Questions about Summer Brook Acres
1. What type health testing do you do?
Before breeding, all of our dogs have had their hips, elbows, and hearts tested with OFA. They also have their eyes tested with CERF every year. In addition, we test our dogs for PRA-1 and Ichthyosis using a DNA test. All of our breeding dogs have links to the proof of testing. For more information on genetic health in Golden Retrievers, see our Health Issues in Golden Retrievers page.
2. What kind of care do you provide for your puppies?
Our puppies are raised inside with our family. There is almost always someone home with them. See our How We Raise our Puppies page for more details on how they are raised.
3. How does your reservation list work?
We will reserve early 3 puppies per sex per litter. If there are more than 3 puppies of one sex and not enough of the other, those who are flexible about the sex will have an opportunity for those puppies. Deposits are refundable if there aren't enough puppies of the sex requested.
5. How many litters do you typically have and do you ever have multiple litters at your home?
We only have a few litters per year. We average 3 or 4. In 2015, we hope to breed 5.
It often happens that litters overlap because girls living in the same home tend to come in season together. We have raised two litters at the same time on several occasions. We have more help than most and our puppies get huge amounts of attention, socialization, love, and training, even when we have 2 litters. We are a homeschooling family with someone home all the time when puppies are here. My teenage kids are a huge help and we often have friends to help as well. My husband is in business for himself and has a flexible schedule. He also helps (not only with the puppies but with cooking and cleaning for the family during the last weeks!). We plan our school year around our litters, doing school through the summer and taking off for the last weeks that puppies are here. I have also hired friends of our family to help while we have puppies here. Our puppies are not left alone in a home where everyone is gone. We take the care and socialization of our puppies very seriously.
6. Do you breed your dogs back to back or skip seasons?
We make our decision about when to breed one of our girls on a case by case basis, but we do believe that back to back breeding is a good thing in most cases. Most, if not all, reproductive vets say that it is better to breed back to back than to skip seasons and then continue to breed girls when they are older. See our page on Back to Back Breeding for more information.
7. How much are your puppies and what is your policy for deposits and payments?
See our Payment Page for details on price, deposits, when payments are due, and when we refund deposits. Our current price is on our puppy questionnaire. Scroll down a few lines to the question on if you'd prefer a first pick puppy or not.
8. Do you ship your puppies?
We do not ship our puppies but require at least one family member to personally come to our home outside of Birmingham. If you fly, you can carry your puppy on board with you and he/she can ride at your feet. The only exception to this would be if we had an older trained puppy that is too big to ride in the cabin.
We are about 25 miles from the Birmingham airport and about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the Atlanta airport. Many people choose to fly to Atlanta and rent a car to drive to Alabama because there are direct flights from most anywhere to Atlanta. However, those who've flown directly to Birmingham have had no trouble with making connections when there was no direct flight. Your puppy will stay with you and can be carried through the airport. We'll provide you with puppy pads and disposal sacks so that your puppy can potty between flights. An 8 week old puppy is still small enough to ride as carry on instead of being checked in the hold area which makes for a much easier ride for the puppy.
We love for families to meet the parents of their puppy and see where he/she has spent his/her first 8 weeks of life and we especially enjoy meeting the people who have usually been talking by phone and email with us for months. Your puppy can fly back with you as carry-on luggage for $50-$150 above the price of your ticket (depending on the airline). People have driven to get a puppy from us from as far away as Texas and Massachusetts and have flown to pick up puppies from as far away as California, New York, and Pennsylvania. We are here to help with any questions as you book your flight. We think that having people pick up their puppies in person is the best way for a smooth transition from our home to yours.
9. Will you meet me at the airport with my puppy?
For several reasons, we've decided to require those getting our puppies to come all the way to our home.
10. How do I reserve a puppy?
See our How to Reserve a Puppy page for complete details.
11. How does the puppy selection process work? Can we choose our own puppy?
See our page on puppy selection.
12. At what age do we pick up our puppy?
We will allow our puppies go to go to new homes starting at 7 weeks 4 days. Please see our page on Puppy Pick-up for full details.
13. Where are you located?
We are in Chelsea, Alabama, about 25 miles southeast of Birmingham, Alabama, an easy drive from Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, or Tennessee, and less than a day's drive from North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, and parts of Arkansas, Virginia, and Ohio.
