health testing is there by searching the dog on 

If you search for a dog on OFA with their registered name or registration number and there are no results, there are two possible reasons:

1) the name/number was incorrectly entered or

2) the dog doesn't have health testing recorded with OFA.


OFA Pro Tips

This is where it can get a little confusing, so here are some pro tips for navigating OFA: 

  • If hip and elbow radiographs were submitted to OFA for evaluation, then passing results are automatically posted to the dog's profile. Failing results are NOT automatically posted - they require the owner's permission to be made public. To be compliant with the GRCA Code of Ethics, results must be posted, whether passing or failing. Transparency is an important part of the Code. 

  • PennHIP evaluations are NOT done through OFA, therefore the results are not automatically posted to the dog's profile. The owner must manually submit PennHIP results to OFA. OFA will accept PennHIP results that were done prior to 24 months, however, this is NOT in compliance with the GRCA Code of Ethics. 

  • Preliminary (prior to 24 months) OFA hip and elbow evaluations are not acceptable in Golden Retrievers. OFA does not issue numbers for preliminary results. 

  • Eye and heart exams are NOT automatically posted to the dog's profile. Owners must submit the exam forms to OFA for these results to show up on a dog's profile. If eye and heart results are missing, it does not mean that the testing wasn't done. Yes, they should be posted per the Code, but please ask the breeder for copies of the most recent exam forms before making a final judgment call. 


When it comes to health testing, you need to decide the level of risk with which you are comfortable. We highly recommend that you spend some time on the GRCA and OFA websites to learn about the conditions for which Golden Retrievers should be tested. Additionally, breeders must be transparent about health testing for you to assess risk. Attempts to hide AKC registered names or registration numbers are usually an attempt by a breeder to cover up a lack of health testing. Additionally, there are breeders out there that will attempt to use DNA testing only as "health testing". DNA testing is like the icing on top. Without hips, elbows, eyes, and heart there is no cake. 

How To Find Ethical Breeders

We understand that well bred Goldens are often in short supply and that it can be hard to find responsible breeders. If you are local to Arkansas, we would love for you to come to a club event and meet our members (several of which are breeders)! Even in the age of the internet, you still can't beat in-person networking. Here is a link to our event calendar: 


Another great way to meet breeders is to attend an AKC event, such as a conformation show, agility, obedience, or rally trial, or a hunt test. Here is a link to the AKC event search: Through the event search, you can find shows, trials, and tests near you. 


We genuinely hope you are able to find a responsibly bred Golden. There is no love like that of a Golden Retriever. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions. Good luck in your search!


Check for OFA test results for Hips, Elbows, Heart and Eyes on the sire and dam of the litter. OFA.ORG allows anyone to type in a registered name to see the health screens done on the dog. 


Do NOT settle. A good reason to get a purebred puppy is the predictability. Generations of these health tests give you predictability in health.


If you have any questions regarding health testing, ethical breeding practices, etc. please feel free to email us at

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