Breeding Philosophy

Find out About Gaylans Golden Retrievers
Find out What's New at Gaylans?
Find out General Information About Goldens
Find out about Our Dogs: Past and Present
Find out about our Upcoming Litters
Buy Quality Books from Gaylan's Bookstore!
Go to Gaylans Sporting Dogs Store
Go to At the Bridge
Go to Fly-A-Pup
Go to Our Favorite Links
See Web rings we belong to
Go to Site Index
Go to Gaylans Home Page

One of Gaylan's multi-purpose goldens

Gaylan's is a kennel dedicated to the multi-purpose golden retriever.   Since the purchase of our first golden in 1979, our goal has been the pursuit of the ideal golden--beautiful, companion hunters who are able and willing to compete in all aspects of golden activities. Although we focus on breeding well-structured, typey goldens who can work in the field, the result are dogs that can also excel in obedience, agility, tracking, therapy, search and rescue, service work, rally and more.

We are a small kennel with a limited but well-planned breeding program. This means that each breeding is of tremendous importance to us and that we concentrate our efforts into caring for and socializing our pups. Even with our limited breeding program, our dogs have competed successfully in conformation, field trials, obedience, hunt tests, tracking, agility, rally and more. Most of our competition dogs are titled in more than one venue. Over the years, we have produced and owned:

Increasingly, we use the hunting field--primarily through hunt tests but also through actual hunting--to evaluate the success of our breeding program. Unlike breeders who emphasize producing golden retrievers to be pets for the general public, we focus on producing dogs with the working abilities unique to the golden retriever as a hunting dog. We do this because it is these natural abilities that create the breed's ideal temperament and structure. Remaining true to the breed's original purpose will help us ensure we are breeding sound, healthy, athletic dogs with correct coat and conformation.

We fully and enthusiastically support our owners who compete in American field trials but we do not focus our breeding program on producing field trial competitors. Like the American conformation ring, we believe that field trial competitions have become quite extreme with 300-400 yard marks and blinds. Since our emphasis is healthy, good-looking MODERATE dogs, we keep our sights on producing a majority of dogs that can attain Senior and Master Hunter titles rather than field trial dogs.

In recent years, we have primarily used the Canadian conformation ring and the GRCA's Certificate of Conformation Assessment (CCA) to independently assess our dogs' structure. From our perspective, the intense competition in the American conformation ring is rewarding extremes in type, particularly overdone coat, too much substance, atypical heads and exaggerated, inefficient movement, rather than the moderation in working type called for by the American breed Standard. Gayle is proud to be one of the original creators of and evaluator for the GRCA's CCA program and we encourage our owners to enter their dogs in these unique events. We look forward to returning to the American breed ring in the future if and when it begins rewarding a moderate working retriever.

Because of our dual focus on both natural working ability and the conformation of a correct Golden, our breedings rotate between field and conformation dogs. As such, our breeding decisions may appear random to those viewers more familiar with breeders who specialize in one aspect of goldens. However, our decisions are anything but random as each follows our established criteria and contributes to our goal of producing a line of beautiful working dogs.

Breeding Criteria

Our Primary Goal: Longevity. The foundation of every decision we make is longevity; we simply do not accept that golden retrievers should live only 10 years.  We begin by doing outcrosses, with Coefficients of Inbreeding (COIs) below 6.25% based on John Armstrong's Poodle Longevity Study.  Although outcrosses increases the variability of structure and type found in our litters, we are willing to tolerate that as we seek long-lived dogs.  We also seek out sires who themselves have lived till 10 and/or whose pedigree is filled with dogs who have lived 12, 13 or even 15 years. We might occasionally use a talented, younger sire with a special and long-lived pedigree. In all cases, we look for pedigrees where dogs have died of something other than cancer. These are hard to find in goldens but it remains our goal.

