Golden Retriever Information



I have put together information that I hope you will find useful in deciding whether a Golden Retriever is for you.
Adding a new family member is a decision that you should never take likely. The impulse buy can lead to regrets later, we are dealing with living breathing creatures who have the mental capacity of a four year old - please consider very very if our breed is for you and if you are able to provide your new family member with all the she or he needs for the next 12 to 14 years.


Please click on the links below :

Common Eye Problems

Hip Dysplasia Explained


Golden Retriever History


Health Issues


What Is A Golden


Buying a Puppy


Main or Limited Register

Our Planned Litters


Breed Standard

Golden Retriever Structure


Breeder Contracts







What Is A Golden


A fluffy wind-up teddy-bear with shoe button eyes and your best towel clutched in his teeth.

Nobility reclining on a grassy bank, a white-faced old sportsman still keen for the whistle of wings.

In Spring a Golden will put mud on the carpets, fur all over your best navy blue and the flowering bloom of joy in your heart.

A Golden is a flame of colour against dark summer covert, the spray of surf sent flying peace spread against cool earth.

He is competence wearing a guidance harness, pride with a bird in his mouth, dignity wanting his tummy rubbed.

A Golden has the understanding of a saint and a tail that challenges perpetual motion.

Having a golden Retriever is never knowing where all your shoes are at any given moment.

Hearing the neighbours call up because he's sleeping out in the snow instead of in his kennel.

Keeping cups off the table because of his wild tail, and not being sure if you paragon will decimate a burglar or fix him a cup of tea and show him where the silver is.

Somebody else with a Golden is an instant acquaintance.

Your veterinarian wishes all his patients were Golden's and you just wish you were as great as your Golden thinks you are.

Author unknown



Hip Dysplacia



I have reproduced an article on how the hip scoring system works, it is a little technical, but is good at explaining the types of hips we are aiming for in the breed and what structures relate too, and can result in hip dysplasia in our breed.

I acknowledge the following site for the information in respect to Hip Displasia

Hip Grades & Scoring

The phenotypic evaluation of hips done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals falls into seven different categories. Those categories are normal (Excellent, Good, Fair), Borderline, and dysplastic (Mild, Moderate, Severe). Once each of the radiologists classifies the hip into one of the 7 phenotypes above, the final hip grade is decided by a consensus of the 3 independent outside evaluations. Examples would be:

1. Two radiologists reported excellent, one good—the final grade would be excellent

2. One radiologist reported excellent, one good, one fair—the final grade would be good

3. One radiologist reported fair, two radiologists reported mild—the final grade would be mild

The hip grades of excellent, good and fair are within normal limits and are given OFA numbers. This information is accepted by AKC on dogs with permanent identification (tattoo, microchip) and is in the public domain. Radiographs of borderline, mild, moderate and severely dysplastic hip grades are reviewed by the OFA radiologist and a radiographic report is generated documenting the abnormal radiographic findings. Unless the owner has chosen the open database, dysplastic hip grades are not in the public domain.

Grade : Excellent


 Excellent (Figure 1): this classification is assigned for superior conformation in comparison to other animals of the same age and breed. There is a deep seated ball (femoral head) which fits tightly into a well-formed socket (acetabulum) with minimal joint space. There is almost complete coverage of the socket over the ball.

Grade: Good


Good (Figure 2): slightly less than superior but a well-formed congruent hip joint is visualized. The ball fits well into the socket and good coverage is present.

Grade : Fair 




Fair (Figure 3): Assigned where minor irregularities in the hip joint exist. The hip joint is wider than a good hip phenotype. This is due to the ball slightly slipping out of the socket causing a minor degree of joint in-congruency.






Grade : Borderline 

There may also be slight inward deviation of the weight-bearing surface of the socket (dorsal acetabular rim) causing the socket to appear slightly shallow (Figure 4). This can be the norm in the Chinese Shar Pei, Chow Chow, and Poodle.

