Code of Ethics

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This Code of Ethics outlines high standards of practice for members of the Golden Retriever Club of Canada. who are breeders and/or owners of Golden Retrievers. The Code of Ethics embodies important goals of the GRCC, in promoting the ongoing health, well-being and preservation of the Golden Retriever breed.

An ethical breeder is constantly aware of the underlying responsibilities to the breed and conducts all related activities as follows:

Section 1 Member Conduct and Responsibilities
  1. Members make available to the novice, the benefit of their knowledge, experience, advice, and service and serve as mentors to those new to the breed or sport of dogs.
  2. At all times, members shall conduct themselves in a manner which reflects credit upon themselves, the Club, and the breed. When confronted by a situation not covered by the Code of Ethics, the actions of the Club member should reflect the treatment the Club member would expect under similar circumstances.
  3. Members should strive to maintain the best possible standards of environment, nutrition, and health care for their dogs. Dogs should also be properly socialized, regularly exercised and receive basic training in decent manners to ensure they become good canine citizens.
  4. Members should diligently strive to educate prospective owners about the responsibilities of dog ownership and about the Golden Retriever, its care requirements, and needs, as well as potential hereditary defects found in the breed.
  5. Breeders should undertake rigorous screening and assessment of all potential puppy purchasers as to their suitability as owners and their ability to raise and maintain a Golden Retriever for its lifetime.
  6. Members should ensure that their dogs are not a nuisance to their neighbours or the community and that they are properly controlled, inoculated, licensed, and supervised at all times. Members should try to do all they can to foster good relations between dogs, their owners, and the community.
Section 2 Breeding Practices


