Our Philosophy

Ethics of Breeding & Puppy Raising

Gravitas: seriousness and importance of manner, causing feelings of respect and trust in others.

Gravitas Golden Retrievers was founded due to what we feels is a LACK of reputable and ethical breeders. So many dog trainers/behavior consultants wish that more of us would breed dogs because we are exactly the people who should be breeding dogs. Rebecca sees day in and day out what happens when genetics and upbringing have not been prioritized… the behavioral and health implications can be devastating.

We started Gravitas Goldens due to a long standing love of the breed, an appreciation for what a good family dog should be, and a belief that it is people like us who will be the best stewards and advocates for the breed.With our Service Dog work at CSDA, it also became clear very quickly there are not enough suitable dogs that have what it takes. Service Dogs need to be incredible tolerant, low-to-medium energy, patient and friendly dogs that can handle the demands and stress of their job.

We did NOT start Gravitas to make money. It took us several years from the time we started considering breeding Goldens to the time we had any puppies of our own. Our foundation dogs were curated very carefully from well respected, ethical and reputable breeders around the WORLD. Most of our foundation dogs were bought as puppies, and so then we gave them time to "grow up" and do all breed-appropriate health clearances and testing before considering them for breeding (READ MORE HERE).

Our priorities for Gravitas Golden Retrievers are temperament, health & longevity.

Longevity is one of our top priorities. We do all recommended health testing, however there is a lot we cannot test for. Cancer is the primary plague of this breed, but we don't know much about the different types of cancers as far as what causes them... in our talks with Veterinary Oncologists, it is likely a mix of genetics and environmental factors. No one can guarantee how long your next puppy will live unfortunately. However, by looking at the longevity of the lines and working towards outcrossing to produce a low coefficient of inbreeding (increase genetic diversity), that's the best bet we as a breeder can make on the genetic side of things.

Aside from selecting foundation dogs for good genetics, we also implement a puppy raising program to set the puppies up for success from the day they are born. We were fans of the Puppy Culture program for many years before we had our first litter. We had seen time and time again in our training business how puppies raised with this program (or other similar ones) are usually WAY ahead of other puppies the same age that did not receive anything. We are also members of the Avidog Breeder College and have appreciated the knowledge gained through that program as well.

We are also members of the Good Dog community, which helps promote responsible breeders AND helps us screen our new puppy families as well. Good Dog requires breeders to show proof of health testing, etc to achieve a designation. We are proud to be an "Excellent" breeder!

The care and consideration we have put into our breeding program also applies to our puppy buyers. As trainers, we have seen too many times where people think they are ready for a puppy and are immediately overwhelmed. No matter how great the puppy is, or it's pedigree is, or if Puppy Culture was used... sometimes people just are not ready for the 1-2 YEARS it can take for your puppy to mature and "grow up". We screen applicants very carefully and do our best to provide after support for you and your new puppy for these reasons.

Email, Text or Call us Today!

tel: 559-679-7140

Common Questions...

What Health Testing do you do?

We follow all recommendations for genetic and health testing pertaining to Golden Retrievers. You can read more about recommended health testing from the Golden Retriever Club of America:
The OFA recommendations can be found here:
Please note that there is a lot we cannot test for. Cancer is the primary plague of this breed, but we don’t know much about the different types of cancers as far as what causes them. According to Veterinary Oncologists it is likely a mix of genetics and environmental factors. No one can guarantee how long your next puppy will live unfortunately. However, by looking at the longevity of the lines and working towards outcrossing to produce a low coefficient of inbreeding (increase genetic diversity), that’s the best bet we can make on the genetic side of things. It is critical to understand that the the things we CAN test for are not necessarily more or less important than the things we CANNOT test for. Every breeding we do takes this into consideration.
Screening for genetic diseases is available for SOME hereditary conditions. The genetic testing we do is usually through Pawprint Genetics or UC Davis. They test for all recommended, known, genetics conditions that sometimes afflict this breed. We are happy to share Genetic Reports with anyone upon request!
A report screenshot is below of one of our dogs:

Do you show your dogs?

Great question! Although all of our foundation dogs come from pedigrees with show champions in them, No, we do not show our dogs or participate in any AKC trials or events. Our full time, day job, is training Service Dogs and consulting on pet dog training and behavior issues. We also have 3 young kids, and try to save our personal time for family fun, our dogs included.

Showing dogs is an admirable thing to do, but it is very time consuming! Also, the priority with showing dogs leans more towards looks than health/temperament. While we try to adhere to the breed standard, our program leans more towards health & temperament, and we think they are all beautiful 😉

If you still are not convinced, please check out the documentary called “Pedigree Dogs Exposed“.

