All throughout the Web, there are uncertified breeders trying to hawk their dogs. Buyer beware. One thing we learned is that when buying a dog, you really want to assure that they are coming from a good environment and not a "puppy mill." We were encouraged to visit the breeding facility to make certain that it is clean - check that water bowls are fresh, assure the sleeping area is adequate, and clarify that the dogs have access to the outdoors and fresh air. In our case, our breeder did not want to chance visitors bringing in any sort of germs, so we called references that she gave us. When one woman with doodles declined my offer to visit her home, she told me that she would meet me in a Starbucks parking lot with the dog. It felt like a clandestine drug deal, and I promptly said no.
Along with a clean facility, Jeff wanted to make certain the dog's parents were certified against hip and elbow dysplasia. Large purebred dogs can easily fall prey to this condition and require multiple, expensive surgeries to correct it. One lark we almost embarked on was me driving a 14-hour round trip to Kansas to purchase a $750 doodle (a virtual steal), but when the breeder could not satisfy our inquires, we nixed the whole idea which was probably for the best, although I was looking forward to seeing the sights in Kansas. It was important enough to us to pay a little more upfront to get some assurance for health in the later years.
We began to pore over this website, http://goldendoodles.com/breeders.htm to find a local breeder who was within driving distance. Breeders will fly a dog to you, but this of course is an extra cost and could prove to be traumatic. Jeff and I were willing to drive to basically any state that surrounds Texas - Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, or as far north as Kansas.
We finally settled on Oklahoma-based Stroodles Doodles - www.stroodlesdoodles.com. After discussing the dogs via phone, Jeff was impressed by how knowledgeable the breeder, Niki, is and her good record on dysplasia. So, we paid a $350 down deposit to put towards a grand total of $1,300 for our dog. I know, I know. It is pricey, but this is our very first child. With both of our traits eventually swirling into a kid, we can't guarantee what he or she will be like. At least with a puppy, we can handpick him a bit more.
Our puppy's parents are the lovely Sammy Jo (golden retriever girl) and Bo, a rogue shark (standard poodle boy). The names are a bit back country sounding, but wait until you see the final product!