  1. The Code of Ethics is intended to act as a guideline to best possible breeding practices.
  2. Recognizing that narrowing of the gene pool is detrimental to the breed and that no dog is genetically perfect, the GRCC stresses that maintaining a rich and diverse gene pool is important for the long-term health of the breed. Good breeding decisions must balance many factors. It is, therefore, suggested that breeders give the highest health priority to selection against heritable disorders that significantly decrease quality of life or negatively impact life span, and select for genetics that have the greatest likelihood for improvement through careful breeding decisions. A focus on the longevity of the dogs in any given vertical and horizontal pedigree is strongly recommended. Breeders of Golden Retrievers are encouraged to always make the age and the cause of death of any breeding dog publicly available.
  3. Breeders are strongly encouraged to make the results, normal and abnormal, of all health testing, (orthopedic, cardiac, ophthalmologist and DNA reports) publicly available by submitting these to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) online registry. Keeping the information up to date on online data bases such as k9data would also be ideal.
    Selection of Breeding Stock:
    1. The breeder must ensure that all breeding is based on the requirements of the Canadian Kennel Club breed standard. Important considerations should include temperament, appearance, structure, and natural abilities, always remembering the Golden Retriever is “primarily a hunting dog”.
    2. The breeder uses only healthy adults that are physically and mentally mature. As breeding decisions are based on health clearances, the recommended age to start breeding is 24 months or older, especially for females. Starting a stud dog with good or better preliminary clearances at 18 months, along with cardiac, eye and DNA reports, may be acceptable in some cases but must always be followed up by final hip and elbow reports at 24 months.
    3. Caution must always be employed when considering breeding any dog that has evaluation results of unknown (or indeterminate) inherited causes such as an equivocal ultrasound cardiac exam or unilateral grade 1 elbow. The preservation, improvement and welfare of the Golden Retriever breed must always be taken into consideration when making these decisions and the risks and benefits carefully weighed. Full disclosure of the health and clearance status of any breeding stock must be disclosed to the new owners of any offspring resulting from such a breeding.
    4. In consideration of the aim of the overall improvement of the breed, the breeder must decline any breeding when the presence of any undesirable, potentially debilitating genetic or behavioural trait is known or suspected in either the sire or the dam. All breeding stock should hold:
      1. • a report of examination from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) indicating no evidence of hip dysplasia at 24 months.
        • a report of examination at 24 months from BVA (British Veterinary Association) indicating no evidence of hip dysplasia.
        • an evaluation report from PennHip at a minimum age of 18 months indicating no evidence of hip dysplasia.
        • an appropriate report from the dog’s country of residency.
        Foreign orthopedic results are acceptable for imported semen but imported dogs should acquire GRCC recommended evaluations prior to being bred in North America. When using frozen semen from stud dogs that are deceased, a certificate of examination from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), prior to the discontinuation of its registry in 2012, indicating no evidence of hip dysplasia is acceptable.
      2. • a report of examination from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), indicating no evidence of elbow dysplasia at 24 months.
        • a report of examination at 24 months from BVA (British Veterinary Association) indicating no evidence of elbow dysplasia.
        • an appropriate report from the dog’s country of residency.
        Foreign Orthopedic results are acceptable for imported semen but imported dogs should acquire GRCC recommended evaluations prior to being bred in North America. When using frozen semen from stud dogs that are deceased, a certificate of examination from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), prior to the discontinuation of its registry in 2012, indicating no evidence of elbow dysplasia is acceptable. A CT scan to distinguish elbow dysplasia from other anomalies of the elbow joint may be necessary under certain circumstances. If any anomaly is found, careful attention must be paid to only breeding to a pedigree that possesses in-depth elbow clearances for several generations.
      3. A current annual certificate of examination indicating no evidence of inherited eye disease or functional abnormalities of the eye from a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ACVO) or a member of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (CAVO) or an appropriate clearance from the dog’s country of residency. Annual eye examinations are recommended for the lifetime of the dog due to late onset of eye disorders such as pigmentary uveitis (GRPU). GRPU is becoming a serious concern in many North American Golden Retrievers, and it is therefore strongly recommended that pedigree research in this regard is done before any breeding takes place. Breeders are strongly encouraged to make all findings of GRPU in breeding dogs available to the public.
      4. Cardiac reports should follow the current recommendations from OFA with the Advanced Cardiac examination being the gold standard. At a minimum, heart clearances should include a certificate of examination from a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Cardiology (DACVIM-C) indicating no physical signs of cardiovascular disease; or where a DACVIM-C is unavailable, a certificate of examination indicating no physical signs of cardiovascular disease from a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) with qualifications acceptable for OFA cardiology certification. In the event that echocardiograms are unavailable, yearly auscultation exams are suggested as a best practice. However, should there be an “equivocal” result, further testing and evaluation by a specialist is highly recommended if the dog is to be considered for breeding. When there is an equivocal finding on the cardiac report and under the guidance of the cardiologist the dog must only be mated with dogs that have the OFA advanced cardiac examination.
      5. DNA tests for autosomal recessive traits are available for a number of diseases that affect Golden Retrievers such as eye disorders (prcd-PRA, GR-PRA1 & 2), Degenerative Myelopathy, Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) and two variations of the skin condition, Ichthyosis. More tests are being added over time. The decision to test or not should include considerations such as: the seriousness of the disease, the reliability of the test, the prevalence of the disease in the breed, and the presence of affected or carrier dogs in the pedigree. The ideal use of DNA tests is to prevent producing affected puppies, while at the same time maintaining genetic diversity and gradually decreasing the prevalence of the disease gene(s) in the breed. Members are strongly encouraged to use DNA testing to help make wise breeding decisions.
      6. Further consideration should also be given to other conditions that likely have a genetic component, including but not limited to: Cancers, especially those that through pedigree research have been shown to have a familial connection (such as, but not limited to: Hemangiosarcoma and Osteosarcoma), epilepsy, hypothyroidism, skin disorders, allergies, swallowing disorders, and orthopedic disorders such as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). Difficult decisions should be resolved in a manner that places the best interests of the dogs and the breed at the forefront.
    5. Before deciding to produce a litter, the breeder considers the possibility of properly placing puppies which cannot be kept by the breeder. Breeders should also be prepared to co-operate in the re-homing of dogs they have bred or owned should it be necessary.
    6. Health: The breeder keeps all stock under sanitary conditions and gives maximum health protection through regular de-worming, inoculations, grooming and veterinary examinations.
    7. Breeding Management: The breeder should space the litters of any bitch by allowing a maximum of two consecutive litters and a maximum of three litters within five heats. Exceptions to this general recommendation is when the females cycle only once yearly or when the health of the female is best served by consecutive litters. It is recommended that a female not be bred after the age of eight years of age.
    Section 3 Advertising

    All advertising, (print or electronic), is factual. It is not so worded as to be misleading or misrepresentative, to attract undesirable buyers or to encourage the raising of Golden Retrievers merely as a money-making scheme.

