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  • Writer's picturemaura hennelly

Raise A Healthy Golden Retriever Puppy

Your Golden retriever puppy will go through a major growth spurt between the ages of 3 and 12 months old, and there are several very important factors we hope you will keep in mind during this time in order to raise a happy, healthy, and physically sound Classic Heritage puppy!

Refrain from premature spay and neuter.

We strongly believe in and recommend keeping your dog sexually intact until at least one and a half years for males and after at least two heat cycles for females. In our experience and research, premature altering leaves your dog significantly more susceptible to certain cancers and major joint issues. This has been proven to be particularly important in the case of Golden retrievers, as shown in this scientific research journal by UC Davis.

Take vaccinations seriously!

Remember that your pup will still require several rounds of vaccines after you take them home. You should take your new puppy in to see a trusted veterinarian as soon as possible to get started on a strict physical and vaccination schedule. Young puppies are very susceptible to contagious canine diseases such as distemper and parvovirus until their last DHPPL vaccine at around 16 weeks old. Up until 2 weeks after their final puppy vaccine, avoid areas with a lot of dog traffic such as parks, wilderness trails, and dog daycares. You should also speak to your veterinarian about the risk of heartworm in your area and whether you should decide to start your pup on medical prevention. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos, and the disease is most prevalent in the Southern half of the US and in the warmer coastal areas. We recommend you do plenty of research and consult your veterinarian before making a decision, as some heartworm prevention medications are more harmful than others, and there are plenty of holistic options.

Limit physical activity, especially when it comes to heights.

This is especially important for puppies under 10 months or so, as their bodies grow rapidly during this time. A puppy’s growth plates, which are the soft, cartilaginous areas of young bone that lengthen and harden as they grow, are major weak spots in a pup’s body until they are fully grown- which, for large breeds such as Golden retrievers, is anywhere between 18 to 24 months of age. This means you should never allow your puppy to jump off of the bed, out of the car, out of your arms, off a set of steps, or any amount of height that will put sudden jolts of pressure on their soft joints. We also highly recommend refraining from allowing your puppy free access to the stairs until a year old or so, as there is veterinary scientific evidence suggesting that regular stair use by young puppies alters their body structure and even causes hip dysplasia.

Feed a high-quality diet that is appropriate for growing puppies.

At Classic Heritage, we feed all of our dogs a biologically appropriate raw food diet, and we wean our litters onto our housemade blend of balanced raw food. We understand that not everyone can afford or will choose to feed their puppy a raw diet, but we do hope that our puppy clients will put in the research and effort to find a healthy food for their pup, be it raw, cooked, freeze-dried, wet or dry. We suggest looking on, where you can get a star rating and breakdown of the nutritional value of any commercial food on the market. Look for diets that are rated at least 4 out of 5 stars. If you do decide to feed your puppy a commercial food, ensure that it is specifically formulated for puppies, or is an “all life stages” formula. Your vet may urge you to switch to big brands such as Hills, Royal Canin, or Purina, but with just a little bit of research you will learn that most foods formulated by these brands are of very low quality, loaded with fillers, and even harmful to the longevity of your dog’s life. We highly recommend you watch the documentary "Pet Fooled" if you would like to learn more!

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