Borderline: there is no clear cut consensus between the radiologists to place the hip into a given category of normal or dysplastic. There is usually more in-congruency present than what occurs in the minor amount found in a fair but there are no arthritic changes present that definitively diagnose the hip joint being dysplastic. There also may be a bony projection present on any of the areas of the hip anatomy illustrated above that can not accurately be assessed as being an abnormal arthritic change or as a normal anatomic variant for that individual dog. To increase the accuracy of a correct diagnosis, it is recommended to repeat the radiographs at a later date (usually 6 months). This allows the radiologist to compare the initial film with the most recent film over a given time period and assess for progressive arthritic changes that would be expected if the dog was truly dysplastic. Most dogs with this grade (over 50%) show no change in hip conformation over time and receive a normal hip rating; usually a fair hip phenotype.

Grade: Mild

Moderate Canine Hip Dysplasia: there is significant subluxation present where the ball is barely seated into a shallow socket causing joint incongruency. There are secondary arthritic bone changes usually along the femoral neck and head (termed remodeling), acetabular rim changes (termed osteophytes or bone spurs) and various degrees of trabecular bone pattern changes called sclerosis. Once arthritis is reported, there is only continued progression of arthritis.

Grade: Severe

Severe HD (Figure 6): assigned where radiographic evidence of marked dysplasia exists. There is significant subluxation present where the ball is partly or completely out of a shallow socket. Like moderate HD, there are also large amounts of secondary arthritic bone changes along the femoral neck and head, acetabular rim changes and large amounts of abnormal bone pattern changes.

The table below summarises the hip scoring systems / regimes used by different countries.


FCI (European)

BVA (UK/Australia)

SV (Germany)



0-4 (no > 3/hip)




5-10 (no > 6/hip)









Fast Normal




Noch Zugelassen*









* noch zugelassen, simply translated from German should be "STILL ALLOWED". Meaning that dog has an allowed degree of displasia and can be bred.

The areas of the hip joint used in the evaluation of the overall hip score is shown in the diagram below this information is based on the American system of grading. There are approximately 9 different anatomic areas of the hip that are evaluated as shown in Figure 1.

  1. Craniolateral acetabular rim             

  2. Cranial acetabular margin

  3. Femoral head (hip ball)

  4. Fovea capitus (normal flattened area on hip ball)

  5. Acetabular notch

  6. Caudal acetabular rim

  7. Dorsal acetabular margin

  8. Junction of femoral head and neck

  9. Trochanteric fossa

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Common Eye Problems


The most common eye problems of golden retrievers are bilateral, juvenile-onset cataracts,  retinal dysplasia and abnormalities of the eyelids/eyelashes.



 Contrary to its name, juvenile cataracts may not appear until the dog is five or six years old. Thankfully, most golden retriever cataracts are quite small and have little or no effect on the dog. Depending upon their  severity, cataracts can cause blindness. A cataract is the partial or total opacity of the lens of the eye. It appears as a triangular white spot, usually on both eyes, but can be on just one. Most cataracts do not interfere with the dog's vision. Examination by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist is necessary to determine whether the cataract has genetic origins. We do not breed from dogs with hereditary cataracts. Our dogs are tested yearly by a specialist. Most cataracts are not present at birth. Usually they begin to develop within the first year, and there are old age onset cataracts don’t appear until the dog is 10 years or over. Most cataracts can be dealt with surgically and they need not  cause a permanent debilitating condition in the dog.


Retinal Dysplasia is a congenital, local or generalised malformation of the retina. This may be caused by trauma, a genetic defect or damage caused by a viral infection such as the herpes virus or parvo virus. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the eye that supplies the eye with nutrition and focuses light to the retina. Retinal dysplasia is a abnormal development of the retina. Microscopic examination of the eyes will show folds and or rosettes within the outer retinal layers. Retinal folds do not appear to cause vision problems and may be a blind area that may not be noticeable by the dog. If there are large areas of dysplasia the dogs vision is impaired and dogs with retinal detachments may become totally blind. Congenital cataracts may accomany the retinal dysplasia. Retinal dysplasia is a congenital defect and does not progress as the dog ages.