    The Club will not accept any advertising or information to be printed in a Club publication regarding future breeding’s, upcoming or existing litters, or stud services, that indicates the existence of a certificate of examination for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye, heart, blood, or other conditions, unless a copy of the certificate of examination (paper, digital or online database link), indicated in the advertisement or information, is provided at the time of submission.

    Section 4 Sales
    1. General:
      1. All breeders agree to abide by the Code of Ethics for Canadian Kennel Club breeders.
      2. The breeder DOES NOT supply puppies or adult dogs to pet stores, commercial dealers, for raffles, giveaway prizes, or other such projects.
      3. The breeder sells Golden Retrievers, permits stud service and leases studs or bitches only to individuals who give satisfactory evidence that they will give them proper care and attention, and who are in accord with this Code of Ethics.
      4. The breeder DOES NOT sell puppies via web brokers.
      5. The breeder abides by the Canadian Kennel Club Bylaws (29.2) and may not charge an additional fee for CKC registration when selling any puppy or adult dog.
      6. The breeder DOES NOT engage in breeding non-purebred dogs.
    2. Contracts:
      1. The breeder sells Golden Retrievers, permits stud service and leases studs or bitches with a written contract which outlines the obligations and responsibilities of both seller and purchaser regarding the purchase arrangements, breach of contract penalties, fees, financial arrangements, breeding/non-breeding conditions of the sale, replacement or refund warranties, health warranties, co-ownership terms, and conditions for removal of the CKC Non-Breeding Agreement.
      2. The written contract must clearly state the maximum time limit for all terms and conditions of the contract and/or warranty. Conditions of acceptance of deposits on puppies or stud services and terms of full or partial refunds or forfeiture of deposits must also be clearly stated in writing.
    3. Sale of Puppies:
      1. The breeder provides buyers with written details of feeding, general care, dates of deworming and a certificate of all inoculations given.
      2. The breeder will provide buyers with a printed or digital pedigree and the results of any hip, elbow, eye, heart and DNA examinations carried out on the dog being purchased and, on its sire, and dam.
      3. All puppies leaving the breeder’s possession should be at least seven (7) weeks old but preferably 8 weeks or over, be identified by a tattoo or microchip, have received initial inoculations or titres (or nomograph report on the dam) and have received a health examination by a veterinarian.
    4. Non-Breeding Agreement:
      1. All Golden Retrievers sold in Canada should be sold on the Canadian Kennel Club Non-Breeding Agreement. The agreement should not be canceled unless the adult dog obtains the minimum requirements for breeding stock as defined in section 2(B), Selection of Breeding Stock, or unless the breeder has proof the dog has been spayed or neutered. Exceptions to this clause may be made in cases where breeders are selling Golden Retrievers to foreign countries or to individuals wishing to exhibit in a foreign country such as the United States. In such cases, a private purchase agreement must be executed between the breeder and purchaser which is in keeping with the principles of the use of the Canadian Kennel Club Non- Breeding Agreement and this Code of Ethics.
      2. The breeder shall not charge the buyer a fee to cancel the CKC Non-Breeding Agreement, except for reimbursement of the applicable CKC fees.
    Section 5 Registration

    The breeder registers all Golden Retrievers born in Canada with the Canadian Kennel Club and keeps accurate records, as required by the Canadian Kennel Club, including records of all stud- services, whelpings, identification of all dogs and pedigrees.

    Revised and passed by the membership, November 2023.