Our Secondary Goals: Temperament, Conformation, Working Ability and General Health. After longevity, we cannot and do not prioritize our remaining goals as each is equally important to us. In every litter, we seek to produce good tempered, nice looking, excellent working goldens with lifetime soundness and health.

Temperament. Second to longevity, we look for a true golden temperament. We take a broad view of golden temperament, looking beyond simple friendliness to dogs and people. We are specifically looking for self-confident dogs. These animals take life in stride, are stable when faced with most circumstances, and are comfortable with their position in the world. However, self-confident dogs are also those that believe in their own opinions and abilities. They are willing and able to make independent decisions so need owners who are able to handle and control these thinking dogs; these are not the dependent goldens who can only function in close proximity to their owners. Thus, self-confident dogs need clear training to ensure that their goals are also those of their owners. Exclusively using positive training methods rarely work optimally with these dogs.

After confidence, we are looking to produce the eager and alert golden retrievers called for in the Breed Standard. Using the dictionary, we determined that eager goldens are those with "keen interest, intense desire, or impatient expectancy." Alert dogs are "vigilantly attentive, watchful; mentally responsive and perceptive; and quick, brisk or lively in action." Although many golden retriever breeders extole how calm and low key their dogs are, we do not believe these characteristics describe a proper golden retriever. Instead, we think goldens should be aware of their surroundings, ready to participate with their owners in a wide array of activities, and intense about their desire to retrieve, hunt and work. This also means that correct goldens are neither hyper nor frenzied. They have good off switches in the house as long as they get regular exercise, both mental and physical. But when it is time to work or play, they are ready, willing and able.

Although not explicitly stated in the Standard, we believe that the work of a hunting retriever requires dogs that are also intelligent, active, biddable and that have a strong desire to work side by side with their human partner.

The final component of temperament we demand is friendliness and reliability. We expect our dogs to accept polite dogs of all ages and types and to be comfortable with men and women of all ages. However, we also expect our goldens to display normal dog behaviors of protecting themselves from attack, establishing pack hierarchy and seeking mates. Therefore, we are not concerned by unaggressive dominance displays among our dogs or the occasional growl over a juicy bone. We also expect our dogs to breed naturally and easily. We find all of these behaviors to be most appropriate to a correct golden retriever.

Conformation and Working Ability. After the foundation of longevity and temperament, we then look for sires that complement our dams by building on their strengths and correcting their weaknesses. We use conformation dogs to strengthen or solidify type and we use field dogs to strengthen or solidify working ability. Ideally we find dogs that have both exceptional structure and working ability but these are rare and must meet our criteria for longevity, temperament and health. We look beyond the dog himself, at the strengths and weaknesses of his pedigree. We know that some lines that meld well with our girls while others, despite how much we respect these dogs, simply do not. We make a concerted effort to meet each sire we use in person, ideally seeing them interact with other dogs and, if possible, working in the field.

Health. In addition to producing long-lived dogs, we have long focused on producing those with good health. However, the very nature of purebred dogs makes this a challenging venture. Because we have a limited gene pool and cannot cross into other breeds to move away from deleterious genes, purebred dog breeders have limited options as they seek to remove diseases from their breeding programs. Please read our Diseases page to understand the main health issues present in today's golden retrievers, as well as our philosophy regarding breeding priorities and risks.

Breeding Goal

Our ideal golden, the goal of our breeding program, is a dog of moderate size and substance that

