SpiceRidge Kennels
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About Our Girls and Their Breeds

Bred to retrieve water fowl, Golden Retrievers are renowned as intelligent, gentle, and easy to train dogs.  They have an innate love of the water and learn to swim at an early age.  While they will shed their water-repellant double coat seasonally, a quick comb through every other day prevents "hair bunnies" from accumulating in the house!  As a retriever, they are especially "mouth oriented" - like all puppies they learn about their world through their tongue and teeth, which can lead to chewed shoes if you're not careful!  Due to all of these in-bred characteristics, they excel in Field work, Obedience, Rally, and Agility as well as the service and therapeutic realms.  Whatever their training, your puppy will grow into a sturdy dog who loves to please you! 

                                                                                                                                    Tibbie as a puppy enjoying her first swim, eight weeks old!

We strongly encourage our puppy families to continue the crate and early obedience training that we begin as soon as the puppies indicate readiness.  While we love all dogs, living with an untrained dog is misery for both the owner and dog.
Training a dog using positive reinforcement is an act of kindness, giving it security, a sense of its role and function within the family/pack, and boundaries that lend toward emotional stability for the group.

When Tibbie came to our home, we enlisted the help of a local professional trainer (who later handled both of our dogs in the show ring). (see link to Brian Tuel.) Training begins as puppies, but is a lifelong activity!  Tibbie passed her AKC “CGC” (Canine Good Citizen) title when she was barely a year old, and went on to pass her TDI, or Therapy Dog, which allows her to put her sweet nature to excellent use when visiting local patients under the care of hospice.

Like most breeds, most behavioral problems in otherwise well tempered dogs are linked to boredom! A productive dog - that is, a dog that has a sense of purpose due to its activities and engagement with its owners, is least likely to develop negative behaviors. 


Goldens excel at:  Conformation, Agility, Obedience, Service, Therapy Dog, Dock Jumping, Rally, Tracking, Field Trials, Hunt Tests, Freestyle (dancing with you!) and Disc.  They are also pretty decent couch potatoes!

The coat of the Golden Retriever was developed to keep them warm in cold duck ponds and they do not mind time in brisk weather, but they like to be wherever people are.  Whatever you are doing, your Golden Retriever would rather be with you than anywhere else on Earth.

"Fetch" is a pretty popular game with this breed.  They are retrievers in a very literal sense.  When you throw it and they bring it back to you -they get in touch with something very primal inside of themselves.  They REALLY want to retrieve again and again.  We use a floating rubber stick in the pool and many different toys on land.  Often we will use extra-durable throwing discs or "chuck-it" tennis balls.  But the toys get put away when they are not being actively played with because dogs will chew them up (and ruin their teeth on tennis balls, and swallow plastic).  On hot days in Florida we have to be the ones who say "enough" because they would retrieve themselves into heat-stroke.

I have to admit that until I started attending dog shows focusing on the conformation of dogs, I didn’t really understand the main goal of dog breeding. Thanks to a lot of dog savvy friends, I learned that my childish perception of dog shows as beauty contests in which judges picked the “prettiest” dog was wrong, wrong, wrong. As I attended the shows, observed the process, and asked questions, I learned that dog shows were about examining each individual dog and holding it up against the standard for its breed – in order to explore possibilities for breeding the "ideal" individuals of that breed. In other words, a judge might approach the Golden Retriever dogs in the ring with the question in his/her mind, “which would be the ideal female to breed to my male dog?” In doing so, the judge checks out the structure, attitude, expression and gait of the dog as well as the overall appearance – AGAINST THE STANDARD FOR THAT BREED, not against the other dogs in the ring. At the end of the day, the “winner” is the dog that most accurately reflects the standard, the ideal, for his/her breed.


Each and every purebred dog comes with its own set of genetic predispositions for disease.  Some breeds may have many, some few, but they all have them.  (Remember that when you chose a dog of mixed breeding, you are also choosing a mix of many genetically predisposed illnesses or conditions!)  It's good to know your breed, and which conditions you should be monitoring your dog for.

No doubt you have heard and read about the frequency of hip and elbow dysplasia in certain large breeds of dogs.  The Golden Retriever is also prone to that problem.  However, there is an early imaging technique that can predict the probability of development of that problem. (See link to OFA).  Like most responsible breeders, we had Tibbie examined at two years old, and her results were "good."  Barring traumatic injury, she is unlikely to ever experience any arthritis in her hips and elbows. 

