How Our Reservation List Works
The average wait on a puppy from us is 6-9 months and would be even longer if we accepted all the people who want to send in deposits for the future when all of our planned litters are reserved. We are conservative with the number of puppies we reserve but with unborn litters, there is a lot of uncertainty beyond our control. We do our best to provide families with a quality puppy within the time-frame that they are expecting but we don't always succeed. The two questions that no breeder can answer with any degree of certainty when litters are reserved as early as ours are are
how many?. We are often also asked
how we decide who gets the first pick spots and how does it work if we are flexible about the sex?
Heat cycles are often irregular. I've had girls come in season as much as 3 months earlier or later than expected based on past cycles. I once waited myself on a puppy from a litter in Europe where the mother was more than six months late. Breeders cannot predict when a litter will be born with certainty.
We understand that for some, timing is a very important factor in deciding on a litter. If our predictions are off by more than three months, we will offer a full refund of deposit. We will also occasionally decide to breed an additional one of our girls at the last minute because she comes in season earlier than expected and because the timing plays in well with our other plans here at Summer Brook. This can give those on our waiting lists other options to consider. We do a good job keeping families who are waiting informed. We try to give accurate predictions and sometimes offer an alternative to be considered. But in the end, only God knows when a litter will be bred and born. It is out of our control.
A second important question that I wish that I could answer for people is regarding litter size. We normally reserve 3 puppies per sex per litter before a litter is bred. If the third person on the list for each sex is not flexible or if our mom has had large litters in her past, we will sometimes take a fourth. The average litter size for Golden Retrievers is 7-8 puppies. We often will have extra puppies of one sex or the other to either offer to those waiting on a later litter or occasionally to someone new. But there are times when there are less than 3 puppies of one sex or the other (or both) and unfortunately there are also times when a breeding doesn't take at all.
Sometimes, we have people asking to be on lists after they are booked just in case we have extra puppies. We will go ahead and take deposits from those families but we don't recommend this unless these families are flexible about the sex. We will also usually allow families to double book if their position on the list is after the first 3 of a gender. Ask us how this works if you are interested in being on a list that is full.
A deposit on an unborn puppy from us secures a place on our list but it does not secure a puppy. We can tell you exactly where you fall on our list and how many puppies of your sex must be born in order for you to get a puppy. Once ultrasound is done, we can give you a rough estimate of the size of the litter. If ultrasound should reveal a large litter, we will somethimes open the list for additional families who are flexible about the sex.
However, on dogs, ultrasounds don't give as much or as accuarate of information as we'd like. Sex of the puppies cannot be determined until birth and the size of the litter determined by ultrasound is not always very accurate. The ultrasound machine does not capture the entire uterus in one picture but rather glimpses only small pieces at a time. Puppies are moving around at the same time that the vet is moving the ultrasound viewing apparatus around. Sometimes puppies hide behind each other. Sometimes they hide behind the bladder. Sometimes one puppy can be counted twice when he follows the area being viewed. Sometimes a puppy will move out of view just before a section of the uterus is looked at.
An x-ray can give a much more accurate count but we don't routinely do x-rays....only when there is a medical reason. We don't do them just for the convenience of counting puppies. Even when we need to do them, it is no more than a week before the due date.
These disappointing times when puppies are late or when there aren't enough are not the norm but neither is it a rare occurance. When there aren't enough puppies, those who don't get a puppy can choose if they want to get their full deposit back or if they want to wait on another litter.
Families also like to understand what it means to them when they check on their questionnaire that they are flexible about the sex. This simply means that they are wanting the opposite sex instead of getting their deposit back IF there aren't enough puppies for them to get their preferred sex. Being flexible does not reduce a person's chances of getting their preferred sex puppy at all. For example, let's say that someone is second on our list for a male and this person is flexible regarding the sex of their puppy. We'll call this person M2. In this example scenario, the third person on our list for a male (we'll call M3) is not flexible about the sex of their puppy. Two males are born and 4 females are born. M2 will still get the second male. We do not flip people to the other sex so that another unflexible person gets what they want. M3 will get their deposit back. If M3 had indicated on their questionnaire that they were flexible, they would have gotten the 4th female.
The person in the first position on our list does not necessarily get the first pick puppy. We always tentatively reserve the right to keep it ourselves. We never bump people off our list to keep a puppy, but if there are a large number of puppies of one sex or the other, we might consider keeping one and thereby bump the first pick person to second pick.