  • meets the Standard regarding height and weight (55-65 pounds for bitches, 65-75 for dogs), who has a lovely, correct head with a pleasant expression, who moves like the athlete that she or he is and who is immediately identifiable as a golden retriever. We do not breed for:
    • 100-lb goldens or for 40-lb agility competitors. Our dogs range from 45 to 80 pounds with the average Gaylan's dog, and our goal, being in the weight Standard.
    • huge, blocky heads which look as much like that of a Great Pyrenees as a golden retriever. Check out this photo! It is NOT a golden retriever!! If this is what you are looking for, we'd recommend you look for a different breeder. Our dogs range in head types (example 1, example 2, example 3) but none would be described as blocky headed.
    • So, if you have your heart set on these characteristics--very large or very small in body or head--it's best to go to another breeder.
  • carries a moderate, drip-dry golden coat in one of any of the correct colors for golden retrievers. We do not breed for color, such as English cream or field red goldens. Instead, we accept any color that meets the American Standard and our dogs range from very dark gold to very light. We very much feel that matching a puppy's other characteristics to her family's needs is FAR more important than her color so if color is your top priority, we recommend you go to another breeder.
  • is a moderately high energy dog that has the spunk to hunt wild pheasants, geese or ducks for a full day in the field but settles well in the house afterwards. If you would describe your ideal golden as calm and low key, it's best if you look for a different breeder.
  • has the natural hunting abilities, biddability and intelligence to be trained to be a capable hunting dog (marking and handling) or to be shown in a variety of events by her experienced owner.
  • loves the family's children and tolerates dog-appropriate handling by them.
  • gets along well with other dogs but who is not a total wimp, incapable of functioning as a normal dog.
  • is healthy and sound, with no chronic illnesses of any kind, including allergies, hot spots and orthopedic problems.
  • lives a long and healthy life as a beloved member of her family.

All of this means that our dogs fit well into active homes where they will have serious jobs and regular training and exercise. We seek hunting or competition performance homes for the vast majority of our puppies. A few pups each year may go to non-working pet homes but these are not your typical pet homes where the dog gets 15 minutes of walking a few times a day. Rather, they are homes where the dog is a respected working companion rather than a pet, homes where the dog participates in many if not most of the families activities, homes where training and working with the dog is a top priority. Our dogs are not appropriate for parents seeking primarily to teach their children about responsibility or those desiring to quiet their childrens' pleas for a dog. We sell only to homes where the parents want the dog more than the children.

We follow the GRCA Code of Ethics and the Golden Rule in our dealings with other golden retriever fanciers, our puppy buyers, and the general public.  We seek to treat our buyers fairly and to use our interactions as a means to educate them and the general public about dog behavior, the responsibilities of dog ownership, and good animal husbandry. 

We are very concerned about the problems facing purebred dogs in the United States today: poor or aggressive temperaments; genetic diseases; general poor health; limited access to public places; and, increased legislative control, primarily at the local and state levels but more recently through the Federal government via PAWS and PUPS. We are saddened by the large number of dogs euthanized in animal shelters each year because they are unable to find or keep a loving home. We believe these problems are primarily the result of poor breeding practices and a general lack of understanding of dog behavior and training. Our concerns are reflected in the priority of our goals and our requirements for our owners.

Although we have three decades of experience in breeding, training and showing golden retrievers, we are devoted to our own continuing education--as breeders, trainers, exhibitors, and owners. We do this through extensive reading of contemporary and historical literature on genetics, veterinary science, animal behavior, and dog and horse breeding, seminars, and discussions with veterinarians, scientists, professional dog trainers and handlers, and other members of the dog fancy.  We also put into practice what we have learned by training and exhibiting our own dogs.

Thank you again for your interest in our breeding program. We are happy to discuss it with you in greater detail at any time. Since we offer only a limited number of puppies each year, we do recommend reserving a puppy in advance of the actual whelping. If you are still interested in a Gaylan's puppy, please read carefully through our website and then contact us via e-mail.

For more information on Gaylans, go to:

About Us

Our Breeding Philosophy

How We Raise Our Puppies

Expectations: Yours and Ours

Gaylans Contracts and Warranty

Gaylan's Golden Home Page    Welcome Page

About Us   What's New?   Just Goldens  Our Dogs   Puppies  

Gaylan's Bookstore  Gaylan's Sporting Dog Store  

At the Bridge   Links   Web Rings   Site Index