about Lakemist

Since 2019, our goal at Lakemist has been to produce beautiful, companion dogs that are able and willing to compete in all aspects of Golden activities. We are a small kennel with a limited but well-planned breeding program. This means that each breeding is of tremendous importance to us and that we concentrate our efforts into caring for and socializing our pups. We use a blend of Avidog, a state-of-the-art puppy rearing and development program, Puppy Culture, and common sense, that gives all our pups, no matter their future, the best possible start in life.


To help you with your decision concerning our pups, we hope this provides information about our breeding program. At Lakemist, our first concern is longevity; we simply do not accept that golden retrievers should live only 10 years. After longevity, we balance temperament, conformation, working ability and general health. We breed only Golden Retrievers who are intelligent, confident, and loving. We are equally concerned about the serious genetic problems facing golden retrievers so, at a minimum, all our breeding dogs must test clear for inherited orthopedic, eye, and heart diseases. We are also concerned with allergies, cancer, breeding or whelping problems, seizures, and swallowing disorders.


In conjunction with physical and mental soundness, we seek to produce typey golden retrievers with intelligence, drive, and birdiness. All our dogs are beloved family companions.


Our brood bitches are our companions and train and work until just before whelping. We expect them to be excellent mothers, free whelping medium to large litters. The pups are raised in our home so they are accustomed to the hustle and bustle of family life. Puppies undergo a well-thought-out development program during their first nine weeks. They are handled and socialized from birth, with daily individual attention.


Between four and seventeen days, this daily attention includes AviDog’s Early Scent Introduction (ESI) program and the U.S. Military’s Early Neurological Stimulation exercises (see Dr. Carmen Battaglia's article in the AKC Gazette, May 95 and Golden Retriever News). This early neurological stimulation has been shown to: improve cardiovascular performance, strengthen heartbeats, strengthen adrenal glands, increase stress tolerance and increase resistance to disease.

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations. Secondary effects on learning have also been noted, including increased calmness, decreased errors and reduced distress signals when stressed.


Our pups are also socialized with adults, children, and other dogs. By the time they go home between eight and nine weeks, they have been introduced to game birds, had daily walks, started their housebreaking and simple obedience training, and been in crates and on multiple car rides. If the weather permits, the pups will also be introduced to water.


Our goal is to carefully place each pup with a well-suited family. We make every effort to match each owner or family with the pup that suits him or her. To do this, we gather information from prospective owners about their lifestyle, experience in dogs, and expectation for this pup.


We also keep careful records of each pup's reactions and personality to assist in placement. During their eighth week, we evaluate the puppies' temperaments, using the Avidog Puppy Evaluation Test (APET). This test enables us to make the best match between puppies and owners, as well as helping new owners develop a training plan for their pup’s first year. In addition, we do structural and conformation assessments.


We have a long-term commitment to all the puppies we breed. We expect to remain in contact with our puppy owners throughout the dog's life (and often beyond). We provide information on the successes and health of each pup's parents and relatives, as well as suggestions on training, showing, and, if appropriate, breeding.


Our commitment to producing healthy, stable pups demands that we collect genetic and temperament information from all dogs of our breeding, not just breeding stock. For this reason, we prefer that all our pups be screened for genetic diseases at 24 months of age at the owner's expense. This screening provides important health information to owners and includes OFA hip and elbow x-rays, an eye exam by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist and a heart exam by a board-certified cardiologist.


Our puppies typically cost $3000, although that might fluctuate based on the specific breeding. Breeding-quality pups are sold to experienced competitors on either breeder’s contracts or, under rare circumstances, co-ownerships. Since these bloodlines are important to our future as well, we ask for (but do not require) the option to access these genes again in the future.

Performance puppies are sold to both experienced and novice owners that will regularly engage in one or more activities with their dog. Those activities might include hunting, hunt tests, field trials, search and rescue, nosework, tracking, obedience, rally, and agility.

Some of our dogs are excellent pet-assisted therapy dogs but this works best as an additional activity rather than the dog’s only job. Some performance puppies are sold on non-breeding contracts with AKC Limited Registrations, meaning their offspring cannot be registered by the AKC.


There will be pups from each litter that are most appropriate for pet homes. These are pups that are not structurally or temperamentally suited for breeding, work or sport. After evaluation, we believe these pups will be most happy in active pet homes. Active pet homes are those where the owners are hikers, campers, kayakers, canoers, joggers or sportspeople whose life allows their dog to participate in most of their family activities. All pet puppies are sold on non-breeding contracts with AKC Limited Registrations, meaning their offspring cannot be registered by the AKC.


We carefully screen all breeding stock but the ambiguity surrounding the environmental and hereditary causes of hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, subarterial aortic stenosis (SAS), epilepsy, thyroid, von Willebrand diseases (vWD), pigmentary uveitis, some cancers, progressive retinal atrophy and other genetic diseases make a guarantee impossible.


We closely monitor the health of ALL dogs from our breeding program. However, there are no lines of golden retrievers that do not have health risks, including ours. Lakemist’s owners must educate themselves about the health risks present in golden retrievers and be willing to accept some risk that these diseases may show up in their dog.


Despite our best efforts, we acknowledge that dog breeders are creating living beings and there is no way to produce perfect dogs. Even from the most conscientious breeders, health issues and physical flaws must be expected by breeders and buyers alike. As a breeder, we feel our requirement is to take responsibility for the dogs we have produced. We do so by warranting our dogs against genetic defect, offering a refund of half the purchase price for any dog debilitated by one of these diseases. Similarly, if any puppy purchased specifically for breeding has a disqualifying fault under AKC standards, we will reimburse the owner half the purchase price or offer a pup from a future breeding at half price. We do require that all these affected dogs be neutered prior to sending the refund but they do not need to be returned to us. However, we will always take any dogs of our breeding back at any time for any reason.


Specific pages to visit include:


Thank you again for your interest in our breeding program. Once you have submitted an

application to us, we are happy to discuss our breeding program with you in greater detail.

Since we offer only a limited number of puppies each year, we do recommend reserving a puppy in advance of the actual whelping.


If you are still interested in a Lakemist puppy, please let us know!


Email is preferred info@lakemist.net but you can also text or leave a message at



Gigi Gilmore

Lakemist Retrievers