14. Can we come meet you, your dogs, and the puppies at your home?
Yes, though it is not required, we would love to meet all new puppy owners (only serious inquiries interested in litters that are announced on our site) after they have completed the puppy questionnaire and spoken with us by phone, and been approved. An appointment is required for all visits.
We allow visitors with the puppies preferably after 5 weeks, but will allow owners to visit as early as 4 weeks under certain conditions. Before puppies are 5 weeks of age, we require visitors to work around the puppies' feeding schedule which at 4 weeks is every 3 1/2 hours. Four week old puppies sleep most of the time and for their health and for the enjoyment of guests, we've found that it works best for visitors to come when the puppies will naturally be awake. Starting at 5 weeks, puppies are much more awake and active and a strict schedule isn't as important. After 5 weeks, puppy owners may come multiple times if they like and we also invite friends and extended family to socialize our puppies. We love opportunities for our puppies to have socialization beyond our own family.
We often have people asking to drop in and see our dogs. We love visiting with people, but in order to protect our family time, we've decided to only invite those who have taken the first steps toward reserving a puppy from us and been approved.
15. What are your requirements to get a puppy from you?
We will only allow our puppies to go to homes where they will be given the very best of care and where they will receive a lot of love and attention. We won't place them in homes where everyone is gone most of the day and we have quite a few requirements in our contract with regard to health. If you are looking for a backyard pet, we wouldn't be the breeder for you. See our page entitled Is a Summer Brook Puppy Right for You? for more details.
16. What kind of food do you recommend?
My first recommendation is to feed a raw or a well-balanced home cooked diet. But knowing that most Americans are very busy, I've put together a food page with information on our recommendations for feeding dry dog food.
17. Will you sell with full registration?
No, our puppies are sold as pets only with AKC limited registration. With limited registration you can participate in any type AKC show such as obedience, rally, agility, etc. except for conformation shows. Only dogs with full registration are allowed to be bred and get registration papers for the puppies. We will not sell to anyone wanting to breed.
18. Do your dogs have any type of allergy?
No, none of our dogs have ever shown any signs of allergies or any other type of skin condition nor have any of the studs that we use. Even with a lot of summer swimming, none of them have any type of skin problems, not even hot spots which most Golden Retrievers are prone to. Skin conditions and allergies do have a genetic component, but healthy food is also important in keeping any dog's skin and coat looking good.
19. Can I get 2 puppies from a litter?
Though I think having 2 dogs in the same home is a good idea, I won't place two puppies from the same litter together. According to research done by Guide Dogs for the Blind, puppies not separated from their mother and litter-mates, never make as good a pets as puppies who are separated. They will tend to bond more heavily with each other instead of with their new owner. Also 2 puppies is a lot of work and unless you are very experienced at raising puppies, it can be overwhelming. I recommend getting a second puppy when the first puppy is 6 months to a year of age and only when you are in a position to have the time to give individual attention to both.
20. Do you have older trained puppies or adults for sale?
I do occasionally keep back a puppy that I think I might like to add to our breeding program. Because I will be retiring both our Faith and our Hope within the next year, I am looking at keeping the best puppy from several litters with the hopes that at least one of them will turn out to be my idea of the perfect dog to add to our breeding program. I will evaluate these puppies for our program when they are 3-6 months old and will have 2 or possibly 3 older puppies available for new homes over the course of several months starting possibly in the fall. These puppies will be raised and live in our home. They will be trained using positive training methods in a highly structured training program. They will each be raised as if they would be the puppy kept here by Summer Brook. These puppies will be having foundations laid for not only being good family companions but for being competitive dogs in obedience trials as well.
If you are interested in a trained puppy from us, please indicate that somewhere on your questionnaire. By the end of the summer, I will be adding a page to our website with specific training that these puppies will have. For now, I will not be reserving these puppies ahead of time but would be available to speak with anyone who might be interested in a trained puppy later in the year.
I occasionally will have adults that I am retiring for sale. It is not very often. Usually those dogs go to people locally or to families that have been waiting for a puppy from us for a long time or to someone who already has one puppy from us and then decides they want a second dog. It's rare that one of our older dogs goes to someone that I've not already built a relationship with. If I do have a dog available, the information will be on the website. I am particular about where our puppies go, but with these adults who have sometimes been with us for 4 or 5 years, I would not only have the same requirements as for a puppy, but would also require a personal meeting at my house between the family, us, and the dog before any commitments were made.
