I've found money up front for a well bred dog is time, effort, and money saved down the road when it comes to training. You can certainly have luck with any retriever you buy or adopt, but your odds of having an easier time increase with better bred dogs. Perhaps you can find a local trainer in the area who needs help once a week throwing birds and decoys for customer dogs. He'd probably return the favor finding you a good dog that is not quite great or a customer who had puppies and is looking to sale them. In addition, you can really learn a lot from a professional trainer. You can also get access to live birds, which is imperative to teaching a dog how to retrieve in the field. Nothing more embarrassing than shooting your first live duck for your dog and he goes and tries to retrieve a decoy instead of the live bird. Happens all the time, and is just lack of experience training on live birds.