Dear Potential Puppy Buyers,

So you are looking for a Golden Retriever puppy during the pandemic. You’ve done your homework, tried every avenue you can find to locate that puppy and are coming up empty. Here are some things you need to know. First, while you are looking, so are dozens maybe hundreds of other people. Inquiries coming in to me alone are up about 200% since last spring and most responsible breeders are finding the same thing. Second, there is no possible way for responsible, preservationist breeders to keep up with the demand. We can’t “ramp up production” like has been done with PPE or ventilators to meet the requests. Breeding doesn’t work like that. I know that none of this is good news if you are a hopeful puppy buyer.
So I wanted to offer an explanation, some information and maybe a few tips to help you at this time. For decades, as a responsible, preservationist breeder, I have committed to meet each request with a polite and educational response whether I had puppies or not. I have preached that if there is nothing available, you should be prepared to wait and start a relationship with a breeder. “Get to know a few”, “Get your name on a list” and most of all, “Be patient” is what we’ve always said.
For most of you that’s not working and you are ranging further and further in search of a litter, a waiting list or even an interview. You’re frustrated and disappointed. I’m sorry – I know what it’s like to want a puppy or to be without a beloved dog who has passed. I don’t have a lot of optimistic news. No one could have predicted that puppies and toilet paper would be the things in the shortest supply if a pandemic hit. So, is there any good news? Well, if I had to make a prediction, I would guess that 2 things might happen in 2021.
First, in 6-12 months I think the demand might go back down as people leave isolation and there may be some room to get on a waiting list. Second, when everyone starts to go back to work and families are not home full time, there could be a lot of Goldens surrendered to rescue. If those “pandemic puppies” aren’t able to stay alone without constant attention, they may become destructive and anxious when left. Some people will work through this, some will have taught this skill while in quarantine but some families will opt for surrender. So now might be the time to put in an application to your local rescue and work to get approved and on a waiting list for when that happens. It’s probably won’t be a puppy, or a well bred golden (they don't end up in rescue) – but it might be a Golden.
I can’t write this without bringing up online sales, unscrupulous breeders (puppy mills) and scams. Sadly, these times have brought scammers out in force and puppy mills have no qualms about trying to “ramp up production” despite what’s in the best interest of the moms and babies. There is an excellent article on the AKC website entitled: How to Spot a Puppy Scam Online – American Kennel Club ( It gives a list of red flags (no phone calls, only electronic communication, copycat or stock photos, sketchy payment requests and prices that are too good to be true). I would add to that list: beware of places that you can’t visit in person to meet the mom. You may have already educated yourself about all of this but as the search goes on, the temptation may grow to visit these websites or “the farm in the next county with puppies in their barn” or the pet store in the mall. I would NOT recommend any of these approaches!
So where does that leave you if you are sitting at home with a hole in your heart or a burning desire for a puppy? What are your options? I don’t have any magic answers but I can offer a couple of suggestions. If there are no puppies, please consider a visit to your local shelter. It may not be the Golden of your dreams but your's may be the home of a shelter dog’s dream. Then, when your shelter buddy needs a playmate in a couple of years it may be easier to find a Golden. Second, as I mentioned, visit the website of your local rescue and consider an application. It’s not a quick option either as most rescues are not overfull of dogs needing homes, but it might play out. And lastly, if you are writing to breeders, it might be helpful to ask them to give you a general timeframe of when to check back to see if they are starting the list process. (For me, it’s mid-2021.)
Just a few parting words about wait lists. I know that getting on a waiting list might seem like a step closer to a puppy but I’m not sure it always is. This isn’t universal practice, but no one goes on a waiting list for my puppies unless I’ve interviewed them. With 3-8 inquiries per day obviously personal phones calls or interviews can’t happen and wait lists would fill in a week. Also, breedings are not always easy to predict. When a bitch is going to come into season is variable and whether or not she gets pregnant is always in question so there are no sure things. Also, a waiting list does nothing to protect a breeder because people go elsewhere without telling us all the time so what I might think is a solid wait list could vanish like a puff of smoke. And taking deposits to solidify a wait list is not something I am willing to do. First of all, because I want people to always be able to change their mind and secondly, because puppies might or might not happen as noted above so I don’t want to be under an obligation for something that might not happen. So hoping to get on a wait list is probably not a solid strategy. Instead asking when might be a good timeframe to check back in might give you a better idea. Or asking if something will be posted to a webpage or FB page might also work so you can monitor that.
I wish I had better ideas or insider tips to offer but I don’t. I just want potential puppy buyers who are trying to do everything right, to hear the reality of today’s situation and know that it’s not that we don’t want to provide you a puppy if you are a good match for one of our babies or that we are callously ignoring you. It is simply that we are overwhelmed. I know VERY few breeders for whom breeding is a full time job. We have families, jobs, other responsibilities. And though we have always been committed to responding to your heartfelt letters, messages and emails, we can’t keep up.
Hang in there. Having a dog, particularly a Golden, and making them part of your family, will enrich your life. It just might not happen real soon.
Cheryl Minnier