ARE YOUR DOGS HEALTH TESTED?
Yes. We currently hip and elbow score all dogs intended for breeding. On top of this, we use Orivet to perform a full DNA profile for known genetic and heritable diseases in golden retrievers including Ichthyosis (ICT-A), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA, PRA-1, PRA-2). This allows us to choose our mating pairs very carefully to ensure their offspring are as healthy as we have the power to control and not affected by any of these diseases.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS GOLDEN RETRIEVERS ARE PRONE TO?
At the current time, golden retrievers are known to be affected by hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems and heart disease. There are also a number of genetic diseases known to affect goldies: ichthyosis, progressive retinal atrophy, progressive rod cone degeneration, osteogenesis imperfecta, skeletal dysplasia, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, congenital eye malformation, dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa and degenerative myelopathy. Through our breeding program we are aiming to reduce the occurence of these diseases in our breed, therefore we test for every single one of these problems in our breeding animals to enable us to choose breeding pairs that will improve the health and quality of life of golden retrievers. We use our extensive knowledge of canine genetics to ensure the puppies we breed will not be affected by any of these issues.
Unfortunately, hip dysplasia is a polygenic condition, which means that it can be caused by a wide range of genes, and is impossible to pinpoint. Whilst every care is taken to minimise the genetic risk, and we advise you on how to reduce the environmental factors and causes; nature can be unkind and there is no 100% way to eliminate the risk of hip dysplasia at this time. We are doing our part to minimise it by hip and elbow scoring our dogs and only breeding from animals we deem to have acceptable scores. We are aiming to see a trend of reduction in hip scores through our breeding program.
WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY PUPPY?
At Ilchester, we feed our puppies Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy, progressing to Eukanuba Large Breed adult at around 18 months of age. We recommend you stick with this food, however if you would like to switch we do recommend using a premium, high quality dry food and NOT supermarket pet food (eg Pedigree, Supercoat, Lucky Dog). Your puppy's diet is very important to ensure steady growth and weight control, which helps in reducing environmental factors that may contribute to joint problems if your pup grows too quickly or gains too much weight. Premium puppy food is scientifically formulated to support this growth, and this is why we recommend Eukanuba, at least until adulthood. It is also important not to fall into the trap of 'fad' pet diets, such as feeding grain free food. This diet in particular has been linked to taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy, a deadly form of canine heart disease. Some owners also prefer to feed a raw diet, which we would not recommend until your puppy has finished growing and you have performed extensive research on the dietary and nutritional needs of your dog on a raw diet. There are more and more commerically available raw dog foods, which takes the guess work out of it for you.
WHAT ARE THE EXERCISE NEEDS OF MY PUPPY?
This is a very important question! It is easy to think that a long walk would be a great way for your puppy to burn off energy, but recent evidence has suggested that this may do more harm than good in large breed dogs. Long bouts of structured exercise (such as a long walk) can do irreversible damage to a growing puppy's joints. Too much exercise can be just as bad as not enough. For growing puppies, we believe that that mental stimulation (small bouts of training, a treat hunt), playing (hide and seek, tug-of-war, rolling a ball to chase) and self-directed exercise will reduce your puppy's environmental factors for joint and hip problems as they age. After your puppy has finished all their vaccinations and are safe to explore beyond their new home, they will also enjoy trips to the beach for a frolick in the ocean, or short walks with frequent breaks around your neighbourhood. Whilst we don't recommend long hikes or walks whilst they are still growing, your puppy is fine to run around their yard as they please. They will know when they've had enough and will slow themselves down, and you'll quickly learn your puppies cues of tiredness to give them a break. As an adult dog, you should expect to set aside about an hour each day in exercising your dog. This will entirely depend on your individual dog- some are lazy lounge lizards and others will have higher energy levels and require more stimulation.
WHAT IS CRATE TRAINING? SHOULD I DO IT?