Also please know there are MANY wonderful, ethical breeders who DO show their dogs but still maintain their priorities of health and temperament. We just happen to be a program who will always be more proud of the number of Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and great Companion Dogs that are living healthy, happy lives than any Champion Show Dog we may produce.

How much are your puppies?

Our puppies are $5,500 at 8 weeks old regardless of gender. This price is not negotiable.

This price reflects the years of planning, importing dogs, health testing dogs, etc that have gone into building our program where it is. We appreciate your understanding that we are not a puppy mill, and we prioritize quality over quantity.

We accept various forms of payment including CREDIT CARDS. We understand that this may not be financially possible for some people so please look into our Guardian Home Program (https://gravitasgoldens.com/guardian-home-opportunities/) as an alternative. We donate quite a few puppies each year to our non-profit to become Service Dogs and to First Responders, we are unable to accommodate any other donation or discount requests.

Included with your puppy is a “swag bag”. Your Puppy Swag Bag will include:

  1. Health/Vaccination Records
  2. AKC Reunite Microchip Info
  3. AKC Registration paperwork
  4. Bag of Zuke’s Mini Treats
  5. Adaptil Junior Collar
  6. Small bag of Purina ProPlan Savor
  7. Soft tug toy
  8. Snuggle Puppy
  9. Treat dispensing toy
  10. Clix House Line
  11. 1-2 other chew items
  12. Free month in “Poop School” House Training Group
  13. Operation Socialization Puppy Passport

Where are you located?

We are in Visalia, CA.

We are able to deliver puppies anywhere in California at an additional charge.

If you are outside of California, as many of our families are, then we can assist in arranging your puppy to fly to you either in-cabin or cargo at your expense. We have flown puppies both ways (our own puppies included!) and have never had a problem doing it either way.

What are the different stages of puppy/dog development and what should I expect?

This infographic is a great visual of what to expect:

Dog Development Infographic

How do you socialize your puppies?

As a dog trainer & behavior consultant, I knew that from the start of our breeding program I wanted to incorporate all cutting edge puppy raising protocols that would set our puppies up for success from Day 1. A few programs we have incorporated into our program and made into our own include:

  1. Puppy Culture
  2. Avidog (now owned by Good Dog)
  3. Enriched Puppy Protocol

The short of it is that these programs involve introducing novel items & experiences into the puppies’ day to day life until they leave the litter. These experiences add up, setting the pups up to become the best version of themselves that they can be AT THAT AGE. Building confident & resilient puppies is the goal whether they are going into a pet home or a service dog organization. Each program was developed by a breeder for their own breed, therefore adapting these programs for OUR puppies is normal & recommended based on their developmental journey.

We have a daily socialization packet that we use every day to ensure that our puppies get the correct amount/type of experience. A few examples of things we do every day (depending on age) include:

  1. ESI (Early Scent Introduction) involves exposing newborn puppies to novel scent items briefly to stimulate their senses and possibly confidence as they grow up
  2. ENS (Early Neurological Stimulation) involves adding small stressors to the puppy during the neonatal stage; those stressors include holding them in different positions and tickling their toes.
  3. Stroller/car rides
  4. Playing or exposing puppies to potentially scary sounds such as fireworks, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers etc. Usually paired with food to make it a good experience
  5. Games that help puppies become more operant… Operant Conditioning teaches dogs (or humans) that their behavior will lead to a consequence. We focus on positive reinforcement here at Gravitas Goldens so generally food and praise are used as the consequence (reward).
  6. Outside adventures (we live on 1 acre here)
  7. Meeting new people including children
  8. Meeting puppy safe adult dogs that are not their mother
  9. Early potty training
  10. Off site field trips

What else will I get when I pick up my puppy?

Prior to picking up your puppy you will get access to a private “Litter Webpage” which gives you an online Puppy Manual including shopping lists and answers to all the questions about raising, training, caring for a puppy etc!

Your Puppy Swag Bag will include:

  1. Health/Vaccination Records in EMAIL
  2. Trupanion Health Insurance Offer/Code which covers the puppy without a waiting period *IF* you choose to buy/activate it
  3. AKC Reunite Microchip & Registration Info
  4. Limited AKC Registration is provided after certain contractual obligations are met by the new owners
  5. Bag of Mini Treats
  6. Adaptil Junior Collar
  7. Soft tug toy
  8. Snuggle Puppy
  9. Treat dispensing toy
  10. Clix House Line
  11. 1-2 other chew items
  12. Operation Socialization Puppy Passport
  13. Blanket or Pet Towel with Siblings/Mother’s scent

Why Gravitas Goldens?