21. I read that you require girl puppies to not be spayed until they are over a year old. How do I manage having a girl in season?
Having a girl in season is much easier than most people envision and there will only be one season to deal with. The reward is a longer life for your dog with less chance of cancer and hip dysplasia. Most Goldens from European lines have their first cycles somewhere between 10 and 15 months of age. The first sign of heat is a small bloody discharge. Many dogs will keep themselves clean. Others may leave tiny drops of blood. "Doggy diapers" are easy to find and protect floors. Even if your dog comes in season before you realize it, the blood doesn't stain hardwood or tile even if left for a full day. The heat will last about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks with the fertile period not coming for at least 5 or 6 days (usually closer to 10-12 days). During the fertile period, you'll need to keep your dog inside 100% of the time unless you are out with her. We feel that this is a minor incovenience lasting 18-21 days and is a small sacrifice to give a dog a longer, healthier life.
22. What about an unneutered boy? I've heard that they are more prone to fight and that they will spray in my house?
Well bred Golden Retrievers are not aggressive dogs by nature. I've never, not once, had a fight between any of my boys even when I have several girls in season. I take my boys out quite a lot around other dogs and at shows sometimes there are girls in season. My boys have on occasion been growled at by other unneutered boys, but they've never retaliated. They don't cower either.....just walk away. It has never been any problem for me whatsoever.
None of my boys spray or mark in my house. They live inside more than outside (only going out our doggy doors at will). Since Goldens with European lines are slow to mature, most don't even start lifting a leg to pee until they are about 18 months old.
Boys who are neutered before growth plates close at about 18 months will be affected by their lack of testosterone. They will grow lankier than they are genetically supposed to grow and their heads will not fill out as much as an unneutered dog. However, the real reason we require families to wait is not for cosmetic reasons. It is for the health benefits....longer life expectancy....lower chances of hips dysplasia....lower chances of cancer. I only ask families to wait a minimum of a year. If families are especially concerned about any of these issues, they are free to neuter right at a year.
23. What do you think about breeder XYZ?
I get this question quite a lot from people who don't want to wait for a puppy as long as people wait who get our puppies. I don't want to judge another breeder and won't answer this question, but I've written a page entitled "How to Find a Good Breeder of English Golden Retrievers" that will hopefully help people to distinguish the good from the bad themselves. In the U.S., there are several large puppy mills, many breeders who are dishonest, and at least one with gross exaggerations on his website. I whole-heartedly do recommend all of the breeders on my links page and there are many other good ones in addition to these.
24. What do you think about Goldendoodles?
Because a Goldendoodle is a mix between a Poodle and a Golden Retriever, they do not "breed true" like a pure bred dog. Click Here to see a very good article that is on The Golden Retriever Club of America's website on Goldendoodles. In spite of the fact that most Goldendoodle breeders claim that a Goldendoodle possesses the best of both breeds, the truth of the matter is that some Goldendoodles inherit the best from both parents while others inherit the worse. Most will get a little of the best and a little of the worst. It is uncertain what any particular puppy will be like.
25. I have questions not answered on this page. How do I get in touch with you?
Please see questions 4 and 7 above if you are looking for price and availability. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about getting a puppy in the future that aren't answered on this page. If you already have a puppy from us or are on our current waiting list and need to talk by phone and no longer have our number in your contacts, email me, and I'll call you or re-send you my number.
I am very happy to talk by phone with people interested in our puppies (in fact it is required before being added to our list), but because of numerous phone calls, I've decided to limit phone calls to those who have filled out our puppy questionnaire and read the links that it takes you to. Thank you for understanding.
General Questions about English Golden Retrievers
What is an English Cream Golden Retriever?
There is actually no such breed as an English Cream Golden Retriever. The term English Cream is a slang term that was coined by Americans and attached to those Golden Retrievers that happen to be cream colored in England, Europe, Australia, and even Canada. In actuality, Golden Retrievers in England and all of Europe range in color from cream to gold. Many Americans have become enamored with the cream color, but it is more than just their color that makes the European Golden Retrievers beautiful. They are bred to an entirely different standard. See the next question for more details.