We do recommend crate training, as it is a very useful tool in housebreaking your new puppy. Most healthy dogs will not willingly defecate where they sleep, and you should use this to your advantage. We suggest keeping your pup in a crate during the night. We advocate keeping your puppy's crate next to your bed, at least until they are able to hold their bladder for a full night. This way, your puppy is able to let you know when they need to be let out to eliminate. You should lead or carry your puppy directly to the place you expect them to learn to eliminate, and reward them when they do so. Your golden retriever is very intelligent, and most puppies will pick up on this concept very quickly. Crate training is also effective at reducing anxiety for your dog if they need to visit the vet at any time in their lives, where they will be held in crates for the duration of their stay. If your dog is already familiar with being crated, this will reduce their stress and anxiety during their vet visits.
WHEN SHOULD I DESEX MY DOG?
We recommend waiting until at LEAST 18 months of age until you spay or neuter your puppy. Large breed dogs will benefit from keeping all those hormones until they've finished growing and their growth plates have finished fusing. Early desexing is linked to delayed growth plate closure and overgrowth of limbs. It has been suggested that delayed growth plate closure and the subsequent increased long bone growth seen in dogs neutered at an early age may predispose these dogs to hip dysplasia or angular limb deformities.
I ALREADY HAVE A DOG. HOW DO I INTRODUCE THEM TO OUR NEW PUPPY?
Many animal trainers suggest introducing your existing dog to your new puppy on neutral ground so as not to make your existing dog feel threatened. It is important to remember that when you bring your new puppy home, they won't have their final two rounds of vaccinations that will enable them to safely access your wider environment, so we'd suggest doing the introduction at a trusted friend or relatives house who either don't have dogs, or whose dogs are up to date on their vaccinations. Some dogs will be fine being introduced to the new puppy on their own territory, however this will come down to the personality and temperament of each dog.
WILL MY PUPPY BE VACCINATED AND FLEA/WORM TREATED?
Puppies will require a few visits to the vets to be fully vaccinated. The first visit will occur at 6 weeks of age when they are still at our home. Puppies are able to go to their new homes from 8 weeks of age, with next vaccine visits occuring at 10 weeks and 14 weeks, however this is dependant on the vaccine your vet uses, as this schedule can vary depending on the vaccine manufacturer. It is VERY important not to take your new puppy beyond your home until 10 days after their final vaccine (again, this can vary by manufacturer so please follow your vets individualised instructions). This includes walks around the street, visiting people, the beach, the park etc. The vaccine scehdule will help protect your vulnerable puppy against things like canine parvovirus, which can survive on the grounds' surface for years in the right conditions and is transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects. Therefore it is important to ensure any visitors you have practice good hygiene to minimise the risk of introducing such viruses to your puppies envrionment.
Your puppy will be treated preventatively for worms at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, and again at 8 weeks before they leave for your home. You will be provided with two more doses of this medication to give to your puppy again at 10 weeks and 12 weeks old. Most flea protection products are not safe to use on puppies until 7 or 8 weeks of age when they go home to you, however we maintain a completely flea free environment in our home.
For our own dogs, we use NexGard Spectra which is a monthly chew that protects your dog against worms, fleas, ticks and heartworm and is safe to use from 8 weeks of age. You can discuss options for preventative care and the suitability of these medications for your puppy with your vet when you take your puppy in for her next vaccination at 10 weeks.
DO YOU SHOW YOUR DOGS?
No. We are MDBA registered breeders. It has been highlighted that putting form over function in conformation breeding for the show ring has caused detriment to purebred dogs' health and welfare. We believe that for more than a century the traditional system used in purebred dog breeding has resulted in the restriction of gene pools, the selection of some dogs with inadequate regard to their or their progenies health and welfare and sometimes the desire to win championships taking priority over health and welfare issues and causing these negative consequences. It is for this reason we have made the conscious decision to breed for consistent breed temperament and to improve the breeds health and subsequent quality of life above all else, whilst simultaneously respecting and observing the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) breed standard for golden retrievers.
ADVICE ON THIS PAGE IS NOT INTENDED AS A REPLACEMENT FOR QUALIFIED VETERINARY ADVICE. OUR ADVICE IS SIMPLY BASED ON OUR EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR BREED.