Tibbie in dreamland having her OFA examination for hip dysplasia.  They carefully x-rayed the structure of her hip joint.  Her hips were offically declared "Good."

The stud we chose for her first litter, Alegre, and the stud for her second litter, Cody, have both been cleared of hip dysplasia.  Tibbie and her mates have all been cleared for cardiac disease, thyroid disease, and genetically predispositioned eye problems.  (See links for "CERF".)   These tests are run not only on the breeding pair, but were run on their parents, grandparents, etc., prior to the start of their breedings careers, back to the start of testing.  All lines in our pedigree have proven clean. 

Somewhere back in the lineage (we don't know when but we know it was early, early on), Goldens became predisposed to a gene which was linked with cancer.  Unfortunately, many dogs in the breed now develop cancers at a fairly early age.   Many are successfully treatable.  That we know of, there is currently no genetic test for this predisposition.   If there was, we would have Tibbie tested.   But - the good news is that to the best of our knowledge, there have been no losses in Tibbie's pedigree from cancer.

DOG HEALTH: an Owner's Responsibility
The only reason not to spay or neuter a dog is because one anticipates breeding the animal to carry on its extraordinary characteristics.  The puppies we place in forever homes will make wonderful members of the family and great Golden Retrievers, but only on occasion will a puppy be identified as somehow closer to the breed ideal and therefore a dog with "show" potential.  If you are looking for a show dog, please let us know when you contact us.  Otherwise, we will strongly encourage you, as a responsible owner, to spay or neuter your puppy.

We are in favor of spaying and neutering, vaccinations, safety crating while travelling in cars, teeth cleaning, regular check-ups, leash laws and responsible pet ownership in general.  In our journey with dogs we      Our beautiful Lassie, September 2014
have read and researched about dogs and their health
needs.  They cannot do it for themselves.  We have to  be the ones who care for them.  Being a knowledgeable pet owner is a great gift you can give your pet for a long and happy life together. 

Ovary-Sparing Spay and Neuter
Although we are in favor of spaying an neutering, we have become convinced that the vast majority of spay and neuter procedures in the U.S. occur too early in the life of the pet and are too hard on their metabolism.  In Western Europe the common practice is equivalent to a tubal ligation and a vasectomy (essentially the parts stay in place and the tiny tubes connecting them are severed to prevent pregnancy).  In the U.S. however, the procedure is equivalent to castration and a total hysterectomy.  Vets will advise you allow them to perform this operation when the dog is as young as 8 weeks old!  It would be like getting your 4-year-old daughter a hysterectomy or your four-year-old son castrated.  Wouldn't you expect there to be consequences for your child's long-term health?  Likewise, our dogs need the hormones made by ovaries and testicles to grow their bones properly, finish growing and maturing their internal organs, and to create healthy metabolisms.  Without the hormone-producing parts, other organs have to work overtime (particularly the adrenal glands are stressed) often leading to later illness.

When advocates for early spaying and neutering are confronted with these problems they point out that, statistically, dogs that are allowed to roam get into more trouble if they are unaltered.  They run across highways and get in dogfights.  So they say to spay and neuter in spite of the problems.  We say, "Be a responsible dog owner and do not let your dog roam." When we ask veterinarians about it, vets tend to reply with what they were taught in school, that total hysterectomies prevent pyometra, an infected uterus.  It does prevent this less-than-common condition, but at the cost of a shortened and less healthy life for the dog -weaker bones, malformed joints, more allergies, arthritis, impaired health.

What can you do if you want your dog to have an ovary-sparing spay or neuter?  There are a few veterinarians who perform these operations.  It is not yet taught as a normative procedure in any American veterinary schools.  Your vet is still most likely to argue with you about it.  It would be worthwhile to look up a veterinarian who will perform an ovary-sparing spay.  That sort of thing is out there on the Internet. 

Until that becomes easier everywhere, the next best idea is to delay the standard spaying and neutering until the dog is fully grown, the bones are filled out and the internal organs mature.

In our standard contract with new puppy owners we guarantee the health of the puppy against genetic illnesses in the bloodline.  But early spaying and neutering voids the guarantee.  We really believe that this will make a difference in the life of the dog.

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