What is the difference in an English Golden Retriever and an American Golden Retriever?
See our American and English Golden Retrievers - Differences and Similarities page for a summary of the differences and similarities in appearance and temperament. See our AKC KC comparison page for a side by side comparison of the two standards as set forth by the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club in England.
Why are there so many names for Golden Retrievers bred to the KC Standard?
English Golden Retrievers are actually referred to as simply Golden Retrievers in Europe and in other countries around the world. It is only in the U.S. that a different name has been attached to them. Most likely it is because the cream color of many of the Golden Retrievers in Europe and some of the other beautiful attibutes of those Goldens overseas makes them stand out as different in the U.S. They are registered in the United States in the same registry as any other Golden Retriever and they are not always cream. Many of the most beautiful are a light gold color and if you look back in the pedigrees of most all of the well-bred dogs, you will find some golden dogs in their backgrounds. I have heard them called White Golden Retrievers, European-style Golden Retrievers, Imported Golden Retrievers, British Golden Retrievers, English Cream Golden Retrievers, and just plain English Creams. I think probably the most accurate term would be Golden Retrievers bred to the Kennel Club standard (but what a mouthful that is!).
What are the health differences between American and English Goldens?
As is discussed on our home page, we feel that there are health differences. Most notably, there is evidence that the number of deaths by cancer might be considerably less in golden retrievers in Europe than in the United States. Click Here to see results of a study done by the Golden Retriever Club of America on cancer. Click Here to see results of a study done by the Kennel Club in England on cancer. These studies were not meant to be compared and the sample was not large enough to make the results conclusive, but the difference is so great with about 60% of American Goldens dying of cancer with only less than 40% of Golden Retrievers in England dying of cancer that we feel that these results cannot be ignored. While we think that the overall health of English Goldens is better and the average life span is more than a year longer, there are a few health issues that are a bigger problem in English Golden Retrievers than in their American counterpart. Go to our Health Issues in Golden Retrievers page to read about several problems that many Goldens are prone to and how we test to screen for those problems. From this page there are links to pages discussing individual health issues.
Is Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia more prevalent in Golden Retrievers in the United States or in Europe?
Though some breeders are saying that there is less hip dysplasia in English Golden Retrievers, I do not believe that to be true and have never seen any evidence that supports such statements. Read our page on Hip Testing in Europe and America to understand the different ways that hips are tested and how the criteria for what is considered an acceptable dog to breed differs between the continents. Read our Elbow Dysplasia in Europe and America for information on this health issue. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia is a problem in all Golden Retrievers and your best chance of getting a dog free from it is to get a puppy whose parents and other relatives have been tested and received good test results and to take care of your puppy's growing joints while he/she is young.
What is PRA-1 and CERF eye testing?
Read our Genetic Eye Diseases in the Golden Retriever page for information on the eye diseases that we feel should be tested for before breeding a litter.
I have seen a test on a few breeders website for Ichthyosis. What is it?
Read our Ichthyosis in Golden Retrievers page for information on this minor skin problem that we are now testing for.
How much do English Golden Retrievers shed?
We sweep or vacuum almost every day and brush the dogs often. In the spring and summer, I still have some white fuzz on my brown hardwood floors. Of course, I have 6 Goldens in the house which is far more than most will ever have. My females will “blow their coat” a couple of months after weaning a litter of puppies. You can almost see the hair falling out at that time, but they do not shed again for many months, almost a year. Some Goldens will profusely shed in the spring and have a much thinner coat for the summer. English Goldens in general do not have as long and fine a coat as American Goldens so there is less shed because there is less hair on them, but if you have dark colored floors, it is more visible because of the color.
Which makes the better pet, a male or female?
With Golden Retrievers, there is not a lot of difference in the personality/temperament of boys and girls. Both are loving and sweet. I believe the parents of a litter make a bigger difference in temperament than the sex of the puppy. However, with that said, I will say that within a litter, there is probably a bigger percentage of girls that are calmer and a bigger percentage of boys that are more loving and less independent. These are only generalities though and I've had litters where the calmest puppy in the litter was a boy and the most loving was a girl.
The biggest difference between the sexes is in size and look. Boys are 10-15 pounds heavier and boys will have a bigger, blockier head whereas a girl's head will be more feminine.