Eyelid abnormalities in Goldens include an inward rolling of the eyelid (ENTROPIAN, ectropion) and the existence of extra eyelashes on the inside of the eyelid (distichiasis, trichiasis). With entropian the lower eyelid rolls inwards bringing the eye lashes in contact with the cornea. If left this can cause damage to the cornea and would be very uncomfortable for the dog. We have bred dogs with entropian. Upon discovery we organised for the new owners to have the eyes operated on by a specialist vet and now they are as good as gold. We do not breed from dogs with entropian, ectropion or other serious eyelid disorder. Entropian can develop from one to four months of age in a puppy. It is caused by several factors – the growth rate of the skull; conjunctivitis (the inflammation of the membrane that is just inside of the eyelids) or distichiasis which is extra eye lashes growing on the eye lid; loose skin around the eye, possibly caused by a loose ligament at the corner of the eye. The first signs of entropian are constant watery eyes.

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Health Issues



In general, the golden retriever is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. Below are some of the health concerns that may arise.

Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis. Essentially the “ball and socket” joint is not formed in a “cup like” fit and arthritis develops as a result.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.

Hotspots are areas of itchy moist skin irritation. Best treated by cutting the hair back around the area and treating with Betadine ASAP. Be generous with the Betadine when applying.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately.

Food Allergy can occur in some pets secondary to a variety of food ingredients. The symptoms are a stool that has a jelly like coating or is jelly like itself.

Lick granuloma is a condition in which the dog licks an area excessively, usually on the front leg, until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed.

Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.

Osteochondrosis of the Shoulder is a congenital lesion that can cause degenerative joint disease

corneal ulceration is the loss of the corneal epithelium (the outermost cells of the cornea).

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases.

Interdigital Dermatitis, also known as photodermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.

Atopy is an itchy skin disease of animals that is caused by an allergy to substances in the environment.

Laryngeal paralysis is a dysfunction of the larynx, or voice box causing respiratory distress. Most common is the acquired idiopathic form.

Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.

Ectropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes eversion of the eyelid margin. It most commonly affects the lower central eyelid.

Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.

Melanoma is a tumour arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.

Mast Cell Tumours are malignant tumours than can occur in the skin or within the body.

Hemangiosarcoma is cancer that can result in bleeding tumours of the spleen, liver or heart.

Progressive retinal atrophy is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.

Aortic Stenosis - is caused by stenosis of the aorta and causing symptoms such as weakness, collapse and sudden death.

Pericardial effusion - is an accumulation of fluid within the pericardial space. Most common caused by hemangiosarcoma of the heart.

Lymphosarcoma, also known as lymphoma, is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system

Ectopic ureter (wet puppy syndrome) is an abnormality present at birth in which one or both of the ureters that bring urine from the kidneys to the bladder fail to open into the bladder in the normal way. The affected animal is born with this problem and the resulting urinary incontinence usually begins at birth.

Elbow dysplasia refers to the abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow joint during the growing phase of a dog's life. Some areas of the joint may have a disruption of normal cartilage development or failure to fuse during growth resulting in an uneven joint surface, inflammation, joint swelling, lameness and arthritis. The exact cause of elbow dysplasia is unknown, but it is probably due to a combination of genetic factors, over-nutrition with rapid growth, trauma and hormonal factors. Affected dogs are usually large breeds. Signs usually begin between 5 to 12 months of age. Elbow dysplasia results in elbow arthritis, which may be associated with joint stiffness (reduced range of motion) and lameness.
What to Watch For:
· a sudden or gradual onset front leg lameness
· Morning stiffness
· Stiffness after a period of rest

In addition, golden retrievers are prone to, dwarfism, osteochondrosis, and von Willebrand's blood disease
I acknowledge the following website for the above information:


