How To Pick a Golden Retriever Puppy From a Litter? (Easy Guide)

Getting a golden retriever puppy is an exciting moment for any family! However, picking the right puppy from a litter can be overwhelming and stressful. So, what is the easiest way to pick a golden retriever puppy from a litter?

To pick a golden retriever puppy from a litter, you will want to examine each puppy’s appearance, size, interactions, and sex. An excellent way to see how your potential puppy will turn out is to take a look at his parents. Most importantly, ask the breeder a lot of questions before adopting.

Let’s take a closer look at how to pick a golden retriever puppy from a litter.

How to pick a golden retriever puppy from a litter.

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Purchase Your Golden Retriever From a Reputable Breeder

Before I get into the specific things you’ll want to know to pick the perfect pup from a litter, it’s important to talk about where you’re getting your puppy from. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that you are purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder or private owner. A responsible breeder is your best bet for a healthy puppy.

The last thing you’ll want to do is get your puppy from a puppy mill. A dog breeder like this will cut corners and overbreed in order to get as many viable Golden retriever pups to sell to unsuspecting puppy buyers as possible. It’s all about the almighty dollar when it comes to a puppy mill. Even if the price for a golden retriever puppy appears to be less initially, the potential long-term health and behavioral problems involved with a puppy from a genetically unhealthy litter will quickly surpass the cost of a puppy from a good breeder.

Some of the best ways to find a quality golden retriever puppy breeder is to get referrals from your local veterinarian, a good friend, or a local golden retriever club. You can also find an excellent golden retriever breeder by attending professional dog shows. Finally, always check a breeder’s online reviews.

Now that you know where to look for your Golden retriever pup, let’s get into exactly what you should be looking for when you get to see the litter.

Examine Each Golden Retriever Puppy’s Physical Appearance

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you look at a litter of golden retriever puppies is to examine each puppy’s physical appearance to make sure you’re getting a healthy puppy. When you look each puppy over, you want to look specifically at their eyes, coat, build, and skin.

  • Look at their eyes. Take a look at the puppy’s eyes. There shouldn’t be any drainage or redness. They should look focused and clear. You want to keep an eye out for any golden retriever puppies that rub their eyes or appear to struggle with their vision, such as squinting.
  • Touch their coat. The coat of your new perfect puppy should be shiny and healthy. You don’t want to get a puppy with dull or patchy fur. If there are too many bald spots, it could indicate a skin problem either now or later on in the dog’s life.
  • Examine their build. A golden retriever puppy’s build is something you’ll want to take a careful look at, as well. Take a look at the overall shape of each puppy. You’ll want to look carefully at each puppy’s head, nose, ears, and mouth in order to spot any irregularities in shape or form. When you look at their build, check to make sure they are walking straight or that they aren’t walking with a limp. Check to see if they are favoring one foot more than another foot. These could be signs of a more serious health issue.
  • Check their skin. You want to keep an eye out for any flaky skin or skin with bald patches. Look for redness or signs of irritation. There are also instances when a puppy with anxiety will chew or scratch at their skin until the fur falls off. Anxious dogs need a lot of special care and attention, which is why it’s important to note this behavior early on, so you are equipped to handle it.
Things to look for when choosing a puppy from a litter.

Check Out the Size of The Golden Retriever Puppies

Golden retrievers are energetic dogs, and they get big. Even the runts are going to be bigger than a lot of other breeds. When considering a puppy, take a look at the dog’s size compared to the other puppies in the litter. It’s always good practice to get a puppy with a medium-sized build.

Many people wonder if the runt of the litter is a good choice when choosing a golden retriever. It’s important to consider the potential health risks involved in selecting a runt as your new family pet. The runts are typically the pups who are weaker and smaller than the others in their litter. This is most challenging for the runt during feeding time when it’s more likely the other puppies will push the runt to the side.

The mother produces the nutrients the litter needs to survive. This will determine the puppy’s size as well. The bigger the puppy, the greater the chance it’s pushing the other members of its litter aside.