We love it when prospective buyers ask us a lot of questions! We WANT you to do your research and due diligence. We will be doing the same with you! While the internet these days makes puppies easily available with a “Buy It Now” button or PayPal link… we do not. Our puppies are not for everyone who has the money. They are for those who will provide a good home and hopefully that puppy becomes part of your family.

As for why you should choose us… well, we know of some other wonderful, ethical breeders out there… so we cannot say we are the only good breeder around. However, what we can say is that we know of very few breeders, if any, who started out with the education and hands on experience that we have with such a variety of species! Tigers, rhinos, giraffe… we’ve trained it! Gravitas Goldens tends to be more similarly aligned in breeding practices to the Service Dog industry. We attend breeding and reproduction conferences almost every year to stay up-to-date with our breeding practices and make improvements as needed. Our experience with breed clubs and most show breeders has been that they do not prioritize the same things we do, and do not share in looking at the WHOLE dog. Purebred dogs have gone downhill over many years due to selective breeding becoming TOO selective. Heavily selecting for traits that win blue ribbons has not done our dogs any favors. They are not as healthy as they used to be, and temperament & longevity have gone downhill as well. You can read more about unethical breeding practices HERE.

Gravitas Goldens looks at the big picture that includes health, temperament & longevity. For every genetic disease test that we can do on our dogs, there are a number of things we CANNOT test for. Cancer, longevity, epilepsy, etc etc etc are all health issues plaguing many breeds including Goldens. We look at longevity in pedigrees as a way to attempt to make the best decisions we can make.

Genetic diversity is very important to this process as well. Inbreeding became popular in many domestic animals to help select for certain traits. This has backfired enormously on our purebred dogs and contributed to the issues they currently have. At Gravitas Goldens we import 1-2 new breeding prospects from other countries almost every year. These dogs go into a Guardian Home and are then evaluated once old enough for their health and temperament. These dogs are chosen based on how they might contribute new genes into our breeding program and keep our coefficient of inbreeding lower than the breed average.

Breeding dogs was not what we planned to do, ever. As we saw the need for good dogs in the Service Dog field and even just good pet homes, the idea started to grow. We are passionate about it, we are ethical about it, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Our training business and non-profit both have 5 star reviews, as does Gravitas Goldens, because of the care we take in the service and puppies we produce.

We believe in honesty and transparency. This is evident in the fact that we provide a 24/7 Live Puppy Cam to our clients so that they can enjoy watching their puppy grow up, but also see that their puppy is being raised in a clean, caring environment.

Proud Member Of:

Gravitas Goldens proudly aligns ourselves with the Gold Standard in Service Dog Reproduction and Breeding practices. We heavily prefer this over breed clubs and the show dog field where priorities may not be in the right place for what we are trying to accomplish with our breeding program. The IWDR is THE database/registry used by most of the large Service & Guide Dog Schools both Nationwide & Internationally, and for good reason:

  • Track ancestral records for as many generations as needed - the IWDR produces pedigrees and allows you to manage, track and measure your entire breeding colony.
  • If others in your community use the IWDR, they can share data records with you to assist in your breeding decisions.
  • Store both health and work performance information on individual dogs. These health and work performance measurements are known as phenotypes.

    Why are phenotypes important?

    • Phenotypes (observable traits) allow you to make breeder selection decisions based off desired traits - traditional selection over the past few centuries using phenotypes shaped ancestral dogs into today's modern breeds.
    • Today, we can measure the important aspects of health, behavior, and performance on each young dog and its relatives, including littermates, full- or half-siblings, parents, grandparents, and even more distant ancestors.
    • The IWDR allows breeders to record data on phenotype, and helps put these measurements into context to decide among alternative young dogs exactly which ones will be kept for breeding.

      Estimated Breeding Values

      • Selection using EBVs is more advanced. The same phenotype measurements for aspects of health, behavior and performance are combined in a second step that includes pedigree relationships.
      • The numeric value produced by this second step estimates each dog's relative genetic worth as a breeder for a particular trait or characteristic.
      • These estimates are known as estimated breeding values (EBVs), and they are the most accurate way known to describe genetic potential of each young dog as a possible breeder. The key to producing accurate EBVs is to begin the process with accurately recorded pedigree relationships and accurately measured phenotypes on most dogs in a population."

If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us! We believe in full transparency in every breeding decision we make, and have a 5 star reputation to demonstrate our commitment to our dogs and our clients.