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Recorded history of the golden retriever dates to the early 1800s when the breed was a popular hunting dog in Scotland. The Golden Retriever was developed in Scotland and England as a waterfowl and game dog in the 19th Century. Hunters in the northern areas needed a large strong dog that had intelligence, an affinity for the water, the will to work and a soft mouth for retrieving. The Golden Retriever was developed by cross breeding Tweed Water Spaniels, Newfoundlands, and Irish Setters for those purposes. As a rugged, middle-size dog, the breed was appreciated for the ability to hunt on land and in water. Sportsmen admired the dog's athletic ability and diligence while their families enjoyed the gentle, friendly nature of the pet. Over the years, golden retrievers have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, trainability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people. They are trained as therapy dogs to comfort residents in nursing homes and emotionally disturbed children.

Appearance and Size

The golden retriever is a strong, middle-size dog with a moderately round skull and medium to dark brown eyes. The breed's ears are triangular and pendant (hanging) and fall approximately to the level of the jaw. The outer water-repellent coat is thick and soft although not silky. The undercoat is moderately dense. As the name of the breed indicates, the coat colour is golden or a close shade of golden. Longer hair of a lighter shade, known as feathers, is present on the back of the forelegs and thighs, underbelly, front of neck and underside of the tail.


The golden retriever is a playful, affectionate companion with an amiable personality. If not for the dog's size, golden retrievers would be welcome lapdogs. Although not generally a boisterous breed, this pet will announce visitors.

Home and Family Relations

The golden retriever is an excellent family pet that is good with children and other pets. This breed is an appropriate choice for a first pet provided that the owner is capable of managing a dog of this size and strength.


The golden retriever is intelligent and highly trainable. In addition to being adept hunters, this breed has been trained to be companions for disabled persons including guide dogs for the blind. Golden retrievers have also carried out drug detection and search and rescue work.

Special Care

Golden retrievers who hunt on land and are allowed to swim require special attention. Running in the bush can cause small foreign bodies such as burrs and other flora to become lodged under the eyelid or in an ear or between the pads. The surface of the eye and the ear can become irritated and inflamed.

Golden retrievers benefit from regular brushing, once daily if possible. Brushing helps to promote a shiny, healthy coat and decreases shedding. This is also an opportune time to find those nasty mats that can be painful for your pet. Brushing once a week will prevent large mats from forming. If this does happen then it is safest to let a professional groomer or a veterinarian remove large mats from your pet's coat.


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Main or Limited Register



A breeder may make application to register a puppy on the Main or Limited Registers.

The Main Register entitles the new owner/s to the full rights as owners of a pedigree dog.

The Limited Register has the following restrictions :

Ineligible for exhibition at a Conformation Exhibition;

Ineligible to be used for breeding purposes;

Not entire or has been desexed;

Not registered in the main register;

Ineligible for export.

For the purpose of this regulation ‘Conformation Exhibition' means a Show that is either an All Breeds Show, Championship Show, Open Show, Parade, Sanction Show or Specialist Show.

Transfer between the Registers

A dog may be transferred between the Main Register and Limited Register subject to the following conditions -

Transfer from Limited Register to Main Register

A dog may be transferred from the Limited Register to the Main Register if:

1. Application for such transfer is lodged on the required form with the SACA Office ;

2. Both the breeder and the registered owner of the dog make written application for such transfer on the required form.

Transfer from Main Register to Limited Register

A dog may be transferred from the Main Register to the Limited Register on application in writing signed by the registered owner on one occasion only.

There are no time limitations for the transferring between registers.

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Puppy Buyers Beware


  Warning to Puppy Buyers 


Sadly there are so called "breeders" who advertise themselves to be something that they are not - and that is having our beloved breed at heart!   No matter how many years that breeder may have been breeding and no matter how many champions or grand champions that they advertise on their web pages, paying a deposit to them before the litter has been born is no guarantee that you will get a pup from their next litter and should you change your mind and go elsewhere say good bye to your deposit!!!!