The runts will be at greater risk of having weaker immune systems and getting infections. Choosing a medium-sized puppy will reduce your chances of getting a runt, an overeater, or a bully (overly dominant pup). It’ll also help you avoid a sickly puppy that can drain your finances.

Choosing The Sex of The Golden Retriever Puppy

You might think that the gender of your puppy won’t matter, but there are a few things to keep in mind when considering a new puppy. When it comes to temperament and size, there are differences between females and males.

The most significant difference is going to be their size. A male dog will get slightly longer and taller than females, but they will also weigh more. There are also small differences in their faces. For instance, a female’s snout is going to be narrower than a male’s. A female’s fur can also be just a bit shorter than their male counterpart.

There isn’t much of a difference in the temperament, but males can be slightly more stubborn than females. They can also come across as more territorial, but this is a very slight difference as well. While the females will still love you unconditionally, the males will be twice as doting and loving.

When considering a female, don’t forget to consider their reproductive cycles and menstruation. If you aren’t looking to breed your puppy, you’ll need to make an appointment to get her spayed after experiencing her first heat.

Watch the Way Each Golden Retriever Puppy Interacts With His Siblings

If you have other dogs, this is a step that you’ll want to consider closely when choosing your future golden retriever puppy from a litter. Watch the way each member of the litter interacts with the others. This will tell you how your puppy will react to the other dogs or animals in your home. It’s crucial to pick a puppy that doesn’t try to bully the others in the litter and typically gets along with the others.

Just as important as trying to avoid a puppy that’s a bully, is avoiding an overly shy pup. Extremely shy puppies may not have been socialized well so far, and could grow up to become distrustful dogs that are full of anxieties.

Speak with the breeder or the owner of the litter. Ask them tons of questions about how socialized the puppies have been with other dogs and pets so far in their young lives.

Make Sure the Golden Retriever Puppy Is the Correct Age

Golden retriever puppies should stay with their mothers for eight weeks before being adopted and taken home. As mentioned earlier, the mothers produce vital nutrients that a new puppy needs to survive. If the puppy is taken away too soon, it puts them at greater risk of infections and other complications. It can also increase their anxiety, aggression and make them over-protective of their toys and food.

This is what an 8 week old Golden Retriever puppy looks like.

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Before seeing the litter, research what a golden retriever puppy of eight weeks looks like. It will vary depending on the dog, but this will help you establish a clear idea of what the puppies will look like when you see the litter. If the puppies look too small to be eight weeks old, you’ll want to question the breeder about their health and age. It’s better to be on the safe side.

Take a Look at the Golden Retriever Puppy’s Parents

When you visit the breeder or owner of the litter, ask to see the puppies’ parents. You can tell a lot about how a puppy will grow and behave based on the litter’s parents. The size and temperament of the parents are passed down to their offspring. So, if the parents are mild-mannered and calm, there’s a good chance your puppy will be too.

You’ll still want to observe the puppy’s behaviors to make sure they’re something you can handle in during the puppy years. What you see with the parents is most likely what they will grow into eventually, not what you’ll get initially.

Ask the Owner Questions About The Golden Retriever Puppies Your Interested In

There is nothing wrong with being well-informed about the puppy you are considering as your new family member. Make sure to ask the breeder or owner as many questions as you can about the puppy’s upbringing and health. Below, you’ll find a list of great questions to ask when you make your visit to see the litter.

  • What is the temperament of the parents?
  • How does the puppy in question behave around dogs outside their litter?
  • What kind of food are the puppies used to eating?
  • Have the puppies all been dewormed?
  • Are the puppies socialized with other animals besides dogs, such as cats or birds?


Adopting a puppy is a significant milestone for a family. Golden retrievers make excellent first-time dogs for families of all sizes, and you’re sure to find a lifelong friend in the process. After reading this easy guide, you’ll know what to look for to pick the best golden retriever puppy from a litter.


Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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