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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.

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.

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:
Additionally, the genetic testing we do is usually through a company called Embark. They test for all recommended, known, genetics conditions that sometimes afflict this breed. A report screenshot is below of one of our dogs:

Do you show your dogs?

Great question! 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. 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.

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 of $200.

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:


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!

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.

Important reading:

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Get a Golden Retriever

It’s Not “All In How You Raise Them”: The Role Of Genetics In Behavior

Socializing Your Puppy: Why “Later” Is Too Late

The Dark Side of Socialization: Fear Periods and Single Event Learning

Genetics, Behavior, and Puppy Temperament Testing



Proud Member of:

The GRCA provides puppy referral as a convenience to puppy buyers to find out about breeders who are GRCA members and their litters. GRCA takes no responsibility whatsoever for any puppies/dogs that you may acquire through GRCA puppy referral. GRCA is not responsible for any breeder’s sale practices and sales contracts, nor will GRCA be involved in any manner in contract disputes between puppy buyers and breeders. Availability of puppies and conditions of sale are at the sole discretion of the individual breeder. Buyers are encouraged to read ACQUIRING A GOLDEN RETRIEVER, as found on the website, for general information about obtaining a puppy, to take as much time as necessary to locate a reputable breeder from whom they feel comfortable purchasing a puppy, and to investigate breeders and their puppies thoroughly before committing to a purchase. You are not obligated to purchase a puppy from the breeders whose names you obtain from GRCA puppy referral.