Under NO circumstances pay anything to a breeder until you have seen the puppies. Demand a receipt for what you are paying your money for and if at all possible pay by cheque or direct bank deposit so that there is a paper trail.

The only time that we accept a deposit is when you come to visit your puppy when he or she is six or seven weeks old. I issue a receipt and if for whatever reason you are unable to take your puppy your deposit is returned to you in its entirety.

Do not pay a deposit to a breeder if that breeder does not have puppies on the ground.
Sadly there are unscrupulous breeders out there who will gladly take your deposit and not provide you with a puppy from their next litter. I believe this brings the pedigree dog world in to disrepute.

If you must pay any money to a breeder insist on a receipt that details what you have paid your money for. 
NEVER PAY CASH as there is no paper trail - the best way if you have to pay a deposit is to do it by a direct transfer from your bank account. 

 Please learn from the mistakes that I have made in the past by dealing with breeders who stand by their word and whose motivation is not monetary based. 




The article below from the Ballarat Courier news sends shivers down my spine and reinforces the need for testing!


Ballarat couple's vet bill pain prompts warning to others
17 May, 2010 12:43 AM

DEBORAH PARSELL and her partner Jeff Spielvogel have spent almost $5000 in the last 12 months raising a sick dog.  They have been in and out of a veterinary clinic about 15 times in the past year with Hadley, their 19-month-old golden retriever, treating her for hereditary cataracts and obsessive compulsive disorder.
She has needed x-rays, medication for her diseases and an operation to remove one of her eyes. The operation freed Hadley of pain that caused her to become aggressive, and her owners say she is now like a new dog.
"She's gone back to being a puppy, bouncing around and enjoying herself like she hasn't done for months. It shows just how much pain she was in," Miss Parsell said.  But the financial stress and heartbreak may continue with Hadley, who has a 50 per cent chance of losing her other eye to the disease. If she does, she will need to be put down.

The experience has been heartbreaking for the couple, but Miss Parsell said she hoped other dog owners would learn from their story.  She urged all dog owners to have their pets checked for hereditary disease before considering breeding from them, and for potential buyers to make sure the breeders had certificates clearing dogs of hereditary disease.

The Australian National Kennel Council and Dogs Victoria recommends buyers only purchase from registered breeders, and they should ask for copies of official certificates and checks to know if there are hereditary diseases in the dogs' parents.

"It is terrible knowing that there are other dogs out there with these diseases," Miss Parsell said. "Please have your dog checked."


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Buying A Puppy



Have you researched which breed is the most suited to your life style? If not, may I suggest that you go to the following sites to assist you in your decision making process:

Pedigree Select-A-Dog :


Petcare Information and Advisory Service:

The Golden Retriever Club of NSW " Purchasing a puppy" :

Puppies can be purchased from a variety of sources .. for example...

Newspaper add, flyer in the supermarket, on line etc. etc. I hope that this page educates the future puppy buyer so that an informed decision is made when adding a family member.

There are many options and considerations with respect to adding a four legged member to your family. Everyone wants a dog that is well adjusted and a dog that will fit into their life style choice. There are health issues to consider as there are problems that are not immediately apparent in the puppy when it is first brought home. Buyers who have not had a puppy before rely heavily on post purchase support. If that support is not there then uneducated decisions may be made in respect to the puppy's welfare.

There are puppy farms/ mills out there which mass produce puppies with little or no thought given to the sire and dam of the offspring. The primary consideration in the selection of the sire and dam is a commercial one based on the current "fad" at the time. Essentially the production of a cute looking fluffy puppy is the motivating force. How then can one be sure that any potential health issues such as hip, eye or heart disease is minimised if no parental testing has been done. No thought is given to the temperament of the parents and no testing done prior to the mating. The parents can come from different breeds so who is to say which characteristics of those breeds will reveal themselves when the puppies produced turn into adults.

Puppy farmers go about the production of puppies in a continual fashion so the poor dam is bred season after season and when she comes to the end of her useful life is then sold to a pet home. I wonder what kind of family member such a female will make. As there are so many puppies produced in the one establishment how is the one on one relationship between a human and puppy achieved? This socialisation is important in the development of a well rounded adult dog. How are these mass produced puppies exposed to normal household activities such as lawn mowing, and using electrical appliances within the home?

By purchasing a puppy from a puppy farm you are encouraging the practices mentioned above.

Buying from a pet shop. Pet shop's rely on the impulse buy / decision to add a new family member to ones home. I believe that pet shops have their place, but not to sell puppies and kittens. Too many adolescent dogs end up in dog shelters as a result of such buys. Buying on impulse means that you have not had the opportunity to consider the implications and responsibilities of adding a new family member to your home. Nor has an educated decision of matching the needs of a particular breed to ones life style been made.

I wonder at the breed knowledge that the puppy farmer/ pet shop assistant has and whether they are in a position to be able to give on going support to the new owner. Once you have parted with your money, what happens? Is there any follow up? Do these people give out comprehensive information in respect to the puppies that they sell? What happens if there is an issue with the puppy once you have got him or her home? Are they available 24 x 7 to answer your questions?

There is a misconception out there that it is more expensive to buy from a registered breeder. I do not believe this to be the case. Mongrel puppies sold as "designer" dogs are just as expensive as a pure bred dog. Don't forget there is not only the initial outlay, but the on going costs of registration, feeding, vet fees etc..... applies to any dog purchased.

By purchasing a mongrel puppy do you really know what you are getting? How do you really know its heritage? Is it really the cross that you are told that it is? How large will he or she grow? What will the coat be like? There can be no guarantees with respect to the style of adult dog when purchasing a mongrel. With a pedigreed dog you know what the lineage is and have a good idea of what the puppy will look like as an adult. The dam of the litter should be available for you to interact with so that you will be able to gain an insight into the future temperament of your puppy.

I am open and proud to be a breeder. The motivation for each and every litter that I am responsible for is to ensure the betterment of our breed in both a structural and social sense. Above all I love each and every puppy that I have had the pleasure of bringing into this world. I ensure that all of the relevant tests are completed prior to me contemplating a litter from one of my girls, I look carefully for a potential sire and make sure that he has had all of his testing done plus that he is compatible in looks and temperament . My dogs are kept in our house and have the run of our back yard. The puppies are reared in our lounge room so that they are exposed to all household activities right from the word go. When they are old enough I expose them to the "big wild world of our garden". New puppy owners are allowed to visit the puppies once they are six weeks old. The reason for this is two fold, the first being the possibility of transmitting disease via footwear and hands and the second is that at six weeks the puppies are at the stage of their social development where they need to have as much interaction with people as they can.

The puppies that leave here are sent home with a comprehensive folder of information. This includes a diet sheet, simple puppy obedience information, worming tablet (to be given once the puppy has settled in to his/her new home) plus other hints and tips that a new owner may find useful. I give the new owners some of the food that I have been feeding the puppies so that the transition from here to their new home is "easy "on the tummy. The puppies are micro-chipped and have had their first vaccinations. Each puppy has been checked by a vet prior to leaving here. I am available at any time to answer any questions that new owners may have. Should any issues arise with one of my babies I am there to support you as the new owner in any way that I am able too.

I firmly believe that I am responsible for each and every puppy that one of my girls has right up until the day that that puppy goes to the rainbow ridge. I offer a " no questions asked policy" if a dog needs to be re-homed and I do my utmost to ensure that the same care is taken in the selection of a new family for an adult as is taken when I select new puppy owners.

I wish you well in your endeavour to find a new family member and I hope that this article has been of some assistance to you. If you have decided that a Golden is for you, please contact the Golden Retriever Club in your state for further information on available puppies or adults.

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Serngold Golden Retrievers - South Australia


 Lydia Sernecki

ph:  (08) 82485264